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Gore, Davis Cementing Relationship

January 29, 1999

ABOARD AIR FORCE TWO (AP) _ High over Northern California, Vice President Al Gore and Gov. Gray Davis nibbled at lunch and talked about government, about ways to free up federal money for schools and farmers hurt by the orange crop freeze.

But there was more on the line than bureaucratic chitchat when Gore picked up Davis this week at San Francisco International Airport and flew him to Sacramento, where they would later stand together before news cameras.

The two are cementing a relationship that is likely to play a key role in the presidential election next year.

As Gore seeks the presidency, Davis is emerging as his most powerful ally in a state that packs more electoral votes than any other. Gore has in Davis a ``go-to guy″ more formidable than any Republican presidential candidate could hope for.

Davis, meanwhile, is building an image as a governor whose clout extends all the way to the White House. Gore, after all, helped deliver California’s high-tech vote for Davis in last year’s gubernatorial election.

Their public relations machines have meshed flawlessly to advance their interests together.

Gore stood next to Davis as he was sworn in Jan. 3, and whisked the new governor to the Capitol in his limousine for his first day on the job. The pair met privately in Davis’ office, then stood together inside the building to greet well-wishers as news cameras snapped away.

When the Labor Department granted $1.7 million to farm workers hurt by the crop freeze Jan. 12, it was Gore who announced the award and Davis’ Washington, D.C. office that alerted reporters.

Ten days later, when Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman declared the farm counties disaster areas, Glickman was invisible. Instead, Gore and Davis had a telephone conversation and journalists were invited to listen in.

This week, in his 14th visit to California in a year, Gore crisscrossed the state announcing federal money to upgrade the satellite-based Global Positioning System, beef up computer research efforts and improve children’s reading skills.

Davis and Gore have known each other for about 20 years, and the two are startlingly similar in both background, outlook and demeanor.

Both went to war in Vietnam. Both marched steadily through the ranks of government, carving niches as moderate ``New Democrats″ who refuse to be outflanked by Republicans on GOP issues like crime and taxes.

Both are cautious and halting in their speaking styles. Davis likes to josh that he has pressed the wooden Gore into service as his ``charisma adviser.″

``I think that charisma advice has paid off. I see some real sparks there,″ Gore said with a smile on Monday.

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