Four Democratic presidential candidates are appearing today at a forum in Cedar Rapids focused on the topic of cancer. "We all know the toll that this disease takes on people emotionally, physically and financially, so let’s get ourselves focused and prepared and organized to win the war against cancer," said Hillary Clinton, the first candidate to appear on stage.
The forum in Cedar Rapids is sponsored by MSNBC and LIVESTRONG, the organization headed by cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, the cycling champion. Clinton accused President Bush of declaring a war on science by standing in the way of stem cell research that might lead to cancer cures and for failing to properly fund the National Cancer Institute.
"What really bothers me is that we are on the brink of so many medical breakthroughs right now and instead of pushing of pushing forward with the resources and the focus that is needed, the current administration has really called a halt in the war against cancer," Clinton said.
Clinton stopped short of promising to sign a federal law declaring all public places in the United States smoke-free, as she said city and state governments are starting to pass such restrictions. John Edwards, the next candidate to take the stage, said he favored a ban on smoking in public places, but Edwards said he doesn’t know if such a federal law would be constitutional.
Edwards talked about his own wife’s cancer. "I will feel a deep and personal responsibility as president of the United States to lead in every possible way and in the most aggressive possible way to both treat cancer and find a cure for cancer," Edwards said.
Edwards said health care reform can’t be done with health care industry lobbyists at the table as they’re the ones who helped set up a system that’s currently denying benefits to people who have insurance.
"Here we have two lawyers, married, one of them diagnosed with breast cancer…and we get statements from the insurance company about what’s covered and what’s not. I have absolutely no idea what those things mean. I can’t make any sense out of ’em. I don’t know any reasonable person can," Edwards said.
Bill Richardson said the next president must lead an "all out assault" on cancer and other diseases like diabetes. "The American people need to have a government that is on their side, that is going to say — in the case of a pre-existing condition — if you have cancer from now on, insurance companies cannot deny you that coverage," Richardson said. "But at the same time there has to be personal responsibility and personal initiative that is fueled by a government that leads in terms of prevention."
Dennis Kucinich said if he’s elected president, he’ll try to fashion a "compassionate health care system which truly meets the needs of all of the American people."