WHITE HOUSE RACE: Kennedy Endorses Gore, California Campaign Director Resigns
Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) this morning endorsed Vice President Al Gore for president, calling him a strong advocate for "Democratic priorities" such as health care. With the January 24 Iowa caucuses and the February 1 New Hampshire primary fast approaching, the race for the Democratic presidential nomination has gathered speed as both Gore and rival Bill Bradley step up attacks on each other's agendas, particularly health care reform. Bradley responded to the Kennedy endorsement by saying that Gore has "entrenched power" in Washington (Los Angeles Times, 12/5).
Gore's Campaign Woes
Just two months before the March 7 primary, the director of Gore's California campaign, Kathy Bowler, resigned to return to a position with the state's Democratic Party and will be replaced by Sky Gallegos, a Gore insider. The move comes after earlier national campaign troubles involving reports of internal problems and staff reshuffling that resulted in the relocation of Gore's campaign to Nashville. Political insiders speculate this recent change "reflects mounting disarray" in the vice president's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, saying it shows the "lack of importance that the Gore campaign has put on an organizational structure in California." But Gore officials say they knew about Bowler's plans a month ago and contend that the change in director will not affect their strategies for California. Campaign offices will reopen in Los Angeles, where the focus will be "more political in nature." Also, the vice president and his wife, Tipper, will visit the state regularly next month, giving California "the kind of attention he's given New Hampshire" (Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 1/5).
Both candidates started out the week outlining the differences in their policies. Gore, campaigning in Iowa Monday, continued his assault on Bradley's health care reform plan in a more toned down manner, appearing to be aware that his previous attacks have come off as "mean or even demagogic." Calling Bradley a "good and decent," Gore charged that he "has the wrong plans." He asked, "Is there anyone in this room who thinks we should simply accept a total change in our health care system at face value -- with no debate, no discussion, no dissent?" (Harris/Allen, Washington Post, 1/4). He continued, "I believe there is a Democratic way to reform health care without hurting people, without starving Medicare, and without destroying Medicaid" (Gore speech text, 1/3). Bradley, stumping in New Hampshire, said that his health care plan "will immediately insure all children, offer access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans, and help middle-class Americans pay for the health care they already have" (Bradley speech text, 1/3). The Bradley campaign also released Monday an analysis of Gore's proposals that show he would overspend the surplus "by as much as $350 billion over 10 years." Gore's camp has repeatedly asserted that Bradley's plan would bust the budget surplus and cost $100 billion over the next decade (Washington Post, 1/4). In an interview Monday with USA Today, Gore maintained that his opponent's plan would stymie the current economic expansion, increasing the risk of "blundering into another recession" (Page/McQuillan, 1/5).
It Will Cost You
To help fund his bold health care plan, Bradley announced yesterday that, as president, he would seek to eliminate many of the tax loopholes used by many businesses. He estimates that those tax breaks cost the government $124 billion over 10 years. Bradley proposed that the Internal Revenue Service would need to step up audits of major corporations. He said, "If I am president, we will spend money wisely on the things that make the most difference for the greatest number of people, and we will end the influence to special interests in Washington." However, business groups were quick to condemn the plan. Martin Regalia, chief economist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said, "We should call this what it is: $120 billion-plus tax increase being pushed onto American corporations to pay for Bradley's social programs" (Washington Post, 1/5).