By BRAD CAIN
PORTLAND, Ore. — Al Gore arrived in Oregon Sunday night, seeking to break a deadlock with George W. Bush in this battleground state.
The vice president landed at Portland International Airport and then was taken by motorcade to lead a rally outside Portland State University.
More than 2,000 people waited to welcome Gore at the outdoor event at Portland State.
About 25 environmentalist protesters also came to demand that Gore do more to protect old-growth forests.
One of the activists, Ivan Maluski, said Gore would be able to put a dent in environmentalists’ support of Green Party candidate Ralph Nader by "taking a real stand on the issue of ending ancient forest logging."
Environmentalists who support Gore also came to the rally. They included Don St. Clair, a 40-year-old member of the group Greens For Gore.
"We believe that once Al Gore is no longer shackled to Bill Clinton, we’re going to see him keep the promises he made in his book "Earth In The Balance," St. Clair said.
The organization Greens For Gore has been working in states where the presidential race is close to try to persuade environmentalists not to abandon Gore for Nader.
"Greens should vote strategically, not angrily," said St. Clair, who is from Eugene.
Oregon has not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1984, but polls show the race between Gore and Bush to be a virtual dead heat — partly because of Nader’s appeal to environmentalists.
In a mid-September survey, 42 percent of the Oregonians polled said they support Gore and 41 backed Bush, with a sampling error margin of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Nader held 8 percent of the vote.
This is Gore’s fourth visit to Oregon since August. Bush has been here three times. The presidential candidates’ running mates also have made multiple trips to Oregon. Dick Cheney — Bush’s running mate — is visiting again on Tuesday.
Gore timed Monday’s visit with the start of Oregon’s one-of-a-kind mail ballot election. Oregon is the only state where people vote exclusively by mail — rather than at polling booths — in a general election.
On Friday, county election officials began sending mail ballots to Oregon voters. Voters have from now until Nov. 7 to fill out the ballots and to get them back to election officials.
Gore is coming to Everett today on a campaign visit. He will appear at Paine Field in Hanger C-84, near the main field terminal.
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