John Edwards: in his own words

Democrat John Edwards was online today fielding questions from Washington Post, Concord Monitor and Cedar Rapids Gazette readers. The full transcript is here. A few excerpts:

On No Child Left Behind:

"I would radically overhaul No Child Left Behind. First, the federal government should meet its funding responsibilities for NCLB, which George Bush has completely ignored. Second, no child ever learned anything from filling in bubbles on a cheap, standardized, multiple-choice test. Or, as a friend of mine likes to say, 'You don't make a hog fatter by weighing it.' We need to expand the criteria for evaluating the progress of the students, including evaluation of analytical and critical thinking skills. We need to involve the teacher in the evaluation process much more extensively. We should measure the progress of each individual child from the beginning of the year till the end of the year, as opposed to for example, one group of fourth graders against another group of fourth graders."

What are the major differences between your health care plan and Hillary Clinton's plan?

The most important difference between our health care plans is that I'm actually willing to take on the broken system in Washington to make sure we finally get universal health care. I don't believe you can sit down at a table with drug company and insurance company lobbyists and negotiate your way to universal care. They are dead set against this, and it's going to take a president who can take them on and beat them, and that's what I've been doing my whole life. . . . When I am president, I am going to submit legislation to Congress that says if you don't pass universal health care by July of this year, then you and members of my administration are going to lose your health care. There's no reason that politicians in Washington, D.C., should have health care when the American people don't. They work for you."

How will you a run against a Republican promising tax cuts?

"When I'm on the stage with the Republican nominee in the fall of 2008, I will go at all these issues directly. I will say to voters, If you want the war in Iraq to continue, vote for him. If you want this war to end, you should vote for me. If you like what you're paying for health care, you should vote for him, because they will continue the broken system. If you want real health care reform that will drive down costs and cover everyone, you should vote for me. If you believe that tax breaks should be focused on the richest Americans, and somehow it will benefit everyone, you should vote for him. If you believe we need a fair tax system, where we reduce the tax burden on the middle class and lower-income workers, you should vote for me. If you believe we should finally value work, and not just wealth in America, you should vote for me."

Up next: Joe Biden.