AL GORE: Touts Medicare Plan, Attacks Bush at Campaign Stops
Casting himself as a "champion of ordinary Americans," Vice President Al Gore hit the campaign trail Monday, attacking opponent Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R), as well as pharmaceutical and insurance companies (Wilson, Reuters, 7/3). Speaking to the National Council of La Raza in San Diego, Gore discussed his prescription drug proposal and its impact on Hispanics, the AP/San Diego Union Tribune reports. "I'm committed to a real prescription drug benefit for all Hispanics who rely on Medicare. Not one that tells them to go beg the HMOs and the insurance companies for help," Gore said. He also predicted that two million Hispanics would benefit from his plan, explaining that the number eligible for Medicare would triple over the next 25 years. Gore also criticized Bush's record on health care coverage, claiming that Texas has "one of the worst records" nationally. Bush will address the La Raza council today (7/3).
On Monday, Gore attacked drug companies while campaigning in Missouri. "I have fought this battle for more than two decades now. Gov. Bush is supported by the companies," he said. Gore also attacked the Medicare drug benefit plan recently passed by House Republicans. "They do not have a plan. It's only purpose is to serve as an illusion or camouflage. It's a fraud," he said (Glover, Associated Press, 7/4). According to the vice president, the GOP "actually turned [the plan] over to the big drug companies and asked them to write the bill," although he offered no evidence to back the claim. Bush spokesperson Dan Bartlett dismissed the remarks as political "finger-pointing," adding that Gore had eight years to remedy the flaws in Medicare (Connolly, Washington Post 7/4).
Graham on the Line
Meanwhile, in Florida, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) hosted a Gore- sponsored conference call for reporters, during which he criticized Bush for offering "minimal details" about his plans for prescription drug aid for seniors. "I think the American people deserve to have a clear statement by Gov. Bush as to what he would propose to do," Graham said. According to Bartlett, however, Bush has consistently proposed allocating $5 trillion over five years for Social Security and Medicare, including a drug benefit (AP/Arizona Daily Star, 7/4).