DES MOINES, Iowa – Capping an intense 10-day competition for Iowa's seven electoral votes, Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards (search) accused the Bush administration on Sunday of being captured by drug and insurance interests at the expense of working families.
Edwards said Bush has blocked efforts to lower prescriptions drug costs and strengthen the rights of patients, both moves he said are backed by most voters but opposed by special interests.
"It's just good old common sense, but it's being stopped by this administration and why? Because the drug companies don't want it, it's just about that simple," said Edwards. "It seems to me that we need a president and a vice president who is on the side of most Americans instead of being on the side of drug companies, when that conflict exists."
Edwards held "front porch" meetings where he listened to stories of working families who have suffered at the hands of the health care system, arguing that he and presidential nominee John Kerry (search) offer the best chance to reform a health care system that is a burden to millions of Americans.
Bush spokesman Brian Jones dismissed the attack, saying Kerry and Edwards are both prone to shifting positions and can't be trusted.
"Both Kerry and Edwards voted to send troops into harm's way and then voted against the funds to support troops in Iraq and Afghanistan with supplies like body armor and ammunition," said Jones.
Edwards appearances in Des Moines (search) and Waterloo were the latest in a closely contested race for the Iowa's electoral votes, a battle that underscores the tightness of this year's race for the Whit4 House.
In the last 10 days, President Bush has campaigned in the state twice, once just three blocks from where Kerry was campaigning. Vice President Dick Cheney (search) stumped in the state, followed closely by first lady Laura Bush (search). The state went Democratic in 2000, but by barely 4,000 votes and both campaigns have targeted the state for campaign commercials and heavy attention from candidates.
"The best we can tell right now is it looks like a dead-even race," said Drake University political science professor Dennis Goldford.
In addition to campaign swings and flooding the airwaves with commercials, both campaigns are putting in place big organizational efforts to turn out voters. Kerry and Edwards may have an edge in that competition because both campaigned virtually nonstop in Iowa for most of 2003 in the race for Iowa's leadoff caucuses.
"Lord only knows how many times I've been in Des Moines," Edwards joked on Sunday. "We know these places like the back of our hand. John Kerry and I basically lived here for a year and a half."