Kerrey offers words on freedom Campaign to focus on health care

November 12, 1991|By C. Fraser Smith

Medal of Honor winner Bob Kerrey came to Maryland yesterday with his convictions about freedom and his campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

"Freedom," the senator from Nebraska said in a brief Veterans Day address at the Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery, "does not come simply from our acquiring enough wealth to purchase it. It must be purchased by sacrifice.

"It must be purchased by people willing to look outside themselves and say that there's something more important than I am.

"It must be acquired as a consequence of our willingness to risk it all, to put ourselves on the line," he told the audience at the cemetery, at 11501 Garrison Forest Road in Baltimore County.

Mr. Kerrey, who lost part of a leg during his service in Vietnam, later told reporters that the centerpiece of his campaign this year would be the nation's health and his proposal for national health insurance.

The former Nebraska governor said he believed that a tax-supported health insurance program would free individuals to improve themselves by freeing them of the worry that changing jobs or going back to school would force them to give up health insurance.

If local governments were freed of the burden of paying for the health care of poor Americans, they would be free of a steadily increasing burden on their budgets.

A solution to the health care cost problem, he said, represents "big relief for the cities."

Americans are almost certain to react favorably to someone with a solution to the health care issue, he said.

"If you ask me what's the most important thing in my life," he said, offering what he regards as a likely answer from most Americans, "It's my health." People want confidence that their health and that of their families can be taken care of, he said.

Under Mr. Kerrey's proposal, persons earnings $40,000 or less a year would save $500 on annual health insurance costs.

Turning to other issues, Mr. Kerry said he believes the American people are angry about their economic lot and about the ineffectiveness of government.

He predicted New York Governor Mario Cuomo would be the immediate front runner if he entered the Democratic primary.

And he said raising campaign funds this year is difficult, because of President Bush's popularity, despite a recent decline, the recession and public skepticism that any candidate can make a difference in government.

Mr. Kerrey, 48, said he expects to be campaigning in Maryland frequently because the state's March 3, 1992, primary makes it one of the earliest in the nation.

He said his chief campaign representative in the state is newly elected Baltimore City Councilman Martin O'Malley.

During his address, Mr. Kerrey said Veterans Day provides an opportunity for Americans to answer the question that every soldier asks: "Will my country remember me? The people we honor today, the memories we honor today must never be forgotten," he said.

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