- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 31, 2000

FOND DU LAC, Wis. Vice President Al Gore, who says he's not "the most exciting politician," has called in a little help from the stars.

From West Virginia to Wisconsin, musicians, comedians and actors have answered a call to entertain and energize crowds in the close race with Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

Mr. Gore's traveling road show a wide-ranging exercise in sleep deprivation has become a star-studded revue. The headliners change almost daily as Mr. Gore's troupe traipses from city to city.

Rock singer and actor Jon Bon Jovi warmed up cheering crowds along Mr. Gore's two-day bus tour of Michigan and Wisconsin, which concluded last night when the vice president boarded a midnight flight to Oregon.

Mr. Bon Jovi exhorted Mr. Gore's supporters, singing his own hits as well as anthems such as Bob Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom."

"I am here to lend my support to the voice of experience," Mr. Bon Jovi said Sunday night as he introduced Mr. Gore to several thousand supporters at a rally in Muskegon, Mich.

"We are here together because we are going to lend our support to the voice of continuing prosperity in this country."

On Friday, comedian Bill Cosby warmed up crowds for Mr. Gore in West Virginia and in Pennsylvania.

"The voting machine is better than the slot machine you don't lose when you pull," Mr. Cosby told a big crowd at the state capitol in Charleston.

Mr. Cosby said his parents took great pride in voting. He said both claimed to have cast the deciding vote in an election when their candidate was unopposed.

On Thursday, rocker Melissa Etheridge serenaded a big crowd at a rally in Madison, Wis. Bradley Whitford, an actor from the "West Wing" television show, introduced Mr. Gore after delivering a long speech attacking the Texas governor's record.

The Gore campaign expects musical stars Stevie Wonder and Carlos Santana to play rallies in the home stretch.

"I readily admit that I am kind of a serious guy," Mr. Gore said at a Saturday night rally in Muskegon. "I think it's a serious job."

Stars of music and screen are a staple at Mr. Gore's fund-raisers. In Nashville, Tenn., last week, crooner Tony Bennett headlined a Gore-Lieberman fund-raiser that netted more than $2 million.

Mr. Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, attended star-studded fund-raisers in Los Angeles, Boston and New York.

The Texas governor occasionally campaigns with country music stars such as Loretta Lynn. Crowds have more patience with stars than with politicians who precede Mr. Gore at his rallies. In Minneapolis Saturday night, Lt. Gov. Mae Schunk droned on so long that the crowd started chanting, "Let Al speak."

Mr. Gore spoke early and often yesterday as his "Great Lakes Prosperity Tour" rolled through Wisconsin, stopping in Green Bay, Fon du Lac and Waukesha.

In Green Bay, home of the beloved Packers, Mr. Gore, Mr. Lieberman and their wives stood beneath a banner that said "Titletown for Gore."

"As goes Wisconsin, so goes the nation in this race," Mr. Gore said during the rally at the Brown County Courthouse. "This state is one of a handful that holds the destiny of America in the balance."

Perhaps 100 protesters, split between Mr. Bush and Green Party nominee Ralph Nader, stood across the street behind yellow police tape. Two Bush supporters held a graphic sign of an aborted fetus, headlined: "Gore Loves Abortion."

Down the street, a man inscribed a message to Mr. Gore on a piece of plywood. It read: "Hey Al, I like motorcycles, snowmobiles, ATVs and guns. I guess you don't have my vote."

Six hecklers chanted slogans such as: "Bring on the robot," and "No more lies."

Mr. Gore began the day in Muskegon, on the shore of Lake Michigan, where he delivered a standard economic address about maintaining the nation's prosperity.

The vice president added a reference about a vouchers initiative in Michigan.

"If you vote against the ill-considered voucher plan that is on the ballot here in Michigan and Governor Bush's proposal is enacted in Washington, D.C.," Mr. Gore said, "then you would be forced by the federal government to divert your state tax dollars into private school vouchers."

Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore are tied in Michigan, but the vice president now leads by nine points in Wisconsin, according to Reuters-MSNBC tracking polls in key states. Wisconsin has not voted Republican in a presidential race since it supported Ronald Reagan in 1984.

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