Texas Gov. George W. Bush said Sunday that he would probably not meet with members of a gay political organization, and he continued to distance himself from the current Republican Congress, outlining his belief that patients should be able to sue their managed health care providers.
Meeting with the gay Log Cabin Republicans "creates a huge political scene," Bush said on NBC-TV's "Meet the Press." "I don't believe in group thought, pitting one group of people against another, and all that does is create kind of a huge political, you know, nightmare for people."
Arizona Sen. John McCain, Bush's fiercest rival in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, has met with the organization. On CBS-TV's "Face the Nation," McCain said Sunday that he believes "strongly in the party of Abraham Lincoln. And the Log Cabin Republicans are a part of our party."
Bush also said that he opposes gay marriage and adoption by gay parents, because "a person in my position ought to be promoting the ideal, and the ideal world is for a mom and dad to adopt a child."
And he said Sunday that he would support a law to give all Americans the right to sue their managed health care providers, if the measure were modeled on a 1997 law enacted in Texas.
The HMO legislation in Texas, which Bush allowed to become law without signing, established an independent panel to hear patients' claims that their health care plans had wrongly refused them treatment. Individuals whose complaints are upheld can then sue providers and recover damages.
In Congress, a sweeping package of bills to increase patient protections passed the House in October--over the objections of Republican leaders. It now faces an uncertain future when the final version is hammered out by a panel of House and Senate members hostile to the measure.
Bush has split with Republican members of Congress in the past, saying during federal budget negotiations that "I don't think they ought to balance their budget on the backs of the poor." At the time, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas) responded that "Bush needs a little education on how Congress works. I don't think he knew what he was talking about."
When asked about the difference between his views on HMO reform and those of Congress, Bush said, "Well, we just disagree . . . I think it's important for people to have access to the courts of law."
Bush vetoed a weaker version of the law in 1995.
McCain was asked Sunday if there was anything in his medical records that would preclude him from serving as president of the United States. He said, simply, "No." The former Vietnam prisoner of war has voluminous medical records as a result of injuries suffered after his capture.
"We're trying to get it all together now," he said.
On Friday, Bush gave his first major foreign policy speech, outlining his views on China and Russia.
The speech came on the heels of persistent questions about the Texas governor's lack of world affairs experience--the kinds of comments that Bush's father, President George Bush, made about his competitors in the 1992 presidential race.