While each major presidential candidate keeps his own history with drugs relatively secret, Al Gore has blasted the pharmaceutical industry for remaining quiet about its political dealings. The Associated Press reports that the vice president lashed out against Citizens for Better Medicare, a group that is running ads encouraging opposition to Gore-backed controls on prescription drug costs, and disparaged the secrecy surrounding the organization's donors. "The American people deserve to know who exactly is trying to influence this critical issue," Gore said in a letter to the group's leaders. "I call on your organization to reveal the sources of your million-dollar campaign so Americans can understand the real voices in this critical debate, not special interest cloaked in secrecy," Gore continued. "It is already clear that the real faces behind Citizens for Better Medicare are not those of America's elderly."
Gore may soon get his wish for full disclosure. Legislation closing the "stealth PAC" loophole in Section 527 of the tax code could force Citizens for Better Medicare to reveal its backers before the November elections.
Gore gets an A plus from teachers unions
Although George W. Bush has run hard on his Texas education record, two teachers unions have given Gore their stamp of approval. The New York Times reports that the National Education Association threw its weight behind Gore at its Chicago convention, with 89 percent of the organization's delegates voting to endorse the vice president. "Gore is a proven friend of children and public education, and he has earned the support of our members," said union president Robert Chase. Likewise, the American Federation of Teachers has given Gore its official thumbs up.
Latino voters find Gore simpatico
Hispanics constitute another group of voters safely in Gore's corner, according the Detroit Free Press. In a new poll, the vice president holds a 16-point lead over Bush among Latinos, winning 50 percent of that community's voters, compared with just 34 percent for the Republican contender. Still, the Bush campaign's aggressive courtship of Hispanics has paid dividends, and Gore's Latino support remains sharply lower than that won by President Clinton in the last two elections. "It's pretty clear that Bush has done a better job of solidifying his partisans than Gore has among Hispanics," said Bruce Buchanan, a political scientist at the University of Texas at Austin. "Bush is a more appealing Republican to Hispanics than any Republican who's come down the pike in memory."
Bush's nephew was AWOL on Latino issues
George P. Bush, the Texas governor's nephew, has been described as his secret weapon for rounding up Republican Hispanic converts. Though George P. now proclaims, "I am a young Latino in the U.S. and very proud of my bloodline" in his uncle's campaign commercials, the telegenic 24-year-old showed little interest in Hispanic causes prior to the presidential campaign. According to a Houston Press report, George P.'s fellow students at Rice University recall that he was a no-show at Hispanic pride rallies and cultural events, and didn't hang out much with his Latino peers. Mike Gomez, former vice president of the Hispanic Association for Cultural Enrichment at Rice, said that George P. kept a low political profile and stayed silent on issues affecting minority students. "If George P. had been active in any form, we would have welcomed it, encouraged it even," Gomez says. "But he wasn't."
Others at Rice, however, contend that George P.'s reticence to speak out has been overstated, and that such reports neglect to factor in the young man's general aversion to the spotlight. Rice dormmate Marty Makulski insists that George P. was "very proud of being brown," but didn't feel the need to flaunt either his famous family name or his Mexican-American heritage. "George has never sought all the attention he is receiving," Makulski says. "Others are trying to thrust it on him while he tries to find his own niche in things."
On the trail
Pat Buchanan: To be announced.
Gore: Pennsylvania, Ohio and Illinois.
Ralph Nader: To be announced.
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