November 2nd, 2007
06:10 PM ET
15 years ago

Edwards assails Clinton for 'double talk'

In a CNN interview, Edwards said Clinton is not "straight and honest."

CHERAW, South Carolina (CNN) - In his first public comments since Tuesday's contentious Democratic debate, John Edwards came out swinging against rival Hillary Clinton on Friday, accusing her of "double talk" and claiming that she cannot be trusted.

"What we saw in the debate on Tuesday night were the politics of double talk," the former senator from North Carolina told the crowd at an outdoor town hall meeting here. "What I heard was Sen. Clinton saying she wanted to be for change, but defended a broken system in Washington."

The Edwards campaign also released a Web video Friday called the "the politics of parsing" that accused the former first lady of avoiding straight answers during the debate.

The debate was the first issue Edwards brought up in his speech.

"Since the debate we've continued to hear spin, smoke and mirrors, the same kind of double talk to get away form the very serious issues that are in front is us in this campaign," he told the crowd.

As he did during the debate in Philadelphia, Edwards took Clinton to task on the issues of Iraq and Iran, claiming that the senator from New York wants to leave combat troops in Iraq for an indeterminate period, and that her support of a resolution declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization gave the White House a green light to pursue military action against Iran.

Edwards said that vote "enabled George Bush to do exactly what he wanted to do."

In an interview with CNN after the speech, Edwards said Clinton was not "straight and honest" during the debate.

"You can't answer a 'yes-or-no' question yes and no," he said. "And I think America is looking for something different than that."

Since the debate, the Clinton campaign has accused her Democratic rivals of "the politics of pile-on." In the interview, Edwards again said that she was engaged in the "politics of double talk," and took issue with Clinton's injection of gender into the presidential race.

On Thursday at her alma mater, the all-female Wellesley College, Clinton said that "this all-women's college prepared me to compete in the all-boys club of presidential politics."

Edwards dismissed the notion that gender should play a role in the race.

"I think that Senator Clinton ought to be held to the same standard that every other presidential candidate is held to," he said in the interview. "And that standard is to not engage in double talk. To be straight and honest with people."

Edwards used the "double talk" reference at least six different times during his speech, in comments to the news media and in the CNN interview.

The Clinton campaign said Edwards' attacks are "false" and that he is contradicting the upbeat message put forth during his 2004 presidential campaign.

"In 2004, John Edwards said, 'If you are looking for the candidate that will do the best job of attacking the other Democrats, I am not your guy,'" said Clinton spokesman Isaac Baker. "But now that his campaign has stalled, he’s launching false attacks on his fellow Democrats. Voters will certainly be asking whether Mr. Edwards' pledges to be positive in 2004 were anything more than just a political tactic."

Related video: Watch Edwards discuss Sen. Clinton

- CNN South Carolina Producer Peter Hamby

Filed under: Hillary Clinton • John Edwards • South Carolina
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. summus

    I don't think he can win. He's already proven that he can't put any Southern states into play in the general election so what's the point in giving him the nod. Better to choose Clinton to put Iowa, Ohio, and New Mexico and maybe even Louisiana into play.

    November 2, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  2. Cody, Iowa City, Iowa

    John Edwards is a phony and he is just desperate. He only has a campaign presence worthy of mentioning here in Iowa. He lost an election for us already. He COSPONSORED the Bankruptcy bill and the Iraq war resolution. He has hurt the families of New Orleans. He is a lawyer good at making speeches but that's about it.

    November 2, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    and he's also right she should be held to the same standards as the rest of the field ,everbody seems to be partial to the clintons and i like her myself but i do see double standards

    November 2, 2007 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  4. Leo, VA

    Not all questions can be answered by Yes or No, especially in a debate when people meet to talk not to make decisions. Your behaviour was shameful, but certainly Mr. Edwards, we would love if you were so aggressive in 2004!

    November 2, 2007 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  5. TheInsider

    As he sinks below 10% in SC, Edwards continues to allow the genius of Joe Trippi to do for him what he did for Howard Dean…
    "Clinton, of New York, leads U.S. Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois by 33 percent to 22.7 percent among registered voters who say they are likely to cast a ballot in the state's Democratic primary, according to the poll, released Thursday.

    Former U.S. Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who won the 2004 South Carolina primary, has slid into single digits at 9.6 percent."

    Posted By TheInsider : November 2, 2007 5:00 pm

    November 2, 2007 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. John NC

    Neither Edwards or Clinton is qualified to be President.

    November 2, 2007 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  7. Darrel @Lone Rock Iowa

    Look up Hillary in your reserch and it means while one one side of the hill it is yes I am for it and while on the other side of the hill I am against it.

    Bottom line is if you don't stand for something you don't stand for anything.
    Be nice if she could give a straight andswer to questions presented to her and not play both sides of the HILL/

    Then and only then could we see what she all about. Hope she can come straight forward in her campain so as one can tell just what she stands for.

    November 2, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  8. Travis

    Hillary could run down the street with a lamp shade on her head and nobody would care. For some reason, everyone thinks that Hillary is Bill Clinton, and will gobble her up to get back to the good old days. Wake up people! Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, ...

    November 2, 2007 05:50 pm at 5:50 pm |
  9. VanReuter NY NY

    John Edwards is grasping for straws. His campaign is dying and he desperately is looking for something – anything to breath new life into his campaign.

    Attacking other democrats is NOT the answer, John. You're worse than the Republicans – as we EXPECT their assault. Yours is called "back stabbing".

    Et Tu' Brute'?


    November 2, 2007 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  10. TheInsider

    "Just over an hour ago, Hillary Clinton claimed the endorsement of an influential New Hampshire politician who was one of John Edwards’ top supporters in the state in 2004.

    Lou D’Allesandro, a well-liked state senator from Manchester and a fixture in the city’s political and cultural life, gave Clinton his blessing at a forum for disabled voters in his hometown this morning."
    “At the debate, Hillary demonstrated that she is the only candidate with a strong, positive message,” D’Allesandro said. “I believe she can deliver the real change our country needs.”

    More fallout from Edwards/Trippi's brilliant strategy
    The ship be sinkin'

    November 2, 2007 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  11. Jesse, Burnsville, MN

    Cody in Iowa,

    Edwards has already apologized for his mistake with Iraq. Other candidates (HRC) have not. Unless I'm missing something, I think you are mistaken regarding the Bankruptcy Bill. That happened in 2005 and Edwards retired from the senate in 2004. Also, can you please describe how he has directly hurt the families of New Orleans. It sure seems like he is one of the only ones that is trying to draw attention to their plight to try to get something done about it.

    November 2, 2007 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  12. Kay, Washington DC

    Cody, I agree..

    Why doesnt he talk about what he will do as president versus talking bad about Hillary...

    He is not helping the party and is only thinking of himself.

    Next thing you know he will run as an independent with Obama..

    Absolutley selfish!

    November 2, 2007 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  13. Patrick Peavy Plano, TX

    John Edwards likes to be altruistic about the New Orleans issue. He loves to brag how he brought volunteers to help. But he used this as his platform to announce his candidacy. So basically he is pandering to the victims the same way Bush did to evangelical voters. John Edwards is too weak to be a strong leader and if he is my parties nominee I will be voting Republican.

    November 2, 2007 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  14. Tim, El Cerrito Ca

    I agree. John Edwards is a big phoney. He has for some time come across to me as someone who is just desperate to become President. Talk about double talk. He states that he won't attack fellow Democrats and then he does. What a loser. The more I hear and see this guy the more and more I dislike him.

    November 2, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |

    Okay, I don't know which is the worse of these two, but I like watching them fight over who is the biggest moron.

    November 2, 2007 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  16. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    It is irrelevant if Hillary can be trusted because she can't be elected by a majority of the popular vote, and her atypically unpolished performance at the recent debate will not help her.

    November 2, 2007 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  17. Debi, Philadelphia

    The Issues John, The Issues, all you do is trash Hillary, not what we need in a president. All your time is spent finding ways to discredit her instead of telling us what you will do specifically. She doesn't have the market on double talk now does she John.

    November 2, 2007 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  18. John, San Diego, CA

    I have to wonder if the supporters for Hillary are simply people who want to elect a woman President no matter who she is or if you actually think that Bill is gonna have some pull. He might, but not much. Edwards is the ONLY candidate that actually has a real plan to make some changes around here. Smart money is on Edwards. Dumb money on Hillary. Obama is somewhere in between. Hillary's a typical politician... not to say that Edwards isn't a politician, he's just different then what we've seen in some time. Hillary is more of the same...blah, blah, blah, accomplish nothing, etc. etc. etc. Lastly, if you're worried about Dems winning and that's your bottom line, Hillary isn't going to win in the South in the general election. Maybe Arkansas but that's about it. You put Edwards up against Rudi, you got President Edwards.

    November 2, 2007 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Go Home Edwards you might as well be a REPUBLICAN!

    November 2, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  20. Ralph. Austin

    The candidate who isn't trustworthy in this election is Edwards, the simpering wuss.

    November 2, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  21. colony14 author, Mt Prospect, Illinois

    Hillary Rodham Clinton has never given a straight answer to a question in her life, and suddenly people are surprised? I can't wait to see how she sweats or wilts when the questions really get tough, if anyone in the media has the spine to ask them.

    As for me, I will soon be retiring to another country, and will be watching the 2008 campaign (and my wallet) from a safe distance. I can't wait to see tens of millions or Americans regretting their votes for Clinton, after she raises their taxes, screws up the economy, causes a major recession, and pretty much acts dumbfounded when Iran blockades the Strait of Hormuz and adds another $100 to each barrel of oil.

    And I promise to say I told you so...

    November 2, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  22. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Edwards is the best candidate for president. His heart and mind are in the right place. Unlike Clinton, whose ego is huge, Edwards will do what is best for all the people of this country. If Clinton wins the nomination, then the Republicans will be in the White House for another 4 years! I am a lifelong democrat and firmly believe if Clinton becomes the democratic nominee, the republicans will win. I don't want to see that happen. Edwards can win the White House. Alot can change between now and the primaries. Just watch!

    November 2, 2007 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  23. Karen,ny

    All of the candidates on both sides seem to be flip-flopping. This has voters quite confused and all we want is a good honest president. Can we please have one, I think we deserve one.

    November 2, 2007 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  24. Hugo M., Ithaca, NY

    I'd take Edwards over Hillary any day. No signs of antisemitism from him!

    November 2, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  25. Dan Twyman Studio City CA

    Edwards is right, Clinton has been conditioned by the "old guard" in Washington and will keep doing what many in the House & Senate want. the problem with that, is the number of representatives that support war is still at a dangerous level. We need a fresh face. Keeping race and gender out of the picture is impossible when you have a young black male and a female that has been in the middle of much controversy already. Edwards will emerge victorious because he is what most people are comfortable with when it comes to appearance, and he has a strong message that is anti Washington business as usual.
    Dan Studio City CA

    November 2, 2007 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
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