Gephardt tells OKC audience Bush worst president of last five


Sunday, December 28th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Democratic presidential candidate Dick Gephardt told cheering union workers Saturday that Oklahoma and its labor unions are an important part of his strategy to win the White House.

``I'm going to win the Democratic nomination and I'm going to beat George Bush,'' Gephardt, standing on a stage in front of a large American flag, said during a campaign stop at the Teamsters Local 886 meeting hall.

``I've served with five presidents and he is by far the worst. I'm nostalgic for Ronald Reagan,'' Gephardt said, drawing laughter from the crowd of about 300 union members and supporters, many wearing ``Gephardt for president'' campaign stickers.

A representative from Missouri who has been endorsed by the 1.4 million-member Teamsters union, Gephardt said Oklahoma and states in the upper Midwest where labor unions are strongest are the key to the 2004 presidential race.

Oklahoma is one of seven states with presidential primaries on Feb. 3.

A 27-year veteran in Congress, Gephardt has won the support of about 20 unions with more than 3 million members. But he has been unable to secure the support of the entire AFL-CIO because several large unions questioned the viability of his second White House run.

Gephardt, whose father was a truck driver, attacked trade agreements that have moved jobs to foreign countries and said he will have three goals during his presidency: ``Jobs, jobs, jobs.''

Gephardt said his energy proposal, known as Apollo 21, will create 2 million jobs by increasing domestic production of oil and natural gas as well as alternative energy sources, like solar and wind power.

It will also improve the environment and give the U.S. more energy security from oil producers in the Middle East.

Gephardt, who has carried labor's banner on trade legislation and other issues in Congress, said that as president he will urge Congress to repeal tax cuts supported by President Bush and pass legislation that guarantees medical care for all Americans.

``I will not rest as your president until we get this done,'' said Gephardt, adding that he believes health care is a moral issue.

Gephardt attacked a prescription drug benefits bill recently approved by Congress.

``The only good thing in the bill is that it doesn't take effect until 2006, so I'm going to have time to fix it,'' he said.