- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 17, 2000

Vice President Al Gore took a taxpayer-funded helicopter detour to inspect Georgia tornado damage yesterday, blurring lines between his vice presidential duties and the presidential race as he looked for ways to stretch his campaign bankroll.
At the same time, Democratic rival Bill Bradley suggested the administration was using cold-weather aid in the Northeast to boost Mr. Gore in the presidential race.
With candidates' remaining money becoming more of a factor, the vice president's politically beneficial government duties are expected to increase. On Friday, his Black History Month appeal to black voters takes the form of an official address to the Summit on Africa in Washington.
He's not shy about pointing out the two roles.
"When I leave here, I'm going to be leaving as vice president … but while I'm here I want to ask for your help in my campaign," Mr. Gore told 150 supporters outside Air Force Two during a pit stop in Macon, Ga.
Spokeswoman Laura Quinn said local officials, knowing Mr. Gore had planned a campaign town-hall forum in Macon, had asked him instead to tour the tornado-disaster area and speak with affected families.
"A very small fraction" of the cost of the day's activities was being shifted to the government, Miss Quinn said.
Mr. Gore has about $18 million to Mr. Bradley's $20 million in campaign funds at his disposal.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bradley accused Mr. Gore of ignoring western New York and other places left out of the economic boom while courting voters elsewhere for the big March 7 primaries.
Going all out in New York, one of the biggest March 7 prizes, Mr. Bradley portrayed Mr. Gore as a latecomer to an area that has not shared deeply in the past decade's economic good times.
Late yesterday, the former New Jersey senator was returning to New York City for a meeting at the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center.
Mr. Gore last week picked up the endorsement of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest homosexual-rights group.
Mr. Bradley continues to accuse Mr. Gore of using "scare tactics" to discredit his health care plan. Mr. Gore says Mr. Bradley's plan to replace Medicaid with a system of subsidies would leave thousands of people with diseases such as AIDS without coverage.
In Buffalo, Mr. Bradley told about 150 supporters and onlookers at Erie Community College, "I look out there and see Al Gore says he's been to California 60 times since he's been vice president. My question to him is, how many times has he been to western New York?"
"You can't come to western New York after being in power seven years and say you're going to have a program to help those parts of the country that haven't moved ahead. The question is, where were you for the last seven years?"
His campaign released a document that contended New Yorkers were "left out in the cold" when the federal government recently released emergency heating assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
New Hampshire residents got their assistance Jan. 26, a week before the state's primary, while New York got its largest chunk of money Feb. 10.
New Hampshire's allotment broke down to $114.71 per low-income household, compared to $24.01 per New York household, according to the Mr. Bradley's calculations.
"The timing is interesting," Mr. Bradley said.

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