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Yugoslav unrest overshadows Gore, Bush stops in Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (CNN) -- Vice President Al Gore tried Thursday to exploit what aides see as a new weakness in Texas Gov. George W. Bush's tax proposals as the unrest in Yugoslavia intruded into campaign stops in Michigan.


Bush, meanwhile, endorsed giving parents new tools to help them spend more time with families and keep an eye on their children. But overshadowing campaign events Thursday was the apparent unraveling of the government of Yugoslavia's longtime leader Slobodan Milosevic -- a topic brought up hypothetically in Tuesday's debate between the two men.

As demonstrators stormed the Yugoslav federal parliament building in Belgrade, Bush repeated the suggestion he made during the Tuesday debate that U.S. officials seek Russian help in convincing Milosevic to leave office.

"Our country must work closely with our allies in Europe and the international community, including Russia, to pressure Mr. Milosevic to leave office," Bush said. "The world will be a better place when he hears the word of his people and leaves his office."

Gore had dismissed that suggestion in Tuesday's debate, saying Russian officials needed to recognize Yugoslav opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica as the country's properly elected president before taking any role. Many observers considered that exchange one of the high points of Gore's performance.

Presidential race 2000

But Thursday, Bush aides claimed vindication after the White House and the State Department indicated Russian President Vladimir Putin could play a constructive role in the Yugoslav crisis.

Gore issued his own call for Milosevic to step aside. He downplayed the Bush campaign's "I-told-you-so" jabs, saying "This is not a moment for politics."

"Milosevic has the ability to reduce the risk and save many lives by bowing to the inevitable and by recognizing the undeniably expressed will of the Serbian people. So I want to add my voice to those in Serbia who are saying to Milosevic: Get out," he said.

Gore hammers at Bush tax cut

Gore was campaigning in Grand Rapids, the longtime home of former President Ford. Gore leads the polls in Michigan, but not by much: He spent Thursday courting conservative-leaning independents in the western part of the state.

"On their issues, Gore should win hands-down," Michigan pollster Ed Sarpolus said. "He's tied with Bush now, but that's more to do with the educational issue and the family values issue ... not the right-to-life issue, but what they want their kids to be taught, right from wrong."

Vice President Al Gore touts his $500-billion, 10-year package of targeted tax cuts in Grand Rapids, Michigan  

Gore repeated a major criticism of Bush's plans for a $1.3 trillion tax cut that he raised during the debate -- that it would put more money in the hands of the wealthiest 1 percent of taxpayers than Bush plans to spend on education, health care and defense combined.

"The other side's plan would blow the surplus on a giant tax cut mostly for the wealthy and starve the priorities that most need attention," he said.

Bush has criticized Gore's claims as "fuzzy math" and accused the vice president of trying to scare voters. But Gore insists his numbers add up.

"We added up the numbers and I was surprised to find that the numbers do actually add up that way," Gore told reporters on his campaign plane late Wednesday. "I had previewed that for two or three days in advance of the debates, and I had kind of halfway expected that he would find some way to refute that. But there is no way to refute it."

Bush plugs family-friendly breaks

The same day, Bush touted a string of family-friendly proposals in the Detroit suburb of Royal Oak. His "tools for parents" involve a set of largely cost-free initiatives: a tax break for working at home with employer-provided equipment like a computer for Internet access; legislation to prevent federal health and safety regulations in home offices; and legislation allowing private sector workers to choose compensatory time off instead of being paid overtime.

While campaigning in Royal Oak, Michigan, Texas Gov. George W. Bush promises to make government a tool for helping parents spend more time with their families and keep an eye on their children  

Currently, the federal Fair Labor Standards Act prevents companies from offering time off instead of overtime pay. Bush proposed changing federal law to let employees to take 1.5 hours of comp time for every hour of overtime worked.

"If one of the things we want to do in society is to encourage moms and dads to be able to spend more times with their children, it seems like to me we ought to have a reasonable, common-sense change in the law to say that if you want to convert overtime into time to be with your family, we welcome that opportunity for workers all across America."

Employers would be prohibited from pressuring workers to take comp time instead of overtime pay, and employers would be required to reimburse workers in cash for any unused comp time.

Bush also urged television networks to keep an hour a night reserved for family-friendly programming -- a pitch that gave him an opportunity to take a new swipe at Gore over his fund-raising ties to Hollywood.

"I'm not the kind of person during the day to scold Hollywood and then at night go there and say, 'I really didn't mean it, I'd like your contribution.'"

CNN Correspondents John King and Candy Crowley contributed to this report.

Where do Bush and Gore stand on issues of importance to Europe? Launch our Interactive Guide.

View the latest tracking poll or dig into our poll archives.


Watch selected policy speeches and campaign commercials from the major presidential candidates.

See where George W. Bush and Al Gore stand on the major issues.

Who are your elected officials? What is the past presidential vote and number of electoral votes in your state? What are the presidential primary results and exit polls? Find out with these state political and election facts.

Get Election 2000 zip code searchable candidate biographies and other material for races for governor, Senate and House in our Election Guide.

How much money have the candidates raised? Here are their quarterly reports to the Federal Election Commission.

If you need to know who's up in 2000 and what seats are open, launch this quick guide.

WEB WHITE AND BLUE is a partner in the Web White and Blue rolling cyber-debate, a daily online exchange among the major presidential candidates. Look for twice-daily updates Sunday through Friday until election day.


Thursday, October 5, 2000


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