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Bush’s campaign running without ‘running mate’

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Democratic presidential candidate Vice President Al Gore, is flanked by Re. Dick Gephardt, D-Mo., left, and Missouri Gov. Mel Carnahan as he responds to questions from seniors at the Clayton Community Center, Clayton, Mo. Monday, July 3, 2000. Gore discussed prescription drug costs with seniors at the community center. (AP Photo)


July 5, 2000


CRAWFORD, Texas  (AP) - The setting was relaxed, the business serious Monday as George W. Bush scoured the backgrounds of possible running mates and said he's giving equal consideration to men and women.


"I'm taking my time, obviously taking this very seriously," the Republican presidential hopeful told reporters at his central Texas ranch. He added that he hadn't yet consulted with former President George Bush, his father, and plans to before deciding.


"I talk to my dad about a lot of things. I'd hope to get his input," he said.


Looking casual in a blue-checked, short-sleeved shirt and jeans, Bush held a brief news conference with former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, the man heading Bush's vice presidential search. Cheney said he had brought information about the candidates from a detailed questionnaire that asked, among other things, for financial and health records.


Both men were tight-lipped about the contenders.


"There are no litmus tests. The main tests are, can the person be the president, will the person be loyal to the administration, can the person bring the added value in the Bush administration," Bush said. "All the rest of the criteria, of course, I'll consider everything. And that's what Dick and I are going to start discussing here."


Bush said he does not plan a formal interview process until the list, which he said is "very long," is whittled.


"What I really don't want to do is have this formal interview process so candidates have to walk through the gantlet of klieg lights in order to have a visit," he said. "I'll be visiting with people face-to-face, some of whom you'll know about, and some of whom you won't know about."


Bush's Democratic rival in the race to be the next U.S. president, Al Gore, meanwhile courted senior citizens and Hispanics on Monday, touting his plan for a "real, comprehensive" prescription drug benefit as a stark contrast to Bush's proposals.


"We'll put the power of medical science back in the medicine cabinets of our mothers and fathers," Vice President Gore said of

his Medicare benefits plan at a meeting with senior citizens in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton, Missouri. "It's the right thing to



Gore also took on the big drug companies, accusing them of "price gouging." And he criticized the Republicans' drug bill now

pending in Congress, saying it was put together by the drug companies and "its only purpose is to serve as an illusion or



The Republicans have received more than dlrs 3 million from drug manufacturers, while the Democrats have gotten just over dlrs 700,000, Gore aides said campaign finance records showed.


The proposal Gore has offered would provide a prescription drug benefit under the Medicare program, with the government paying half of the annual costs up to dlrs 5,000. Aides said it would extend coverage to 40 million people at a cost of dlrs 255 billion over 10 years.


Later, Gore flew to San Diego to pitch his prescription drug proposal to the National Council of La Raza, an important Hispanic group. He said Hispanics would benefit under the prescription plan.


Gore said 2 million Hispanics would gain because the number eligible for Medicare was expected to triple over the next 25 years.

Further, Hispanics are more than twice as likely to lack supplemental coverage for prescription drugs, he said.


"I'm committed to a real prescription drug benefit for all Hispanics who rely on Medicare," Gore said. "Not one that tells them to go beg the HMOs and the insurance companies for help."


Bush was addressing the National Council of La Raza on Wednesday.


Bush campaign spokesman Dan Bartlett said the Texas governor has been consistent in proposing to allocate dlrs 5 trillion over five

years to both save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, also providing prescription drug benefits.


Meanwhile, in Anaheim, California a Tennessee investment banker who represented the Libertarian Party four years ago has been

selected to run again for the presidency.


Harry Browne acknowledged he has scant chance of ever moving into the White House, but the 67-year-old Nashville man said he hoped his campaign would reinvigorate his ailing party.


The more than 1,000 Libertarians meeting Sunday at the party's national convention nominated Browne and former Bellflower, California, mayor Art Olivier as the vice presidential candidate.


"We're the only political party that's offering to set you free," said Browne, who didn't vote before 1992, when his wife suggested he run for the nation's top office. "It's the most powerful political message in the world."


The Libertarian Party, which advocates individual liberties over expansive and expensive government programs, claims 30,000 dues-paying members. The party calls itself the most viable alternative to the Republicans and the Democrats, but has lacked the vote-getting power of either the Reform or the Green party. Browne finished fifth in 1996 with 473,000 votes. Party leaders hope to more than double that number this year.


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