From NBC's Lauren Appelbaum
Clinton was the first presidential candidate to speak at the LIVESTRONG presidential cancer forum, moderated by Lance Armstrong and MSNBC's Chris Matthews. Clinton, Edwards, Richardson, and Kucinich were the only Democrats who attended the forum today -- and Brownback and Huckabee are the only two to attend the Republican forum tomorrow. As he did on Meet the Press yesterday, Armstrong expressed his disappointment that other candidates chose not to attend. "It is my belief, like a lot of other Americans, that the next occupant of the Oval Office must discuss this critical issue with voters," Armstrong said at the beginning of the forum.
Matthews asked Clinton about this during her first question -- bringing up Giuliani, McCain, and Obama, all who have a close connection to cancer but didn't attend. Clinton did not attack either Obama or any of her potential GOP opponents, but instead promised to renew Nixon's "war on cancer," making it one of her "big goals." She brought up her universal health-care plan (which she will reportedly unveil next month) several times, tying it in to her war on cancer answer. "The big goal of the war against cancer has to be fit into the absolute essential goal of quality affordable health care, universal health care for every single American," Clinton said. "You cannot do one without the other, and we need to do both, and I intend to."
Clinton earned her largest applause for calling an end to President Bush's "war against science." "The president of the United States has been leading an assault on science and research," she said. "The two priorities of this president have been the war in Iraq and tax cuts for the wealthy -- neither of which he's paid for, while he has cut the budget for the National Institute of Health and the National Cancer Institute. At the same time, he has prevented a very strong majority in the Congress and the country from proceeding in an ethical way with stem cell research, which I think holds out promise for certain forms of cancer, and has muzzled government scientists, closed down government websites, refused to allow this country to continue in our governmental capacity -- this inquiry, this freedom of thought, that has made this a great country for so many years."
When asked if she agrees with a national ban on smoking, Clinton said yes, but she did not call for federal regulation. Rather, she said localities, counties, and states should ban smoking in public places. Yet she did say that the Food and Drug Administration should regulate tobacco, calling it an "addictive deadly substance."
Of note, Clinton referred several times to her nine-point plan to win the war against cancer, but she never articulated the nine steps.