Cheney: Gore 'fails to tell the truth'

TROY, Mich. - Dick Cheney kept up his criticism of Al Gore's truthfulness Tuesday, accusing the vice president of ''distorted and demagogued'' misrepresentations of the Republicans' Medicare plan.

Campaigning in Michigan, a battleground state that was also visited by Gore during the day, Cheney told about 400 Republicans at a Polish cultural center hall that the vice president regularly embellishes his accomplishments and doesn't tell the truth when he criticizes Bush's plan to provide seniors with a prescription drug benefit.

''Our opponent Al Gore has for years failed to speak the truth on a number of occasions,'' Cheney told the crowd after a lunch of cabbage rolls and pirogis.

On Monday Gore did a round of interviews in which he lambasted Bush's $198 billion program to shore up Medicare and help seniors pay for their medicine. Cheney told the group that Gore said seniors in the Bush plan would have to go to a welfare office, that they'd be forced into HMOs and that the plan would not extend the life of the Medicare trust fund.

Cheney labeled all Gore's assertions as ''not true, false.''

He said Gore's Medicare plan would force seniors into one government-run program and said they'd be better off with Bush's proposal because it provides better subsidies and more choices of health plans.

Kym Spell, Gore's spokeswoman, said Cheney's constant criticism will cost the GOP ticket in the long run.

''He wasn't connecting with the voters, so now their strategy is to have him go on the road to attack Al Gore,'' said Spell. ''I think it will backfire on him. These petty attacks are not resonating with voters.''

The battle for Michigan voters is pitched. While Cheney was reaching out to Republicans outside Detroit, Gore was in Ann Arbor taping an appearance for MTV to be aired Tuesday night.

Bush and Gore are running neck and neck in the state. Michigan's combination of strongly Democratic union-tied voters, middle-class suburban Republicans and independents has both parties scrambling to sway voters with TV ads and visits. Bush plans to tour Michigan next week.

While his criticism of Gore has been increasingly caustic, Cheney and his wife, Lynne, have settled into a casual, jokey routine on the stump, poking fun at one another.

''I told her that for our anniversary I'd take her on an all-expense paid trip to all 50 states,'' goes one Cheney joke.

Lynne Cheney usually introduced her husband with personal, sometimes amusing stories about their past. ''He never knows what I'm going to tell you,'' she jokes.

She has also started involving her daughter Mary in the stories, recounting how as an 8-year-old, Mary's job during a cross-country move from Washington to Wyoming was to water her mother's plants along the way.

''She turned out quite well despite this upbringing,'' said Mrs. Cheney, as her daughter sat smiling on the sidelines. Mary Cheney works as an unpaid personal assistant to her father and accompanies him when he's out campaigning.

''She's probably hiding right now,'' said Lynne Cheney. ''Whenever I start telling these stories she goes out hiding.''

Cheney was leaving Michigan for Pennsylvania where he was to attend two fund-raisers Tuesday evening in Philadelphia.


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