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Hillary-obama, Gore-bradley, And Health Care


The Clinton-Obama battle has long had interesting parallels to the Gore-Bradley fight in 2000. Most obviously that means Obama's effort to make an argument against a Washington insider about political process and the nature of the capital, which is what Bradley sought to do to Gore.

But people who followed the 2000 primary will recall how Gore ultimately beat down Bradley. It wasn't by counterattacking Bradley's vision for a new brand of politics. It was by savaging Bradley's health care plan. And that's what Hillary Clinton is doing know. With polls showing that Obama's (and John Edwards's) attacks on her character and political style are doing harm, she's shifting the debate to the details of health care.

Only this time the roles from 2000 are reversed. Back then Bradley had offered a universal health care plan, and mocked Gore as a timid incrementalist. Gore responded by viciously (and, many people said, inaccurately) ripping apart Bradley's plan as impractical and risky.

This time it's the frontrunning insider, Hillary, who is pushing the more ambitious universal plan, while Obama's is a more cautious non-universal alternative. (Though admittedly Obama's plan is far more ambitious than was Gore's in 2000, when the HillaryCare fiasco was much fresher.)

Hillary has now become a sort of Gore-Bradley composite. She plays the Bradley role by offering the more sweeping plan. And she plays the Gore role by launching harsh attacks on the technical details of her rival's proposal. 

The latest salvo in this fight is a conference call the Clinton campaign staged this morning to demand that Obama take down a TV ad in which he claims his health plan covers everyone. 

Time has audio of the call. More, including the ad in question, here.

P.S.  One interesting footnote to the call: Note how Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle says "we applaud Senator Edwards and Senator Dodd and others" for offering universal-care plans. Why praise a bitter rival like Edwards? Perhaps it's a reminder that the Clintons would dearly prefer to lose to Edwards in Iowa than lose to Obama. Even with an Iowa win, Edwards will face a tough slog in New Hampshire and South Carolina, where he has less organization and poll strength. An Iowa win rockets Obama forward with potentially devastating effect for Hillary

--Michael Crowley