ABC News' Teddy Davis Reports: Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has undercut her standing with a politically powerful labor union with her go-slow approach on health care.
"We're disappointed in what she's released so far," Stephanie Mueller, the spokesperson for the powerful Service Employees International Union, told ABC News. While expressing disappointment that Clinton has not yet released a health care plan offering coverage for all Americans, Mueller was quick to add that when it comes to winning the union's coveted endorsement "no one has been disqualified at this point."
Rather than unveiling her health care plan in one fell swoop, Clinton is dribbling out her proposals on cost, quality, and coverage in three different phases.
When Clinton is asked why she has not kept pace with her top Democratic rivals in offering a plan for universal coverage, she is quick to say that her failed effort in the 1990s to reform the nation's health care system taught her that it is more important to build a political coalition than to offer specific policy details which can be picked apart by one's political adversaries.
Mueller does not dismiss the importance of building political support for universal coverage. She thinks, however, that offering policy details on how to extend coverage is "an indication of the importance that the candidates are placing on health-care reform as an issue."
"We agree wholeheartedly that having the political will to pass a plan is a crucial part of this whole process so we want to hear from the candidates about how they would move their solution through Congress," said Mueller. "But at the same time that you are talking about building a political coalition, we think you should also be laying out specifics so that voters have that information."
Having missed the union's August 1 deadline, Mueller hopes that the former first lady will detail a plan for universal coverage â€“ as well as the means to pay for it â€“ by September 17 when SEIU holds a presidential candidates forum in Washington, D.C.
"September would be a great time to release the other details of her plan since we will have our most politically active members in D.C.," said Mueller, adding that SEIU has not been told by the Clinton campaign when the plan will be released.
When asked when Clinton will unveil her coverage proposal, a Clinton campaign spokesperson declined to comment.
Clinton is one of several Democratic presidential candidates who have agreed to speak to SEIU members on Sept. 17. The other confirmed participants are former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., Gov. Bill Richardson, D-N.M., Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.
Among the Republican presidential candidates, only Mike Huckabee has expressed interest in speaking to SEIU members. Mueller described the former Arkansas governor as being "very active" in meeting with SEIU's Republican members in New Hampshire. Huckabee will be included in the Sept. 17 forum if he agrees to spend a day performing the job functions of one of the union's members. SEIU has made participation in its "Walk A Day In My Shoes" program mandatory for anyone who wants to speak at its forum.