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Obama on mandates, Bill Clinton

From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan
In a conference call to announce the personal endorsement of Linda Nelson, president of the Iowa State Education Association, Obama said that he would "fine parents" in order to enforce the mandate in his health insurance plan that all children be covered.

"I would sign them up in school in the same way they would get inoculated. I would fine parents if form some reason they refused. I am happy to be very clear on how we would enforce the mandate," Obama said. He went on to say that he believed that the vast majority of American parents wanted to ensure that their children did receive health coverage.

Obama once again questioned Clinton's health-care plan, saying that her criticisms of own his plan, which does not mandate health insurance for all Americans, overlook the costs of health care. And he criticized her for not explaining how she would mandate coverage. "Unfortunately she hasn't told anybody how she would enforce this mandate," Obama said.

"Until she clarifies what she would do to enforce this mandate, is she going to fine people or take other steps to enforce this? It's more of a political point she's trying to make a than a real point," he added.

Regarding President Bill Clinton's statement yesterday that he had opposed the Iraq war, Obama chuckled, "If he did I don't think most of us heard about it." Obama wouldn't comment further on the issue, simply saying, "All I know is that I opposed the war. Senator Clinton made a different decision. My understanding was that Senator Clinton and President Clinton were talking frequently, and you'll have to ask them about that."

The conference call also focused on Obama's education plan, which he released last week in New Hampshire. The plan calls for recruiting an army of new teachers and helping American kids learn math and science to become globally competitive.

When asked if he would be open to temporarily recruiting foreign teachers to the United States to make up for the shortfall in math and science teachers across the country, Obama said he thought the step was unnecessary and said the main issue in recruiting teachers was paying them more. He compared the short fall in teaching to nursing, saying that the main issue was pay.