Clinton Berates Those Who Doubt His Motives on Health Care

Article excerpt

Asked whether his health-care plan was really a "power grab," President Bill Clinton indignantly denounced critics who question his motives as he held his third television "town hall" of the week Friday.

"This health debate, in my judgment, has really been retarded - in more ways than one - by all this motive-throwing-around we've had," Clinton declared. " Let's argue about what should or shouldn't be done and not talk about other people's motives."

Clinton began the 90-minute town hall by summarizing his plan in even, measured tones. But he took off when the first two questioners asked whether his plan was a "power grab" and wondered "about you and Hillary's true concerns."

Clinton suggested that such doubts were bred by his critics' well-financed advertising campaigns against the Clinton plan. In a testy response, he turned the tables and seemed to question his critics' motives.

"This is a bunch of hooey," he said. "If people don't agree with me, let them come forward and contest me with their ideas. But I am sick . . . of all this hot-air rhetoric and all these paid television ads and all these hit jobs from people who are making a killing from the insurance business that we have today. It is wrong, and we should change it."

Jeff Eller, a White House spokesman, said later that Clinton was referring to the "Harry and Louise" ads run by the Health Insurance Association of America. …