Al Gore’s campaign has moved to quiet a flap over the vice president’s honesty by releasing figures it says proves he wasn’t making up claims that his mother-in-law pays more for arthritis medicine than it costs to treat his dog with the same drug.
The Democratic presidential candidate has been under fire from his Republican rival for refusing to release the price his family is paying for the prescription drug Lodine after a newspaper questioned the veracity of a story he has been telling on the stump.
Reaching for a personal example to illustrate the breathtaking costs of some prescription drugs, Gore has often told seniors that his mother-in-law pays nearly three times as much for Lodine as his family pays for the same medicine for his ailing dog, Shiloh.
Gore aides acknowledged that the prices the vice president claimed his family was paying for the drug came from a congressional study — not from his family’s own bills.
“The facts are absolutely accurate,” said campaign spokesman Chris Lehane. “I don’t have the exact figures, but I am telling you the numbers are from a congressional study.”
But the study, which was commissioned by House Democrats, cited wholesale prices for Lodine, not the out-of-pocket costs.
“The wholesale price is accurate,” Gore told reporters in San Fernando, Calif., on Tuesday. “The issue is how seniors are charged much more for the same drugs that are prescribed for animals when they’re bought at veterinarians’ offices.
“The issue is not her,” Gore said of Margaret Ann Aitcheson, his wife Tipper’s mother. “The issue is what seniors around this country are paying. The wholesale price is around two to three times as much as what is charged for pets.”
Bush, Cheney Still Dogging Gore
Hoping to lay the story to rest, the Gore campaign also released the exact prices his family pays for the arthritis medication.
But the Bush campaign pounced on the admission, saying it showed a pattern of the vice president fudging the facts.
“I see that Al Gore is changing his story again about what his family is spending on arthritis medicine,” said GOP vice-presidential candidate Dick Cheney on Tuesday. “Clearly Al Gore is going around the country making up stories about this issue — and that’s not right.”
“Once again, like he’s done previously in claiming to invent the source of inspiration for Love Story,” Cheney continued, “he’s playing fast and loose with the facts in terms of trying to win an argument.”
“Today’s admission that Al Gore used invented facts about his own family raises more questions than answers,” added Dan Bartlett, a spokesman for Texas Gov. George W. Bush. “When it comes to an issue as important as prescription drug coverage, Al Gore shouldn’t be making up facts about his own family.”
ABCNEWS’ Dana Hill contributed to this report.