Wife of V.P. candidate tells seniors Bush won’t hurt Social Security
By BRIAN KELLY
STANWOOD — If Texas Gov. George W. Bush is elected president, you won’t have to worry about the check being in the mail, Lynne Cheney said at the Stanwood Senior Center Tuesday.
Stumping for the GOP ticket, Cheney, wife of Republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney, tried to dispel fears that Bush would imperil Social Security with his plan to let younger workers privately invest part of their Social Security savings.
Surrounded by more than 100 people, Cheney spoke for roughly 20 minutes and answered questions for 10 more.
Although some in the audience wore small blue "W is for Women" stickers on their jackets, the event lacked the trappings of a completely partisan event; there were no big, blue Bush banners or campaign signs. And Cheney’s biggest laugh came from an old Barbara Bush joke.
"Do you know what would have happened if there’d been three wise women instead of three wise men?" Cheney asked.
"They would have asked for directions, they would have gotten there on time, they would have helped deliver the baby, cleaned up the stable, baked a casserole, and they would have arrived with useable presents."
After the icebreakers, Cheney complained about numerous television ads that she said distorted Bush’s record. Cheney called the TV commercials about Bush’s Social Security plans last-minute "scare tactics."
"It’s a responsible proposal," she said. "There’s money for it. You keep hearing, ‘Well, if George Bush does this, seniors are going to go out there and open an empty mailbox.’ Simply not true."
Although some commercials ask who would get $1 trillion in Social Security funds — seniors or younger workers looking to invest in personal savings accounts — Cheney said there was money for both. Bush would dedicate $2.4 trillion in surplus funds to preserving Social Security over the next 10 years, she said.
Cheney covered familiar GOP ground, attacking the Clinton-Gore administration, saying it has done nothing during the past eight years, and calling Bush a "compassionate conservative" who would unite and not divide.
Besides Social Security, Cheney also touched on education, Medicare and prescription drugs.
"They’re good men," she said after a pause. "When George Bush and Dick Cheney look you in the eye and tell you something, you can take it to the bank."
The Stanwood stop was sandwiched between visits by Cheney to Wisconsin and Oregon. Her husband campaigned Tuesday in Spokane.
The visit came with a price: The seniors had their lunch of roasted beef, green peas and whipped potatoes moved upstairs to the social room. And a woodcarving class was also relocated.
Even so, most seemed to appreciate the visit by Cheney.
"It was very enlightening," said Anna Murphy, an 82-year-old senior center resident who first heard about the visit when a flier was slipped under her door Monday night.
"She knew what she was talking about. She was very well versed in everything," Murphy said.
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