Aggressive, increasingly so. That is how staff reporter John McCormick of the Chicago Tribune describes U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton this morning. In an interview her campaign offered the Tribune she takes off her verbal kid gloves for a direct attack on competing U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Barak Obama. The main topic of this attack? Mandated health care, an issue we also covered in yesterday's post.
Mr. McCormick provides commentary on the clash:
The two Democratic candidates have been sparring in recent days over health care, with Clinton charging that Obama's health plan would not offer true universal coverage because he would not require all Americans to buy into a plan as she would. Obama has countered that his proposal offers guaranteed access at lower costs.
"One of the things Sen. Obama takes credit for as a state senator is a health-care task force that looked into the question of how do you provide universal health care in Illinois," Clinton said. "[That report] was clear: If you want universal health care you have to have a mandate."
Although the task force did recommend a mandate, it also suggested exemptions to penalties for Illinois residents who couldn't buy insurance or get it from an employer. When Gov. Rod Blagojevich unveiled his health-reform proposal earlier this year, he ultimately stopped short of such a requirement.
He goes on to chronicle many of the back and forth accusations and the constant re-framing of this discussion that has occurred between the two candidates. Obama's campaign points out that Sen. Clinton was against mandates in the '90s when last she made headlines with health care reform. Clinton's campaign denies it. The really interesting new statement arising from the Tribune interview is this one:
Clinton said she is puzzled by Obama's approach.
"Sen. Obama [is] now criticizing a mandate, when he has one in his own plan, when he helped to set up a task force that says there has to be a mandate," she said. "And there are lots of ways to do it, through default enrollment, through going to schools, workplaces to enroll people."
The question of who will win this battle of words and policies will be resolved soon, and then it will be time for the presidential race itself. I wonder what sort of things will enter the health care debate over the course of Election Year? I am sure that more comments like this one (also from the Tribune interview) should be expected:
"I have for months tried to stay positively on the issues, to talk about what I will do as president, to set forth my credentials and experience, the strengths that I think I bring to the position," she said.
"But I have been attacked pretty regularly by my two leading opponents, and it's gone on for months. So, at some point, as we get toward the end of these campaigns, you have to stand up and rebut what people are saying and put out the contrasts, and that is what I intend to do."
SOURCE: "Clinton Hits Obama on Health Care" 11/28/07
photo courtesy of borman818 remixed and used under this Creative Commons license