(Host) As Republicans meet in New York for their national convention, Vermont’s congressional delegation is turning the spotlight on Bush administration policies that they say have harmed the state. The three-person delegation said Wednesday that President Bush has used moderate campaign rhetoric to conceal a radical conservative agenda.
VPR’s John Dillon reports:
(Dillon) Speaking at the Burlington waterfront, Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders evoked a Republican hero – former President Ronald Reagan – to pose what the congressman said is the most relevant question in this presidential campaign:
(Bernie) “And what Ronald Reagan said is: Are you better off today than you were four years ago? And I think the evidence is overwhelming that the vast majority of people in our state and in our country are worse off under George Bush than they were before he assumed power.”
(Dillon) Sanders said 2.7 million manufacturing jobs have been lost over the last three years. He said the Bush administration has pushed regulations to reduce overtime pay, has cut subsidies for affordable housing, has reduced benefits for veterans, and has done little to lower the cost of prescription drugs.
Senator Jim Jeffords, who was a Republican for much of his political career, said the GOP has put on a moderate mask for its national convention.
(Jeffords) “The Republican Party that we are seeing demonstrated at the convention this week is not the same Republican Party that we know and saw at work in Washington over the last three years.”
(Dillon) Jeffords, who is the ranking minority member of the Senate Environment Committee, says he’s disappointed that the current President Bush has backed away from the clean air laws supported by his father in 1990.
Jeffords said the president has refused to support a federal transportation bill and has failed to fully fund education programs.
(Jeffords) “And worst of all, President Bush has spent billions of dollars on an unnecessary war in Iraq with no coherent strategy, no timetable for withdrawal.”
(Dillon) Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said the Bush administration has alienated allies with the war in Iraq.
(Leahy) “They squandered the goodwill we needed to fight terrorism, they squandered the huge budget surpluses that they inherited from the Clinton administration. They turned it into the largest deficits in our nation’s history.”
(Dillon) Polls show that President Bush is not likely to carry Vermont. Leahy says he’s aiming his anti-Bush message beyond the state’s borders, and that he wants to persuade people throughout New England to vote for Democrat John Kerry in November.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Burlington.