- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2000

LOS ANGELES Vice President Al Gore turned the Democratic convention podium over to his party's left wing last night, hoping that some red-meat liberal rhetoric will help excite a part of his base that remains divided and doubtful about the party's ticket.
"This is liberal day," cheered Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign For America's Future, a lobbying group that has been working to push the party's agenda in a more leftward direction.
Like a number of old-line liberals in the party, Mr. Borosage thinks the party has veered too far toward the center on issues like free trade and on what he calls its "pre-Coolidge" budget policy of focusing on debt repayment instead of more spending.
He concedes he is not wild about Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Mr. Gore's vice-presidential running mate, chairman of the centrist-leaning Democratic Leadership Council.
"Certainly, the choice of Lieberman was not a choice to enrapture liberals," he said yesterday.
Amid persistent grumblings like that from liberal Democrats, especially blacks and some union people, who are dissatisfied with various aspects of the Gore-Liberman ticket and its agenda, party leaders brought out their heavy liberal guns last night to rally their party faithful and win back the doubters and the unenthused who may be sitting on the sidelines.
Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the leader of the party's liberal wing and arguably its best orator, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley were among the featured liberal speakers on the convention platform last night. Their assignment: to stir the party's blood and get everyone enthusiastically behind the ticket.
As of yesterday, many in the Democratic base were not only not on board, polls showed that a large number had moved to Mr. Gore's rival, Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush. A Los Angeles Times poll reported yesterday that Mr. Gore was getting the support of only 78 percent his party. Mr. Bush, however, was drawing more than 95 percent of his party, plus a significant share of independents and swing Democrats.
And there have been signs of liberal Democratic dissatisfaction at this convention. Among them:
Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles, a leader in the Congressional Black Caucus, was holding back her support of the ticket, raising questions about Mr. Gore, Mr. Lieberman and the political direction of the party. She, among other black leaders, voiced concern about Mr. Lieberman's support for school vouchers, expansion of prisons and his criticism of group preferences in affirmative action.
"I want to support the ticket … [but] I am not quite there yet," she told reporters Monday. "If they are adamantly and diametrically opposed to where I stand, I know what to do. I do nothing."
"We have, in our vice-presidential nominee, someone who is different from us on many of these issues," she told a black forum here this week.
Almost all members of the Congressional Black Caucus were supporting the ticket, but there were expressions of doubt and a lack of enthusiasm from some of them.
When asked at a roundtable forum of black intellectuals and political leaders that included NAACP President Kweisi Mfume whether blacks should vote for Mr. Gore, Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. of Illinois resisted giving a direct answer. Instead he gave this response: "The only option is Al Gore. But if there was another campaign that was speaking to our issues that had the possibility and plausibility of winning, we should support that campaign."
Rep. Loretta Sanchez of California, a leader in the party's Hispanic caucus whose support is critical to Mr. Gore if he is to carry this state was said to be bitter over her treatment by the party as a result of the flap over her since-canceled fund-raiser at the Playboy Mansion.
When she relented to pressure from the Democratic National Committee to move the fund-raiser to another location, the Gore campaign restored her Tuesday speaking slot, but then she stunned party officials by withdrawing as a speaker.
William M. Daley, Mr. Gore's campaign chairman, was greeted with some scattered hisses at a rally of Bradley supporters, where the former presidential candidate released his 359 delegates and urged support for Mr. Gore.
When Mr. Daley said that "to honor [Mr. Bradley] is to make sure that the sort of things that he's talked about get implemented," he received weak applause and later was drowned out by shouts of "Bradley" from his supporters. Some still have an emotional attachment to his liberal candidacy that they do not have toward Mr. Gore.
Still, Mr. Borosage says that whatever misgivings he has about the DLC-written platform, it still has a lot of liberal provisions in it to warm the hearts of the most fervent liberals.
"It is pro-choice, pro-environment, pro-civil rights, and pro-gun control. It's a liberal agenda on social issues," he said.
"And it has a working-family economic agenda on preserving Social Security, Medicare, extending health care and a significant expansion of spending on education," he said."
"At the end of the day, liberal Democrats have to turn their attention to a choice between George W. Bush and the Gore-Liberman ticket. And that choice focuses the mind on what is at stake in this election," he said.

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