- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2000

CHICAGO George W. Bush completed his Midwestern train tour yesterday, vowing to fight hard for the swing state of Illinois, where Democrats have won the last two presidential elections.
"I believe we can carry Illinois," Mr. Bush told reporters. "But we're taking no votes for granted."
"We think the people of this country are looking for new leadership, and that's exactly what we're going to give them," Mr. Bush shouted to a crowd in Joliet. "It's time to have an administration that will reject the politics of finger-pointing and name calling."
Meanwhile, a new poll released yesterday showed Mr. Bush leading Vice President Al Gore by 16 points in a head-to-head matchup. The CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll was taken after the Republican National Convention ended last week, and found that 44 percent of respondents were more likely to vote for Mr. Bush based on the convention. The same poll in early July showed Mr. Bush's lead at nine points.
The three-day tour of battleground states came on the heels of the convention, which boosted Mr. Bush's lead over Mr. Gore by about 7 percentage points in most polls.
The Texas governor led Mr. Gore in Illinois, 46 percent to 39 percent, in an American Research Group poll taken on July 12.
Mr. Bush said the lack of campaign events in Chicago on this trip the campaign stayed overnight in the city and left by train for southern Illinois yesterday morning was not a sign that he will concede urban Cook County.
"I concede nothing," Mr. Bush said. "Mayor [Richard] Daley is a strong mayor, and unfortunately he is not for me. But that doesn't mean I'm conceding anything."
Mr. Daley is the son of the famous Democratic Chicago mayor. His brother, William, the former Clinton secretary of commerce, is Mr. Gore's new campaign chairman.
"I think the people, no matter where they live in Illinois, want to hear about our plan to pass some of the surplus back to the people who are paying the bills," Mr. Bush said.
In Plainfield, Ill., Mr. Bush and running mate Richard B. Cheney attended services at Sharon United Methodist Church. Pastor Doug Booth was district director for House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican, until November 1998.
As he traveled on the rails this weekend across Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Illinois, Mr. Bush did concede that he is facing another opponent of sorts this fall prosperity.
"That's why this is going to be a tough, close election," Mr. Bush said of the longest period of economic growth in U.S. history. "If they want four more years of Clinton-Gore, I've got a tough campaign."
However, many of the people who came to see Mr. Bush on his whistle-stop tour said Mr. Gore should not get the credit for America's relatively good economic times.
"The economy is better because we have a lot of Republican governors and we have a Republican majority in Congress," said Sharon Riharb, a public school teacher in Waterford, Mich. "That's what has really turned the economy around."
She added that she is "an educator who doesn't agree with our union, which always backs the Democrats."
Bill Shaw, a computer consultant from Royal Oak, Mich., agreed with Mr. Bush that the Clinton administration has missed opportunities, such as reforming Social Security.
"They had a wonderful opportunity in a time of prosperity to do great things," Mr. Shaw said. "Unfortunately, we were tied up in moral issues and other things. People are looking at Gore, and Gore's carrying a lot of baggage."
His wife, Dorothy, added, "It's not just full employment that makes us what we are."
Jim Zingshein, a retiree from Greendale, Wis., said the recent prosperity "has nothing to do with Clinton. It has to do with the American people. He just happened to land there and take credit for it."
But Darell Rohrer, a university employee in East Lansing, Mich., is an independent who says he has decided to vote for Mr. Gore.
"The last eight years have been very good times, and the Democrats have been in power," Mr. Rohrer said.
Mr. Bush also told reporters this weekend that he is not worried about alienating independent voters by pressing for an end to partial-birth abortion, an issue he raised in his nomination acceptance speech last week.
"I think it's truthful to say that we need somebody to help this country value life, and surely good people can agree on ending partial-birth abortion," he said. "I can't understand somebody who does not believe in ending partial-birth abortion."
Mr. Gore does not support a ban on the practice, in which a late-term fetus is delivered partially through the birth canal before its skull is crushed and brains suctioned out.
"As I said in my speech … surely there are ways to find common ground to reduce abortions and value life, such as parental notification, increasing adoption and banning partial-birth abortion," said Mr. Bush. "That's the right position to take. And, interesting enough, it's where most Americans are."

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