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Gore Holds Campaign Rally in Charleston, West Virginia

Aired October 27, 2000 - 11:07 a.m. ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We will see just how fired up Al Gore is today. We go live to Charleston, West Virginia, to today's current stop on the campaign trail.


VICE PRES. AL GORE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... and with your help, he will be your next governor.

I want to thank Bill Cosby for being here and being our master of ceremonies.


All I ask is that you do for me what you did for Jell-O.


I want to ask you to make Jim Humphreys the next congressman from West Virginia.


I want, in addition to acknowledging and thanking Jay, I want to acknowledge the former first lady of this state, who is a great person, who does a lot to make our country a better place, Sharon Rockefeller.

I appreciate you being here, Sharon.


I want to acknowledge the number two man in the organized labor movement, who is a great personal friend to me and to every coal miner in this country, Rich Trumpka.

Thank you, Rich.


And I want you to know that there's a woman here who made him the good person that he is: his mother, Eola (ph), is here from just across the state line in Pennsylvania.

Stand up, Mrs. Trumpka. Welcome.


And I want to thank my friend and your friend, Cecil Roberts. Thank you for that speech, Cecil, and thank you for everything.


He'll probably be hearing again from Newt Gingrich.


Forty years ago, the state of West Virginia received a young man running for president in the closest race of this century, who came here from Wisconsin. That race was decided by one vote per precinct. John Kennedy ran against Richard Nixon, and the state of West Virginia made the critical difference.


They say this election is the closest race since that one in 1960, 40 years ago.

I came here last night from Wisconsin. West Virginia is positioned to make the critical difference in this race.

I'd like to ask each one of you to get me one more vote per precinct.


A lot's at stake in this race. And as Jay Rockefeller said, it's not about me, it's not about Governor Bush, it's about you and your family and your future and what kind of economy we're going to have, and whether or not we're going to continue to bring the unemployment rate down and also whether or not we're going to start raising the wages so that people who most need some help will be able to get help.


The choice in this election is as crystal clear and as sharp a contrast as it has been in 40 years because what you're seeing is that prosperity itself is on the ballot. The big choice is whether or not we will have prosperity for all. My opponent likes to say that we were a whole lot better off eight years ago than we are today in America.


Coincidentally, that was my reaction to his statement.

He likes to recommend that we should go back to the kinds of policies that we had eight years ago, which favored those at the very top.

(AUDIENCE BOOS) But, you know, in the last eight years since you gave Bill Clinton and me a chance to put in place a new economic policy. Nationwide, we have gone from the biggest deficits to the biggest surpluses, from a repeated recession to a tripling of the stock market, from high unemployment to 22 million new jobs, and the strongest economy in the history of the United States.


And in states with Democratic governors that have attracted good new jobs in this new economy, the wages have gone up. That's one of the reasons why you need Bob Wise to be the Democratic governor of West Virginia, so you'll start sharing in all the benefits of this prosperity.


But nationwide we have seen tremendous gains: lowest African- American unemployment in history; lowest Latino unemployment in history; highest private home ownership in history; more new small businesses each year than ever in history, and twice that rate for women-owned small businesses; more people put to work; higher average incomes.

But you know what? I'm not satisfied. It's not nearly good enough. You ain't seen nothing yet. We're going to do much better.


But in order to make that choice, we have got to look carefully at exactly what's involved here. I'm proposing an economic plan that puts the emphasis on you, first and foremost by making sure that we get the big budget choices correct.

You know, in days past, in years past, people have sometimes given us the impression, if we cared about fiscal responsibility and balanced budgets, maybe we didn't care enough about what was best for working people.

But we've learned better, because we know that progressive causes and what's good for working families is enhanced when we live within our means and make the right and responsible choices, and balance the budgets instead of putting more debt on the backs of our children and mortgaging their future.


And so I start with this commitment to you: to balance the budget every year, and to pay down the debt every year until its gone, so these kids won't have that debt hanging over them.


And I want to give more inclusion and investment and growth -- more inclusion, investment and growth. I want to have the kinds of priorities in our country that enable us to keep on creating more jobs. And the engine of growth is the private sector.

I want a smaller, smarter government that empowers you to make the choices to have the changes that you want in your own lives. I want to help parents and strengthen families. I want to see investments in education, so that we can reduce the class size and treat our teachers like the professionals that they are.


I want to protect Social Security and Medicare and black lung benefits...


... and miners' retirement.

I will put Social Security and Medicare in a lockbox, which means the money can't be used for anything else. And I'll veto any move to take money out of Social Security or Medicare, and use it for anything other than Social Security and Medicare.


We'll protect it.

And I want to give a new incentive for young families to save and invest on their own. Under my plan, the tax cuts won't go to those at the top; they'll go to middle class families and working men and women and single mothers who are having a hard time.

I'll give you an incentive so that if you put money in a savings account, the government will match that money in a savings account, so you can build up a nest egg and invest on your own.

Now here's the contrast between what I'm proposing and what my opponent, George Bush, is proposing. He wants to start off with a huge, gigantic tax cut, mainly for the very wealthy. Almost half of all the benefits in his tax cut would go to Jay -- no, I mean to...


He already covered that. He already said he doesn't want it.

I love that line.


But under Governor Bush's plan, almost half of all of the tax cut benefits would go to the wealthiest 1 percent. And his own figures show that. He would spend more on a tax cut for the top 1 percent than he would spend in new initiatives for education and health care and national defense all put together. His own numbers show that.

I just think that's wrong. It's wrong because it's not fair, but it's even more wrong because it would put us back into deficits again and threaten our prosperity and stop the progress. And for what? To benefit those who need it the least?

You know, this is a campaign about who we are and about where we're going, what our values are, how much we care about the people who are having a hard time making car payments and house payments and making ends meet and doing right by their kids.


After that $1.6 trillion tax cut, mostly for the very wealthy, then he proposes to take $1 trillion -- which is a lot of money -- out of the Social Security trust fund, and give an incentive to young people -- which sounds good at first until you realize where it's coming from and until you realize that he has promised the same $1 trillion to older Americans to keep their benefits under Social Security from being cut.

Now, I know that one and one equals two. But $1 trillion promised to two different groups of people doesn't add up, unless you're using what kind of math?

AUDIENCE: Fuzzy math.

GORE: Fuzzy math. We used that one time before back in the '80s and early '90s, and it gave us those giant deficits and repeated recessions. There you go. I'm getting some good lines from this crowd here. I can't use all of them, but you can.


Now, here's what I believe we should do in setting our priorities. After we balance the budget and pay down the debt, and have a smaller, smarter government that's on your side and helps to empower you with the choices that you want to make for the changes you need in your lives, then I think the number one priority for our future is to make major improvements in our public schools so that we can have our children walk into classrooms where they can learn well and have one-on-one time with the teachers who don't have 35, 40 kids, but only 18 or 20 in each classroom. We need to modernize the schools and build new schools and help local communities.


We need new accountability. And we need to recruit new teachers and test all new teachers, to make sure they know the subjects that they're supposed to be teaching. We need a higher quality, and we need better results. But that's by itself not enough.

Governor Bush, you know, talks about what he describes as the Texas miracle in education, and he cites the Rand Corporation as his authority for how well they've done.

Well, the Rand Corporation just came out with a new study, a comprehensive study, and they described his claims as, and I'm going to quote from the report, "false."


False. If you just teach to the test, if you don't give the resources and new reforms and new teachers that are tested and qualified. If all you have is a test, then what you get is success on that little test, but no similar success in life, no similar success in the SATs and in the national tests.


It might help the reputations of school administrators and politicians, but it doesn't lift up our kids. So if you want real change and real commitment that'll make a real difference, I ask for your support to make public education the number one priority.


Governor Bush proposes to spend more money on that tax cut for the wealthiest 90,000 multi-millionaires than all of the money he proposed to add for the 90,000 public schools. That's from his own numbers.

Now, let me tell you why this Election Day is so important. It's not only education, it's not only the future of our prosperity. It has to do with whether or not you're going to have somebody who is willing to fight for you and not for the special interest.

The other side won't say to you plainly that they're in it to fight for the special interest, of course not. They fuzz it up, like the math. They will try to use all of the special interest contributions to put misleading advertisements on the TV screen every few minutes, to try to make you think that up is down and black is white and outside is inside.

Let me give you a couple of examples to illustrate what I'm talking about.

You heard about the need for prescription drug benefits earlier. All right? I'm for a prescription drug benefit for all seniors under the Medicare program. Write it down. You elect me president, I'll make it happen.


Now, you know and I know that seniors are having a hard time paying for prescription medicine. Thirty-five years ago, when Medicare was first enacted, prescription drugs didn't play anything like the big role in health care that they do today. And so prescription drugs were not included in Medicare.

But in the last 35 years, and especially in the last 15 years, they've made a lot of new discoveries, and they've got medicines now that can cure diseases they couldn't deal with earlier. But the medicines are expensive. And those on fixed incomes, including seniors, have a hard time paying for them.

And seniors are charged more than anybody else. And you need to know why that is. It's because nobody is standing up for the seniors and fighting for them because Medicare is where they get their help, and Medicare is not allowed to get into this area of prescription drugs.

And the drug companies now charge often twice as much to seniors for the same medication that they sell for less to others. And the pharmacists know this, and they're trying to help us get some change.

Why do the big drug companies fight against a prescription drug benefit for Medicare?

You would think maybe since they're going to end up with the money, they might in favor of it. But they know that if Medicare gets involved in standing up for seniors where prescription drugs are concerned, then Medicare is going to start negotiating and bargaining and bringing the price down the way the group health plans do, the way the insurance companies do, and seniors will get lower prices and drug companies will get lower profits. And so they're trying to stop it from happening.


The big drug companies are supporting my opponent and they are supporting his proposal, which doesn't do anything except it has the virtue in their eyes of being able to fool some people into thinking that it's going to add up to a prescription drug benefit. It does not. And it does not get Medicare in to stand up for you where the prices are concerned.

The drug companies ought to make profits. I want them to make profits. We want them to discover new medications, yes. But, you know, if you read the Wall Street Journal and some of the publications that have analyzed this, what they say is, there's been a big change. And the big companies now are putting far more money into advertising and promotion than they are into research and development.

You've seen the ads. Just one new medication has a bigger advertising budget than Coca-Cola puts behind Coke, than Anheuser- Busch puts behind Budweiser. And that's where your money is going; it's one of the places.

The other place it's going is into political campaigns and into lobbying, to back politicians who will do what the big drug companies instead of what you need to have done for your mothers and fathers and grandmothers and grandfathers and for yourselves.


And so that comes back to this election, because there is one day every four years when the people of this country have the ability to drown out all of the money and power of the special interests. That day is 11 days from today, on November the 7th.


You elect me and I'll give all seniors a prescription drug benefit under the Medicare program, and we'll have new competition to bring the prices down for all people.


Now, here's the second example that illustrates the difference. You know that it is morally wrong for your doctor's decisions to be overruled by somebody who doesn't know what they're talking about. But every single day people in West Virginia go to see doctors -- who've gone to medical schools after all, and who've had training, and who served internships in hospitals and have the experience and care about your health and have examined you and prescribed a treatment for you that is designed to improve your health or save your life -- and then every day those recommendations from your doctors are overruled by some young bean-counter behind a computer terminal who doesn't have a license to practice medicine and doesn't have the right to play God.


That is wrong. It's morally wrong. So why hasn't it changed yet? Well, the reason is that the big HMOs and insurance companies don't want it to change. And they have found a way to use their power with political contributions and lobbying and influence to stop it from happening.

And once again, just like on the prescription drug benefit, they've come up with a fuzzy proposal that does not do anything -- doesn't give a right to appeal, doesn't let you go to the nearest emergency room, doesn't give you the right to see a specialist. And they put their big advertising political budget behind an effort to confuse you into thinking that the ones that have been blocking a patients' bill of rights are actually trying to do something for you.

The HMOs and the insurance companies support Governor Bush. They support the proposal that he's come up with or endorsed that doesn't do anything. They're against me with everything they've got.

For 24 years -- Jay can tell you -- for 24 years, I've never hesitated to take on the special interests, including the HMOs or the drug companies or the insurance companies, if they were wrong and if they were standing in your way.


And I'm telling you that it is time now to recognize that there is, again, one day every four years where all the power of the special interests is at risk. They tremble at the thought that all their efforts at confusion won't work. They are fearful of the possibility that you'll see through all their fuzziness, and that you will see clear right to the core of what's at stake here.

And here's what it is: I will pass a patients' bill of rights and give a prescription drug benefit and raise the minimum wage, and my opponent will not because he is doing what the special interests want on these issues, and I want to fight for you and your family and your community and West Virginia.

(APPLAUSE) I want to raise the minimum wage $1 an hour for the people who most need help.


I want to defend the right to organize and get rid of permanent striker replacement.


I want to fight for working women who should not have to settle for $.66 on every $1 that a man gets. We need equal day's pay for an equal day's work.


We need to give new help for those families that are suffering alone with the burden of long-term care, and give them some help in taking care of someone with disability or long-term care.


We need to end the discrimination against people who are suffering from mental illness, and get them the help that they need.

We need to move step by step, carefully, but determinedly, toward universal health care for every person in this country, and we need to start by covering every child in America within the next four years.


And you better believe that we need to produce energy independence as much as we possibly can at a time when we are so dependent on fragile sources of foreign oil from the Middle East. And that means, among other things, investing in clean coal technology to help protect the environment, fight against global warming and use our resources cleanly.


You want somebody who will fight on behalf of the widows of miners. You want somebody who understands, coming from part of Appalachia.

My home in Tennessee is on the edge of Appalachia and my congressional district that I started representing 24 years ago includes a big part of the district that is in Appalachia, with coal miners. I have spent many a Saturday night in a small courthouse, filling out forms related to black lung. I have spent many an hour talking to the survivors and talking to coal miners who are suffering from black lung because there were not adequate safety measures, because the ticket on the other side did vote 18 times against black lung, and because the ones that agree with them have fought against it every step of the way.

And I've heard the stories, and I've seen the faces, I've look into the eyes of those who've been broken down by it, abused by it, who've had their health taken from them by it.

And I'm telling you, I will never rest until we have justice for those who have been denied justice, and benefits for those who are eligible for those benefits.


All right, I want to close by asking you to remember that these next 11 days represent a fork in the road for this state, this state that elected John Kennedy; this state that has benefited some what from the national economic recovery, but needs to really share in the benefits to a just degree; this state that needs a president who is willing to fight for the working people and the middle class families, instead of the operators and the special interests and the top 1 percent; this state that needs a sensible approach that will address the problems with heart and passion.

Now, it really is up to you and I need your help. I'm here because I do want to fight for you and I need you to fight for me over these next 11 days.


But I need to tell you that I'm fully aware that you elect me president, I know that I will not always be the most exciting politician, like Jay Rockefeller.


But I will work hard every single day, and I will never let you down. I will fight for you with every ounce of strength that I have in my mind, body and soul.


I know one thing about the job of president: It is the only position in our Constitution that is filled by an individual who has the responsibility to fight not just for the few, but for the many; not just for the wealthy, but for those who are struggling; not just for the well-connected, but also for the downtrodden, also for those who are working harder and longer hours and struggling by the rules to make ends meet and do right by their kids.

The president of the United States who does the job correctly has to be willing to fight for everybody, especially those who most need a champion.

I'm here, running for president, to ask for your help because I want to fight for you. I want to fight for your family. I want to fight for West Virginia and the future of America.

God bless you.

KAGAN: That's Vice President Al Gore speak at a campaign rally in Charleston, West Virginia.



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