At a family farm barbecue in Dillonvale, Ohio, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., added yet another adviser of his rival, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to his repertoire of how McCain "just doesn’t get it."
Joining Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas — whose July comments that the U.S. was in a "mental recession" and had become "a nation of whiners" were received by Obama-like manna from Heaven — and McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, who said yesterday that "this election is not about issues," was less well-known McCain adviser, policy analyst John Goodman.
"Listen to this one," Obama told the crowd of 350 rural Ohioans, "you’ll like this one.
"John McCain –- the guy who helped write his health care policy — was interviewed in the Dallas Morning News the other day, and he said, ‘I’ve got a plan to get rid of all the uninsured,’" Obama said. "He said, ‘if they can go to an emergency room, then they are not uninsured and you should stop calling them uninsured.’
"That was his plan," Obama said, laughing with the crowd in apparent disbelief. "His plan wasn’t to give them health insurance. His plan was to just stop labeling them as uninsured. I’m serious. You’re laughing. This was his plan, it was in the newspaper. So, you just get a sense that these folks just don’t get it."
Obama was referring to an August 27 story in the Dallas Morning News about the U.S. Census finding that Texas has the highest percentage of residents without health insurance, with 24.8 percent of Texas residents uninsured in 2006 and 2007.
In that story, Goodman, president of the conservative National Center for Policy Analysis, was quoted saying the study was misleading since those with access to emergency rooms had a sort of insurance.
"So I have a solution," Goodman told the Morning News. "And it will cost not one thin dime. The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care. So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved."
But although Goodman says he helped craft the McCain health care policy, and although he was identified as an "unpaid adviser to the McCain campaign" in a July Wall Street Journal op-ed heralding the McCain health care plan — the McCain campaign says Mr. Goodman is not an adviser to the campaign.
At least not any longer.
"Mr. Goodman volunteered his advice to the campaign in the past," McCain spox Taylor Griffin tells ABC News. "However, his philosophy on health care–and especially on the urgency of the problems faced by 45 million uninsured American’s–are clearly out of step with John McCain."
Griffin says that "earlier this summer the campaign informed Mr. Goodman that his advice was not required and requested that he not identify himself as being associated with the campaign in any way, including as a volunteer. John McCain could not disagree more strongly with Mr. Goodman. John McCain believes that addressing the problem of the nation’s uninsured is one of our most pressing national priorities. That’s why the McCain health plan will, for the first time, bring health coverage within reach of every American."
– Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller