- The Washington Times - Monday, August 21, 2000

MUSCATINE, Iowa Near midnight Saturday, in an Iowa town called Clinton, Vice President Al Gore again sought to liberate himself from the president he hopes to succeed.
"What I'm telling you here this evening is not something that's been written for me by some pollster or some consultant," Mr. Gore told 5,000 supporters at the county courthouse, some of whom had waited six hours for his arrival.
Mr. Gore spoke of his own disillusionment after the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King Jr., with the Vietnam War and with Watergate. He then made an appeal to idealism in a cynical age, an entreaty to voters disappointed by President Clinton.
"That's what I'm asking you to do, to push past the fear of disappointment, being let down, disillusioned," Mr. Gore said.
"We've all been there. We've all done that. And I say this especially to the young people in this crowd. Don't you let anybody tell you it doesn't make a difference. You get involved. Don't be cynical. You get involved. This is your country."
Mr. Gore confronts Mr. Clinton's wake as he rides the Mark Twain riverboat down the Mississippi from La Crosse, Wis., to Hannibal, Mo., where the tour concludes today. Mr. Gore is trying to shore up his support in states that supported Mr. Clinton in 1996: Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.
Gore aides think the vice president received a bounce from the river trip following the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.
In a USA Today poll out today, Mr. Gore leads with 47 percent of the vote to 46 percent for Republican George W. Bush, 3 percent for Green Party nominee Ralph Nader and 2 percent for Reform Party nominee Pat Buchanan.
"I'm feeling good about the enthusiasm of the crowd," Mr. Gore said yesterday as he left the Boat House, a restaurant in Davenport. "I'm no expert as to what to make of it, but it feels good."
As Mr. Gore seeks momentum in this conservative river region, Mr. Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky remains a dangerous sandbar.
At each stop along the way, Mr. Gore repeats a line of reassurance from his convention speech.
"I may not be the most exciting politician," Mr. Gore says, "but I will work hard for you every single day and I will never let you down."
The Lewinsky scandal was on voters' minds even as they applauded Mr. Gore in Clinton, Iowa.
"I think Bill Clinton's actually been holding [Mr. Gore] back a little bit," said David Roman of Fulton, Ill., who works in research and development for a plastics packing company. "This lady [Mr. Clinton] had, I think some people hold it against him and the vice president. They shouldn't because it was President Clinton that did that. Now that [Mr. Gore] is on his own, he'll get past that."
The Clinton shadow lingered yesterday as Mr. Gore and his running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, pushed health care at a rally in Moline, Ill.
"You're in a very conservative area," said retired teacher Whitey Verstraete, 63, of Moline. "Unfortunately, Clinton's behavior is something Gore has to overcome."
Mr. Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah, returned to the campaign trail yesterday after leaving Friday night to observe the Jewish Sabbath. Mr. Lieberman stressed Mr. Gore's independence.
"He stands here today as his own man, but I think you know he also stands here as your man," Mr. Lieberman told a cheering crowd.
Mr. Lieberman took over the role as attacker for the campaign yesterday, charging that 1.4 million children in Texas lack health insurance.
"Governor Bush likes to say, 'Don't mess with Texas,' " Mr. Lieberman said. "When it comes to health care, it's a mess in Texas."
"Just days after Al Gore pledged a positive campaign, clearly the Gore-Lieberman ticket is back in the mode of nightly polls and daily attacks," said Bush spokesman Ray Sullivan. "The truth is that under Governor Bush, Texas has spent $4 billion to provide health care to the uninsured… . Under Clinton-Gore, 8 million more Americans are without health insurance, including 2.4 million children."

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