WASHINGTON, Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Democratic Rep. Dick Gephardt of Missouri vowed Friday to provide health care for every American if he became the next U.S. president.
Speaking at the Broadlawns Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, Gephardt claimed that his plan, unlike those offered by former Vt. Gov. Howard Dean and Sens. John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of South Carolina, would cover all of the 43 million Americans who currently do not have any health insurance coverage at all.
"My plan is the only one that requires employers to offer coverage to both full-time and part-time workers," Gephardt said. "It improves retiree coverage, and employers can never drop their health plans."
Most political analysts believe Gephardt must hold off Dean's well-funded and surging challenge and win a victory in the Iowa caucuses later this month to remain a credible candidate in the Democratic presidential race.
Polls put Dean and Gephardt in a neck-and-neck race in Iowa.
A decisive victory there could give Gephardt a major boost as the party establishment's "Stop Dean" candidate. But if he loses -- especially if by a significant margin -- it may knock him out of the race. His political base is in Missouri right next door.