Watch CBSN Live

Senator Kerry Favors Gore

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry endorsed Al Gore's presidential campaign Saturday with an unsolicited slap at Republican George W. Bush's foreign policy credentials and a kind word for the vice president's Democratic primary opponent.

Gore promised, if elected, to make opening the job market to the disabled a priority. He proposed a network of community centers with the technology disabled students need to learn job skills, and said he would double the government's hiring of disabled people for federal jobs and internships.

"The disability agenda is the American agenda and the first principle ought to be choice, self-determination and empowerment," Gore told a candidates' forum on disability issues.

Bill Bradley, Gore's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, addressed the group by teleconference.

Earlier, Kerry called Bradley "a very good person" but said the vice president deserved to be rewarded for the nation's economic prosperity under the Clinton administration.

"And the reward is to make the vice president, president of the United States," Kerry told reporters before going door to door for votes in a New Hampshire suburb with Gore.

Campaign aides said they counted on Kerry, a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, and his political network to help boost Gore among veterans and in New England, the region where Bradley is running his strongest.

To be sure, Kerry added a little pizzazz to Gore's brief canvassing of a tidy Manchester neighborhood. The senator played some made-for-the-TV-cameras driveway hockey with Kevin Kelley, 7, while Gore spoke with the boy's father, Ron.

Smiling at the pair, Gore supporter Ed Tishkevich joshed, "You even bring a carpetbagger from Massachusetts!"

Tishkevich's wife, Terri, teased Gore, "Did you come to do housework?"

"Whatever you need," replied Gore, before eagerly trotting across the lawn to the next house.

Kerry also showed Saturday that he was primed to help chip at Bush's campaign.

Outside Eric's Sunnyside Diner in Lawrence, Mass., Kerry offered reporters "You didn't ask, but let me say," he interjected a morning-after review of Bush's Friday address, which the Texas governor hoped would quell doubts about his grasp of foreign policy.

"I found it just extraordinarily lacking in real substance," Kerry said. "It was one thing to give a person the words to read and stand up and give a speech in some pre-created presidential setting. It's another to really understand what all of that means."

Meanwhile, Gore carried on his group-by-group pitch against Bradley's health plan, which would replace Medicaid with subsidies for private health insurance or coverage in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

Gore told the conference of disabled people that losing Medicaid to Bradley's proposed $1,800 per-person annual subsidy would hurt them. Bradley says he pegged his subsidy cap to the price of lans in the FEHB, at least 15 percent of which can be bought for $1,800.

"Now, what kind of health insurance can a family with someone who has disabilities get in the private insurance marketplace for $1,800 a year?"

After someone in the audience murmured a reply, Gore amplified, "That's right. It is impossible."

By Sandra Sobieraj