Boston Herald
Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Teresa blames president for Hispanic poverty hike

By Noelle Straub

WASHINGTON - Going on the attack, Teresa Heinz Kerry told a prominent Hispanic group yesterday that the number of Latino families living in poverty has "soared'' and their health care has suffered dramatically because of President Bush's policies.
     "It is not their choices that have made them poor,'' Heinz Kerry said. "It's this administration's choices. That is the pattern that this president has firmly established over his four years in office. It is a pattern of tragically wrong choices made with willful disregard for the consequences.''
     Sen. John F. Kerry's wife, who of late has spoken primarily to smaller gatherings in swing states, made the remarks to hundreds at a luncheon for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute here.
     In a sign of the growing importance of the Hispanic vote, Kerry addresses the group tomorrow and Bush hosts a Hispanic Heritage Month Concert and Reception at the White House.
     Heinz Kerry accused the president of failing to acknowledge a "crisis in minority health'' driven by Hispanics losing their health care. Heinz Kerry also said Bush cut Medicaid, "zeroed out'' funding for programs aimed at increasing minorities in medical and nursing schools and eliminated the Office of Minority Health at the Centers for Disease Control.
     "The price of this president's failed health-care policies is paid in the coin of human suffering, and for Latinos, that price is far, far too high,'' she said.
     But the Bush campaign fired back, saying Kerry cast votes against the Medicare prescription drug benefit that will benefit Latino seniors, blocked medical liability reform and opposes tax-free medical accounts.
     "(Kerry) is someone who has no credibility, who talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk,'' Bush campaign spokeswoman Sharon Castillo said.
     Heinz Kerry, who was born in Mozambique, also played up her immigrant status.
     "Some of my husband's critics have challenged me for that, saying my immigrant experience isn't representative,'' she said. ``That is such a revealing comment, because what it suggests is that they should get to decide who shares in the American dream and who doesn't.''