Iowans don’t like negative attacks. Time and again, when I was in Iowa chatting with attendees at Republican and Democratic events, I was told by voters that the “mudslinging” that goes on “in Washington” wasn’t of any concern to them. They were less likely to vote for a candidate if he or she went negative, even if that candidate had a legitimate critique of his or her rivals.
So if you’re Hillary Clinton and you want to point out that Barack Obama’s health care proposal isn’t as strong as yours, what can you do? How about putting out a flier that looks like it was created by the John Edwards campaign?
The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) is supporting Hillary Clinton. A recent flier that AFSCME put out in Iowa says, “For those without insurance, Barack Obama’s band-aid solution is no change at all.” Obama “claims his health care plan covers everyone, but his proposal does not match his words… Instead, Obama took the timid way out, offering yet another band-aid solution.”
That’s substantially more false than true. The Obama plan represents a significant change from the status quo, and if implemented successfully, will greatly increase the number of people with health insurance while simultaneously lowering the cost of coverage. However, the plan does not have a mandate, which means that some people could wiggle out of the system and remain uncovered. The Clinton and Edwards plans do have mandates, though the Edwards plan is widely seen as having better mechanisms for enforcing that mandate.
But when the flier concludes, “Barack Obama’s plan is just more of the same,” that’s dishonest.
Hillary Clinton won’t be taking any guff for it, however, because somehow her name is left off the flier completely. Instead, the flier quotes John Edwards as saying that “as many as 15 million Americans would be without coverage” under Obama’s plan. That’s a figure Clinton has repeatedly used; if the campaign had wanted to (or if AFSCME had wanted to), they could have easily used a Clinton quote.
Edwards, who has attacked Clinton before but usually declines to go negative on Obama, must hate that he’s being dragged into this. His campaign released a statement saying, “It’s fine to have an honest debate about policy, but Iowans deserve better than planted questions and campaign fliers designed to fool them.”