And I want to say something else. You know, Senator Obama consistently misstates what I had said and really tries to gloss over his answer to a question in an early debate.
The question was very specific -- would you, without preconditions, meet with five of the worst dictators, including Ahmadinejad from Iran and others, without preconditions, personally, as president? He said yes. I said no.
That has nothing to do with whether or not we would havediplomatic efforts with all of the countries. I've been a longtime advocate of having diplomatic processes with Iran and Syria.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you're open to direct contact with all those countries?
CLINTON: I think it's imperative.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You're open to direct contact with...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... all those countries?
CLINTON: Well, with Iran and Syria, most certainly. I have said that. But it would be at low level diplomatic efforts, between our ambassadors and between our diplomats, because I don't think a president should put the prestige of the United States on the line to meet with these people unless you have some idea of what is going to happen.
And I'm always a little amused when Senator Obama goes around quoting President Kennedy, when he was running for the presidency, about how you should never be afraid to negotiate.
But then if you look at the actual transcript of what President Kennedy said in the debates with Vice President Nixon, he said he would not meet with Khrushchev unless there had been a lot of groundwork laid.
That is the appropriate position for the president of the UnitedStates to take. And so, I really hope that Senator Obama will quit deliberately misstating what I said in order to avoid scrutiny for what he says.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let's look at health care, another contrastbetween you and Senator Obama. He's been pressing that case this weekend.
The key difference, as you point out, is you would require everyone to have health insurance. You believe that will get to universal coverage. He would not.
Here's what Senator Obama said about that in the debate.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
OBAMA: You can mandate it, but there's still going to be people who can't afford it. And if they cannot afford it, then the question is what are you going to do about it? Are you going to fine them? Are you going to garnish their wages?
(END AUDIO CLIP)
STEPHANOPOULOS: You didn't get the chance to answer that question in the debate.
What is the answer to those two questions? Will you have fines for people who don't buy health care, don't apply -- don't go by the mandate? Will you garnish their wages?
CLINTON: George, let's put this in context, because this is a big difference between us. I think universal health care is a core Democratic value and a moral principle, and I'm absolutely going to doeverything I can to achieve that.
You know, if you look at my plan, it's a misstatement to say that people won't be able to afford it, because I have a very detailed approach about giving people health care tax credits,limiting -- I'm the only person who does -- limiting the percentage of what you would have to pay for a premium to a low percent of yourincome.
This plan has been examined by independent experts, and they agree with me, just as they agreed with Senator Edwards, as well, that if you do not start with a plan that attempts to achieve universal health care, you will not get there.