Rallying the troops

First visit to county includes stump speech, hundreds of handshakes

By SUSANNA RAY

Herald Writer

AEVERETT — The sun was out, the mountains were out and thousands of people turned out Monday for Vice President Al Gore’s first visit to Snohomish County.

"This is a Gore-geous day," quipped Snohomish County Executive Bob Drewel as he revved up the crowd before the arrival of the Democratic presidential candidate at Paine Field in Everett.

Gore ran back and forth down a long, L-shaped rope line to shake hundreds of hands on his way to the podium, taking so long that technicians scrambled to replay his music.

Kristin Gore introduced her father in glowing terms, although she made one head-scratching remark while praising his parental attentiveness.

"He helped me on my third-grade state capitals quiz," she said. "Seattle — I’ve got it down."

The Olympia blooper might have been meant as a joke, but if it was, it didn’t go over very well. Al Gore, standing behind her, smiled and wagged his finger at her while she continued on with her introduction, seemingly unaware of the confused murmuring from the crowd.

Gore promoted his plans for bolstering Social Security, improving health care, encouraging unions and protecting abortion rights in a boisterous speech that lasted almost half an hour.

He also spoke strongly in defense of his environmental record. Some environmental groups have criticized him and supported the Green Party’s Ralph Nader instead.

"This is a big issue in this election," Gore said. "You elect me president, and I will flat-out protect the environment."

At least two Nader supporters got into the ticketed event. One woman waved a modified Gore/Lieberman campaign sign she turned into a cutout of the word "Nader." A man on the other side of the hangar quietly held up a Nader bumper sticker. Campaign volunteers and hefty machinists quickly surrounded him, however, and he left soon afterward.

The crowd of several thousand included a large presence of Boeing workers and union members, gays and lesbians, and a pack of local Democratic candidates and elected officials, rounded out by hundreds of local high school and middle school students.

Ali Purdom, 14, said about 220 of her fellow students from Evergreen Middle School went to the rally "because we’re learning about the president, all that stuff, and history, and everything, and so we got a field trip."

Pat Cook, a teacher at Northlake Middle School in Lake Stevens, took 41 students to see Gore.

"Some parents obviously aren’t Gore fans," he said, adding that it wasn’t meant as a partisan event. "I just thought, here they’re learning about the whole process, and this is a great opportunity to see it in person."

Cascade High School’s band provided the music for Gore’s arrival. Band members didn’t have time to practice because they had to play at a football game Saturday, but performing for large crowds, even those including the vice president, doesn’t faze the teens, said drum major Jamie Yarbrough, 16.

The local gospel choir that jazzed up the crowd did take the time to rehearse, however. Pastor Paul Stoot from the Greater Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Everett said the group got together Sunday afternoon, "after a four-hour service." Stoot said his choir was asked to perform because of the church’s active involvement in the community.

Plus, he’s an exuberant Gore supporter.

"I can’t tell my congregation how to vote, but I can tell them how their pastor’s going to vote," Stoot said just before going back in to the airplane hangar to personally meet Gore.

Gore’s Republican opponent, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, will return to the state at the end of the month, said Mike McKay, the Washington campaign chairman.

McKay pointed out that Bush has made three visits to Snohomish County in the past five months. Gore’s closest campaign stop was in November last year at a senior center in Bothell, south of the county line.

"I’m fascinated and interested in the fact that Gore is finally coming to Snohomish County," McKay said. "My personal feeling is that for the people of Snohomish County it should be too little, too late. And I’m confident the only reason he’s going up there is because Gov. Bush has spent so much time up there getting to know the people of Snohomish County and getting to know Snohomish County."

Both parties consider the county crucial to their success.

Democrats handed out fliers at the Gore rally Monday offering $65 a day to help "get out the vote" in the few days before the election.

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