Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt continues to hammer at frontrunner Howard Dean, today accusing the former Vermont Governor of lacking the poise to be President.Gephardt says he believes “in a democratic party that understands out strength comes not from anger but from grace.” Gephardt says Dean can dish out criticism of George Bush and the other democratic candidates, but apparently can’t take it when others question his record. Gephardt says if Dean can’t take the heat from his fellow Democrats, they won’t just step aside and watch him lose his cool against George Bush and lose the election in November. Dean has accused the “Washington candidates” like Gephardt of failing to provide health care reform, and Gephardt counters by citing several reforms — like getting Medicare to cover mammograms for the disabled and poor American women who depend upon the government program for health insurance. Gephardt says he “congratulates Governor Dean on his medical career,” but Gephardt says Dean “shouldn’t try to lecture anyone on how to pass real health care reform in this country.” Gephardt, a long-time Missouri Congressman who resigned as House Minority Leader last year, spoke this morning at a Des Moines hospital, and contrasted his health care reform plan to those of his competitors. “I may not be a doctor, but I do know something about how to get things through Congress.” Gephardt says his is the only plan which provides coverage to the 43 million uninsured Americans, and would provide the greatest “economic stimulus.” The chief component of Gephardt’s plan would offer tax credits to businesses which offer insurance benefits to their employees. Gephardt says all the democrats in the race agree all or part of the Bush tax cuts should be repealed. Gephardt contends his is the only health care plan that would, in turn, put money back in the pockets of middle income Americans. Gephardt accused competitors John Kerry and Howard Dean of using “cheap sound bites” to hide the expensive details of their health care proposals. Gephardt has been attacking Dean on a variety of issues since this fall, and the Dean campaign today issued a statement calling Gephardt’s latest accusations “shrill” and “ridiculous,” and the Dean camp accuses Gephardt of failing to deliver anything more than rhetoric during his 27-year career in Washington.
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