Bush, Gore Duel On West Coast
SEATTLE (AP) _ Dueling for West Coast votes, Al Gore and George W. Bush each tried to turn the other’s catch lines against him, the vice president defending Democratic territory and declaring with a show business ``book it″ that he will win crucial California.
Bush claimed the same thing _ it would be a major upset _ and went north to post forecasts of victory next Tuesday in Washington and Oregon, too. ``We’re chasing away conventional wisdom″ about the Democratic habits of winning the three states in presidential elections, said Bush.
Gore raced east early Wednesday on a redeye campaign mission to Florida, a state vital to the Republican ticket, so closely contested that both vice presidential nominees, Joseph Lieberman and Dick Cheney, were campaigning there, too. Bush was due back in Florida later in the week, and his father, the former president, was to seek support for him there.
In the closest campaign in 20 years, with a chance that next Tuesday will see the closest presidential election in 40, each man had his message set and his speeches down pat.
Even when they agreed that the federal budget surplus is ``the people’s money,″ they acidly accused each other of proposals that would overspend and squander it. Bush said Gore wants to spend it on big government, Gore said Bush wants to give it to the rich in tax cuts they don’t need.
``You might remember the language, the harsh language, about our campaign stands with the rich and he’s with the working people,″ Bush countered at a rally at Bellevue Community College, near Seattle, Tuesday night. He paused. ``I can’t remember what he said _ I quit listening after the third debate.″
In Portland, Bush said Gore’s accusation was ``just class warfare ... the kind of politics we need to get rid of in America.″ Gore said Bush was the one proposing ``a form of class warfare favoring millionaires″ with his tax cut proposal.
Bush came on stage at his Bellevue rally to a mini-sound and light show with several thousand people cheering in a college field house. With lights out for his entrance, he slipped for a moment as he climbed the steps to the stage.
``This is a close election,″ he said. ``It’s going to be close here in the state of Washington. It’s going to be close in a lot of other states as well.″
So both nominees were working to rally their supporters and turn out their constituencies to vote on Nov. 7. President Clinton was at the task, too. ``This is a razor-thin election,″ he said at a church in Harlem.
The presidential nominees campaigned in standard speeches, rehearsed all fall, sharpening their lines of attack now. The exchange of buzz words aimed back at the author was part of it.
``My opponent’s favorite phrase is you ain’t seen nothing yet,″ Bush said in Bellevue. ``He’s right.″ Bush said that is because the Democratic promises of the past eight years have not been kept.
Gore put a reverse spin on Bush’s pledge in every speech to bring a new tone to Washington, an end to bitterness and divisions. The vice president said that when Bush tells voters he would ``get along with people in Washington,″ it means he’d go along with special interests and big business.
``I can say no to the special interests with a smile,″ Gore said.
Gore went to Los Angeles seeking to protect his lead in a must state for the Democratic ticket after campaigning to fend off Bush in Oregon.
Hours later, Bush told a roaring rally in the Portland Coliseum that no one would have believed the Republican nominee would be competitive in the state but he is. The governor estimated his own crowd at 7,000 people _ a generous count _ and said it showed he could carry the state. It is rated a tossup, largely because Ralph Nader’s candidacy has pried support away from Gore.
The raucous, roaring rally ended with a convention-style balloon and confetti drop, while the scoreboard flashed: ``No More Gore.″
In Los Angeles, a concert and Gore rally in West Los Angeles drew show business celebrities and a crowd the vice president said showed he will win the state. ``The message you’re giving me is we are going to win California,″ he cried. ``Book it.″
His Hollywood supporters used stronger language. Cher profanely denounced Republicans. ``No son of a Bush,″ shouted actor-director Rob Reiner.
Gore appeared on the ``Tonight Show″ with Jay Leno, Bush’s stage a night earlier. The vice president was shown photographs of himself in Halloween costumes, and confided that he once had taken a national security telephone call while dressed as Frankenstein.
He said that if it happened again to a President Gore, he’d go ahead and address the nation in a monster costume. ``It might help if it was, like, a warning to Saddam Hussein or something,″ he said. ``It might really resolve that.″
The Bush campaign produced a new television ad accusing Gore of ``bending the truth again.″ The vice president obliquely raised the readiness issue Lieberman had been using against Bush, Gore saying that Americans need a president who will fight for them ``and has the experience to do so.″