Both major-party presidential candidates have designed programs to help children. But their approaches are vastly different.
During a national, simultaneous teleconference Thursday, sponsored by the Coalition for America's Children, Democrat George Clinton and Human Services Secretary Dr. Louis Sullivan, speaking for President George Bush, outlined the candidates' priorities. The "Satellite Summit" is part of the "Who's for Kids and Who's Just Kidding?" campaign.Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colorado, and Dr. Wade Horn, director of the Administration for Children and Families, fielded questions as representatives for Clinton and Bush, respectively.
Sullivan said Bush has a "firm resolve" to address health and social problems facing American children. Funding for children's programs has nearly doubled during the Bush administration.
Clinton has said that he and his wife, Hillary, have been actively involved in children's issues for years. She has emphasized advocacy for children and he has put more effort into improving education than any other cause during his term as governor of Arkansas.
Bush created the children and families agency, which Sullivan said "is providing a strong unified base for initiatives that effectively meet the needs of children and families - initiatives like Head Start." Head Start got a larger expansion under Bush than any other time in its history.
Clinton said he, too, supports full funding for Head Start. He also wants to give public education the same percentage of the national budget it received in 1980, with emphasis on smaller classes in early grades and elementary counselors for children who bring to school problems they can't solve at home.
The candidates disagree on the Family Leave Act, which had just been passed by Congress. Bush has said he supports the concept but vetoed it because it mandates three weeks of unpaid leave for family crises. He prefers tax credits as an incentive. Clinton supports the act, with the mandates.
Health care is at the center of both campaigns. Sullivan said Bush's "Healthy Start" campaign has reduced infant mortality.
Clinton supports comprehensive health-care reform, beginning with "sweeping guarantees for basic maternal and child health to get children into this world on time in god shape and to get them into school healthy and mentally and physically prepared to learn."
Utah campaign coordinators were on hand to answer local questions. Republican Bruce Hough said both candidates care for children. "The fundamental difference is, if you're a Democrat you believe the federal government should mandate how we solve our problems." Republicans, he said, "would rather give choices and incentives. . . . We agree on the ends. Where we're going to disagree is how we achieve those ends."
Scott Matheson Jr. said Clinton wants to improve education by setting "tough new standards for teachers, students and parents."