ENDORSEMENTS: Newspapers Weigh In on Presidential Race
With the presidential election two weeks away, several national and regional newspapers on Sunday delivered their endorsements for Texas Gov. George W. Bush (R) or Vice President Al Gore, highlighting the candidates' stances on several key issues, including Medicare, prescription drugs and health insurance. Highlights from the newspapers appear below.
- The Washington Post praises Gore as "a man of good character" whose "experience, capacity and positions on the issues" make him "the better qualified candidate." Even though neither Bush nor Gore has "played straight with the voters" on issues such as Medicare reform, Gore's plans to expand health coverage for children of low-income families "while modest, would move the country in the right direction" (Washington Post, 10/22);
- The San Francisco Chronicle describes Gore's plans for health care, Social Security, education and the budget surplus as "reasonable proposals that would extend the benefits of a booming economy to a wider range of Americans." Even in these economically prosperous times, "[m]ore than 40 million Americans have no health insurance, and Medicare badly needs an overhaul as the elderly population grows and health care costs rocket up," the Chronicle notes. Gore "rightly recogniz[es] the economic opportunity at hand," and would expand Medicare to include coverage for "effective prescription drugs." Saying the race has become, for many, a match between the "Amiable Governor vs. the Beltway Boaster," the Chronicle urges Americans to focus on the issues rather than the candidates' personalities (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/22);
- The St. Louis Post-Dispatch pronounces Gore as "far better prepared to be president than ... Bush," who "doesn't have what it takes" for the job. According to the Post- Dispatch, Bush "body-slammed" Texas' patients' bill of rights and failed to support the national Norwood-Dingell patients' rights bill (H.R. 2723), which matters "because it has the broadest coverage and strongest right to sue." The Post-Dispatch also faults Bush with his own "fuzzy math," saying that in the debates the Texas governor said he spent $4.7 billion on the uninsured, "when the amount was $1.2 billion." The editorial says, "Gore would create a Medicare entitlement for prescription drugs, while ... Bush would rely on private firms that could leave their members high and dry by getting out of the business" (St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10/22);
- Al Gore "has been much more aggressive about winning a meaningful patients' bill of rights and has a more generous and equitable approach to helping senior citizens afford prescription drugs" than his opponent, the Detroit Free Press announces. Bush possesses "little in his background or bearing to suggest he is really up to the world's most demanding job," while Gore would "build on the best policies of the Clinton administration, clean out its worst mistakes, and bring wisdom, consistency and strength to foreign policy." In addition, Gore "believe[s] in a more active government that can be a catalyst, even a force, for assuring ... equal access to health care." The Free Press concedes that Gore "has not run the smartest campaign," but he "also has a record of learning from his mistakes and, most important, fighting on behalf of those who are least able to fight for themselves" (Detroit Free Press, 10/20);
- Gore's "keen mind," "proven ability," "seriousness of purpose" and "sound policy prescriptions" have earned him the approval of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Gore's proposal of paying down the national debt "makes sense because fast-growing health care costs and the upcoming retirement of baby boomers will financially stress Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security," the editorial says. As for George W. Bush, "[m]uch of his early adult life was spent unremarkably, seemingly devoid of purpose and drive," and while his "aw-shucks, frat-boy-cum-Texas-oilman manner" may make him likable, "little depth can be found in his views" (Minneapolis Star Tribune, 10/22).
- Bush is "better-equipped to smooth over the bitter partisanship and frequent gridlock that have characterized the eight years of the Clinton administration," and the election of his rival "would mean another four years of confrontation, demagoguery and impasse," the Columbus Dispatch says. The costs of Gore's prescription drug proposal to the "fiscally troubled Medicare program" would "balloon astronomically as baby boomers enter their golden years." Bush, however, "calls for fundamental reform of Medicare financing and, in the meantime, supports a more modest, means-tested plan that limits federal help to those seniors who lack insurance or other means to pay for their prescriptions" (Columbus Dispatch, 10/22);
- Bush is the "superior candidate" and the "clear choice" for president, the Seattle Times says. Bush "promises to bring a sense of bipartisanship to the White House," a pledge bolstered by his previous dealings with Democrats in Texas, the Times says. In addition, "While Bush must still earn our trust for his own ethical behavior in the White House, Gore has already lost it." Although the Times has a "profound disagreement" with Bush on the issue of abortion, the editorial concludes that the issue of reproductive rights does not "create an unreachable divide between pro-rights advocates and the Texas governor" (Seattle Times, 10/22);
- The Portland Oregonian echoes the Seattle Times' sentiment, saying that "[i]f the single issue in this election were abortion ... we would prefer Gore." However, "this is not a single-issue election," and on many of the campaign issues, the Oregonian does "see plenty to like in Bush's positions." On "a range of topics," including Social Security, Medicare, health insurance coverage and defense, the Oregonian pronounces that Bush "has shown he has the intellect, character, fortitude and talent to be a better president" (Portland Oregonian, 10/22);
- "Bush's presidential campaign stresses conciliation and cooperation. ... Gore preaches divisiveness and class warfare," says the Detroit News. Gore's "relentless rant against big oil companies, big drug companies and big insurance companies might just as well be against big savings accounts, big 401(k) plans and big jobs for his much talked-about 'working families.'" The editorial continues, "Americans are weary of the fighting and want an administration and Congress that will work together to finally resolve the pressing issues of Social Security and Medicare reform ... to ensure the future prosperity of our nation." The editorial concludes, "If our leaders become drunk on the surplus and launch a massive new spending spree, we very likely will find ourselves once again facing deficits and a stagnant economy" (Detroit News, 10/22);
- "[A]mong his many other skills, Bush possesses a quality his opponent, Al Gore, cannot claim: authenticity," the Cleveland Plain Dealer states. Bush's past negotiations with Democrats in Texas have "shown that he keeps his word." The Plain Dealer criticizes Gore's "flip-flop" since he entered public service on issues such as abortion and tobacco interests. In addition, Gore has promised to "carry his belligerence into the presidency on behalf of every slighted element of American society," an approach that "simply invites class warfare." "America cries for a coming together -- for leadership that will reason across party lines to answer the needs of our schools, our elderly, our infirm and our future," the editorial concludes (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/22);
- The Dallas Morning News also endorses the Texas governor, stating that he "could create a less partisan government, restore integrity to the White House and usher in a progressive-conservative era." The editorial says, "Americans should vote for change and select George W. Bush to lead the nation in a new direction" (Dallas Morning News, 10/22).