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CAMPAIGN 2000

Bush Portrays Gore as Hypocrite on Hollywood Issue

September 21, 2000|MARIA L. La GANGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PERRYSVILLE, Pa. — A day after revealing his gentler side on Oprah Winfrey's talk show, George W. Bush went back on the attack Wednesday in the hotly contested state of Pennsylvania.

Bush accused Democratic rival Al Gore of reneging on earlier declarations that the entertainment industry must stop marketing adult content to children or face possible punishment.

"I noticed my opponent went out to Hollywood yesterday," Bush said at a town-hall-type meeting in this Pittsburgh suburb. "He must be auditioning for a play, 'cause he keeps changing his tune.

"At the beginning of the week, he sounded awfully tough on Hollywood, talked six months and sanctions and tough language," Bush continued, referring to Gore's statements in light of a scathing Federal Trade Commission report. Gore had declared that irresponsible entertainment companies should face sanctions if they don't change their ways after six months.

"After a couple of fund-raisers, he's changing his tune," Bush said. "After going out there to Hollywood to collect some money, no longer is it six months and tough talk."

Gore spokeswoman Kym Spell said Bush's argument "makes no sense," and that the Democrat's behavior proves that he "has the ability and the courage to disagree with his friends."

Bush insisted that he was reaching out to Allegheny County's "loyal Republicans, discerning Democrats and independents that need to be convinced" that they should vote for the GOP. But he spent most of his appearances Wednesday sounding traditional Republican themes, such as tax relief.

It was the third day of his "metaphor of life" tour, in which he plans to showcase how his policies would affect the middle class at every stage of existence.

In Pennsylvania on Wednesday, the topic was how he would ease the so-called marriage penalty, which causes many two-income families to pay more in taxes than they would if they were two single individuals filing separately.

Bush introduced Vicki Trybend and Dan Steele, a couple from Castle Shannon, Pa., who plan to marry on the day after Thanksgiving. Bush told the supportive crowd here that, as the tax code works now, Trybend and Steele will pay an additional $996 in taxes each year after they are married.

Under his tax-cut plan, that burden will be cut by 91%, he said. Under Gore's proposal, that burden would be cut by only 40%, Bush said. Once the couple buy a house, that tax break would disappear completely if they itemize their taxes.

Spell argued that Bush's marriage penalty plan leaves 23 million couples with no tax relief--among them 12.4 million couples who have only one working spouse and 5.4 million couples who receive the so-called earned-income tax credit. Those are couples who make so little income that they do not pay taxes and the government actually gives them money.

Bush was poised and in control at the Perrysville town hall meeting but was stopped short when the head of a local crisis center and domestic violence council asked him for his position on "the reauthorization of the VAWA legislation."

"Of the what?" Bush asked.

"VAWA, the Violence Against Women Act," the woman responded. "It's currently being held up by Republicans."

Bush said he needed to know more about the issue and asked for the woman's name and phone number, promising that he would get back to her with his views.

VAWA's goal is to reduce the rate of domestic violence. Its $1.5 billion in federal funds pays for hotlines, educational programs to combat violence against women, shelters for battered women and increased prosecutions.

The Gore campaign immediately jumped on the exchange. Spell called it hypocritical for Bush to appeal to women on the Oprah Winfrey show and in other campaign appearances and not know about "one of the most important pieces of legislation to families in this country."

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