Campaign Countdown 2000

January 18, 2000

Bush lists Dad as role model

(Red Oak, IA) Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush last month named "Jesus Christ" as his favorite political thinker, but when pressed on Friday in Iowa, Bush named his father as his number one "role model."

"I've got a series of great role models, I'll start with the role model that's closest to me. I would say my dad is a great role model," Bush said in response to a question from the crowd gathered for a campaign rally in the Montgomery County fairground's auditorium.

Bush said he's often asked if he seeks his father's advice.

"What my dad does for me is give me fatherly love, which is a powerful feeling to know that you've got a parent that loves you," Bush said.

Bush went on to name Ronald Reagan as a great role model for future Presidents.

"He seized the moment. He has such an optimistic point of view about life...he was able to lift the spirit of America and he was able to set an agenda that changed the country," Bush said.

In rhetoric reminiscent of his father's "thousand points of light," Bush also said he considered everyday Americans excellent role models.

"I see people who provide those quiet acts of kindness. I bet you know them in your community as well, kind of the unsung heroes of the communities of America who take the extra step to help somebody in need," Bush said.

During a December debate, Bush was asked to name his favorite political philosopher, and he replied "Jesus Christ," and when asked "Why?" he spoke briefly about the kind of life-changing event the "born again" experience is considered by evangelical Christians.

On Friday, Bush also named Winston Churchill as one of the century's great heroes because he was "bold, aggressive, visionary" -- and "very funny."

Bush's campaign staff paid local radio station KOAK to air the campaign stump speech live, and Bush told the crowd to "get their caucus hats on."

"We're getting close to decision time here in Iowa," Bush said.

January 13, 2000

Daddy Bush stumps for son

(Atlantic, IA) Former President George Bush spoke to a packed house in Atlantic Thursday at a schoolhouse rally organized by his son's presidential campaign, and the elder Bush offered an assessment of his son's character.

"We support our son, not on issues, but on his character, what I know of him as a dad. My belief that he is qualified and competent to lead this country based on my own experience as President, but much more, based on my experience as a father," Bush said.

In December, critics charged Bush's son, George W., was a mental lightweight and not up to debating his challengers. That dig has died down a bit, but daddy Bush sought to squelch it.

"I think he's strong enough to take this...but I also think that goes with the territory. I was in four national campaigns. If he can't take the heat, as Truman said, then get out of the kitchen," the former President

Bush stopped at his son's Iowa campaign headquarters Thursday afternoon, admonishing staffers to "look busy" as he walked toward a table where phone calls were being made to supporters. The former candidate sat down to work the phones himself.

"Just making a few random calls and just hoping you can vote for my son," Bush said during one call.

Another call was answered by a 15 year old eastern Iowa girl who obviously thought she was party to a practical joke.

"I think she hung up on me," Bush said as he handed the phone to an aide.

Bush won Iowa's Caucuses in 1980, a win which catapulted him into the Vice Presidency. Then, in 1988, Bush finished third in Iowa, behind Bob Dole and Pat Robertson, but he went on to win the Presidency that year.

January 15, 2000

Republican rivals relish tax debate

(Johnston, IA) The republican presidential candidates agree the Ten Commandments should be posted in schools, but they quibbled sharply over their competing tax plans during Saturday's six-way debate, their last joint appearance before Iowa's Caucuses.

Frontrunner George W. Bush began by attacking rival John McCain's moremodest tax cut, questioning why McCain proposes eliminating businessdeductions for meals, travel and training.

"If you get rid of the employer-related benefits, the workers are going to have to pay taxes. It's a $40 Billion tax increase," Bush said.

"Well, the first thing I'd say to the single mom is that I've got a tax cut for you and Governor Bush doesn't," McCain replied.

"That's not true," Bush said.

"Yes, it is," McCain retorted.

McCain accused Bush of trying to do the "Texas two-step" by diverting attention from his own plan, which would reduce rates and raise deductions so more low-income Americans pay no tax at all. McCain said one-third of Bush's tax cut goes to the wealthiest one percent of Americans.

Gary Bauer said Bush's plan merely "rearranged the chairs on the Titanic."

Steve Forbes focused on Bush's tax cutting record in Texas was more apparent than real and didn't "trickle down."

"Most Texans have never seen those tax cuts, and the same thing's going to happen with your proposal on the federal level," Forbes said.

"You know something Steve, nearly 69 percent of the Texans said overwhelmingly in 1998 'You're the man. We appreciate your tax cuts," Bush replied.

Forbes pointed to data showing property taxes in six-out-of-ten Texas school districts have not declined.

"That's a Clinton tax cut. That's the kind he would like. Raise the tax and call it a tax cut," Forbes chided.

"Steve, look," Bush replied. "Ask the elderly person who's homestead exemption was raised by $10,000. Ask her whether or not that permanent tax cut isn't real. It may not be real in million dollar houses, but it's real if you've got a $40,000 house and you get a $10,000 dollar homestead
increase. That's a 25 percent cut."

Alan Keyes talked about his own plan to toss out the income tax, and finance government with a national consumption, or sales tax. Keyes, the only African-American candidate on the stage, called the income tax a "slave tax."

"These gentlemen argue about whether the chains should be lighter, whether they should be heavier. I think it's time that as a tax-enslaved people, we rise up and make it clear. We want the chains off," Keyes said.

Orrin Hatch offered no specific tax cut plan of his own, but said none of the plans touted by the other candidates would pass Congress. Hatch, who's been in the U.S. Senate for 23 years, said he was the only candidate who had the experience to pass a tax cut through the House and Senate.

January 14, 2000

Forbes attacks Bush on taxes

(undated) As republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes readies for a Saturday debate with his rivals for the G.O.P. nomination, he sharpened his attack on frontrunner George W. Bush's tax

"George Bush broke a pledge on taxes when he was Governor and his tax proposal now keeps the I.R.S. as we know it," Forbes aid during a telephone interview on KSCJ radio in Sioux City.

Forbes proposes abolishing the I.R.S. and instituting a 17 percent "flat tax" on income.

"I think people want real solutions and real reform. I think they're tired of just trimming around the edges and going along with politics as usual," Forbes said.

Bush proposes reducing income tax rates, as well as raising deductions so more low-income Americans pay no tax at all.

Forbes briefly left the Iowa campaign trail today to attend a funeral. His wife, Sabina, filled in at stops in Fairfield and Ottumwa.

January 14, 2000

Bradley says a vote for Gore a vote to settle

(Johnston, IA) Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley used less than a minute of his speech at a suburban Des Moines high school to urge Iowans not to "settle" for his rival, Al Gore.

"Now is not the time to settle. Now is not the time to settle for nibbling around the edges with health insurance. Now is not the time to settle by doing virtually nothing for family farmers for three or four years and then recognizing there's a crisis and trying to respond in the last minute," Bradley said.

Bradley's campaign complains about a new Gore campaign ad which features Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who says in the ad that Gore was the "only democrat running for President" to act to provide flood relief to Iowa farmers in 1993.

Bradley contends he voted for a disaster relief package, but rejected an amendment Harkin offered which would have provided more flood aid, but handed out "pork" to other interests.

During his speech, Bradley said his own "big" ideas for the future were dismissed as "too hard" by Gore.

"And I want to contrast that with what Al Gore is saying. Registration and licensing of handguns? Too hard to do, he says. Universal access to affordable, quality health insurance for all Americans?...Yea, but not now, and I'm not putting any money in for how we'll ever get there," Bradley said.

Bradley spoke to a gathering of high school students, who asked him questions about abortion, campaign spending restrictions and environmental policy.

January 13, 2000

Forbes revisits abortion issue

(Des Moines, IA) Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes continued to hammer at G.O.P. frontrunner George W. Bush's rhetoric on abortion.

Forbes' 1996 campaign focused almost exclusively on abolishing the IRS and establishing a 17 percent "flat tax," but Forbes in 2000 has stakes out conservative ground on social issues. In his latest Iowa campaign swing, Forbes accused rival Bush of being unwilling to guarantee the Republican party's platform include a call for abolishing abortion on demand.

"And if he can't even defend a plant that's been in the platform for 20 years, I think that underscores that his heart isn't really in the thing," Forbes said during an interview.

Forbes said Bush is trying to have it both ways, and hasn't put his heart into the "pro-life" cause by refusing to promise to name Supreme Court justices, and a running-mate, who will pursue an end to abortion on demand.

"I think it symbolizes his whole approach to issues and that is to try to hint that he is one thing but not make the committments that show that he has his heart and mind in it," Forbes said.

Bush campaign spokesman Eric Woolson said the Texas Governor is on record
as an opponent of abortion. Woolson cites Bush's approval of the law which requires parental notice when a minor seeks an abortion as well as measures which made adoption easier.

January 12, 2000

No more negs, says Gore

(Des Moines, IA) While speaking with reporters Wednesday afternoon, Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore said it was time to put the brakes on negative campaigning, but later in the same call Gore lobbed a volley at rival Bill Bradley.

"It's always good to focus on the positive and in the remaining days before the Caucuses here in Iowa, that's what I'm going to do," Gore said during a telephone conference call with Iowa political reporters.

Gore was asked, though, about a campaign memo which assailed several of Bradley's voted on rural health care initiatives.

"When we proposed to reduce the size of a tax cut for the wealthy adn put the money into Medicare for rural hospitals instead, every single democrat supported us on it, except for Senator Bradley, and I don't know what his theory was on that," Gore said.

Gore's own Senate vote on a tobacco tax increase which would have helped financed Medicare was the subject of a Bradley's attack yesterday.

January 11, 2000

Gore on the road again

(Davenport, IA) Vice President Al Gore took his campaign entourage to a Davenport Senior Center Tuesday to highlight his attack on democrat rival Bill Bradley's health reform proposal.

"We need to make good, crips, clear, correct judgements about guiding our country into the future and Medicare is one of the programs which most needs good, sound stewardship," Gore told the crowd.

Gore has repeatedly criticized Bradley's plan for doing away with Medicare and replacing it with a system which gives poor and needy Americans a stipend for buying their own insurance. Bradley contends it will give more choices to Medicare recipients. Gore charges many will be unable to find an
affordable plan that's similar to the benefits now available under the traditional Medicare plan. (Thanks to Tom Kramer, WOC, Davenport)

January 11, 2000

Tobacco the talk on the trail

(Des Moines, IA) Democrat presidential candidate Bill Bradley Tuesday questioned rival Al Gore's committment to the fight against big tobacco, and cited a vote Gore took over a decade ago -- a vote which helped defeat a measure Bradley was advancing.

"I fought against big tobacco for 18 years in the United States Senate. It's something I've been very consistent on. I remember that vote very well because it's an amendment that I offered that was an amendment that would have prevented Medicare premiums from going up and off-setting that with
tobacco taxes, and I lost by two votes, so you remember who you lost to," Bradley said during a news conference.

Gore has said his sister's death from cancer prompted him to re-think his position, and now he supports crack-downs on tobacco-makers. Bradley said Gore needs to re-explain himself, and why he once voted in favor of cigarette-makers' interests.

"If you believe something over time, and you feel deeply about it, then you have to be consistent over time, and I've been consistent over time with regard to tobacco and I think this illustrates he hasn't," Bradley said.

Bradley, who has offered himself as a different style of candidate who eschews negative campaign attacks, went so far as to question whether Gore was "leveling with people" on the subject.

"This is a matter of measuring intensity, and there is no question for me that I see this as a primary helath issue in this country," Bradley said in the news conference, held after Bradley spoke with an elementary school assembly about the evils of smoking.

Gore dismissed Bradley's statements as a negative attack made in "desperation." A recent Des Moines Register "Iowa Poll" showed Gore 21 points ahead of Bradley.

January 13, 2000

Long-shot Hatch shoots for top tier finish

(Newton, IA)  Long-shot G.O.P. candidate Orrin Hatch Thursday lashed out at the media for the way it's characterizing the presidential race.

"The eastern liberal press is telling everybody in Iowa who they should support," Hatch said during an interview on KCOB radio.  "They're saying this race is only among Bush, McCain and Forbes and I'll tell you something, if the people of Iowa want to set them back and let 'em know they're not going to be dictated to by the eastern liberal press, then they ought to vote for me."

Hatch, a 23-year member of the U.S. Senate representing Utah, launched his bid for the White House late, in July and has raised little cash for the cause when compared to the fundraising prowess of front-runner George W. Bush.  Hatch said Bush is courting the "fat cat elites."

Hatch has repeatedly emphasized his service in the Senate as proof he's more seasoned than Bush, who is in his second term as Governor of Texas.

"The difference is that Orrin Hatch has been there, done that and the reason I'm running for President is I can do a lot more as President than I can do as Senator," Hatch said during his radio interview.

Hatch contends he's shooting for a top three finish in Iowa's Caucuses, scheduled for January 24, 2000, as the kick-off event of the presidential campaign season.

"If I finish in the top, Iowans would be sending all the major media people in this country who are just telling 'em who to vote for, who're telling 'em who they have to pick, they would send a message to them that I think would be revolutionary.   It would straighten things out in this country for a long time."

January 6, 2000

Bradley endorses landmine ban

Des Moines, IA)  Democrat presidential candidate Bill Bradley Thursday said land mines are a hazard which should no longer be visited upon innocent civilians entering what used to be a war zone.

 "Our military advantage is that we are mobile.  Land mines are stationary," Bradley told about 75 people who waited over an hour in an airport hanger to see the candidate.  "Our military   advantage is high tech...there's no lower tech weapon in the world than a land mine."

An international treaty, which calls for a global ban on anti-personnel land mines was crafted in 1997 and has the signed support of 136 countries. Bradley said he would push to add the U.S. to the list.

Some U.S. military officials say land mines planted along the border between North and South Korea need to remain in place, but Bradley said the ban will not compromise the country's military options.  The treaty exempts mines which are detonated by a remote device.

"I've talked with military officials, many of whom agree with me that this is an appropriate thing to do," Bradley said.

During an interview with Radio Iowa after the rally, Bradley said while the issue is not a major topic on the campaign trail, there are some Iowans who follow it closely.

"I think that it's an issue for some Caucus-goers who care desperately about where we're headed with the defense of our country," Bradley said.

Bradley's arrival in Iowa on Thursday marked a new phase of the campaign as he and his wife, Ernestine, take up residence in a Des Moines hotel for the remaining days of the campaign for support in Iowa's Caucuses, a kick-off event in the 2000 Presidential campaign.

In addition to the candidate's own investment of time and money in the state, 400 "Friends of Bill" will canvas the state leading up to January 24 on Bradley's behalf, including some former basketball stars.

"We hope that they will convey to Iowans that their decision could have national impact on that night, not because it's me per se, but because the things I want to do they agree with and they see me as a vehicle to achieve them," Bradley said.

Bradley campaigns Friday in Des Moines.  His rival, Al Gore, campaigns in Dubuque, Cedar Rapids and West Des Moines as both men prepare to face-off Saturday in a debate in Johnston.

January 6, 2000

Candidates urged to be nice

(Des Moines, IA)  Both of the democrats running for President and half of the Republicans in the race have signed a religious group's pledge to keep the campaigning clean.

The Interfaith Alliance "Framework of Civility" has been signed by Bill Bradley, Al Gore, George W. Bush, Orrin Hatch and John McCain.

"Here in Iowa, we are disturbed by the decline in voter participation rates and suspect that the rise of negative campaigning is a contributing factor," Interfaith Alliance of Iowa executive director Alicia Claypool said during a news conference Thursday.

Claypool pointed to surveys, which show people more inclined to vote if the candidates are more polite and less confrontational.  Claypool's group, however, does not intend to be a public monitor of campaign conduct.

"The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa will not function as the morality police or the civility police," she said.  "We will not arbitrate disagreements between campaigns or charge candidates with civility violations.  The court in which judgments should be and will be made is in the court of public opinion."

The Interfaith Alliance, which includes many mainstream churches, has called for January to be a "faithful decision month" for people of faith. Reverend Dr. Mark Davis of Clive says 175 Iowa religious leaders have asked for a packet of worship resource materials for the month.

"We fervently believe thatk, as religious leaders, we have an obligation to foster civic participation without promoting one political party or agenda over another," Davis said.

On Saturday, January 9, the group will host a training workshop in Des Moines for first-time caucus-goers.  Former Lieutenant Governor Joy Corning, a republican, and present Lieutenant Governor Sally Pederson will help conduct the seminar.

GOP presidential candidates Gary Bauer, Steve Forbes and Alan Keyes did not respond to the group's request for agreeing to conduct a "civil" campaign.   All three of those republicans have tied to the Christian Coalition, which is not part of the Interfaith Alliance and has been criticized by it. 

January 5, 2000

Debates du jour

(Des Moines, IA)  It's debate season in the presidential campaign, with five debates in the next six days. On Saturday, there's a face-off between democrats Bill Bradley and Al Gore set in Iowa, and a debate between the two is set this evening in New Hampshire.

Bradley contends that debates play a role, but not a major role in shaping voter's opinions about the candidates.

"A campaign is a lot more than performing for people," Bradley said during a conference call with Iowa reporters.

According to Bradley, a campaign is "dialogue with people, because only in dialogue do you actually get to hear from them as well as they hear from you."

"I will attempt to outline my philosophy, which is that a president has to fight for people," Gore said of his game-plan for debates.

Most political observers believe debates rarely serve as a decision-making point for voters, but merely reinforce voter attitudes about the candidates.

Here's a schedule of the debates to be held in advance of the Iowa Caucuses:

Thursday, January 6:  Republican candidates debate in New Hampshire.
Friday, January 7:  Republican candidates debate in South Carolina.
Saturday, January 8:  Democrat candidates debate in Iowa.
Monday, January 10:  Republican candidates debate in Michigan.
Saturday, January 15:  Republican candidates debate in Iowa.
Monday, January 17:  Democrat candidates debate in Iowa.

 January 5, 2000

GOP rivals clash over tax policy

(Des Moines, IA)  Two Republican presidential rivals are picking at their competing tax cut plans, underscoring the tightening of the race in advance of the opening campaign contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

During an appearance in New Hampshire, Arizona Senator John McCain said Texas Governor George W. Bush's tax plan gives too much to the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans -- and would burn up the entire federal budget surplus.

McCain would use 70 percent of the excess federal tax money to fix the Social Security and Medicare system.

During an interview with Radio Iowa, Bush said his tax plan seeks to return money to Americans, rather than keeping it in Washington to be spent.

McCain "called my tax plan excessive," Bush said.  "I think it's just right."

Bush said there is a "tax gap" between McCain and himself, and Bush highlighted some components of his tax plan.

"It's a plan that cuts the rates for everybody," Bush said.  "If you're a family of four that's making $50,000 in the state of Iowa, you get a 50 percent tax cut.  If you're a single mom, with two children who's on the edge of poverty, a person making $22,000 a year, you get 100 percent tax cut."

When asked about McCain's potential challenge in Iowa, Bush dismissed McCain as any sort of competition in the Hawkeye state.

"I can't imagine the people of Iowa are very thrilled (to be) voting for somebody who hasn't even come to their state," Bush said.  This is a man who said I'm not competing in Iowa.  I think my competition isn't Senator McCain, it's the other candidates who are campaigning hard in Iowa."

McCain decided to forego campaigning in Iowa, but appeared at a debate in Des Moines in December and will participate in the Republican candidates debate here on January 15.

Bush campaigned in Davenport, Des Moines and Cedar Rapids Tuesday.

January 4, 2000

Dole, Grassley endorse Bush

(Des Moines, IA)  The leading G.O.P. presidential candidate Tuesday received the backing of two politicians who are well-known in Iowa:  former republican presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole and U.S. Senator Charles Grassley.

During a rally at the Des Moines airport, Grassley said he supports Bush because "he never leads with his finger to the wind."

"My wife, Barbara, and I will work tirelessly for George Bush," Grassley said.

The Iowa politician was a crucial supporter to Bob Dole's previous bids for the White House, canvassing the state in tandem with the former U.S. Senate Majority Leader.  Grassley did not, however, endorse Dole's wife's 2000 campaign, finally making his presidential preference known publicly onTuesday.

Mrs. Dole abandoned her own candidacy in November after raising just $5 million, but gaining success in Iowa by attracting women to politics.

During an interview with Radio Iowa, Dole said the key reason she's supporting Bush now is that he has executive experience.

"He's had that in business and also as the Governor of our second-largest state," Dole said.

About 200 people gathered at the airport rally to see Bush.  Many shook his hand in a rope line.  Some, including Congressman Greg Ganske, bore copies of Bush's book for his autograph.

"Caucus night is literally right around the corner," Bush told the crowd. "....20 days from today, people are going to start showing up in Caucuses all across Iowa expressing their opinions."

Bush visited Davenport and Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, too.  He'll pick up crucial backing from Iowa Christian Coalition members on Wednesday.

December 29, 1999

Bauer: give FBI agents abroad more flexibility

(Newton, IA)  Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer sat an extra 20 minutes in the Radisson Inn lobby in Newton, waiting for a few more people to walk into a nearby room where 50 chairs awaited.

When his "town hall meeting" started at 12:20 p.m. on Wednesday, 10 townsfolk had shown up, joining the five reporters and the Bauer staffers in the small conference room adorned with "Bauer for President" placards covering the artwork hung on the walls.

"I really appreciate you showing up on what I know is a busy week," Bauer told the group.  "I was concerned when I came here this morning that, you know, I might be talking to myself."

Bauer is the lone presidential candidate to campaign this week in Iowa, the state which holds republican and democratic party caucuses on January 24,2000 -- the kick-off event of the presidential campaign season.

"We've surprised some folks by using this week between Christmas and New Years...when I think most of the other candidates are recharging their batteries," Bauer said.

The conservative activist and former Reagan administration policy advisor spoke for about 10 minutes before opening the floor for questions.

"We hear constantly about the threat to our well being is not another foreign power, but terrorism," M.L. Lindon, an "Iowans for Sensible Priorities" activist from Des Moines, told Bauer.  "We're supposed to be wary of packages from Frankfurt, Germany and we're supposed to be wary of traveling at this time of year.  If elected, what are you going to do to combat terrorism in this world of ours.”

Bauer said federal authorities are hamstrung in their ability to track international terrorists planning attacks in the U.S.

"I think we've got to take a look at taking the restrictions off of the C.I.A. (Central Intelligence Agency)," Bauer replied.

Afterwards in a question-and-answer session with reporters, Bauer said if he's elected President, he'll undue many of the restrictions which are undermining the morale of C.I.A. agents working abroad.

"I talked with Mr. Woolsey the other day, the former C.I.A. director, and you know, he's very concerned about civil liberties issues, but he felt that there were a number of detail restrictions that had been put on the C.I.A. in the '60s and '70s and even the beginning years of the Clinton Administration which were making it harder for them to collect data on foreign terrorists," Bauer said.

During his town hall meeting, Bauer spoke against gay marriage and federal guarantees, which ensure equal spending on male and female collegiate athletes.

"That doesn't make any sense," Bauer said.  "First of all, there are more men interested in playing competitive sports even in 1999 in college than there is women.  Plus, in certain sports like football and basketball, those are high-price sports that require a lot more dollars.

"So, the result is, a lot of universities have had to shut down male programs because it's the only way that they could get the figures in line to satisfy some federal bureaucrat," Bauer said.

Before leaving the meeting room, Bauer read and then signed a petition calling for a federal rules change in what's called Title 9, so that equal opportunity for men and women athletes will no longer be judged by how much colleges and universities spend on various sports programs.

Bauer held another meeting in Iowa City Wednesday afternoon and he plans campaign events in five other cities in Iowa on Thursday.

December 22, 1999

Gore, Bradley spare over ag policy

(Ames, IA) Vice President Al Gore on Wednesday promised a quick rewrite of federal farm policy should he be elected the next President, while his rival for the democratic party's nomination accused Gore of presiding over "a farm crisis of historic proportions."

Gore appeared Wednesday evening at a forum sponsored by the Iowa Farmers Union and the Center for Rural Affairs. Bradley was invited to the event, but declined, issuing a one-page statement to reporters instead. Gore began his appearance before a crowd of about 200 by noting Bradley's absence, but calling his opponent "intelligent" and "a friend."

"But he's not here, so I'll respond to your questions," Gore said. Gore repeated his criticism of existing federal farm policy, passed by Congress in 1995 and referred to as the Freedom to Farm law. It set up a
seven-year system of declining federal payments to farmers, who at the end of the term will not have federal price supports to rely upon anymore. In return, policymakers promised to open more markets for farm goods, letting farmers reap their profits from expanded trade.

"I believe the next President of the United States needs to go before the nation and say we cannot wait until the current farm bill expires in 2002. We need to re-write it right away and get rid of some of the provisions," Gore said.

While Gore praised the part of the Freedom to Farm Act which farmers like -- it granted farmers freedom to make their own planting decisions rather than restrict their seeding to the number of acres proscribed by a federal formula, Gore assailed the law's removed of a price floor for commodities.

"The nature of the safety net is unacceptable," Gore said. "It is brutal, inflexible, unyielding, unworkable. Indeed, it has been a catastrophe," Gore said.

Gore said there also must be more effective enforcement of laws designed to prevent monopolies from dominating the agricultural sector. In addition, Gore outlined proposals to establish national standards for large-scale hog operations, as well as a national law preventing meatpackers from owning

"American agricultural policy should be explicitly aimed at saving the viability of family farming," Gore said, to applause from the crowd of farm activists.

In a prepared statement, Bradley also vowed to put teeth in federal efforts to reduce concentration in the meatpacking and hog-confinement industries, and he questioned whether Gore had been an effective leader on ag issues during his vice presidency.

"For seven years, the Clinton/Gore administration has presided over a farm crisis of historic proportions that has eroded equity and forced thousands of farmers and farm families off the land," Bradley said, in the statement.

"We've needed strong leadership for fundamental changes in our farm programs, and the administration has not provided it."

Bradley delivered a farm policy speech in October, calling for a re-vamped system of ensuring a profit line for farmers. Bradley would have federal payments for farmers kick in when the market prices fall below the cost of production.

December 22, 1999

Gore promises pre-schooll for millions

(Des Moines, IA) Vice Prsident Al Gore promises that if elected President, he'll push to spend $50 Billion in federal funds over 10 years to ensure all four-year-olds in America attend pre-school.

During an event billed as a town hall meeting and sponsored by the ABC-tv program "Good Morning America," Gore said he'd expect states to provide matching funds to achieve the goal of universal pre-school for all four-year-olds, and to allow more three-year-olds to attend pre-school as well.

"All the research and all the experience of parents has shown clearly that most learning takes place in the first few years of life, and if kids get off to a great start before they ever get to kindergarten, the chances for them to succeed in greatly enhanced," Gore said.

Gore said next year's class of four-year-olds will total four million, a record for the U.S., eclipsing the so-called "Baby Boom" generation.

"I think it's a wonderful idea," John Johnson, principal of the Des Moines elementary school which hosted the town meeting, said of Gore's proposal. "The question I would have would be will the funding go along with this to also include the need for additional facilities.

"For example, in my building, we have the needs and we could hire more teachers and we could have the materials, but we don't have the space."

Gore told Johnson he would want the federal money, coupled with the state funds, to be used for hiring teachers as well as constructing and renovating space for pre-school programs.

"I've supported and proposed $25 billion dollars of interest-free bonding authority for local school distrcits to modernize and build new facilities," Gore said.

Gore is in the midst of a two-day campaign swing through Iowa, the state which hosts Caucuses January 24, 2000 -- the kick-off event of the presidential campaign.

Gore's rival, Bill Bradley, campaigned in Iowa on Monday and Tuesday.

December 21, 1999

Gore predicts new protections for gays

(Des Moines, IA)  Vice President Al Gore Tuesday said America is poised to grant anti-discrimination guarantees to gays and lesbians.

"We are poised to expand the circle of human dignity yet again and to say it will no longer be permissible to discriminate against someone because of who he or she falls in love with," Gore told a group of about 250 Iowa democrats, many of whom were gay or lesbian.

Gore's campaign invited politically active homosexuals in the Des Moines area to a Monday evening reception, an event that was closed to media photographers.   Reporters heard Gore's comments, though, from a speaker setup in another room on another floor.

Gore specifically mentioned his call for gays to openly serve in the military, his support for a law banning on-the-job discrimination against homosexuals, and his support for national hate crimes legislation.

"I do believe now is the time to be a part of an appeal to the political conscience of America, to say that this change is in the American tradition," Gore said.

Gore said every American should be free to exercise what he termed their "authenticity" -- like being openly gay or lesbian.

"I want you to know that I will stand for you," Gore said, as the crowd applauded.  "I will speak for you."

Bill Bradley, Gore's rival, was across town attending a union Christmas reception, but his campaign staff issued a statement of support for various issues, such as health care coverage for gay partners.  Bradley also supports having gays openly serve in the U.S. military.

"Discrimination weakens us all," Bradley said in the prepared statement.