Gore Blames Bush's Father
May. 23, 2000
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Al Gore suggested to a Jewish lobbying group Tuesday that George W. Bush's father led an administration that tried ``to bully Israel.''
Gore made the comment one day after President Bush's son, this year's Republican candidate, accused the Clinton administration of being heavy-handed with the Mideast ally.
On another topic blending international affairs and U.S. politics, Gore also flew to a union convention in Pittsburgh to show for a second straight day his willingness to stand up to his backers in organized labor on the question of China trade.
``I just want to tell you forthrightly I don't share your views on this particular issue,'' the Democratic presidential candidate said to several thousand workers at the Service Employees International Union convention.
Gore received a few hisses and loud boos from the union crowd. But the man who introduced him, SEIU president Andy Stern, also revealed that his ``purple machine'' (so named because of the union's signature purple T-shirts) was helping staff Gore's campaign headquarters in Nashville, Tenn.
Bush has painted Gore as beholden to the unions. Gore aides said the Democrat purposely scheduled speeches to SEIU on Tuesday and to Monday's meeting of the 1.4-million member United Food and Commercial Workers to show Gore's ``courage of conviction'' on free trade.
In Washington, the presidential rivals both tried to use this week's convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to showcase their command of foreign policy.
Gore reminded some 2,000 AIPAC delegates that he has spoken to the United Nations Security Council, and he said he privately advocated for Israel's full U.N. participation in a January meeting with Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
On another international topic, the vice president said he had met _ and will meet again next month _ with Iraqi opposition forces in order to ``see Saddam Hussein gone.''
In the next meeting, Gore said, ``I will encourage them to further unite in their efforts against Saddam.'' He said, ``We have made it clear that it is our policy to see Saddam Hussein gone.''
Responding to Bush, who faulted the Clinton-Gore team for pressuring Israel to accept peace-process deadlines and timetables, Gore drew a sharp distinction between this administration and ``our immediate predecessors.''
The Clinton administration, he said, ``established a firm new rule and we have followed this rule faithfully _ that we must not and would not in any way try to pressure Israel to agree to measures that they themselves would not seek. ...'' The end of his sentence was lost in applause.
Gore recalled his tenure as a U.S. senator from Tennessee at the time the elder Bush was president.
``In 1991, I vividly remember standing up against a group of administration foreign policy advisers who promoted the insulting concept of linkage, which tried to use loan guarantees as a stick to bully Israel. I stood with you and together we defeated them. We stopped them,'' Gore said, again to loud applause.
Gore did not address the question of moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem, something Bush pledged to do immediately if he is elected.
Relocation of the embassy, now in Tel Aviv, is important to Jewish groups that want Jerusalem to stand as Israel's capital. Palestinians oppose the idea because they want to make the eastern half of the city the capital of a future state.
In March, Gore said the question should be decided as part of ``final status'' peace talks among the Mideast nations. But, he added obliquely, ``The outcome I think is hardly in doubt and my desires are the same as your desires.''
On Tuesday, to demonstrate the unconditional support he would, as president, give to Israel, Gore told the decades-old story of U.S. Ambassador Ogden Reid going to meet David Ben-Gurion, only to find the Israeli leader standing on his head. So, Reid, too, stood on his head for the meeting.
The moral, Gore said: ``Even if the world is turned upside down, the United States and Israel will see eye to eye no matter what happens.''