- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2000

LOS ANGELES (AP) It only took a few moments of watching President Clinton charm the Democratic National Convention audience for Montana delegates to start worrying about Vice President Al Gore's chances in their state.
While Mr. Clinton carried the typically Republican state in 1992, some delegates were reminded yesterday that he has one critical asset they say Gore does not a disarming charisma.
"I think Clinton won in 1992 because people in the state were able to feel like he was one of them," said Carol Juneau, a delegate from Helena. "I'm not sure Gore has it in him to bond with Montana in that way. It is a tough order."
Miss Juneau said Mr. Gore has to hope his message will be enough to change attitudes in Montana, where polls show Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush has a solid lead.
"I think Gore is going to have get on stage and show a straightforward leadership style and give the nation his plan, step-by-step," Miss Juneau said. "He may not have Clinton's natural abilities, so [he] will have to make up for that with substance."
State party Chairman Bob Ream said Mr. Gore's speech on Thursday could be a critical moment in determining whether he picks up Montana's three electoral votes.
"The speech needs to be electrifying," Mr. Ream said. "It cannot leave people feeling like the high point of the convention was Monday night."
In content, Mr. Gore should be most concerned about the perception that he is too concerned about the environment, Mr. Ream said.
"There is an anti-environmental fervor and right now," he said. "Environmentalism is what some people in Montana think of when they think of Gore."
Other delegates said Mr. Gore's speaking style could keep him from carrying the state, regardless of his message.
"For a Democrat to win in Montana, he has to walk into the living room and make his case," said delegate Ryan L. Smith. "Gore has a great message, I'm just not sure he has what it takes to get this state to listen. He is not that kind of speaker."


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