April 21st, 2008
05:37 PM ET
15 years ago

Elizabeth Edwards responds to McCain over 'cheap shot'

(CNN) - Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, is tangling with John McCain’s campaign again – this time in a war of words with the candidate himself.

In an interview on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, the presumptive Republican nominee told George Stephanopoulos that Elizabeth Edwards had taken a “cheap shot” at him by saying that he had enjoyed government healthcare for his entire life – and that all Americans should be able to choose from the same insurance options available to members of Congress and military personnel.

“It’s a cheap shot but I did have a period of time where I didn’t have very good healthcare, I had it from another government,” said McCain, referring to the years he spent as a prisoner of war. “Look, I know what it’s like not to have healthcare.”

And when laying out his policy disputes with Democrats over the issue, he added, “in all due respect to Elizabeth Edwards.”

Edwards – now a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress –responded Monday in a post on the Wonk Room blog.

“Sen. McCain noted that he was not receiving government health care for the six years he was in captivity. That is true,” she wrote. “But it has nothing to do with my point — which is that the problem with Sen. McCain’s health care plan is not how it affects us –- but how it affects the tens of millions of Americans with preexisting conditions who, unlike Sen. McCain and myself, do not have the resources to pay for quality health care.”

Both McCain and Edwards have suffered from cancer.

“That is not a cheap shot, it is a potentially life and death question for tens of million of Americans. And it is a question Sen. McCain must address.”

Several weeks ago, Edwards and McCain adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin gave warring interviews over several days on the same topic

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soundoff (183 Responses)
  1. shirley.roybal,surprise,az.


    April 21, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  2. JJ

    I never really understood the 'we should have all the same benefits as the military just for being US citiziens' point of view. Would it be nice? Sure. But I'm employed by a private company and I wouldn't expect anyone on the street to get my benefits.

    After all, while it may not be easy to get the benefits of a Congressman, you can always sign up to join the military and experience the great benefits. Of course... there's a cost for everything.

    April 21, 2008 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  3. HP Boston

    Can the war John it is time for health care. We have the money, choose WAR OR HEALTH CARE. Now that was easy ,h ealth care for the next 100 years.
    Run that as your try for the presidency, it will get you votes!

    April 21, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  4. John, Brooklyn, NY

    Gee...It looks like McCain is taking a page from Giuliani's campaign book. But, instead of "911", McCain has to decided to make every sentence consist of a noun, a verb, and "Vietnam POW".

    April 21, 2008 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  5. Mssylady, Kalamazoo, MI

    I am so sorry that Elizabeth was slighted by McCain He is an OLD war hero, who more than served his time. How he won the Republican namination, I don't know. McCain is an old soldier who has a HOT temper with his finger on the trigger and ready to explode when crossed. Way to go Elizabeth, fire one and if McCain shoots his mouth again...fire TWO!

    April 21, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  6. Laurie

    A smart and gracious lady, with her heart in the right place.

    April 21, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  7. Daniel Medrano

    Reading some of the above comments reminds me of a lot of sour grapes.
    Others are utterly false, as the preceding comment indicates.
    Everybody and anybody can join the Arm Forces, thus receive the same health care benefits as Senator McCain.
    Everybody and anybody can run for Public Office with the same results.
    What should be done: the government should come up with a similar plan even if it required some hours of public service in local government to earn those benefits for all citizens. The local governments could contribute the wages to a fund while at the same time some savings would incur to them in the likes of reduced costs,
    like pension contributions etc...
    Businesses would probably enjoy the savings thus accomodate the
    employees or face a health tax if they opt out.
    Sounds better to me than those Democratic Universal Health Care which they bragg about at your own expense.
    If you trust that OBAMA or HILLARY, you deserve what you get.
    Surely, our politicians could come up with a solution. They concoct enough lies.
    As for our commentarians, well, put up or shut up.

    April 21, 2008 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  8. Brian M

    Social Security is coming up so leave it alone, or make it better . I didn't pay for 45 years so it could be used for someones pet idea . That certainly doesn't change the fact that no one living in the richest nation in the world should have to worry about health care, food or a place to live. We spend way too much on just about everything as a nation but the basic rights each person should have.
    There is a lot to be said for being safe and secure and sometimes it means taking a stand or helping others outside our country, but our priority should always be minimum services for all in America. I don't know which of the current crop of candidates is best or worse, none are great, but we will get by, so listen to what issues we can, and roll the dice together.

    April 21, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  9. David, Silver Spring, MD

    Based on the quotation from McCain, I'd say he was calling his own statement a "cheap shot." That is, the fact that he was a POW was an easy rebuttal to Edwards' claim that he had life-long insurance, plus a way to remind people yet again of his "hero" status.

    How about we just put Obama in the White House and get on with fixing our problems.

    April 21, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  10. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Tell it like it is Elizabeth Edwards. John McCain is a fraud and uses his POW as a platform and has done nothing to support veterans that served in Vietnam.

    April 21, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  11. Joe from Virginia

    It is just simple PEOPLE.... Mc Cain is out -of- touch with the American people. He is out-of-touch on the economic, health care and the Iraq war issues. I wonder if he is informed on the issues. This guy just wants to be the president of the United States and has nothing to offer... I wonder if he can withstand the rigors of the presidency considering his age. He just wants to be a one time president. He can’t even run for a re-election if he should win in the fall elections…because he will be… what?…76 years old in 2012.

    April 21, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  12. Pam

    This Billionaire does not have a clue about the economy, healthcare or the average american people .

    The Clintons and McCains of the world have nothing to loose and everything to gain from the WHITE HOUSE.

    Please America, put someone in there that actually wants to do something, who has something at stake and we will see CHANGE!

    Obama 08

    April 21, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  13. r. johnson

    Neither Elizabeth nor John Edwards are qualifed to kiss John McCain's shoes.

    April 21, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  14. Drew, FL

    He's so out of touch with most of America. It's truly sad to see from someone I used to respect. The Straight Talk, Senator McCain, is that we can some up your intentions by your own words. Bomb, bomb, bomb. Bomb, bomb Iran if you and your Republican buddies can't get your 100-year Iraq war.

    I certainly hope Sen. Edwards gets a cabinet level position. Best wishes to you Mrs. Edwards.

    April 21, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  15. Tyler

    I always love when McCain starts criticizing Hillary and Obama's plans for healthcare. He says, " I just don't know where we are going to get the $30 billion to pay for that." Okay, but where are we going to get the $171 billion per year that he wants to spend continuing this war? Let's at least spend money we don't have on our own people, not on other countries!

    April 21, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  16. Chris

    As we all know, neither John Edwards nor his wife have what it takes to be president of these United States. I find Senator McCain to be a patriot who may/may not become president, but certainly has the character that this country needs and that most Democratic candidates do not have. Let's just hope that some of the people's votes besides those who are superdelegates get counted this year.

    April 21, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  17. Anthony in PA

    I think it is obvious who John Edwards will endorse. Edwards health care plan is strikingly similar to Hillary's. Elizabeth Edwards has praised Hillary's plan and I hope they speak their minds before the North Carolina primary.

    April 21, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  18. Bill

    Looks like Elizabeth is doing the Edwards' talking these days.

    April 21, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  19. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    In any back and forth between McCain and Elizabeth Edwards on health care, Elizabeth wins hands down. You can't win this one John, just shut up and go wave another flag or something.

    April 21, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  20. chris

    He's probably the most out of touch with Americans than all of the candidates

    – Wife with $100+ million
    – Doesn't have to worry about Social Security b/c his job provides it free "and" since his generation is funded
    – Has basically had free healthcare his entire life
    – 70 yrs old – he's not really thinking about where we need to be in 20-30-40 yrs like our youth are
    – Does he have any kids? if not, this is another out-of-touch topic that many Americans have to deal with (care, insurance, college funding)

    April 21, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  21. Nobillary Andobama

    Brilliant plan liberals....lets take another step towards socializing this country by nationalizing healthcare....absolutely brilliant.....I'm sure it will work out perfectly since our Federal government is so efficient at running every other nationalized benefits program....no bureaucracy and red tape whatsoever....

    And how are we going to finance it?

    Let's just surrender to the terrorists and use all the money we would spend to fight those guys plus some more money we get by increasing taxes and everyone can have free health care and all the prescription drugs you want..........BRILLIANT

    America wake up!
    Act now......end Socialism

    April 21, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  22. bdc

    already getting tired of him playing the "vet card" – citing his service as the answer to anything when he gets any type of hard question when his policy doesn't measure up. Its as if he's saying, I won't give you health care but that's ok because remember, I was a POW. Vote for me.

    Let me rattle off a list of bad ideas for the country... but vote for me because I was a POW.

    I'm glad he loves the country and has sacrificed for it, but that doesn't make him qualified to lead – that takes intelligence.

    April 21, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  23. h innocent

    it's too bad, a great country like usa health care is a problem.i am with miss edwards we should have the same health care as these politicians.

    April 21, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  24. John Smith

    The Dems in PA can help the party by bringing this primary to a quick conclusion. That is, if they love the party and this nation over their support for Hillary. We all know who has the numbers regardless of how long this campaign goes on. Hillary's chances are so small that a vote for her is to encourage the party to continue to suffer under Hillary's need to win at all cost! This is common sense, Hillary does not have the number of (a) pledged delegates and (b) popular votes to continue without making it easy for the Republicans to win the general election. I do not hate Hillary; I love this nation and the party better than Hillary.

    April 21, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  25. Terri Patanus


    I hope you are doing well. PLEASE ask your husband to support HILLARY.

    April 21, 2008 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
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