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Democrats stump for Gore on Social Security

October 31, 2000

Democrats stump for Gore on Social Security



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


MARTINSBURG, W. Va. - A former member of Congress and the grandson of the man who established Social Security stumped the Eastern Panhandle Tuesday for the Democratic ticket of Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, pushing his Social Security plan over that of Texas Gov. George Bush.

Former U.S. Rep. Barbara Kennelly of Connecticut and Ford Roosevelt, grandson of former President Franklin Roosevelt, met with seniors at lunch at the Berkeley Senior Center after spending part of the weekend in Florida, a state rich with senior citizens and electoral votes. They then met with reporters.

"I don't want to lose Social Security support because I think it is so important," said Kennelly, who served in Congress from Connecticut for 17 years before retiring to work for the Social Security Administration.

She said Gore's idea is to pay down the national debt, using the money saved to extend the solvency of the system from 2037 to 2050. By contrast, Bush would allow individuals to invest some of their money privately rather than putting it into Social Security.

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"It fundamentally changes the program," Kennelly said of Bush's plan. "We need to reform it, but we need to reform the traditional program. It's a lot of risk."

She said Lieberman, whom she has known for many years from Connecticut politics, toyed with the idea of supporting a partial privatization of Social Security, but decided after studying the issue "the numbers don't work" to keep the system afloat.

The two Democrats agreed the race is close here and nationally. That's because the issues have been framed in a way to help Bush, Roosevelt said.

"It's a personality race. Who would you like to have a beer or cup of coffee with on Sunday afternoon?" Roosevelt said. "The issues have become so muddled and pollsterized that it hasn't given people any time to think."

The election is Tuesday.

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