- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Vice President Al Gore, fighting ebbing public support, yesterday accused Texas Gov. George W. Bush of blocking a complete recount in Florida to "run out the clock."
Mr. Gore, delivering nationally televised remarks for the second time in 18 hours, dismissed polls that suggest he should concede.
"I'm quite sure that the polls don't matter in this, because it's a legal question," Mr. Gore said during a rare news conference outside his official residence.
On Monday night, Mr. Gore addressed Americans in high-minded terms, talking about the sanctity of uncounted votes and casting himself as a defender of democracy.
But yesterday Mr. Gore returned to a combative campaign mode and charged Mr. Bush with prolonging the election.
"I believe this is a time to count every vote and not to run out the clock," Mr. Gore said outside his mansion on the grounds of the Naval Observatory. "This is not a time for delay, obstruction and procedural roadblocks."
Mr. Gore often has let surrogates speak for him in the three weeks since the Nov. 7 election. But he is now engaging in the public relations battle personally.
Mr. Gore's quick return to the national airwaves appeared to reflect a sense of urgency in his campaign.
In a CNN-USA Today-Gallup poll released yesterday, 56 percent of respondents said Mr. Gore should concede and 57 percent said they disapprove of Mr. Gore's decision to contest Florida's election results.
Aides and political observers said Mr. Gore re-emerged yesterday to shore up his public support and to contrast the image of Mr. Bush as president-in-waiting.
"I think they feel that the momentum is shifting toward Bush," said Ron Faucheux, editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. "They feel they have to stay in front of the public as much as possible.
"I think what they're trying to do is keep the expectations dam from breaking the expectation that Bush will be president and Gore won't be."
The vice president's political allies voiced their support on morning news broadcasts.
House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri told NBC's "Today" show that he does not hear even a "faint drumbeat" from Democrats calling on Mr. Gore to concede.
"I don't hear it," Mr. Gephardt said. "I talk to my members every day. We do a conference call with [vice-presidential candidate] Joe Lieberman or [Gore campaign chairman] Bill Daley about every other day.
"I talk to members all day long. And I do not hear that," said Mr. Gephardt.
Despite the public show of support, aides acknowledge that Mr. Gore has few close friends in Congress.
The vice president, joined by his running mate or top advisers, roams the mansion at the Naval Observatory in limbo, hoping he can maintain public support long enough to wait for favorable court rulings.
In private, the vice president is "a lost soul" consumed by the struggle for his political future, a Gore associate told the Associated Press.
Emboldened by Election Night numbers that showed he won the popular vote nationally by some 200,000 votes that have since grown to more than 300,000, Mr. Gore believes those numbers give his contest legitimacy, another close adviser told AP, also speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The adviser said Mr. Gore is flabbergasted that Americans show "no outrage over an election being stolen" in Florida.
In public, Mr. Gore sought to convey the image that he is planning for the presidency. The vice president invited Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers, a likely appointee to a possible Gore Cabinet, to a working lunch that began with a photo opportunity.
Mr. Gore said it is inappropriate "to announce the names of Cabinet members or to formally offer positions," but he called Mr. Summers "a close friend and close adviser."
The aim of the public relations offensive "is just to explain to the American people why we're doing what we're doing, because we understand it's unusual," Mr. Lieberman told CBS' "Early Show."
"We're saying essentially that the election is not over because all the votes have not been counted. And the right to vote and have your vote counted is at the heart of our democracy," said the Connecticut senator.
First lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, now a senator-elect from New York, was among the top Democrats who spoke up for Mr. Gore.
"I have a great deal of respect for the vice president," Mrs. Clinton told NBC's "Today" show. "I think he's doing the right thing for our country to make sure that there's no question left in anyone's mind."
At his Washington press conference, the vice president defended his decision to seek recounts in Florida's three most-Democratic counties, but not in 64 others despite his "every vote must count" public language.
Mr. Gore said the mistakes were concentrated in Democratic counties.
"One thing to remember is that the old and cheap, outdated machinery is usually found in areas with populations that are of lower income, minorities, seniors on fixed incomes," he said.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide