From NBC's Andrew Merten
ARLINGTON, Va. -- While Brownback and Huckabee will be participating in Lance Armstrong's LIVESTRONG Presidential Cancer Forum later today, Romney discussed the same topic here this morning. In a discussion with Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker, he touted his record of near-universal private health-care coverage as governor of Massachusetts and pledged a renewed effort in the White House for cancer research.
"It costs more money for us as a society to have people without health insurance," Romney told about 1,000 mostly female audience members. "It's pretty clear that breast cancer and cancer in general are not getting their fair share" of attention from Washington. He pledged that allocation of public funds for cancer research would be decided on the basis of science and not political favors, saying, he will "blast the message out there and blast the people who are sending money out based on politics."
Although Romney said, "There's no substitute for funding," he conceded he has not yet formulated exact numbers. "It's a little early to put together a budget," he said, jokingly. And while he stressed the importance of market-based health care in arriving at universal coverage, he resisted making any digs at his potential Democratic presidential opponents.
Romney was the only presidential hopeful to attend Komen's 10th Annual Mission Conference this week in Arlington, Va., but others (Brownback, Clinton, Edwards, Giuliani, and Richardson) made pre-recorded interviews, which were shown yesterday. After her discussion with Romney, Komen founder Nancy Brinker told NBC News that she is not disappointed other candidates couldn't make it to the event in person.
"We're not in Iowa," Brinker said. "We're not where a lot of the candidates have been this last week." And when asked if she thought Lance Armstrong's concurrent cancer forum in Iowa has taken away from the number of candidates attending Komen, said, "Oh no, it's great to have a lot of voices in the cancer community working at the same time."