- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2000

BENTONVILLE, Ark. Flanked by single mothers and working families, George W. Bush argued yesterday that the real winners in his $483 billion tax-cut package are those "living on the outskirts of poverty."
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee used a high school appearance to rip into Democratic rival Al Gore on both taxes and gun control, accusing the vice president of flip-flops and a dearth of leadership.
"If you want four more years of Clinton-Gore, I'm not the right guy," Mr. Bush declared in President Clinton's home state.
The Texas governor used the focus on tax-filing deadline day to argue that fewer issues offer a starker contrast with Mr. Gore than taxes, and to claim that his package focuses on blue-collar workers.
Mr. Bush rejected the "risky" label Mr. Gore and other Democrats apply to his five-year tax cut plan in arguing that it would eat up too much of the expected budget surplus and plunge the nation back into deficit spending. Mr. Bush also dismissed critics who say his plan would help the rich more.
"What's risky is overtaxing the people who work for a living in America," said Mr. Bush, who criticized Mr. Gore for not convincing fellow Democrats in Congress to get rid of the so-called marriage tax penalty.
"It's time for Vice President Al Gore to stand up and show some leadership," said Mr. Bush.
Gore spokesman Chris Lehane quickly fired back, repeating the campaign's charges that Mr. Bush is offering "an irresponsible, risky tax scheme" but conceding that taxes are a clear difference.
"That's a real choice," said Mr. Lehane. "The American people will have to choose."
Mr. Bush argued that troubling news on the stock market and economic nervousness underscores the need for a tax cut.
"When you cut the taxes on people who work, it serves as an insurance policy against economic downturn," Mr. Bush said.
Although he was pitching tax cuts, Mr. Bush got his biggest cheers when he underscored his pro-life views during a question session. He added, however, that "people should be realistic" about what can be accomplished.
Mr. Bush has said there is insufficient support for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortions with exceptions for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother.
"I understand that people disagree," said Mr. Bush, who said he backs the Republican Party platform's strict pro-life language.
Mr. Bush also was questioned about gun control and a Texas law allowing concealed weapons. "This law has made Texas a safer place," Mr. Bush argued, noting that when Tennessee adopted a similar law "Al Gore was totally silent."
"I would sign a bill that mandated the sale of trigger locks with guns," Mr. Bush added. "It's one thing to have a trigger lock sold with a gun, it's another thing to encourage people to use them."
There was a distinct working-class feel to Mr. Bush's campaign swing yesterday. He visited a town that's headquarters to the blue-collar retailing giant Wal-Mart and toured a museum touting the company's achievement.
"I want tax relief to go to everybody," said Mr. Bush. "Money will go to people in families who are living on the outskirts of poverty."
In a high school gymnasium, packed with about 500 students and adults, Mr. Bush was introduced by Kim Jenning, a single mother who made $20,000 and said she would pay no taxes under Mr. Bush's plan, saving $830.
The Democratic National Committee, however, noted that the richest 5 percent of Americans would get more than 50 percent of the Bush tax cuts.

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