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. John, LA, Ca

    Edwards does talk about what he’s going to do as president-it just doesn’t make it on to the CNN ticker, or other media for that mater.
    Remember, everything edited or summarized by the media is flittered. CNN and the other organizations decide what they’re going to show us. That’s not to say CNN has some super-evil conspiracy to control the world, but rather we, as consumers, are responsible for remembering how we are get our information. CNN ticker reports sound bits, which they believe are interesting.
    If you want to be fair to Edwards, watch his debate performance on youtube and read his policies on his website and Personally, I don’t like him or his policies, but please him the respect of reading his policies before condemning him.

    November 2, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  2. Anti-Hilly, Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Amen, Colony 14 ... This woman is as DISHONEST as it gets ... (sorta' like hubby, huh?) Every time that I see this woman speak (and I mean over the last 15 years)I can see the dishonesty in her eyes. It's SOOO obvious. If you can't see it you're easily fooled.

    November 2, 2007 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  3. Anonymous, Madison, WI

    Admittedly, i support John Edwards.
    I do not like Hillary.

    Some have said here (and its my opinion, too) that if Hillary if is the Democratic nominee, she will lose.

    Others have stated that if Edwards is the nominee they will vote Republican.

    Who is the person that can win running on the Democratic ticket?
    I honestly don't believe that Hillary can win.
    I was surprised by the anti Edwards sentiment.

    Do people think Obama, Bill Richardson, or Joe Biden can win?

    November 2, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  4. Noah, Chicago, IL

    PEOPLE, so many times under articles on Edwards (and sometimes Obama, though, I think most people realize, Obama is NOT making personal attacks AT ALL and is running a substantive campaign) people think that Edwards only talks negative about Clinton and never puts forth a substantive stance on any issue–wrong, the media (esp. CNN) just reports the stuff that seems divisive and loves to love, sympathize, and make-the-victim-of Hillary.

    I'm not even anti-Hillary, but I can see the clear Hillove that the media blasts at us.

    November 2, 2007 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  5. TheInsider

    "I can't wait to see tens of millions or Americans regretting their votes for Clinton,"

    You are one sick person. What kind of an AMERICAN would admit to WISHING for disaster?
    An AMERICAN, like say John Wayne, when confronted with Kennedy's win in 1960, said, "He's not my choice, but I'll do everything I can to support him now that he's President.". Democrats supported Bush after 9/11 until he betrayed their (and the rest of the country's) trust in so many ways.

    Wishing for disaster in our nation, no matter WHO is president is just plain sick.

    November 2, 2007 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  6. Jeff from Jersey

    Hillary has been very outspoken for years that she regretted her vote on the war in Iraq.Edwards seems to think if he says something often enough that makes it true.He also claimed to be the first candidate with a healthcare plan when Hillary tried to get one done years ago.It was guys like Edwards that didn't let it get done then.At least she had the guts to try.

    This is just a lawyer double talking about double talking.

    November 2, 2007 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  7. Jeff from Jersey

    That wasn't a debate,that was a political gangbang.
    The photo depicts Edwards telling everyone else that he's first.

    November 2, 2007 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  8. Josh, Gloucester, Massachusetts

    Wow, what a shameless thread full of Republicans and Clinton-lovers.

    November 2, 2007 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  9. Julie, Atlanta, GA

    John Edwards is absolutely, positively, exactly RIGHT about this. Keep speaking TRUTH to power...America, it is long past time for us to WAKE UP and get off the Bush/Clinton merry-go-round. You GO, Senator Edwards.

    GO JOHN GO!!!

    November 2, 2007 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  10. A. Thomas, New York, NY

    JOhn Edwards says he is the champion of the poor, but he live lavishly in a very big house, and the firm he associated with vacated some poor tenants.

    He double talks himself. John Kerry said he made a mistake picking Ewdards as a running mate in 2004, and the dem party made a mistake taking him Edwards a member.

    November 2, 2007 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  11. Chuckles, Sacramento, Calif.

    Hillary has only given "polished" debates before because Tuesday was the first time she's been called on her bull-oney. Let's have a debate a day for the next 90-some-odd days and with each one we'll start to see the real Hillary. The waffler, the laser glare, the obfuscator, etc. Had Obama started deconstructing her so adeptly as he did Tuesday back in the spring he'd be the one up by 20 points..well, he'd still be down by 20 in the Clinton News Network/Vinod Gupta poll, but all the other reputable polls would have him in the lead.

    November 2, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  12. Greg Rodriguez Palm Springs, CA


    Remember Gephart and Dean. This will backfire on you in Iowa. Differing on issues is o.k., but calling Senator Clinton a liar is too much.

    You are making me like her more and more.

    November 2, 2007 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  13. rafael, tucson az

    I think it's funny how people get on edwards for telling the truth about hillary. She is not hollier than thou you know, and she is not bill clinton people need to realize that. She voted for the iraq war and voted on the iran bill, but she says she is for us getting out of wars and bringing troops home.sounds like a double standard to me hillary is going to be eaten alive by the republicans if she gets the nomination she waffles too much and the republicans will notice, and call her on it. That is the same tactic they used on kerry for his support of the iraq war and look at what it did to his campaign. Obama is the only one that voted against the iraq war and the iran vote so the republicans cannot hit him on that.

    November 2, 2007 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  14. Daniel, NY

    Check out some of the already dirty fliers and releases the GOP is running after Clinton's comments on illegal immigrants.

    November 2, 2007 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  15. Penquint Salmando NM

    You tell 'em Mr. Edwards. But Hillarys double talk is better than your triple talk. Can you wag that finger 99 times in a row ?

    November 2, 2007 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |

    It is sign of desperation-Ed is phony, greedy for power, two times loser, and manipulative-he put his ill cancered wife on the trail to run his campaign. Ed made profits from Katrina disaster. He is cynical, and cannot be trusted. He lost twice in 2004-the primary and the general. I will NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER VOTE FOR THIS MAN-I WILL STAY HOME IF HE IS NOMINATED, WHICH I HIGHLY SUSPECT.

    November 2, 2007 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  17. Jim Bremer

    He is an ambulance chaser with a penchant for $ 400 haircuts.

    Enough said.

    November 2, 2007 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  18. Biggdawg, Chicago, Illinois

    The media didn't filter Edwards' message in the last debate. If he had anything to say about what he would do for the country it sure didn't come out. The only thing that came out were attacks on Hillary. I think the media is representing his message fairly: Negative, negative, negative.

    November 2, 2007 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  19. Bruce, LaSalle IL

    John Edwards is an idiot. There was no double talk at the end of the debate: quite simply, Hillary's answer was clear and concrete. The question was along the lines of 'do you support illegal aliens having a drivers license like they recently passed in your state,' and she responded by saying that she doesn't support it, but she understands why the governor did it and then continued to say that the federal government isn't doing anything right now to stop illegal immigration so the state governments are trying to do what they can to document them. She DISAGREED and then reasoned, plain and simple. She made her point as clear as day, and anyone who didn't pick that up needs to clean out their ears.

    November 3, 2007 12:20 am at 12:20 am |
  20. Chris, Des Moines

    John Edwards sounds more and more like a loser everyday. We know you don't want Hillary to Be President, John. That's obvious. How about telling us what you would do differently?

    I'm sick of all the negativity and Clinton bashing, and I didn't even like Bill. But the desperation of their opponents is simply pathetic. They are making my decision a lot easier.

    November 3, 2007 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  21. bob, landover, md

    did any of you notice how edwards blew off the question about his money coming from trial lawyers? Or the hint about his sudden conversion to public financing? The man is as big a hypocrite as there is in this race. Obama's not much better. 2 days after criticizing Hillary for playing the gender card he was down south playing the race card and he even whipped out his southern drawl for the occasion.

    November 3, 2007 03:06 am at 3:06 am |
  22. Steve, Portland, OR

    First I do agree this country is more interested in electing a female President than the right choice. Hillary is way out front right now and the other candidates have got to make people listen so more power to them, however they do this. I see Edwards bringing up very valid points as we DO NOT need another Clinton years rerun. I hope people have enough sense to say they are tired of the same old business as that is what Hillary is going to give us a lot of if we go back to Clinton years. Seems I recall the first Clinton signing NAFTA under Republican pressure and destroying millions of jobs here and starting an exodus that continues today as we get the low pay new service jobs to replace them under the current Republican system. Can't wait to see what Hillary does with the illegal population and amnesty, as above taxes to help bring your wages down. Both parties are corrupted and we new some new blood, even within these parties. Rudy for President, oh please give me a break. Do vote so you have the right to complain as that is the first thing I ask someone when they complain about policies in this country. Do you vote?. Oh, last I checked the current moron in the Whitehouse was first elected without the popular vote majority because we have the electoral college that still has not been abolished.

    November 3, 2007 03:21 am at 3:21 am |
  23. John, Detroit, Michigan

    I'd personally like to know what John Edwards wants to do about illegal immigrants with driver licenses. Notice in the debate how he didn't even answer the question when it was posed to the rest of the candidates. I don't see why I should listen to a man bring down a candidate for her "double talk" answer when he won't even give an answer.

    I don't see why he's tauting this as a victory over Clinton. Frankly, it's just a shameless attack, and I expected better from Edwards.

    November 3, 2007 05:13 am at 5:13 am |
  24. SwingVoter alan st louis Mo


    clinton a flip flopper and Obama has better foresight and understanding then clinton

    If clinton is on the ticket for general election im voting for republican

    November 3, 2007 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  25. Roy M Frisco, Tx

    Hey Edwards, must be real tough knowing that your butt is getting kicked by a woman. Shows me that your testicles are really ovaries.

    November 3, 2007 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
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