From NBC's Lauren Appelbaum
Right off the bat, Richardson called for a renewed effort in Richard Nixon's war on cancer. "This president wants a surge in the war in Iraq," Richardson said in his opening statement. "I want a surge in the war on cancer." Instead of simply allocating more money for research funds, Richardson said presidential leadership is needed to win this war. He promised to use both the bully pulpit of the president to promote healthy lifestyles and to have the same motivation John F. Kennedy had when he said America would go to the moon within 10 years.
Richardson said cancer is not a front-page issue because it is "not sexy." But he has a five-fold plan: (1) focus on prevention with healthy eating and exercise habits and a smoking ban; (2) make screening available to every American; (3) dramatically increase cancer research; (4) create a cancer czar (Richardson said Armstrong would be the choice whether he wanted to be or not); and (5) increase biomedical research.
Richardson defended his decision to pass a medical marijuana law as a treatment for pain. "The Bush administration is trying to prosecute Department of Health employees in New Mexico that are implementing this law," Richardson said. "You know what, we're going to fight them on this because they should be going after drug dealers instead of going after people that just want to have their pain eased from a deadly disease. That is wrong. That shows a misplaced priorities, not just in this administration, but also the priorities in this country."
But Richardson may have stumbled when Armstrong asked him how he has been personally affected by cancer. "You know, I've been fortunate," Richardson replied. "I've been lucky. You know, I've had good lifestyle choices."
He then, though, added that he was lucky to have good health-care coverage as a congressman and governor.