By LAURIE KELLMAN
(c) The Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - In the heart of the Florida battleground thick
with senior voters, George W. Bush was proposing to spend $67 billion over
a decade on a "medical moonshot" to boost the public and private search
for cures of fatal diseases.
The figure includes $35 billion already in the Republican presidential candidate's budget. It also includes increasing the budget of the National Cancer Institute to $5.1 billion by 2003.
"I will fund and lead a medical moonshot to reach far beyond what seems possible today and discover new cures for age-old afflictions," Bush said in remarks prepared for his appearance Friday at a Sun City, Fla., senior center. "If I am elected president, our government will promote medical advances with new resources and new resolve."
The appearance caps a campaign week in which Bush used each day to discuss how his proposals would affect voters at every stage of life. It is part of a new approach in which he seeks to explain his agenda on more personal terms in an effort to keep up with Democratic rival Al Gore.
"We're not going to let Al Gore scare senior citizens into voting for him," Bush told a Republican fund-raiser Thursday night in Nashville, Tenn. - Gore's base of operations.
Gore running mate Joseph Lieberman also was campaigning in Florida on Friday.
Seniors are an especially active and liberal-leaning voting group, particularly in Florida, which is governed by Bush's brother Jeb and a Republican Legislature. Bush had long considered the state in his column, but he and Gore are now statistically tied in the race for its 25 electoral votes.
Friday's visit is Bush's second in two weeks, underscoring the campaign's concern about its prospects there.
During a swing that also includes stops Friday in Sarasota, Tampa and Miami, he will propose to:
Increase funding by $32 billion over the $35 billion already proposed for the National Institutes of Health. He said the Clinton-Gore administration has proposed about half that amount.
Make permanent a tax credit for private research and development into disease cures and prevention, costing $24 billion over 10 years. Bush, who already had proposed the expenditure, said the Clinton administration has never suggested making it permanent.
On Thursday, Bush focused on allowing younger workers to invest a small portion of the payroll taxes that fund Social Security in equity or bond markets.
This would create "a powerful nest egg," Bush told workers at a Cleveland company that makes cooling equipment for computers.
Gore's campaign has said the program would amount to a $1 trillion drain on the Treasury.
After a "one-on-one" meeting Saturday with Orlando citizens, Bush heads home to Texas for a day of rest. He begins a five-day, West Coast campaign swing on Monday that will include California, which is leaning toward Gore.
That trip will end with several days of preparation for his first debate with Gore on Oct. 3 in Boston.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.