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Bush Discusses Prescription Drug Plan with Senior Citizens in Florida

Aired September 11, 2000 - 1:00 p.m. ET


LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: The first order of our day will be a live event in Clearwater, Florida at an assisted living center, where the governor Jeb Bush has just introduced his brother, George W. Bush, who is doing one of his town hall-style meetings. The subject of the day, health care and prescription drug proposals.

This is that state, Florida, that was early on predicted to be in the Bush column. That's not so certain anymore. It's considered a tossup and George Bush is campaigning hard.


GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. To those of the greatest generation,

... thank you from the bottom of my heart to those of the greatest generation. Thank you for your sacrifices.


I'm running to make sure the budget is properly managed. I'm going to explain loud and clear the budget as I travel the country, that the budget surplus is extra money and what do we do with it.

Today I was with a young couple that's working hard to raise three children. My point of view to them was we're going to spend some of that money on needed projects that I'm going to discuss here in a second, that half the surplus needs to go to make sure the promise of Social Security is kept.


But I want those who are working hard to provide for their families, those who are wondering whether they got enough time during the day to spend time with their children, to have some of the surplus for themselves. I want to send some of that money back, after we meet our priorities. I want to share some of that surplus with the hard- working people in America.

See, I think -- I think -- I think we ought to trust families with their own money to save and dream and build.

(APPLAUSE) Let me say something about Social Security. Look, I understand politics.

Jeb got a pretty good lesson of old-style politics in 1994. I don't remember if you remember the scare tactics -- the scare tactics that go on in a state like this.

The easiest thing to do is not have a platform and try to scare somebody. That's not the kind of campaign -- we don't run those kind of campaigns. We run campaigns that are saying, Here's what we're going to do.

Now, I promise you, unless something dramatically has changed, the same old scare tactics politics will come into Florida. They'll be saying, You know, if George W. becomes the president, he's going to take away your Social Security check. Don't believe it. Here's my pledge to the people of Florida: A promise made by our government will be a promise kept when I become the president of the United States.


You can't scare somebody and try to lead them. That's short-term politics. What this country needs is somebody that says, Here's the agenda, here's where our heart is, let's bring people together to get it done.

And that's what I want to discuss today -- and that is the need to make sure our seniors have got peace of mind, after living a full life and doing their duty as Americans, to make sure the seniors who live in this country have got peace of mind.

Ms. Amsterdam (ph) here said -- she said, I want to tell you something, Governor, you need to understand how seniors think. She said, We want peace of mind, we don't want confusion in our lives.

Here's my point: The government -- the government has a solemn obligation to help our seniors as they get into the twilight of their years. That's a federal responsibility. It's going to be a priority of mine.

I'm sure you've heard it in the past, but the distinguishing feature about this campaign as opposed to others is that I'm the kind of fellow who does in office what I said I'm going to do on the campaign trail. It's been my record as governor of Texas.

And so, when I look you in the eye and say prescription drugs for seniors is a priority of mine, I'm the plain-spoken-enough fellow to mean it. Prescription drugs for seniors is going to be a priority -- not only a priority, we're going to get something done. And it starts with having what's called immediate helping hand -- $48 billion over four years to make sure low-income seniors have 100 percent of their prescription drugs paid for.

(APPLAUSE) We're not going to have a society where some go without because they can't afford prescription drugs, that horrible choice between food and drugs. No, we're too compassionate a nation. Our prosperity must have a purpose. And one of the purposes is to help seniors. And we're going to do so, should I become the president of the United States.

And so it starts with having immediate cash infusion. Congressmen -- it means when I stand up in front of the Congress, I'm going to be able to say, It's the people who heard me speak, I'm coming representing the people. I remember coming to Top of the World in Florida and telling the people, If you vote for me, this is what's going to happen. Now, let's get together, both Republicans and Democrats, and spend that money wisely to say to low-income seniors, a promise made to us by a society will be a promise kept when it comes to prescription drugs.

But also, let's have a cap. Let's have a cap so that if you spend more than $6,000 out of pocket the government will step in so that nobody loses it all as a result of a catastrophe. It's a novel concept that's been talked about. I'm going to get it done should I become the president of the United States.

WATERS: George W. Bush in Florida. He -- before winging his way to this event at the assisted living center was out at the airport telling reporters, I am going to carry Florida, I have got real plans for real people. But he was asked about the polls suggesting that Florida now is a toss up. To which, the governor replied "Don't blame on my brother" -- George Bush's brother, of course, is Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida -- "we're in good shape here. This is going to be a good state for me."

And George Bush today is appealing to senior citizens in a state that has plenty of them on the issue of the federal responsibility to take care of seniors and give our seniors peace of mind. He is talking about his health care and prescription drug proposal.

Al Gore will be campaigning later today with Oprah Winfrey. More about that as we proceed on CNN TODAY.



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