Bush to talk health care on Minnesota campaign bus tour
Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) – One of President Bush’s favorite campaign lines slaps Democratic challenger John Kerry for choosing a running mate who made millions as a trial lawyer.
“I don’t think you can be pro-doctor, pro-patient, pro-hospital, and pro-trial lawyer at the same time. See, I think you have to choose,” Bush said Tuesday in Greenwood Village, Colo. “My opponent made his choice. He put him on the ticket. I made my choice: I’m standing with the docs and patients. I am for medical liability reform now.”
The never-missed reference to Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards is meant to help boost Bush’s health care agenda and paint Kerry as a big-government, anti-business, anti-patient politician. Health care – an issue where Bush is weakest in polls against Kerry – is to be the president’s focus as he takes his campaign bus through southeastern Minnesota on Thursday, particularly at a question-and-answer session with supporters in the Minneapolis suburb of Blaine.
The trip, which includes rallies in St. Cloud and Rochester, will give Bush an opportunity to pick up some coveted local media coverage in the border states of Iowa and Wisconsin. The three are among the handful of states that remain true tossups in the race.
Recent polls in Minnesota show a close race or Kerry slightly ahead. A St. Paul Pioneer Press/Minnesota Public Radio poll published Thursday showed the race nearly even in the state, a Democratic stronghold won by Al Gore in 2000 by 2.4 percentage points. Bush had 46 percent and Kerry 44 percent in the poll, which has a margin of sampling error of 4 percentage points. Only 1 percent favored independent candidate Ralph Nader, and 9 percent were undecided.
Bush has started to spend more on advertising in Minnesota, forcing Kerry to move up plans to advertise there, and both candidates and their surrogates have blanketed the state with visits. Bush’s trip Thursday will be his fifth to Minnesota this year; Kerry has made six stops in the state.
Meanwhile, the number of people without health insurance rose to nearly 45 million in 2003, from about 40 million in 2000.
Bush’s proposals to address the problem include letting small businesses pool resources to buy health insurance at the same discounts available to larger companies. He also favors expanding tax-free health saving accounts for individuals and plans to propose a tax credit to help poor families and individuals buy health coverage. Further, he wants to have health centers in the poorest communities to serve the underprivileged.
In addition, Bush has called for a medical liability overhaul to limit malpractice awards and thus, he argues, drive down rising health care costs.
Kerry wants to help more businesses offer health care by requiring the federal government to pick up 75 percent of catastrophic health care costs, a plan his campaign estimates will lower premiums by an average of 10 percent. The Massachusetts senator also would give small businesses a tax credit to help them bear the cost of health insurance and wants to allow people to buy cheaper-priced drugs from Canada.
Bush tells audiences Kerry has proposed “a massive complicated blueprint to increase government control over your health care.” Kerry says his health care plan is not a government plan.
On the Net:
Kerry campaign: http://www.johnkerry.com
Bush campaign: http://www.georgewbush.com