- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 15, 2000

LOS ANGELES Republicans yesterday accused Vice President Al Gore and the Democrats of holding "a convention of contradictions" whose presidential ticket is ridden with disagreement and looking for political cover from Bill Clinton's scandal-plagued presidency.

A squad of Republican governors, congressmen and other officials fired off a broadside attack on Mr. Gore as a politician who is without "core principles," who opposes real tax relief for working men and women, and who would continue the atmosphere of "fighting and gridlock in Washington" that has dominated the past eight years of the Clinton-Gore era.

Republican Govs. Paul Cellucci of Massachusetts and James S. Gilmore III of Virginia said that contrary to his media-fed image as a centrist, Mr. Gore's designated running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, has a strong liberal voting record that has supported most of the policies of the Clinton-Gore administration.

"He's a liberal who has voted against tax cuts and for the policies of this administration," Mr. Cellucci said.

Both governors said that Mr. Gore chose Mr. Lieberman to be his running mate to "give him political cover" from Mr. Clinton's sex-and-lies scandal that led to his impeachment by the House. But they said that it may have the opposite effect on his candidacy because of the Connecticut lawmaker's national notoriety for being the first Democrat to condemn the president's behavior.

"When Gore chose Lieberman, everyone was reminded of what he [Mr. Clinton] did" in the scandal involving then-White House intern Monica Lewinsky, Mr. Cellucci told reporters.

At the same time, the Republican "truth squad" said that the wide disagreement between Mr. Gore and his running mate on issues ranging from the partial privatization of Social Security retirement plans to school-choice vouchers which Mr. Lieberman supported until Mr. Gore picked him showed that the vice president did not have a core set of convictions on policy.

"There is a credibility gap here," Mr. Gilmore said.

"Gore doesn't have any core principles," Mr. Cellucci said.

The Republican governors also said that Mr. Gore was attempting to "reinvent himself again" at this week's convention by selling himself as the candidate who is on the side of working Americans, even though he supported Mr. Clinton's recent veto of a bipartisan bill to give working couples marriage penalty tax relief.

"The Democrats will never cut a tax if they can possibly help it. The veto of the marriage-penalty tax is abominable," Mr. Gilmore said.

As the Democratic convention began its first day here, the Republicans let loose with a barrage of charges against the Gore-Lieberman ticket at a news conference near the convention hall.

"Al Gore is suffering from multiple-policy disorder," said Kenneth Blackwell, the Ohio secretary of state.

"Gore is trying to attach himself to the hip of Bill Clinton on some issues and then separate himself on other issues," Mr. Blackwell said. "He picked Lieberman to give himself cover" from Mr. Clinton.

"Now Lieberman is trying to distance himself from some issues he took a position on but on which he and Gore do not agree," Mr. Blackwell said. "We're saying free Joe Lieberman. Let Joe be Joe."

There was, however, one part of this Democratic convention that Republicans seemed to take great delight in, and that was the amount of time that Mr. Clinton has spent here and the way he has dominated the convention's news thus far in his interviews, fund raising and other activities.

"We hope Clinton will talk forever. If Al Gore wants to associate himself with Bill Clinton, that's fine with us," said Rep. Henry Bonilla, Texas Republican.

The Republican officials were followed by five Texas Democratic leaders who have worked with George W. Bush in state government and who have been touring the country to counter the Gore campaign's attacks on Mr. Bush's record in Texas on education, the budget, crime, the environment and health care.

"I've became very upset by the trashing of our state by the Democrats," said John Hill, the former chief justice of Texas. "It's way over the political line. The charges being made to help elect Al Gore are false."

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