Tuesday, October 08, 2002
GOP accuses Democrats of Politicizing Prescription Drug Debate
Lott says Daschle's comments 'Outrageous'
(HOYSTORY.COM) -- Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott accused Democrats of playing politics with the prescription drug debate in an effort to sway voters just weeks before the Nov. 5 elections.
"Not interested in the health of the American elderly?" Lott said. "Tell Strom Thurmond he's not interested in the health of the elderly. You tell that to Jesse Helms. You tell that to Bob Dole. You tell those aged Republicans who take a bucket-full of prescription drugs every day. You tell them they're not interested in prescription drugs for the American people. That is outrageous. The majority leader ought to apologize."
Lott was responding to comments made earlier in the day by Daschle at a fund-raiser for Democratic Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota who is facing a tough re-election battle.
Daschle told the audience that Republicans would rather spend money on national defense than on universal prescription drug coverage for seniors.
"The Republicans want to spend money on a missile defense," Daschle said. "They want to spend money on bombs, cruise missiles and the intelligence agencies.
"What good is all of that, if America's seniors can't get the drugs they need to survive to become victims of the next terrorist attack?
"A vote for Tim Johnson is a vote for prescription drugs!" Daschle said.
President Bush responded to the comments by saying that there are some issues that should be kept out of politics.
"Anytime we're talking about America's seniors, whether it's Social Security, Medicare or prescription drugs -- those issues should be above the political fray -- they're much too important to be subjected to petty political attacks," Bush said. "Senator Daschle should apologize."
In a press appearance later in the day, Daschle protested that his comments had been taken out of context and the Republicans in Congress and the White House were relying on faulty press reports.
"I merely suggested that the Democratic view on prescription drugs is more in line with the desires of the American people," Daschle said. "I didn't suggest that Republicans would push elderly, wheelchair-bound Americans over a cliff, killing them."
Upon hearing Daschle's latest comments, Lott once again took to the floor of the Senate and said there was "no context" under which the Democrats could fairly question whether the Republicans were genuinely concerned about prescription drugs for the elderly.
Lott rejected Daschle's explanation of the comments.
"They're not worth the paper they're printed on," Lott said.