Tom Brokaw put the question to each candidate, "Is health care in America a privilege, a right, or a responsibility?" I'm not sure what McCain meant by, "I think it's a responsibility, in this respect, in that we should have available and affordable health care to every American citizen, to every family member," which seemed to suggest it was a right, but couched in responsibility. Obama was a bit more forthright, averring that it was a "right." His introductory remarks managed to connect his big-picture thought on the matter with both his biography -- a poignant reminder of his mother's final days -- and the kitchen-table issue of the declining economy. I recall that the last Democratic candidate for President who managed these sorts of connections was named Bill Clinton.
OBAMA: Well, I think it should be a right for every American. In a country as wealthy as ours, for us to have people who are going bankrupt because they can't pay their medical bills -- for my mother to die of cancer at the age of 53 and have to spend the last months of her life in the hospital room arguing with insurance companies because they're saying that this may be a pre-existing condition and they don't have to pay her treatment, there's something fundamentally wrong about that.
[View Obama's complete remarks on healthcare.]
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