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Vice President Gore Addresses Voters in Michigan

Aired November 5, 2000 - 6:19 p.m. ET


FRANK SESNO, CNN ANCHOR: CNN is tracking the presidential candidates closely in these final few days. We want to take you now to Dearborn, Michigan, where Vice President Al Gore is holding a campaign rally and speaking at this hour.


AL GORE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've got a basic choice to make: will we build on the prosperity we have and include everybody one in it, or will we squander the surplus on a giant tax cut for the very wealthy and put our prosperity at risk?

I see the future in very different ways than does my opponent, and maybe that's because we also see recent experience very differently. He looks back at the period eight years ago and says that we were a whole lot better off then than we are now, and that leads him to recommend that we go back to the kinds of policies that we had then and get rid of the ones we have now.

But I look back and I remember the Bush-Quayle years and I remember the big deficits and the big debt and the high unemployment and the repeat recessions -- three in a row -- and now because you gave Bill Clinton and me a chance to change our economic policies, instead of the biggest deficits, we've got the biggest surplus; instead of repeat recessions, we've tripled the market; instead of high unemployment, we've got the lowest unemployment in 30 years, the lowest African-American and Latino unemployment ever; 22 million new jobs; the auto industry is number one in the world again; and we have the strongest economy in the history of the United States.

That's progress. Don't take it for granted. But it's not good enough and I'm not satisfied. My attitude is, you ain't seen nothing yet.


But I need your help, my friends, because this is the closest election since John Kennedy defeated Richard Nixon by one vote per precinct. I want you to get me one more vote in your precinct.


Michigan is in the driver's seat. Michigan can decide whether we continue to award more prosperity and reach out to make sure that those who have not yet enjoyed it are able to, or we could take the other fork in the road.

Let me tell you what the difference is between my vision for the future and my opponent's. I believe that we should use this huge surplus to continue fiscally-responsible policies, which means very simply, I'll balance the budget every year, I'll pay down the debt until the debt is completely eliminated so these kids won't have it as a burden on their shoulders. And then, within those balanced budgets, I'll set the right priorities according to what's best, not for the wealthy, but for middle class families and working men and women, the people who most need help. We need middle-class tax cuts.

And I'll give a new incentive to save and invest on top of Social Security, not at the expense of Social Security. And then I believe we need to set our priorities correctly when it comes to investments in the future, and I'll come back to that.

But I want you to know what my opponent is proposing, he thinks that we should take that surplus and give a gigantic tax cut to the -- mostly to the wealthy. Under his own figures, he would give almost half of his tax-cut benefits to the wealthiest 1 percent. He would spend more on tax cuts to that wealthiest 1 percent, a group which on average makes a million dollars a year, he'd give more tax cuts to that group than all of his new proposals for education, and health care, and national defense all put together.

Now, my friends, I think that's the wrong set of priorities and yet it's not just -- it's not because we begrudge the wealthy having a tax cut, it's because that would put us back into deficits again, and raise interest rates, and put our economy at risk, and for what? Because that doesn't help us. We tried that policy before, it used to be called trickle down, it still is, it still doesn't work, it didn't work then and there's no reason to believe that it makes any sense today.

Here's what I think we should do. In addition to the responsible choices that I described a moment ago, I think that we should make our number-one priority for investing in the future to reduce the class size in our schools and treat teachers like the professionals that they are, and modernize our schools and build new classrooms, and have universal preschool, more discipline and character education. And I think it's time to make most college tuition tax deductible for middle-class families. Are you with me?


I believe also that it is time to address the nagging problems of health care that are affecting 44 million Americans who don't have health insurance. I'll start with this commitment, within the next four years, we will give health insurance to every single child in the United States of America, and that is an achievable goal.


And then we'll address the two issues that have risen to the surface during this campaign year. Let me mention these two issues, because they illustrate the profound difference between my approach and that of Governor Bush. The first is a patients' bill of rights. Here is the problem -- many of you know it firsthand. Doctors are making decisions about your health and they're basing it on their medical education, their experience, their examination of you, and then their recommendations are overruled by some clerk behind a computer terminal at an HMO who doesn't have a license to practice medicine and shouldn't have a right to play God.

I think we ought to have a law to take the medical decisions away from the HMOs and give them back to the doctors and the nurses and the health care professionals. Are you with me?


Here's the second issue, closely related to the first. A lot of seniors are having difficulty paying their prescription drug bills. I just met at a restaurant with an older couple, Ken and Hazel Woodruff (ph) -- right here, here's Hazel, there's Ken, they've been married for 45 years.


Tipper and I are just rookies, we've been married 30 years this year.


But Ken and Hazel were telling me that they have -- do you have those prescription drug stubs?

Tipper, could you get those for me?

They're -- he -- Ken told -- Ken showed me these prescriptions -- over the last five months, these are the prescriptions that he just told me that he and Hazel decided not to fill -- and you know why. Because what they told me is that they can't afford it. And they're like a lot of seniors in that they -- both of them have had heart trouble and they have -- do you need a doctor over here?

Do we have a doctor? I've got one that travels with me. Hold on one second. They're on the way. Let him through. Go on right through. Let him through right there. All right, we're going to let them make a little space for them there and we'll let them attend to the medical problem. The doctor attending him, incidentally, is my son-in-law Drew Schiff, who is traveling with me from New York City.


Yes, he's told me firsthand about this problem, and while they're attending to this medical issue, let me talk about the problem that I mentioned, both Ken and Hazel have had heart attacks and they take heart medicine, and naturally they take the prescriptions for their hearts. But they also have other prescriptions, and some are for pain, and they decide not to take the pain medication often because they simply can't afford it. This is not uncommon. Other seniors have to choose between their medicine and their meals, or the other expenses they have, their drawing down their savings. When Medicare was first established 35 years ago, prescription medicine did not play the big role that it does today. But now it's very important and...

SESNO: And you're watching Vice President Al Gore on one of his down to the wire rallies, this one in Dearborn, Michigan, and as you saw just a moment ago, some kind of medical event out in the crowd prompted the vice president to ask his attending physician, the one who travels with him on these trips -- happens to be his son-in-law -- to go over and attend to that person there.

We're going to be tracking that on the ground, we'll let you know what happened. It just so happened that the vice president was in the process of talking about his patients' bill of rights, his prescription drug plans, when this whole thing took place. We will stay with that event and come back to you with more details.



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