- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 19, 2000

Vice President Al Gore is trimming his spending in Ohio to boost his ad buy in Michigan while Texas Gov. George W. Bush has poured $2 million into Florida in a two-week span.

It's crunch time.

Aides to Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush are making critical decisions about where to fight for 270 electoral votes with 20 days to go in the race for president.

The pressure is especially acute for Democratic strategists. The Republican National Committee headed into the homestretch with $45 million to the Democratic National Committee's $25 million.

Both campaigns are waging fierce fights in Florida, Michigan and Pennsylvania three states with 66 electoral votes.

But Mr. Gore also is defending traditionally Democratic turf. He is trying to fend off Mr. Bush in five smaller states that have voted Democratic in the last three presidential elections Washington, Oregon, Iowa, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore began a final push in the heartland yesterday, following their third and final debate in Missouri.

"This is going to be a close election," Mr. Bush said at an airport rally in Eau Claire, Wis. "Nobody should take anything for granted."

Mr. Gore began his three-week sprint by campaigning in Missouri, Iowa, Michigan and New York.

"Travel with the Gore campaign," Gore spokesman Chris Lehane told reporters. "Leave your pillow with the Bush campaign."

The Gore campaign will promote the nation's robust economy, dubbing itself the "prosperity for all campaign."

"It seems to me that the record makes it abundantly clear we have made progress," Mr. Gore said during a rally in Des Moines, Iowa. "Do we build on that foundation, or do we erode that foundation?"

Mr. Bush presented Mr. Gore as a defender of big government.

"The surest way to slow down our economy is to spend all that taxpayer money on bigger government," Mr. Bush said in Wisconsin.

The DNC yesterday started running an ad that criticizes Mr. Bush's plan to reform Social Security. It suggests Mr. Bush cannot both preserve Social Security benefits for impending retirees and divert money from the system for younger couples to invest.

The ad will run in 10 states where the race is close: Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Mr. Bush hopes to upend Mr. Gore by prevailing in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Florida, Missouri, Oregon and Washington. All seven states voted for the ticket of President Clinton and Mr. Gore in 1996.

Ohio, with 22 electoral votes, appears to be tilting to Mr. Bush, and the Gore campaign seems to have taken notice. The vice president cut his ad spending in Ohio from $550,000 to $400,000 this week while raising his spending in Michigan from $520,000 to $720,000.

In Michigan, Mr. Gore led 45 percent to 42 percent in a poll released Sunday by the Detroit Free Press.

That same day, the Arab-American Political Action Committee endorsed Mr. Bush. The endorsement could prove important in a state with 350,000 Arab-Americans.

Mr. Clinton weighed in Tuesday, sending disaster relief to Michigan communities damaged by storms and flooding in September.

Yesterday, Mr. Bush's mother, Barbara; his wife, Laura; Lynne V. Cheney and foreign policy aide Condoleezza Rice stumped for Mr. Bush in Michigan, kicking off their "W Stands for Women" tour.

Mr. Gore appears determined to hold the state. He spent $2.83 million on ads in Michigan between Sept. 25 and Oct. 8, to $936,618 for Mr. Bush.

The Texas governor is shifting more resources to Florida, seeking 25 pivotal electoral votes in the nation's fourth-largest state.

In Florida, Mr. Gore led with 47 percent of the vote to 45 percent in an American Research Group poll conducted Thursday to Sunday.

"I don't have to tell you: Florida is really battleground zero in this election," Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Mr. Gore's running mate, told high-tech workers Monday during a campaign appearance in Orlando.

The DNC is pouring $3 million in an effort to motivate black turnout in swing states including $1.25 million in Florida.

Florida Gov. Jeb Bush campaigned for his brother in the central part of his state Monday with Richard B. Cheney, the Texas governor's running mate.

The RNC this week began running a Spanish ad in Florida featuring George P. Bush, the son of the Florida governor and his Mexican wife.

The Texas governor spent $2.1 million on ads in Florida between Sept. 25 and Oct. 8 to $757,508 for Mr. Gore. Since June 1, Mr. Bush has spent $8.3 million on ads in Florida, to $3.9 million for Mr. Gore.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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