- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2000

Vice President Al Gore has narrowed his gap with Texas Gov. George W. Bush in polls after scrambling to solidify his Democratic base.
Three national polls released Monday show support of the vice president drawing within 2 to 4 percentage points of the presumptive Republican nominee.
Mr. Bush led Mr. Gore 45 percent to 43 percent in a CNN-USA Today-Gallup survey. The Texas governor led 43 percent to 41 percent in a CBS News poll. In a Zogby America poll, Mr. Bush led by 4 points, 45 percent to 41 percent.
Mr. Gore has sought to woo back liberals in recent weeks. He embraced President Clinton's economic record, adopted the populist themes of Green Party nominee Ralph Nader and campaigned with former rival Bill Bradley.
Mr. Gore also sought to make the election a referendum on abortion. He said the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to strike down Nebraska's ban on "partial-birth" abortion shows that abortion rights are at stake.
"There's been a shift among women back toward Gore," said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political analyst at Claremont Graduate University near Los Angeles. "The argument about the Supreme Court being in the balance is resonating."
Mr. Bradley's endorsement of Mr. Gore also may be drawing "disaffected Democrats and liberals back toward Gore," she said.
Gore adviser Tad Devine said the public polls are beginning to reflect the results of the vice president's private surveys.
"I think some of these other [public] polls, which are credible, are beginning to catch up and show this is a close race," Mr. Devine told the Associated Press. "I think we have a race that has been tight and which will likely be tight for a while."
The Bush campaign appeared unconcerned. An average of all the national polls shows that Mr. Bush has maintained a consistent lead of 5 percent to 6 percent, from April through July, Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
"Just as we discount polls showing us up by 13, we don't worry about it being a 2-point race," Mr. Fleischer said.
"We do think Gore has more room to grow because he has yet to solidify his Democratic base," Mr. Fleischer added. "We think it is inevitable Democrats will come home. The question is: Will they stay home?"
Mr. Gore still faces an uphill fight in the battle for 270 electoral votes. The vice president trails the presumptive Republican nominee in many states President Clinton carried twice, including Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington state, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The Teamsters and the United Auto Workers, both wary of Mr. Gore's support of free trade with China, have not yet endorsed the vice president. The unions' ambivalence could hurt Mr. Gore in the critical swath of states between Missouri and New Jersey.
Mr. Nader is cutting into Mr. Gore's support, particularly in Midwest battleground states and on the West Coast. Mr. Gore responded by adopting Mr. Nader's themes and raging against purported corporate profiteers in the oil and drug industries.
Mr. Nader was unapologetic yesterday in a speech at the National Press Club.
"When somebody says to me, 'Aren't you concerned you take away votes from Al Gore?' I would say: 'How could I be?' If I was, I wouldn't be running for the presidency of the United States on the Green Party ticket," he said.
Mr. Gore, seeking a boost in the Midwest, is considering House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, a Missouri Democrat and favorite of labor unions, as his running mate. But Mr. Gephardt pointedly told reporters in Washington yesterday that he would rather fight for control of the House and become speaker.
The Democratic National Committee began a 17-state advertising effort in early June aimed at reviving Mr. Gore's campaign. The DNC targeted much of its efforts at key swing states in the Midwest.
Mr. Bush is also focusing on many of those same states. He will travel to Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia before he arrives at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia at the end of this month.
Mr. Bush tried to make light of shifting surveys July 12 in remarks to Republican strategists in Austin, Texas.
"The good news is that I'm leading in the polls," Mr. Bush said. "The bad news is the election isn't tomorrow."

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