FIRST ... John Edwards introduced a TV ad in Iowa, threatening Congress to take away health insurance from Members of Congress if they haven't passed universal health care by July 2009.
"When I'm president, I'm gonna to say to members of Congress, and members of my administration, including my Cabinet, 'I'm glad that you have health care coverage and your family has health care coverage. But if you don't pass universal health care by July of 2009, in six months, I'm gonna to use my power as president to take your health care away from you.'" Edwards says to applause. "There's no excuse for politicians in Washington having health care when you don't have health care."
Watch the ad HERE.
THEN Clinton spokesman Phil Singer took a whack at the ad.
"In 2004, John Edwards was critical of other Democrats for proposing universal health care," Singer said. "Now he says he'll get it done by employing an unconstitutional tactic. That's not the way we're going to get universal health care in America. We'll get universal health care by electing someone who has the strength and experience to actually get it done -- Hillary Clinton."
NOW Edwards spox Chris Kofinis is hammering Clinton for Singer's comment.
"Today, Senator Clinton made it crystal clear where she stands: she defends health care for politicians while millions of Americans and their families go without care," Kofinis says. "Voters have a clear choice between John Edwards, who will fight to finally pass universal health care, and Senator Clinton, who seems intent on defending the Washington establishment."
This is a silly debate on one level -- I don't actually think there's any way a president can take Congress's health insurance away. (His Cabinet's may be another matter.)
And even if he could, the move might seem awfully cruel for those members of Congress with bad health (or relatives in bad health) who depend upon health insurance.
That said, it's political bait and the Clinton folks just tried to snack on it.
Why take the bait?
Unless … you're worried ….
UPDATE: Our homies at FactCheck call foul on Edwards' ad, calling its threat "misleading and empty."