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Bush Appeals to Elderly Cuban-Americans in Political Trip to Florida - 2003-06-30


U.S. President George W. Bush traveled to the state of Florida Monday to raise money for his re-election campaign and appeal to two key groups of voters.

The president began his day in Miami, where he visited a community center that helps the elderly in the city's Little Havana community.

Most of his remarks focused on a big issue for senior citizens. They want the government's subsidized health care plan for older Americans to pick up the cost of their prescription drugs.

"Muchos gracias," said the president, thanking the audience in Spanish. "I am honored to be here. Thank you for letting me come by to talk about a subject I know is important to many and that is the opportunity and chances for modernizing Medicare."

But for this particular group of seniors there is another matter of crucial importance: the fate of their homeland. And it came as no surprise that the president also talked about Cuba.

"One thing we believe in in America is freedom for everybody," said Mr. Bush. "We believe freedom is the desire of every human heart. We believe freedom is the future of every country. We believe in a free Cuba."

The president was also greeted with applause at a fundraising luncheon at a Miami hotel. His message was familiar as he listed the accomplishments of his administration, both at home and abroad and urged the Republican faithful to support his re-election bid with cash.

"We have raised a lot of money and I want to thank you for that. We are laying the groundwork for what is going to be a victory in November of 2004," said Mr. Bush.

Florida played a crucial role in the 2000 presidential election, with calls for recounts and contested votes delaying the outcome and pushing the contest into the courts.

It is a heavily populated state and could once again play a key role in 2004, though few expect the kind of controversy that marked the last presidential race.

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