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COL Bush basks in adoration but offers few specifics

The connection between President Bush and his Rochester supporters who filled the Mayo Field bleachers Thursday went far beyond simple support for a candidate or even a president. There was adoration. For these people, there is no question of who to vote for in November. For others, however, there is a need to examine the words of his campaign and the actions and policies of his presidency.

In his speech, like the one delivered in Rochester to a much smaller crowd last week by John Kerry, Bush provided few details that offered insight into his campaign themes.

On health care there was no indication how the president, in a second term, would address the soaring cost of insurance. Nor did he talk about how to address the gap between what Medicare pays hospitals and the cost of service. It's this gap that contributes to high insurance costs, because the bill not paid by Medicare gets shifted to other payers.

Although Bush did mention his administration's efforts to secure a Medicare's prescription drug benefit, he did not talk about why Medicare premiums will rise next year.

Bush mentioned that he is in favor of limiting lawsuits against medical providers, but he did not discuss where or how he would limit lawsuits with questionable merit but still allow fair financial compensation for malpractice.

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Although Bush was delivering a speech in Rochester, a city where groundbreaking medical research is done, he failed to talk about what appears to be flattening federal support for research funding.

Bush devoted a portion of his speech to trade policy, but his only line was a reference to his belief that American companies can compete anywhere as long as international trade laws are fair. He delivered no specifics on how he would attempt to influence the World Trade Organization to structure such international balance. Nor was there any mention about agriculture subsidies, either reductions or more support.

The president talked about a continued battle against terrorism as an ongoing response to 9/11. But he did not mention that Osama bin Laden is still free. He did not mention that almost all accounts of the war in Iraq are describing the situation as getting worse, not better.

Bush said pessimism about the war is a mistaken stance. But he did not mention the just-released National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which said the three possible scenarios were bad, worse and dreadful.

There were no specifics in Bush's Rochester speech, but the cheers from supporters indicated that his core support is unwavering.

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