Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards has been campaigning in western Iowa today. This evening he’ll appear in Des Moines at a rally with his runningmate — democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. Last night’s debate between President Bush and John Kerry is the hot topic on the campaign trail today. Vice President and Mrs. Cheney have complained that John Kerry took a cheap shot at their daughter, Mary, last night by talking about her sexuality.

During an interview today with Radio Iowa, Edwards defended Kerry. Edwards said Cheney himself talked about his daughter’s homosexuality during an appearance in Davenport when Cheney was asked about President Bush’s push for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

“You know, I said in my debate (with Cheney) that you had to admire their family for embracing their daughter and loving their daughter and they were like millions of parents across the country and we shouldn’t use this issue to divide us.”

Edwards says Cheney himself thanked him for saying those things in their face-to-face debate. Republicans have been ridiculing Edwards this week for saying that Kerry’s sanction of embryonic stem cell research will help people get up out of their wheelchairs and walk again. Edwards says he does not regret making the statement.

“My point was that people like Christopher Reeve represent hope and for them at least embryonic stem cell research represents hope,” Edwards said. “I think unless we do the research, we don’t know what’s possible and I think, for me at least, the point was to put a human face on something, on an issue that’s very important to a lot of Americans.”

Polls show the health care issue, in general is the number one concern of Iowans, ahead of jobs and terrorism. Edwards held meetings in Sioux City and Council Bluffs, focusing on the issue and laying the blame for health insurance hikes on President Bush. Edwards said health insurance premiums in Iowa are up $3500 in the past four years. He said the Kerry plan will cover millions more Americans, give Americans the chance to buy the same health care plan members of Congress can buy, and take the catastrophic — the most expensive — cases out of the private insurance system so the government pays those costs — hopefully reducing private insurance premiums in the process. At least two campaign ads running now in Iowa attack trial lawyers for being the main cause of medical malpractice insurance hikes. Neither mention Edwards — who is a trial lawyer — by name, but he has a response. Edwards accuses President Bush and Vice President Cheney of standing with insurance companies, drug companies and H-M-Os. Edwards said he and Kerry will enforce new courtroom rules to keep frivolous lawsuits out of the legal system. Edwards said that’s the best way to help control medical malpractice insurance rates. Bush proposes capping the amount of money someone who sues a doctor or hospital can get from a lawsuit.