DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary
Rodham Clinton vowed Monday to create a universal health care
system if elected, saying she "learned a lot" during the failed
health care effort of her husband's presidency.
"We're going to have universal health care when I'm president -
there's no doubt about that. We're going to get it done," the New
York senator and front-runner for the 2008 nomination said.
Clinton focused on health care issues during an appearance on
ABC's "Good Morning America" broadcast from the state where
precinct caucuses will launch the presidential nominating season.
Asked how she could improve on her failed effort to reform
health care during her husband's presidency, Clinton said pressure
for change has built in the last decade and that would make
tackling the issue easier.
"I believe the American people are going to make this an
issue," said Clinton. "I believe we're in a better position today
to do that than we were in '93 and '94. ... It's one of the reasons
I'm running for president."
After the televised meeting, Clinton headed to a Des Moines
elementary school to receive the endorsement of former Gov. Tom
Vilsack and his wife, Christie.
"Hillary Clinton has been tried and tested like no other
candidate for president," Tom Vilsack said.
His wife added, "To me, this is not just an endorsement but a
Clinton said her relationship with the Vilsacks dates to her
work in the 1970s with Christie Vilsack's late brother, lawyer Tom
"We will be crisscrossing Iowa and crisscrossing America,"
In her earlier appearance, Clinton argued that health coverage
has deteriorated over the last decade, and that's increased public
pressure to act.
"The number of uninsured has grown," said Clinton. "It's hard
to ignore the fact that nearly 47 million people don't have health
insurance, but also because so many people with insurance have
found it's difficult to get health care because the insurance
companies deny you what you need."
Clinton opened her latest campaign swing with a live broadcast
from the Science Center of Iowa, where she spoke to more than 200
activists at a town meeting about health care issues. It's an issue
with which she is very familiar. After her husband won the White
House in 1992, she headed an effort to put a universal health care
system in place. That effort eventually collapsed under pressure in
part from the insurance industry.
However, while Clinton said the issue continues to be a high
priority for her, she has not offered up a specific plan. One
questioner at the town hall meeting held up a copy of a DVD
containing a detailed description of Democratic rival John Edwards'
plan for universal health care, asking Clinton if she will also
The reason she hasn't "set out a plan and said here's exactly
what I will do," Clinton said, is that she wants to hear from
voters what kind of plan they would favor.
"I want the ideas that people have," said Clinton. She said
any health care plan must deal with the reality that there's a
unique climate in the country.
"We are bigger and more diverse and people like their choice,"
Edwards, a former North Carolina senator and 2004 Democratic
runningmate, has said it's inevitable that taxes would have to go
up to finance an expensive health care plan. Clinton disagreed.
"We've got to get the costs under control," said Clinton.
"Why would we put more money into a dysfunctional system?"
Clinton sidestepped a question on whether she'd consider Vilsack
as a potential runningmate should she win the nomination.
"I am a very big fan of Governor Vilsack," Clinton said,
adding that he has "the kind of practical but visionary leadership
we need in our country."
Vilsack was the first Democrat to formally enter the 2008
presidential race in November, but he dropped out last month citing
the difficulty in raising the tens of millions of dollars necessary
to mount a credible bid.