From NBC's Andrew Merten
One point of difference that arose between Edwards and Clinton, who spoke immediately before him at the LIVESTRONG Presidential Cancer forum, was on the topic of a federal ban on smoking in public places. While Clinton said she supported such a ban, she stopped short of calling on federal regulation. Edwards, on the other hand, said support a ban "in public places, yes."
Edwards also continued his call for all Democrats to forego funding from Washington lobbyists, saying, "If you give them a seat at the table, they'll eat all the food."
After his speaking turn at the event, Edwards took questions from reporters. He was asked about Clinton touting herself as the experienced candidate on the issue of healthcare. "It's been 13 or 14 years -- I have to do the math -- since that effort was made, and we still don't have universal health care," Edwards said, "and you cannot have universal health care by negotiating with insurance companies and drug companies."
In his opening remarks at the forum, Edwards said, "Cancer is a huge personal cancer in our family." Edwards' wife's battle with breast cancer is well known. But he conceded that his family is luckier than most, saying, "The truth is, millions of women have been diagnosed with exactly what Elizabeth's been diagnosed with, and we've been blessed. I mean, we have the best health care that you could possibly have, but here's what we know -- what we know is that every single woman who's ever diagnosed with breast cancer should get exactly the same kind of treatment that Elizabeth has gotten."
He went on to say that his presidency would remain committed to finding a cure for "cancer at large." Edwards touted himself as the first candidate to come out with a truly universal health-care plan and lauded the benefits of early detection. "We don't just cover preventive care," Edwards said of his plan, "we mandate preventive care." He went on to lament the drop in approved research grants at the National Institutes for Health under the Bush administration, saying approvals have dropped from 50 to about 20 percent in recent years, adding, "We should turn loose these young creative researchers and allow them to run in an open field."
While Edwards could not give Lance Armstrong an exact number for how much he would increase federal funding of cancer research, he did say that he would "dramatically increase what we're doing today." Adding to the obvious moral implications of finding a cure, he cited the "economic benefit" of reducing the "hundreds of billions of dollars that we spend taking care of people with cancer," with more research funding, calling it "basic logic."