- The Washington Times - Friday, October 27, 2000

MADISON, Wis. Vice President Al Gore headed into the heartland yesterday, stressing his environmental record and strategic voting concerns in an appeal to supporters of Green Party nominee Ralph Nader.

In Madison last night, Mr. Gore told the largest throng of his campaign, a crowd that police estimated at 30,000 people, that a vote for Mr. Nader is as good as a vote for Republican George W. Bush.

Oil and chemical companies "would say vote for Bush or, in any case, vote for Ralph Nader," Mr. Gore said. "They would say, whatever you do, don't vote for Al Gore."

The vice president addressed a crowd of mostly college students in the shadow of the state capitol. Mr. Gore said he has been committed to environmental protection for his entire 24 years in public office.

"I have never backed down or given up on the environment in my whole life and I never will," Mr. Gore growled into a hand-held microphone. "And I never will. I guaran-damn-tee it."

The appeal to Nader voters on the grounds that voting for the consumer advocate would help the Texas governor marks the latest shift in Mr. Gore's tactics, a change he had seemed to rule out only hours earlier.

In an interview yesterday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Mr. Gore said, "I don't like the argument that a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush. It may be true, but my argument that I much prefer is I want to convince all of the voters to support me with enthusiasm.

"But I'm not going to ask people to vote against somebody," he told interviewer Charlie Gibson. "I want to ask them to vote for the policies [that] I think will be good for this country."

Aboard Air Force Two on Wednesday night, a reporter asked Mr. Gore whether he wishes Mr. Nader would drop out of the race.

"I'd like Bush to do that," Mr. Gore said.

Support for Mr. Nader, the rumpled consumer advocate, hovers around 5 percent in national polls but could take enough votes to push Democratic base states such as Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Michigan to Mr. Bush.

Without naming Mr. Nader, the vice president yesterday reached out to Green Party supporters during campaign stops in Iowa and Wisconsin, two states that the Clinton-Gore ticket carried twice.

Earlier yesterday, in East Davenport, on the Iowa-Illinois border, Mr. Gore stood atop a red firetruck across from Hose Co. No. 4 and offered a 40-minute populist pitch.

The vice president, rasping into a hand-held microphone, did not mention Mr. Nader, but he pointedly pledged to protect the environment as president.

He said Texas is "No. 1 in something they rank No. 1 out of all 50 in industrial pollution."

Mr. Gore cited a new study from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggesting the Earth's temperatures could rise as much as 11 degrees if greenhouse gas pollution is not curtailed.

Mr. Bush is not sure of the cause of global warming and "maybe we shouldn't do anything but just study it," Mr. Gore said.

"These kids" at the East Davenport rally "have the right to expect that we will take responsibility for picking the hard right over the easy wrong," Mr. Gore said.

"If we take the leadership role that these kids have a right to expect us to play, we can create millions of good, new, high-paying jobs by building the new cars and trucks and furnaces and boilers and technology to stop the pollution and lift standards of living."

Mr. Gore is walking a fine line in appealing to Nader backers, wary of moving too far to the left and alienating centrists.

"I'm delivering the same message to everybody: Let's keep the prosperity going," Mr. Gore said on Air Force Two Wednesday night.

"It's important to me to reach out to Republicans, to independents, to Reform Party members, to Green Party members most of all to Democrats," he said. "You know, everybody has an independent streak these days."

A senior Gore adviser said Wednesday that he is unaware of anyone in the Gore campaign working to pressure Mr. Nader.

"I have not heard one word about that. I don't know anybody who's doing it," the senior aide to Mr. Gore said yesterday following a rally in Jackson, Tenn.

"As far as the campaign goes, I have never heard a word about it. I don't know anybody who would do that."

But Mr. Nader said prominent Democrats were seeking him out.

The Green Party candidate said Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, asked him if he would be interested in meeting privately with the vice president. Mr. Nader said he responded, "No, not at all."

The Gore campaign reportedly became alarmed last week when a poll gave Mr. Bush a slight lead in Minnesota, a state that went for President Nixon in 1972 and hasn't gone Republican in a presidential election since. That poll gave Mr. Nader 8 percent.

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