- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 16, 2000

A leading abortion-rights group endorsed Vice President Al Gore's White House bid yesterday, rejecting Democratic rival Bill Bradley's charge that Mr. Gore has been dishonest about past anti-abortion votes.

Kate Michelman, head of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL), refused to get into the merits of Mr. Bradley's complaint, telling a gathering of about 150 pro-choice backers, "We know we can count on [Gore] in the future."

In accepting the endorsement, Mr. Gore vowed, "As president, with your help, I will make sure that that right to choose is never threatened, never weakened and never taken away."

Mr. Bradley's campaign manager, Gina Glantz, denounced NARAL's action, calling it "a typically Washington decision that has more to do with politics than a woman's right to choose."

Mr. Bradley has dogged Mr. Gore for months about his abortion record as both men have engaged in an increasingly heated debate for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Mr. Bradley has pointed out that while the vice president is now pro-choice, he voted repeatedly against abortion while in Congress in the 1980s.

In Baltimore, Mr. Gore pledged yesterday to eliminate the "digital divide" between minorities and whites by setting goals to have every eighth-grader be computer literate and every home gain access to the Internet.

"Computer literacy is a fundamental civil right, because it opens up the doors of economic opportunity. We cannot be satisfied until every American has the ABCs of the Internet access, basic skills and high-quality content," Mr. Gore said at largely black Morgan State University here.

Meanwhile, the vice president became the featured player via videotape at a criminal trial yesterday as Democratic Party fund-raising figure John Huang testified about walking into a Buddhist temple and being handed an envelope containing $100,000 in campaign donations, many of them illegal.

On the videotape shown to a jury in the federal trial of Democratic fund-raiser Maria Hsia, Mr. Gore enters the California temple at the 1996 event and the vice president is seen, though not heard, speaking to a crowd, with a commentator describing the vice president's remarks in Chinese.

Mrs. Hsia translated Mr. Gore's remarks for the largely non-English-speaking crowd, according to earlier testimony in the case against Mrs. Hsia. Prosecutors say she engaged in a scheme to illicitly reimburse contributors to Clinton-Gore '96 and the Democratic Party. She is accused of five felony counts of causing false statements to be filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The videotape of the vice president is the latest reminder of a controversy that has followed Mr. Gore since the campaign fund-raising scandal erupted in 1996. Some of the donors at the temple fund-raiser were illegally reimbursed for their contributions with temple funds. When questions first arose about it, Mr. Gore said he thought he was attending a community outreach event, not a fund-raiser.

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