Former Vice President Al Gore called for a “national defense public health act” at GW Thursday in his third major policy speech since September.
The 2000 Democratic presidential candidate said the nation is vulnerable to biological attack if it goes to war with Iraq and “the United States demands a new response.”
Gore, who spoke to a packed auditorium in Ross Hall, called for a national health system equivalent to the national interstate highway system, connecting large and small communities with common communication and integrated health care systems.
Dozens of students were turned away once the room reached capacity.
In the brief address Thursday afternoon, Gore outlined his recommendations for revamping the nation’s public healthcare system. University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg introduced Gore, saying he “is an example of good people in government.”
Gore recommended increasing the ability of healthcare facilities to detect and respond to biological attacks, improving nationwide communication to better counter attacks and respond to crises and more protection for the nation’s food and water supplies.
“We need a new national defense policy act to responsibly address this imminent threat,” Gore said. “This initiative would not only act as a new line of defense against bioterrorism; it would improve the way we prevent and detect many other healthcare problems.”
Gore, who appears to be laying the groundwork for a presidential bid in 2004, has given major policy speeches on the economy, the war on terrorism and now public healthcare and preparedness for a biological attack.
On Oct. 2 Gore spoke at the Brookings Institute in D.C., slamming the Bush administration’s management of the nation’s economy. In late September Gore addressed the Commonwealth Club of California and reiterated his support for regime change in Iraq and expressed grave concern over how the president is working toward accomplishing that goal.
The former vice president spoke for less than an hour to the Ross Hall crowd, which included many from the University and the surrounding area.
“I am so glad that someone like Al Gore came to GW,” freshman Angela Barret said. “With President Bush here last week and now Gore, it is great that so many cool people come here to speak.”