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Bush Woos Middle Class Voters With Tax Reduction Package

By Dan Balz
THE WASHINGTON POST -- KANSAS CITY, Mo.

Texas Gov. George W. Bush sought to rally middle-class voters to his campaign Monday, claiming that he would do far more than Vice President Al Gore to help families succeed and accusing his rival of offering a tax plan that is “so targeted it misses the target.”

Beginning what he described as “an important week in the campaign” in which he hopes to make up ground lost to Gore since the Democratic convention, Bush said the vice president’s tax plan is so filled with fine print that it would disqualify 50 million Americans from receiving any benefits. “If you pay taxes you ought to get tax relief and meaningful tax relief,” Bush told a friendly audience here Monday afternoon.

Concerned that Gore has made important inroads with middle-class voters, Bush plans to spend the week drawing pointed contrasts with his rival on policies affecting Americans from birth to retirement. At the same time, the Bush campaign again sought to challenge Gore’s credibility, part of a double-barreled strategy that aides said would put Bush on the offensive.

Bush himself made clear Monday that his emphasis on issues did not preclude attacks on Gore’s credibility. Interviewed on the Fox News show “The Edge,” Bush said he “would rather fight the fight on issues and philosophy, but added, “I will not let this man distance himself from the previous administration.”

At his stops Monday, Bush spoke before a backdrop that included a new banner designed to look like an architect’s floor plan of a typical home. Across the bottom it read, “Bush’s Blueprint for the Middle Class,” and each room was labeled with a different part of his campaign agenda: taxes, education, Social Security, and health care.

Bush called middle-class families “the cornerstones of my campaign,” adding that his goal is to “help younger couples realize their dreams, to help people learn to save, to help elderly to have retirement that’s dignified ... to help those who can’t help themselves with health care.”