- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 13, 2000

ST. LOUIS Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush took his message of health care reform yesterday to Florida and Missouri, two states he needs to win badly and where the race has tightened.
On a day in which he battled gamely to keep the media focused on issues other than subliminal advertising and speculation that he suffers from a learning disability, Mr. Bush toured a hospital in Orlando, Fla., and held a town-hall meeting in St. Louis to promote his $158 billion prescription-drug proposal.
"I'm going to win this election based upon issues," Mr. Bush told reporters. "That's where the debate ought to be."
Meanwhile, Mr. Bush plans to announce a major conservation initiative for national parks today in Washington state. Aides said the plan will include calling on the federal government to work more with state and local jurisdictions before declaring federal land off-limits, a major objection of Westerners with the Clinton administration's unprecedented federal monument designations.
At a playhouse in St. Louis, Mr. Bush told more than 700 people that he would provide $48 billion over four years in emergency aid for seniors who can't afford prescription drugs.
He also introduced to the crowd a local family of five whom he said would save about $2,100 a 57 percent reduction in their federal income taxes under his tax-cut plan. He said Vice President Al Gore's tax-cut proposals would save the family nothing.
"This is a man who talks about targeted middle-class tax cuts," Mr. Bush said. "They get targeted out."
And he told the audience in this important agricultural state that he does not support lifting economic sanctions against Cuba.
"Trade with that government means you're really funneling money to Fidel Castro and his tyranny," Mr. Bush said. "That stands in contrast to my views on China. We're not trading with the [Chinese] government necessarily. We're trading with the entrepreneurial class."
At the Walt Disney Memorial Cancer Institute in Orlando, Mr. Bush met Kay and Jack Talton of Deltona, Fla., a husband and wife both of whom are suffering from cancer. Mr. Talton, 67, is receiving chemotherapy for melanoma and had an intravenous unit in his arm as he chatted with Mr. Bush.
Mrs. Talton said their health insurance will soon run out and she fears that other insurers will not cover them due to their conditions. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1994 and the cancer recently reappeared in her ribs and neck.
"What is going to happen to us when that [insurance] runs out?" she asked Mr. Bush. "I'm depending on you to help us out."
Mr. Bush said "now is the time to seize the moment and reform the system." He said he opposed the Clinton administration's recent move to cut back on the reimbursements for chemotherapy delivered in doctors' offices.
"Hopefully, that won't happen," Mr. Bush said. "It certainly won't happen if I'm president."
Mr. Bush is in a close race in Florida despite the help of his brother, Republican Gov. Jeb Bush. The state has 25 electoral votes and plays a crucial role in the Bush campaign's strategy for winning.
Rep. Mark Foley, Florida Republican, said Mr. Gore has been helped in the state by his selection of Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman as his running mate. Mr. Lieberman is Jewish and a Northeasterner, two sizable groups in Florida.
Mr. Foley said Cuban-Americans in South Florida are still angry at the administration for the armed seizure of Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez on Easter weekend.
"I'd be surprised if they could pull 5 percent out of the Cuban community," Mr. Foley said. "They will not forget how they were treated by [Attorney General] Janet Reno."
Mr. Bush was asked yesterday about an article in the new issue of Vanity Fair that speculates he suffers from dyslexia, a learning disability in which a person juxtaposes letters. The author, Gail Sheehy, speculated that the disability would explain Mr. Bush's occasional slips of the tongue in speeches.
"No, I'm not dyslexic," Mr. Bush said. "I appreciate the diagnosis."
He didn't say whether he had ever been tested for the disability.

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