- The Washington Times - Friday, November 3, 2000

CHICAGO Vice President Al Gore, his voice gravelly from round-the-clock campaigning, focused yesterday on pumping up the black and Hispanic vote with help from the Rev. Jesse Jackson and musicians Stevie Wonder and Carlos Santana.

At a midday rally in Chicago for a crowd police estimated at 50,000, Mr. Gore also continued his theme of attacking Republican George W. Bush's record as Texas governor.

He veered from his stump speech to note that Lake Michigan and the city's air are cleaner than they were eight years ago.

"You don't want to see the Chicago skyline look like Houston's skyline," Mr. Gore said, referring to his oft-stated charge about Texas' largest city also being the nation's "smog capital."

The aside dovetailed with the Gore campaign's release yesterday of a last-ditch attack ad to run in 17 states, containing the most-explicit charge yet that Mr. Bush is unqualified.

The ad, to run in key states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Florida, first attacks Mr. Bush's record in Texas on issues such as the environment, minimum wage and children's health care.

"Is he ready to lead America?" the narrator asks.

The TV spot underscores the increasingly bitter tone of perhaps the closest presidential race in 40 years.

"Al Gore is running more than $60 million in attack ads, making his campaign the most negative in history," Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett said.

"When it comes to experience, America can't afford Al Gore's experience of raising taxes, increasing the size of government, opposing bipartisan Medicare and Social Security reform, and not making education a priority."

With five days left, the vice president crisscrossed the nation, hitting several swing states.

He began the day stumping at a junior college in Scranton, Pa., then flew to Chicago for the rally, where Mr. Wonder sang for a crowd of 30,000. Mr. Jackson and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley joined Mr. Gore for the rally in a downtown plaza named for the mayor's father, Richard J. Daley.

Mr. Gore then flew to a rally with Hispanic leaders in Las Cruces, N.M., before jetting to Kansas City, Mo., after midnight.

The Chicago rally was an example of the latest effort to give Mr. Gore a sparkle and swagger that might motivate supporters jazzing up his campaign with celebrities and such eye-catching frills as confetti cannons, streamer torpedoes and daytime fireworks.

After thrilling the Chicago crowd with several of his hits, Mr. Wonder lectured, "I love you to pieces. I'm only here to say this because I love you: We must vote Gore-Lieberman because this country is at stake."

Later, Mr. Gore traveled to Las Cruces, N.M., for a Latino rally with 15,000 New Mexicans. Mr. Santana, the musician, and actor Jimmy Smits appeared with him.

Until now, Mr. Gore has left attacks on Mr. Bush's experience to surrogates, especially running mate Joseph I. Lieberman.

Mr. Gore has used elliptical language to suggest Mr. Bush's six years as Texas governor are weak preparation for the presidency.

"I haven't said that I believe it because I don't think it's my place to say I believe it," Mr. Gore told reporters Oct. 28 as he flew to Detroit on Air Force II.

But the Gore campaign's new ad does just that.

"It's pretty simple. The governor has shown himself not to be ready [for the presidency] given some of the views he has expressed over the last three or four weeks," Gore spokesman Chris Lehane said yesterday before Mr. Gore spoke at Lackawanna Junior College in Scranton, Pa.

"At the debates, we saw his admission that he was going to use our prosperity to benefit the top 1 percent and not the rest of our people," Mr. Lehane said.

"We saw that he could not explain where the $1 trillion comes from" to partially privatize Social Security, Mr. Lehane said.

"We saw him make comments" about removing U.S. troops from the Balkans "that would have been reckless in terms of our international security system," he added.

"Literally on a daily basis we're seeing a public policy skeleton [tumble] out of the Texas governor's closet," Mr. Lehane said.

"You put all that stuff together and it raises very serious questions. Does he have what it takes? Is he ready to be president?"

The new Gore ad is running in Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The ad intersperses images of Mr. Bush, looking chagrined, with images of oil drilling, smog and a woman tending to a child. The narrator sends a fusillade of attacks.

"As governor, George W. Bush gave big oil a tax break while opposing health care for 220,000 kids," the narrator says.

The Bush campaign says Mr. Bush signed legislation giving 423,000 more children health care and expanded coverage to include immigrant children. The Bush campaign says "temporary tax relief" for oil companies helped Texas schools because it prevented oil well shutdowns that would have slashed property tax revenue.

The Gore ad says "Texas now ranks 50th in family care." The Bush campaign says that since 1994, the percentage of Texans with no health coverage has fallen, while the percentage of Americans without health care has increased.

The Gore ad says Mr. Bush has "left the minimum wage at $3.35 an hour." The Bush campaign says no bill to raise the state's minimum wage has made it out of committee.

The ad says Mr. Bush "lets polluters police themselves" and that Texas "ranks last in air quality." The Bush campaign says the governor has signed "tough environmental laws," that require older utilities to cut nitrogen oxide emissions 50 percent and sulfur dioxide emissions 25 percent by 2003.

The Gore ad says Mr. Bush "promises the same $1 trillion from Social Security to two different groups" and "he squanders the surplus on a tax cut for those making over $300,000."

Mr. Bush says he would set aside $2.4 trillion to "save and strengthen" Social Security. His campaign says the Texas governor's tax-cut plan would remove 6 million low-income families from the income-tax rolls.

The Gore ad ends with a written question. "On Nov. 7 ask yourself: Is he ready to lead America?"

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide