- The Washington Times - Monday, October 23, 2000

AUSTIN, Texas Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush is counting on a little help from his friends 29 Republican governors to clinch his small but seemingly growing lead over Democrat Al Gore.

"It's going to be a good beginning of the final sprint," the Texas governor said at an Austin news conference yesterday, surrounded by the governors who will campaign for him nationwide this week. "I'm glad I'm sprinting with these good folks."

The campaign hopes the governors, who will split up into seven "Barnstorm for Reform" teams to tour 25 states this week, will reassure voters that Mr. Bush is up to the job of running the country and that he is capable of making good on his promise to "change the tone" in Washington.

"Some campaigns tend to send out spokespeople; I'm sending out examples," Mr. Bush said. "Examples of people who know how to lead, examples of people who know how to solve problems."

The governors also signed a full-page ad, set to appear today in USA Today, praising Mr. Bush as a bipartisan leader who is "positive and optimistic" and who "transcends traditional partisan boundaries."

Governors say their own popularity and credibility will convince voters even far beyond their own state borders, especially if the press and public see a mass of governors from all across the country.

"We are very much like Gov. Bush. He is very much like us. That's what the meaning of this is," said Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge praised Mr. Bush in unusually lofty terms yesterday before setting out on the campaign trail, saying governors are best qualified to testify on behalf of Mr. Bush, who has led Texas since 1994.

"We have been witness to the way you lead, we have watched you," Mr. Ridge said. "We have watched you listen carefully, study thoroughly and do what you believe is right. We see the light of good judgment and ethical leadership shining within you."

The governors also had harsh words for Mr. Gore, who they said has misrepresented his record and has been part of an administration that has not dealt honestly with states.

"I don't think this is by any means a group with instructions to go out and attack," Mr. Gilmore said.

Vice presidential nominee Richard B. Cheney, making a rare joint appearance with Mr. Bush yesterday, also attacked Mr. Gore.

"After three debates, the more they see of Gov. Bush and the more they see of the alternative, Americans are ready for a fresh start in Washington," he said.

The Bush campaign is showing signs of cautious optimism with only two weeks to go before the election. Recent polls show that Mr. Bush has a small but growing lead in the wake of the three presidential debates earlier this month. A Reuters/MSNBC daily tracking poll yesterday showed that Mr. Bush had opened up a four-point lead over his Democratic rival. Other polls showed Mr. Bush with a 3-to-11 percentage point lead.

In more good news for the Bush campaign, the Texas governor picked up three key endorsements by newspapers that had formerly endorsed President Clinton in states that had consistently supported the Clinton-Gore ticket.

"After nearly eight years of the Clinton-Gore administration, we believe Americans long for leadership that will not hide behind the absence of a controlling legal authority to justify its actions," the Cleveland Plain-Dealer wrote over the weekend. "In George W. Bush, America has such a candidate. This straight-talking Texan brings a promise of political and ethical constancy that Gore simply cannot match."

Two newspapers in the traditionally Democratic Pacific Northwest were less effusive about Mr. Bush but endorsed him because of concerns about Mr. Gore.

"Neither candidate in this campaign has captured the public imagination the way a Roosevelt, Kennedy or Reagan might. But on a range of topics, and in a variety of ways, we think Bush has shown he has the intellect, character, fortitude and talent to be a better president," wrote the Portland Oregonian.

The Seattle Times, meanwhile, endorsed Mr. Bush despite its past support for failed Democratic hopeful Sen. Bill Bradley, who shares few political positions with Mr. Bush.

"Much about [Mr. Bush] is unknown and much about him remains untested in national office," the paper's editors wrote. "But in the end, this was not a decision based on offices held or promises made, it was about the qualities Americans need and deserve in those who hold public trust."

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide