Gore Tour To Lead to Convention
WESTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) _ Al Gore will sweep into the Democratic National Convention fresh from a tour designed to demonstrate he will ``go the distance″ on the environment, welfare reform, tax relief, health care and other issues, his campaign said Saturday.
The vice president and former senator of Tennessee will travel from his hometown of Carthage through southern and Midwest states, with a ``handing of the baton″ to Gore from President Clinton in Michigan on Aug 15, spokesman Chris Lehane said. He then heads to the convention, Aug. 14 through Aug. 17 in Los Angeles, to accept the presidential nomination.
Gore said he’ll announce his running mate on Tuesday, hoping to create some drama and deflate the 10-point bounce in the polls that rival George W. Bush gained from his just-finished Republican National Convention.
Gore has said his list of contenders is ``six, plus an out-of-the-box possibility.″ He had yet to make a decision Saturday night, advisers said.
Of those six, a knowledgeable Democrat said the leading prospects are Sens. Evan Bayh of Indiana, John Edwards of North Carolina, John Kerry of Massachusetts and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut.
Democrats inside and outside the Gore campaign, none of whom know for certain what Gore will do, are increasingly touting Kerry’s prospects. A decorated Vietnam War veteran, Kerry would help Gore underscore his military service and cast the ticket as a new-new generation alternative to Bush and Dick Cheney _ the son of former President Bush and the elder Bush’s defense secretary. Neither GOP candidate served in Vietnam.
``He’s a charismatic, solid guy with national stature,″ said David Axelrod, a Chicago Democrat with ties to the Gore campaign.
One official close to Gore, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a number to Gore advisers favor Kerry.
Republican consultant Scott Reed, who ran Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign, said Kerry would help Gore energize Democrats but also would help Republicans cast the ticket as liberal. ``He’d be a good pick, but in the end Republicans know the race is about Al Gore,″ Reed said.
In an interview with ABC News, Gore was asked if Lieberman, an Orthodox Jew, would face prejudice from some voters.
``I don’t think those old distinctions and categories matter these days, the way they did in the past,″ Gore replied.
A number of senior Democrats, however, have said Lieberman’s religion would be a political problem.
As for Edwards, who was first elected two years ago, Gore told ABC, ``I don’t think Washington experience is the only experience that’s relevant to leadership and to this country.″
Gore has often said his No. 1 requirement of a running mate is that he or she be ready ``to become president at a moment’s notice.″
House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt and New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen are also on Gore’s short list.
Gore and his running mate will open the ``Going the Distance Tour,″ on Wednesday with a sort of ``This is your life″ town hall forum in Carthage that will feature members of Gore’s family, former neighbors and constituents he represented during his 16 years in the House and Senate.
Lehane said the seven-day tour ``will give people the opportunity to discover the real Al Gore.″
Gore has already begun to emphasize his enlistment in the Army and service in Vietnam as a military journalist.
_Thursday in Atlanta, Gore will rally with southern governors and address welfare reform.
_Friday in Philadelphia, he’ll talk about tax relief, health care and retirement security.
-Saturday in Springdale, Pa., he will discuss the environment.
_Sunday in Cleveland, Ohio, he visits with child patients and their parents at University Hospital.
-Aug. 14 in Independence, Mo., Gore talks about ``real independence for seniors,″ on the 65th anniversary of Social Security.
_Aug. 15 in Michigan, Gore and Clinton focus on the robust economy.
Campaigning Saturday, Gore addressed the National Association of Police Organizations in Washington, praising the country’s law enforcement officers and crediting them for helping to produce what he described as the longest sustained decline in crime ever recorded in the country.
He also promoted his proposals to hire 50,000 more police officers nationwide, hire 10,000 state and local prosecutors, pass a constitutional amendment protecting the rights of victims, and increase gun safety measures that would include mandatory child safety locks.
``Some say the age of heroes has passed. I say look around this room. Heroism is a part of your job description,″ Gore said.
The police organization, which endorsed the Clinton-Gore ticked in 1996, may issue its 2000 endorsement later this week.
Bush supports a victims’ rights amendment and certain gun controls, including child safety locks. Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett criticized Gore, saying he and Clinton ``let police officers down by not enforcing the current laws already on the books.″
From the police convention, Gore flew to the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island for a trio of fund-raisers to raise $1.5 million. He was to celebrate daughter Karenna’s birthday Sunday heading to Tennessee.