- The Washington Times - Friday, September 1, 2000

The Republican National Committee will begin airing a television advertisement today reminding voters of one of Vice President Al Gore's most embarrassing episodes his 1996 fund-raiser at a Buddhist temple.
The 30-second spot, which Republican nominee George W. Bush has seen, also criticizes Mr. Gore for his recurring stretches of fact, in this case for his claim to have invented the Internet.
The ad, to air in 17 states over the Labor Day weekend, begins with a visual of a TV set in a kitchen with images of Mr. Gore at the 1996 Buddhist temple fund-raiser in California and then of the vice president making a speech about campaign finance reform.
A woman's voice says, "There's Al Gore reinventing himself on television again. Like I'm not going to notice. Who's he going to be today? The Al Gore who raises campaign money at a Buddhist temple? Or the one who promises campaign finance reform? Really.
"Al Gore claiming credit for things he didn't even do," the woman says as the ad shows a clip of a Gore interview on CNN in 1999 during which he says, "I took the initiative in creating the Internet."
The woman scoffs: "Yeah, and I invented the remote control, too. Another round of this and I'll sell my television."
The Gore campaign reacted angrily to the Bush team's most-pointed criticism of the campaign.
Gore spokesman Mark Fabiani called it "a reprisal of a strategy" that Mr. Bush used against John McCain after the Arizona senator won the Republican primary in New Hampshire.
"When George Bush's back is against the wall, he will do anything to get elected," Mr. Fabiani said. "In the primaries, he visited Bob Jones University and saluted the Confederate flag. Now Bush in an act of desperation is breaking his own promise not to engage in personal, negative attacks."
In a campaign appearance in Seattle yesterday, Gore running mate Joseph I. Lieberman called the ads an attempt to shore up a faltering campaign.
"Today, I'm sorry to say that Governor Bush's promise to change the tone of American politics has run into the reality of a troubled Bush-Cheney campaign because these new attack ads break his promise not to launch personal attacks," the senator from Connecticut said. "It seems to me today, that Governor Bush has sadly changed his tune about changing the tone."
Bush spokesman Karen Hughes told reporters the ad was a "tongue in cheek" way of reminding voters of the contrast between Mr. Gore's claims and his actions.
She said the ad was no more personal or negative than Democratic commercials that "call the governor a polluter or suggest he doesn't care about kids."
Mr. Gore has said he did not know the temple event was a fund-raiser, even though he referred to it as a fund-raiser in an e-mail message to an aide on the day of the event.
Attorney General Janet Reno last week ignored the advice of at least three of her top advisers and refused to name a special counsel to look into questionable statements made by Mr. Gore during an investigation of his 1996 fund-raising activities, including the Buddhist temple event.
Robert J. Conrad, head of the Justice Department's task force looking into the fund-raising scandal, had recommended that Miss Reno appoint an outside prosecutor. Miss Reno said at least two others, whom she did not name, concurred with his recommendation.
Mr. Gore said he assumed the events were part of a fund-raising strategy, but he thought they were merely to develop "relationships" that could lead to future campaign donations. He did not expect money to be collected at the events, he said.
Last week, Mr. Bush prevailed upon the Republicans to cancel an ad that pictured a 1994 interview in which Mr. Gore defended his own truthfulness and that of President Clinton.
The Texas governor feared a backlash from voters who might have assumed it referred to the Monica Lewinsky affair, which began after the interview took place.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bush visited the 100th school of his presidential campaign yesterday to promote his $47 billion education plan, an initiative that is less than half as expensive as Mr. Gore's proposal.
Speaking to a crowd of about 3,300 at Springfield High School in Toledo, Ohio, Mr. Bush said the Clinton administration has not held public schools accountable for failing to educate students.
"We must not allow children to be trapped in schools that will not teach and will not change," Mr. Bush said.
Mr. Gore pushed managed-care reform in the Pacific Northwest amid accusations that he was avoiding contact with everyday people.
Nearing the end of his two-week campaign swing on education reform, Mr. Bush again called for states to test students in grades three through eight, and said he would withhold federal money if schools failed to meet certain standards for student achievement. Later yesterday, he visited his 101st school in Louisville, Ky. of his 14-month campaign.
The Texas governor also wants to make federal Pell grants to first-year college students bigger, devote more money to teacher training and create tax-free savings accounts for school expenses.
Mr. Gore's education plan totals $115 billion over 10 years, plus $55 billion more in tax breaks to raise teacher pay and repair schools.
In an editorial this week, the Oregonian newspaper suggested the Democratic nominee was guilty of aloofness and elitism for holding an invitation-only event on health care in Portland.
"Ralph Nader came to Oregon to campaign last week and all you had to do to see him was buy a cheap ticket and show up for the speech," the editorial said. "For a campaign that makes so many self-conscious efforts to attract the vast middle of American politics, Al Gore sure works at avoiding the people who reside there.
"No wonder Nader could cost Gore the election… . For now, our biggest question is how many Oregon votes the Gore campaign hopes to attract by offering their man in a hermetically sealed package."
Gore aides said they controlled access to the forum because they wanted to keep Mr. Gore's message focused only on health care, his theme of the week.
Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman did shake hands with commuters in Seattle yesterday and, at a rally later in the day, called for regulations on health maintenance organizations that would set minimum standards of care.
"There's an emergency in America all right, and it's the lack of a strong, enforceable patients' bill of rights," Mr. Gore said.
In a new TV ad, the Democrat said such a bill is needed "to take the medical decisions away from the HMOs and insurance companies and give them back to the doctors and nurses."
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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