Top Maryland Democrats and the Clinton for President campaign interrupted a senior citizens' bowling league yesterday to warn that President Bush could "gut" Social Security and Medicare to finance various election year giveaways.
The Democrats raised the specter of a raid on the most politically sacrosanct of American institutions, Social Security, as members of the Merrymakers Bowling League willingly suspended action at the Fair Lanes Bowling Center. The center is located directly across the street from the national Social Security Administration headquarters on Security Boulevard.
"Bush can't cut and not destroy programs contributing to your welfare," said Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg, one of the speakers for the Democratic nominee's campaign.
He was followed by state Sen. Clarence W. Blount, D-Baltimore, who said, "I'm concerned that Social Security be kept intact and not be used to balance the budget on my back."
An audience of about 100 began to chant, "Bush Must Go."
A single voice in the group responded with, "Today, not tomorrow" and "Get him out of there."
President Bush's campaign in Maryland said yesterday's event was an example of repeating a lie.
"Governor Clinton was been taken to task for telling the same lie about cutting Social Security in South Carolina. Telling the same lie twice doesn't make it true," said Carol A. Arscott, a spokeswoman for the Bush campaign in Maryland.
"The president has made it clear that there would be no new taxes. He and everyone else in the administra
tion has said Social Security will not be touched nor would Medicare be touched."
Mr. Steinberg and a spokesman for the Clinton campaign acknowledged that Mr. Bush has not proposed any cuts in Social Security or Medicare. They said they wanted to call attention to what they said is a trillion dollars worth of promises, such as tax cuts, with no specific proposals to pay for them beyond spending cuts to be taken after the election.
"This is an in-your-face critique of the president's pandering," said Jon Spalter, spokesman for Clinton campaign in Maryland. "If the president is going to make promises and not say how he'll pay for them, then the fear zone gets larger."
That zone yesterday was measured by the distance between the glistening lanes and a portable speaker's lectern set up near a snack bar.
The balls stopped rolling and the squawky intercom announcements stopped as the speakers asserted that Mr. Clinton would be the best defender of the elderly.
Though Mr. Bush has denied repeatedly that he would touch benefits for the elderly, the Clinton campaign's press release said Maryland seniors were "galvanized" by fear that their Social Security benefits would be "gutted."