Vice President Gore dashed to Nashville Monday to tour the housing projects where surgeon general designee Henry W. Foster Jr. founded a program aimed at deterring teenage pregnancies, and vowed to defeat “the extremists” fighting Foster’s nomination.
Gore’s visit, announced barely 12 hours before he embarked, was part of a broader White House campaign to brand the anti-abortion activists who are leading the opposition to Foster as “litmus-test” zealots who have maligned Foster’s reputation and record.
In the sharpest rhetoric the administration has employed so far in the Foster fight, White House press secretary Michael McCurry charged that “there are extremists within the right-to-life movement who now have hooked the Republican Party in Congress by the nose and they’re dragging them around.”
McCurry also suggested a link between the opposition to Foster and the money the National Republican Senatorial Committee gave to the National Right to Life Committee last fall to boost turnout for GOP candidates.
Anti-abortion activists “intend to demand a payback for the payoff they got,” McCurry said. “These groups go out and do the footwork to elect right-to-life members of Congress, and now they want a payback for having done that work in the field. They want a payback by demanding adherence.”
Putting the focus on Foster’s career was the point of Gore’s brief excursion to Nashville. He and Foster toured the housing project where Foster founded the “I Have a Future” program, which preaches abstinence and goalsetting to young people, as well as providing contraceptive information.
Foster borrowed a Clinton line Monday when asked his position on abortion: “Safe, legal and rare.” But for the most part, he let Gore do the talking.
The two of them were jammed in a small apartment, joined by local leaders and more than a dozen youths who recounted their experiences with Foster’s program. “Anybody who wants to see fewer abortions in this country ought to applaud the nomination of Dr. Henry Foster,” Gore said.