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CAMPAIGN 2000

Gore Emphasizes Medicare Proposal

Politics: In a Missouri stop that previews his convention speech, the vice president outlines his plan to extend the program's life until 2030 and cover prescriptions for seniors.

August 15, 2000|EDWIN CHEN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Striking a populist tone in this hometown of Harry S. Truman, Vice President Al Gore on Monday vowed to wage a vigorous fight to provide the nation's seniors with prescription drug coverage.

"I won't stop fighting until all our families have the quality health care and the secure retirements they deserve," Gore said.

During a campaign forum here, the vice president touted his 10-year, $255-billion Medicare plan that he said would extend the life of the health care program for the elderly to 2030.

Gore also offered a preview of his Thursday night convention speech in Los Angeles, calling on Texas Gov. George W. Bush to detail his many proposals. By way of contrast, Gore said he will tout his own proposals in considerable detail.

"To give generalities and not give specifics--that's not the best way to elevate our democracy," the vice president said.

"Now there is a contrast in this election. The American people deserve to know the details of what is being proposed by the two major parties--on Medicare, on Social Security, on prescription drug benefits," he added.

The vice president, for instance, critiqued Bush's proposal to partially privatize Social Security and noted that he, Gore, would set aside a part of the budget surplus to extend the financial viability of both Medicare and Social Security--while "the other side" does not.

"So that's a contrast," Gore told several hundred supportive seniors at the Roger T. Sermon Community Center.

One of Gore's mantras in recent weeks is that he is a fighter for the people while Bush, the GOP presidential nominee, fights only for the powerful.

On Monday evening, Gore met up with his running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, for a rally in St. Louis. About 1,000 Gore-Lieberman supporters braved a sweltering late-afternoon sun at Kiener Plaza near the Mississippi River to give the men and their wives an enthusiastic welcome.

"We are committed to genuine personal compassion," said Lieberman's wife, Hadassah.

One sign in the crowd that caught Lieberman's eye read: "Superman. Batman. Lieberman."

Gore enumerated many of his campaign planks and said the choice voters face in November amounts to "a battle for the future of our country."

Then the two men and their wives retired to Gore's hotel suite to watch President Clinton's speech to the convention.

Today, Lieberman is due in Los Angeles while Gore is scheduled to meet Clinton in the Detroit suburb of Monroe for a high-profile event billed by both camps as the symbolic passing of the torch.

As Gore works his way to Los Angeles, he is making appearances in several key battleground states while emphasizing issues that his strategists believe will resonate with middle-class Americans.

In Cleveland on Sunday, he touted his plan to provide universal medical insurance for children by 2004.

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