Gore, Bush trade barbs for votes in Florida

Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. – Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman told Florida seniors on Friday that George W. Bush would bankrupt Social Security “in a single generation.” Bush, who was campaigning on their heels in the Sunshine State, said he would “defend my proposals” in debate and on the trail.

Gore and Lieberman touted Democratic plans they say will bolster Social Security, expand Medicare and give incentives to save for retirement – pocketbook issues attractive to the state’s large elderly population.

“Here is the difference,” Gore said. “We give you a generous incentive to save and invest, not at the expense of Social Security but on top of Social Security.”

Speaking to about 3,000 cheering supporters at a bayside rally, Gore promised “a secure and dignified retirement” and criticized Bush’s proposal to allow workers to invest a portion of their Social Security money privately.

“That would cause the bankruptcy of Social Security in a single generation,” Gore said.

Bush, who campaigned in Iowa and Illinois on his way to Florida, described a $2.77 billion proposal to combat drug abuse and said the Clinton administration had abandoned that fight by cutting funding.

“There is no substitute for presidential leadership,” Bush said in Iowa, calling the Clinton-Gore administration’s anti-drug policy “one of the worst policy failures of the 1990s.”

“This is a cause I will lead,” he said.

The Texas governor’s proposal includes grants for lagging state treatment programs, nonprofit organizations and businesses with drug awareness programs. It would encourage a “Parents Drug Corps” to educate parents in drug prevention and require mandatory drug testing of federal prison inmates and parolees.

“Parents badly need an ally,” Bush said.

With a month left in the campaign, one of the closest White House contests in decades, Gore was shifting his ad strategy by issuing a new commercial criticizing Bush’s tax plan – the centerpiece of his Republican campaign. The ad was running in 15 states.

A second new Gore ad promoting his $10,000 college student tuition tax credit is airing in 13 states. In addition, Gore is airing a response to Bush’s attack ad on prescription drugs in states where the Texas governor’s argument has made inroads: Florida, Tennessee and Nevada.

The candidates’ frequent trips to Florida reflect the intense competition for the state’s 25 electoral votes, the fourth-largest total in the nation.

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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