BUSH: State Republicans Urge Candidate to Address Health Care
California's Republican insiders are worried about a "gaping policy hole" in Texas Gov. George W. Bush's presidential campaign -- health care. The issue holds "enormous clout" with the state's women and Latino voters, whose support is critical to a win in California. According to Robert Delposada, executive director of the Hispanic Business Round Table, "the fact that [Bush is] not touching health care is a potential time bomb to be addressed. ... It's a big mistake." He added, "What we're seeing with the Republican leadership across the board is the fear of talking about health care. It's mind-boggling ... (because) Hispanics are three times as likely to be uninsured as the rest of the population." The Hispanic Business Round Table will release a survey today showing that more than two-thirds of Latino voters "strongly support" a plan recently introduced by U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) that would allow tax credits of up to $3,000 per family to help uninsured workers pay for health insurance. Survey respondents "are far more likely to support a presidential candidate who backs such measures," the San Francisco Chronicle reports. GOP consultant Scott Reed, head of the Republican Leadership Coalition, agreed, noting that "Bush needs to do well with the Hispanic vote in a half a dozen states to succeed ... and that means Republicans cannot be in a defensive posture on health care and the uninsured." When his group recently offered a toll-free hotline to connect Latinos to the candidate of their choice, 80% wanted to talk to Bush, he said, adding , "It told us that (he) has the potential to connect with Latinos on health care ... and they need to focus on it like a laser beam." A Bush insider argued that "it is still early in the campaign," saying that the candidate "will not ignore an issue on which he has such a strong record in Texas" (Marinucci, 4/6).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.