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Gore Reveals New Guidelines for Cancer Treatment and Prevention

By Ceci Connolly

Vice President Al Gore, invoking war imagery to illustrate his determination, announced a series of cancer-fighting steps Thursday that he said could prevent up to 700,000 deaths over the next decade.

Gore’s proposal -- costing $1 billion in new spending over five years -- would expand Medicare coverage for cancer patients, add colorectal screening to Medicaid and set aside money to develop cancer care guidelines. As president, he said he would also give federal workers paid time off for cancer screening.

“If I’m entrusted with the presidency, I will work with you to put the same energy and priority into fighting cancer that we would put into preventing a war that could take 500,000 American lives every year,” he said. “The stakes are that great.”

Thursday’s speech was the highpoint in a weeklong effort to soften Gore by virtually eliminating the words George W. Bush from his vocabulary and infusing each campaign event with a touch of personal biography.

“I know from my own family’s experience what cancer can do to a family,” he said under sunny skies at Emory University here. “Many us here have made sense of a loss by rededicating ourselves to the hope of a cure for others’ loved ones.”

The oblique comments referred to Gore’s late sister Nancy, who died of lung cancer in 1984.

From President Clinton down to local Democratic officials, many Gore supporters have fretted recently that the vice president’s image has been damaged by his relentless attacks on Bush, the presumptive Republican nominee. Although Gore’s aides contend the policy-based critique will win votes over time, they nevertheless have shifted from dissecting the opposition to selling their own candidate.

In recent days, the often-reticent vice president has described an environmental book recommended by his mother, promoted mental health care with his wife Tipper and reminisced about his experiences slipping out of Saigon for weekend furloughs at the popular Vietnamese beach resort Vungtau.