Bush, Gore get negative as campaign hits stretch

By RON FOURNIER

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — George W. Bush called Al Gore "a man who has been in Washington too long," accusing him of divisively pitting one group against another, while the vice president’s campaigners said Saturday they will make a key, closing issue of the Texas governor’s lack of seasoning.

Gore is "so confident about his ability, he claimed he invented the Internet," said Bush, who labeled Gore "a man prone to exaggeration." Then he launched into a whimsical play on his own middle initial:

"But if the man was so smart, how come all the Internet addresses begin with ‘W’? Not only one W, but three Ws."

With 10 days to go and Bush ahead in opinion polls, the pace of the campaign quickened and turned even more negative. Both candidates sought advantage from their rival’s weaknesses: Polls show voters still harbor doubts about Gore’s sincerity and Bush’s intellect.

Behind the scenes, vice presidential allies were sounding alarms about the threat posed by third-party candidate Ralph Nader and Gore’s struggles to gain traction against Bush. Republicans seemed more confident, with Bush declaring himself "on the cusp" of victory in traditionally Democratic Wisconsin and aides privately predicting a Nov. 7 win.

"There’s a feeling of desperation. The Gore people are very concerned," said Pat McCormick, a Democratic political consultant in Portland, Ore., where Nader is cutting into the vice president’s base.

President Clinton tried to defuse a rift with Gore advisers who don’t want him on the campaign trail. "I’ll do whatever I think is best in consultation with the campaign," he said during a White House news conference about a federal budget stalemate.

Clinton plans to travel to California and perhaps other battleground states on behalf of Gore and Democratic congressional candidates. The vice president doesn’t want to be overshadowed by his charismatic boss, whose impeachment trial left many swing voters, particularly women, cool to the Democratic ticket. Gore advisers met Friday at the White House with Clinton aides to negotiate the president’s schedule.

A Newsweek magazine poll showed Bush ahead of Gore among likely voters 49 percent to 41 percent, similar to the magazine’s findings last week. A consensus has emerged among most major polls giving Bush a lead of 4 to 8 percentage points — a narrow but notable edge in a race that has seesawed since the summer conventions.

Bush also holds a small lead in the race for state electoral votes, according to state polls and analysts.

Top Gore advisers unveiled two new ads, one sponsored by the campaign and the other aired by the Gore-controlled Democratic National Committee.

The Democratic spot accuses Bush of signing tax cuts for "big oil," weakening nursing home standards and letting polluters police themselves during his tenure as Texas governor. "By favoring the few, George W. Bush would hurt the many," the ad says.

The second ad reinforces Gore’s weeks-long attack on Bush’s Social Security plan.

The ads were designed to fuel voters’ doubts about Bush’s seasoning, Gore adviser Tad Devine told reporters.

"It speaks very powerfully to the concerns we’re hearing in focus groups and other research that Governor Bush in many ways is not up to the job of being president," Devine said.

The Newsweek polls showed that Bush is considered more honest. Voters think Gore is more intelligent, but they are split on who would do a better job with international crises.

Gore stuck to his issue-a-day mandate, focusing Saturday on the Texas governor’s health care policies, which he said amounted to "Wait four years and call your HMO in the morning."

He campaigned in Pennsylvania and Minnesota, rushing home between stops for his son’s high school football game.

Bush campaigned at a minor league baseball park in north central Wisconsin with running mate Dick Cheney. Wearing a dark overcoat in the 40-degree day, the Texan twice gave his standard stump speech to rally Republicans to polling places and poke fun at Gore.

"I could barely contain myself" when Gore said he was opposed to big government, Bush said. "I knew the man was prone to exaggeration, but that one took the cake."

The governor said Gore is making promises he knows he can’t keep without running the country into debt, which the vice president has vowed not to do.

"I want you to join me as we charge down the finish line!" he told Missouri Republicans.

Hoping to close the stature gap, Bush has campaigned with GOP stalwarts such as Arizona Sen. John McCain and retired Gen. Colin Powell. Another Persian Gulf warrior, Norman Schwarzkopf, has recorded telephone calls telling people not to believe Gore’s Social Security ads.

Knowing voters do not like him as much as the affable Bush, Gore has banked on polls giving him the edge on top issues such as health care and the economy. New polls suggest Bush has closed the gap on both topics, however.

Gore, who proposes expanding Medicare to cover prescription drugs, said Bush’s alternative proposal would phase in over four years, offer no immediate aid to most seniors and would raise Medicare premiums so high — by up to 47 percent — that seniors would effectively be forced into HMOs.

"There is a very clear choice on health care in this election. My goal is to empower families so you have more choice and more control," Gore said. "The other side wants to leave families to the tender mercies of the big impersonal bureaucracies."

Copyright ©2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Ariel Garcia, 4, was last seen Wednesday morning in an apartment in the 4800 block of Vesper Dr. (Photo provided by Everett Police)
How to donate to the family of Ariel Garcia

Everett police believe the boy’s mother, Janet Garcia, stabbed him repeatedly and left his body in Pierce County.

A ribbon is cut during the Orange Line kick off event at the Lynnwood Transit Center on Saturday, March 30, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘A huge year for transit’: Swift Orange Line begins in Lynnwood

Elected officials, community members celebrate Snohomish County’s newest bus rapid transit line.

Bethany Teed, a certified peer counselor with Sunrise Services and experienced hairstylist, cuts the hair of Eli LeFevre during a resource fair at the Carnegie Resource Center on Wednesday, March 6, 2024, in downtown Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Carnegie center is a one-stop shop for housing, work, health — and hope

The resource center in downtown Everett connects people to more than 50 social service programs.

Everett mall renderings from Brixton Capital. (Photo provided by the City of Everett)
Topgolf at the Everett Mall? Mayor’s hint still unconfirmed

After Cassie Franklin’s annual address, rumors circled about what “top” entertainment tenant could be landing at Everett Mall.

Foamy brown water, emanating a smell similar to sewage, runs along the property line of Lisa Jansson’s home after spilling off from the DTG Enterprises property on Tuesday, March 5, 2024, in Snohomish, Washington. Jansson said the water in the small stream had been flowing clean and clear only a few weeks earlier. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Neighbors of Maltby recycling facility assert polluted runoff, noise

For years, the DTG facility has operated without proper permits. Residents feel a heavy burden as “watchdogs” holding the company accountable.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Stanwood man gets federal prison for selling fentanyl on dark web

In 2013, Christerfer Frick was sentenced to nine years for trafficking drugs. He began selling online upon his release in 2020.

Traffic idles while waiting for the lights to change along 33rd Avenue West on Tuesday, April 2, 2024 in Lynnwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Lynnwood seeks solutions to Costco traffic boondoggle

Let’s take a look at the troublesome intersection of 33rd Avenue W and 30th Place W, as Lynnwood weighs options for better traffic flow.

Dan Templeman speaks during a forum lead by The Daily Herald on housing affordability at the Mukilteo Library on Thursday, April 11, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
At Herald forum, experts affirm Housing First model, despite downsides

At the Mukilteo Library, panelists discussed drug-contaminated housing and lengthy cleanup efforts in Snohomish County.

Molbak's Garden + Home in Woodinville, Washington closed on Jan. 28 2024. (Photo courtesy of Molbak's)
Molbak’s, former Woodinville garden store, hopes for a comeback

Molbak’s wants to create a “hub” for retailers and community groups at its former Woodinville store. But first it must raise $2.5 million.

A fire at a home near Alderwood Mall sent one neighbor and one firefighter to the hospital. (Photo provided by South County Fire)
Officials: Residents returned to burning Lynnwood home to rescue dogs

Five people and six dogs were displaced in the Thursday afternoon house fire, according to South County Fire.

Featuring a pink blush over a yellow background, WA 64 combines qualities of Honeycrisp and Cripps Pink (aka Pink Lady) for a firm, crisp, sweet and tart bite. A naming contest for the new apple runs through May 5, 2024. (Photo provided by Washington State University)
Hey Honeycrisp, this new breed of apple needs a name

Enter a naming contest for WA 64, a hybrid apple with the same baby daddy as Cosmic Crisp.

Police respond to a wrong way crash Thursday night on Highway 525 in Lynnwood after a police chase. (Photo provided by Washington State Department of Transportation)
Lynnwood woman, 83, killed in wrong-way crash following police pursuit

Deputies said they were chasing a man, 37, south on Highway 525 when he swerved into northbound lanes, killing an oncoming driver.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.