Bush is confident of win in local visit

Associated Press

BELLEVUE — It was Al Gore’s Halloween nightmare — George W. Bush surrounded by adoring supporters in Washington state.

Meanwhile, Democratic activists held their own "Scary Hour" at a Seattle rock club in hopes of persuading Ralph Nader supporters to vote for Gore.

Bush had reason to celebrate a little as he visited Bellevue Community College for a Tuesday night rally. A recent poll shows him locked in a dead heat with Gore, in a state that was once considered safely Democrat.

"We’re going to win Washington," Bush said to a cheering crowd of about 4,000 supporters inside the college gymnasium. "We’re going to show that the great state of Washington knows there can be a better day in Washington, D.C."

In a 30-minute speech, Bush talked about his plan to partially privatize Social Security, his plan to cut taxes, and his platform of "compassionate conservatism."

"The great fabric of this nation is the compassionate people," Bush said. "My job will be to lift this nation’s spirit and to set its sights."

The only nod to Halloween onstage was a pumpkin carved with Bush’s likeness. But many in the audience brought their children to the rally straight from trick-or-treating, so the crowd was dotted with cowboys, princesses and dinosaurs perched atop their parents’ shoulders.

"He’s got a stronger character than Gore," said Gina Humphries, 34, of Bellevue, who was attending her first political rally with her husband and two small children. "We’re so sick of Bill Clinton, and Gore. The way we see it, Gore is just continuing the Clinton legacy."

Washington state last voted for a Republican for president in 1984, for Ronald Reagan.

The Republican party has been running ads in Washington, Oregon and Wisconsin featuring Nader criticizing Gore in hopes of taking votes away from the Democrat.

"I agree with the Green Party’s principles and goals," said Vivian McPeak, a Green Party member and executive director of Hempfest, a festival held annually in Seattle. "But I cannot in good conscience, with these goals in mind, cast a symbolic vote for Ralph Nader that will certainly result in a Bush presidency."

McPeak and others told people to vote Green locally, but to vote for Gore in the presidential election.

Nader is scheduled to visit Seattle for a rally on Thursday. Gore may also visit Washington again before the election. On Tuesday, Gore attended an Oregon rally at Portland Community College before flying to California to appear on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno.

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

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