Democrat John Edwards says there are "very substantive policy differences" among the health care reform plans advanced by himself and the other two leading presidential candidates in his party, but Edwards says he doesn’t want to get involved in the "sparring" that’s erupted between rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
"I was the first candidate to come out with a universal health care plan in February. I’m proud of that. I’ve led on this issue," Edwards says. "I think there are differences between us. Senator Obama’s plan is not universal. It does not require that everyone be covered and as many at 15 million Americans would not be covered and I’ve seen estimates where as many as 90,000 Iowans would be left without coverage."
Those are roughly the same statistics Clinton used yesterday in her harsh critique of Obama’s proposal. According to Edwards, Clinton’s plan is "very similar" to his, but like Obama did yesterday Edwards suggests Clinton’s doesn’t provide as many details about how to reach the goal of insuring every American has health care coverage.
"I have not seen any specifics about how her mandate would work or how she would enforce her mandate," Edwards says. "I’ve laid out exactly how my mandate would work and we have a way to make sure that it’s enforceable."
According to Edwards, a "threshold requirement" for health care reform is that every American be covered and he, like others, uses the term "universal" to describe that kind of coverage. Clinton has suggested Obama’s plan is "betraying" the "principles of the Democratic Party." Edwards won’t go that far.
"I’m not interested in that kind of language," Edwards says. "I want people to know that there are real differences on this issue and what those substantive differences are. Those are the choices voters have."
Edwards made his comments today during a question-and-answer session with reporters in Des Moines. When pressed by reporters about whether the Clinton versus Obama spat will dampen both of their chances in the Iowa Caucuses, Edwards said he wasn’t interested in being a "political consultant" and closed by saying he’s "not interested in petty bickering."
Click on the audio link below to the entire six-minute exchange with reporters.