Tuesday, October 12, 2004
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist attacked Sen. John Edwards on Tuesday over a comment the Democratic vice presidential candidate made regarding actor Christopher Reeve.
Edwards said Reeve, who died Sunday, "was a powerful voice for the need to do stem cell research and change the lives of people like him.
"If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve will get up out of that wheelchair and walk again," Edwards said.
Frist, a Republican from Tennessee, called Edwards' remark "crass" and "shameful," and said it gave false hope that new treatments were imminent.
Edwards campaign spokesman Mark Kornblau hit back, "Yes, breakthrough research often takes time, but that's never been a reason to not even try -- until George Bush."
Edwards made the comment Monday while he was stumping in Newton, Iowa.
Frist, who was a heart surgeon before coming to the Senate, responded Tuesday in a conference call with reporters arranged by the Bush-Cheney campaign.
"I find it opportunistic to use the death of someone like Christopher Reeve -- I think it is shameful -- in order to mislead the American people," Frist said. "We should be offering people hope, but neither physicians, scientists, public servants or trial lawyers like John Edwards should be offering hype.
"It is cruel to people who have disabilities and chronic diseases, and, on top of that, it's dishonest. It's giving false hope to people, and I can tell you as a physician who's treated scores of thousands of patients that you don't give them false hope."