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May 13th, 2008
01:01 PM ET

Hillary Clinton's line-in-the-sand issue

William Schneider
Senior political analyst

Something Hillary Clinton said at a children’s hospital in Portland, Oregon, last week caught my eye:

"How can anyone run for Democratic nominee for President and not have a universal health care plan? This is a huge, huge difference and one I feel passionately about.’’

With that, she defined her biggest issue difference with Obama. In fact, one of her only issue differences with Obama (unless you count the gas tax holiday, which is silly).

This could be the line-in-the-sand issue Clinton takes to the convention, demanding a platform plank calling for universal health care as a victory for her campaign.

Reagan did that in 1976, demanding that the Republican Party repudiate the Nixon-Ford policy of détente (it did).

Kennedy did that in 1980, demanding that the Democratic Party endorse a big jobs program (it didn’t).

Ford and Carter both went on to lose.

soundoff (72 Responses)
  1. linda

    I'm not so sure why everyone thinks Hillary is doing so great. She's only winning the unedcuated "bluecollar lunch-bucket" voters. If I was a bluecollar worker I sure would be insulted to the max. Maybe all these uneducated, bluecollar lunch-bucket voters need to get on the band wagon with the "EDUCATED, affluent voters and vote Obama.

    May 14, 2008 at 9:34 am |
  2. Joyce-Houston

    Hilliary is talking about Universal Health Care what she is not telling every body She will have the Government to take it out of their Income tax check and it will be mandatory for every one whether they can afford it or not.
    That will be like we are in a Third World Country and America is suppose to be the Land Of The Free.
    Sure it sound nice the way she says it but people need to ask her how will she accomplish that.
    She already stated that uneducated white Folks voted for her and Educated White Filks vote for Obama.
    Heath Care for Adults should be their Choice Not Hilliary.
    I believe all Children should be covered and let the Adults make up their own minds about Health Care.

    May 14, 2008 at 9:10 am |
  3. Dee nTexas

    The only line in the sand is that Hillary and Bill is damaging the Democratic Party with their 'poor loser tactics.' I wish they would go and hide under the biggest rock in a far away land.

    May 14, 2008 at 7:42 am |
  4. deb in az

    everyone wonders if the democratic party will come together and vote for sen obama for the president........i would bet that if sen obama gets the nomination that john mccain will win......cnn seems to forget his minister and the rest of his baggage that he brings to the table.... if all these poll takers would do some extensive polls in the states that already voted they might get a different take on how people feel now that his baggage has been laid out.......he is just another politician........you want change? check your pockets if he gets elected.........what a joke

    May 14, 2008 at 4:05 am |
  5. JT

    If Obama is the likely democratic nominee,

    Why did he got blown away in W Virginia?

    Because he will not be the nominee.

    Hillary will be the nominee.

    Hillary 08!!

    May 14, 2008 at 2:11 am |
  6. Debbie in VA

    Two election issues I’d like to address here:

    1. Regarding the Democratic candidate in the November elections:
    In one breath, Hillary claims that she should be the nominee because she can deliver “key,” “swing,” “big” and/or “red” states and that Barack cannot. In the next breath, she claims that she will support/campaign for whoever is the Democratic nominee. Does that mean that she will only put forth the effort to deliver those states in November if SHE is the Democratic nominee? If so, her word means nothing.

    2. Regarding the Michigan and Florida early primary issue:
    The rules were known by both the voters and the candidates months before the polls opened. No one was hoodwinked. All candidates agreed to abide by the rules and signed pledges to adhere to the DNC’s primary calendar rules. Now that Hillary is behind in delegates, she is protesting that people in Michigan and Florida are being disenfranchised. Why protest now and not before the voting in those states began? The only thing that has changed is that she isn’t winning.

    What does changing the rules when you are behind tell our young people? It tells them that it doesn’t matter what you agree to in the beginning, all that matters is that you do whatever you have to do to win. If the rules are changed now, isn’t that tantamount to what happened in Kansas when the School Board overturned the teacher’s grades for the students who plagiarized? There, too, the participants (parents and students) signed off on what the penalty would be for plagiarism. How not to play fair nor keep one’s word, is not what we should be teaching our children.

    Isn’t the bottom line for both these issues that Hillary will say whatever she has to and agree to whatever she has to until she convinces enough people that she should win. Doesn’t that mean that she doesn’t care about keeping her word? Isn’t that “business as usual” in politics?

    May 14, 2008 at 2:07 am |
  7. Suzanne

    Anderson Cooper himself said many times while selling his book that "Hope is not a plan". Should Senator Obama win this nomination, I will hope he can see his way through the fog with absolutely no compass. I think the reason so many pundits and anchors have stopped talking about Iraq in regards to this election is that we all know – conservatives, liberals, democrats, republicans – that we cannot leave the Iraqi people behind. To the world,collectively we Americans started this war. Collectively, we must end it without leaving the Iraqi people to suffer even more. I was 13 when the films of the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy from Vietnam ran. All those innocent people from the roof of the Embassy begging to be airlifted away. The ensuing torment of the people left behind still echoes.

    May 14, 2008 at 2:03 am |
  8. Jim

    Hillary needs to drop out. Too much baggage. Either Obama or Clinton can win West Virginia in the fall. Both candatates are so close to each other on issues that fighting McCain requires a candidate with the least baggage. That is Obama.

    Bill and Hillary carry heavy baggage from eight years of travelgates land deals, mysterys, special procecutors and impeachment etc. The the Republicans will run on Bill and Hillary's baggage. Republicans have nothing else. Bill and Hillary will bring Republicans out in droves to vote against her and not cross over for Obama as many are inclined to do now.

    Democrats are playing into the Republican play book. Stop it!!

    May 14, 2008 at 1:29 am |
  9. ophelia/FL

    All of the states that Hillary's winning are clearly Racist, why are we not talking about that, and they are the states that have been picking our President for all of these years, that is why Black People have had it so hard for all of these years!!!!

    May 14, 2008 at 12:42 am |
  10. Marc, Canada

    Hillary had 8 years to get universal health care and failed. What makes her think she will get it done this time? She owes to many favors to too many funders of her campaign to get anything changed in Washington.

    May 13, 2008 at 11:55 pm |
  11. Tammy From New York

    I think Hillary Clinton biggest problem is that 60% of Americans don't trust her. Clinton has done everything from negative ads, cheapshots, slander to blow Obama out of this race besides honest. Hillary Clinton has conflicting, flip flop oppositions that lead most of supporters to Obama in the first place. Her vote for the war, her support for Nafta during the Clinton administration, and her bosnia gaffe, never was discussed or spoke in greater detail inwhich may have cost her this election. This is also true with the gas tax holiday gimmick. Everybody else thought it was a terrible idea and here is Hillary Clinton and her campaign trying to make sense of how it could work instead of the chances of it really happening. She has a problem with realizing she made a mistake and confronting it head on. Instead she fights it to the end and hopes it goes away but it does along with some of her support. Hillary Clinton has not been herself throughout this campaign, she's worn several different faces and its a problem to voters who are comparing a new president to the likes of President Bush. If Hillary Clinton is coming off untrustworthy and pandering just to get votes it makes people feel she doesn't mean what she say's. This is what has worked for Obama. Letting Hillary look like the bad guy and going on the stump and telling people she's who he's not and arguing change. The sad thing about it is Hillary Clinton still doesn't know where she went wrong because Obama is right, Hillary only thinks fighting is the only requirment but she normally ends up fighting her own party. This is true with her universial healthcare that she's braggs about advocating for 15 years. This is also true now, she's fighting to stay in a race inwhich she is a Democrat nominee. Why is she always in the position to fight those inwhich she's supposed to be apart off. Has any body notice this about Hillary Clinton.

    May 13, 2008 at 11:49 pm |
  12. Brad Sterman

    After seeing Obama speech today I can remember why I like him and at the same time why I changed my mind... Change for the sake of change is no change at all!

    May 13, 2008 at 11:40 pm |
  13. Linda

    Senator Obama is a man of character. Unlike Hillary who is full of contradictions and deceptions. Hillay Clinton has been willing to cheat, lie, stab her workers in the back and manipulate us by fear to vote for her. Senator Obama has something very important that Hillay Clinton and John McCain doesn't have and that is character. When Obama is president he will help us find our way.

    May 13, 2008 at 11:38 pm |
  14. nate

    Obama is heading down the same path that Kerry did in 2004 which cost Kerry his bid for the Presidency, both of them is leaning to far to the left and alienating rational discerning voters who are at the political center. First of all, although the Iraq war appears to be a huge mistake including the reasons supporting the war, the war on terror is very real. Islamic extremist as well as the governments that support them cannot be dealt with diplomacally without surrendering our sovereignty, our freedoms and our values. Obama cannot afford to downplay this reality with uplifting speeches about his personal life. He needs to start using strong language (almost premptive) so that it strikes fear in the hearts of our enemies. Second, he cannot preach strong family values and at the same time embrace gay marriages. Lastly, his view on raising income tax needs to be withdrawn to ensure responsible taxpayers that they will not be unjustly given the bill for those who do not properly exercise financial restraint and personal responsibility. If he follows these three things, he will beat McCain. If not, he will loose big!

    May 13, 2008 at 11:33 pm |
  15. Dewayne

    I wonder why she pushes Florida and Michigan then turns around and says some states are better then others because she won there. What kind of a presidency would she have. I can see her setting in her chair the VP comes in and says he made a decision. She asks him if he ran it by her new cabinate position Exec VP Bill Clinton.

    May 13, 2008 at 11:31 pm |
  16. Kathy, Andover

    Apparently, Hillary thinks arrogance is a good presidential trait.

    May 13, 2008 at 11:15 pm |
  17. Scott DC

    My beloved democratic party needs to wake up! Sen. Obama does not have any chance of winning the general election against McCain. And, for the first time, the issue of Clinton supporters NOT voting for Obama even if he is the nominee, has finally come to the air waves. In the polling of WV voters, the results are clear....Clinton backers are not buying Obama's pipe dreams regarding the future. This is a BIG problem for Obama. In addition, Obama has so much negative baggage, just wait until the Republican machine unleashes holy war against him and his wife's ridiculous comments!! Will the party nominate a canidate that does not even reverence the flag during the Pledge or the National Anthem? Not going to happen chairman Dean....Clinton supporters will not be with you. Plan B?

    May 13, 2008 at 11:02 pm |
  18. Kathy - Tennessee

    Obama defended Wright, refused to disown him, then did disown him. Obama wants change – what change? He appeals the most to the young idealists – think about it – the most liberal Senator elected President with a likely Democratic Senate! If you want a little common sense moderation here, you might want to think about Clinton as the Democratic candidate.

    May 13, 2008 at 10:59 pm |
  19. Marion Ok.

    Senator Obama's health care package is available if one wants to pay for it instead of a new 54 inch HD TV. Even those families who can afford it will find a reason not to buy in. He seems happy that hard working white peoples' taxes are paying for health care, food, housing and other expenses of irresponsible people.
    He is a socialist. Period.
    Voters need to think hard and long before electing a socialist type.

    May 13, 2008 at 10:50 pm |
  20. Eric

    Paul Begala's comment about not having anything to talk about if Senator Clinton withdraws is completely superficial and outrageous! How about talking about Myanmar? or China? or Colombia? or the Fed and Bear Stearns? How about the rising cost of food or oil? How about the floods in the Midwest? Say something worthwhile.

    May 13, 2008 at 10:45 pm |
  21. Kate

    The most interesting thing tonight is that a Democrat Won the Mississippi Special Election held by Republicans for so many years.

    May 13, 2008 at 10:43 pm |
  22. Surafel

    What is She talking about? Barack Obama has a better plan that hers; economists agree and support his plan for universal health care. Clinton plan actually will be bad for me, because it’s mandatory. The huge difference is, Barack stand for change in politics and other issues. He don’t do any favor to PAC or special interest which takes me to holiday gas, in which she played the old politics and her close door meeting to solve universal health care [booed by many struggle American].

    May 13, 2008 at 10:40 pm |
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