Gore beats up Bush

The vice president reproves Bush's press pass, while the Texas governor bends budgets for his grand plans.

By Alicia Montgomery
Published April 13, 2000 9:52AM (EDT)

Al Gore is mad as hell, and he's not going to take it anymore. The New York Times reports that after a week of listening to George W. Bush hold forth on traditional Democratic concerns, the vice president has had enough. "He keeps saying he's a reformer with results," Gore said. "Where are the results? They're not in Texas." The vice president went on to accuse his opponent of being a Johnny-come-lately on the environment, poverty and health care.

Gore also took a page from the Republican handbook, according to the Associated Press, by suggesting that the media is going easy on Bush. Gore implored the press to be tougher and came close to accusing Bush of outright deception. The Los Angeles Times quotes Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway as saying, "People won't be fooled by the rhetoric when they look at his record." Will that hold true for Gore and campaign finance reform?

Herbert heckles Bush

One media man who seems to be taking Gore's advice to heart is New York Times columnist Bob Herbert. His current editorial, which mocks the Texas governor's record on health care, is his third consecutive piece devoted to denouncing Bush's conversion to "compassionate conservatism." Though Herbert's column largely rehashes an earlier Times piece on Bush's health care record, he does add a few jabs of his own.

Bush poors it on

Bush remains undaunted by critics and continues to hawk his plan for reducing poverty and improving public health. The Los Angeles Times details the latest pieces of the Texas governor's "New Prosperity Initiative." Among them are special bank accounts for education and small business in which banks would match deposits made by the poor up to $300 a year in return for tax credits. At that rate, saving enough for a semester of college would take a mere 20 years.

Tax-and-spend conservatives?

The Washington Post finds that Bush and his compassionate programs may turn on its head the clichi about liberal big spenders. Christening Bush a "tax-cut-and-spend" Republican, the Post analysis shows that Bush's plan for $100 billion in new spending along with a $483 billion tax cut just doesn't add up. Even the most optimistic projections from the Congressional Budget Office show that Bush will come up several billion dollars short. Some voters are also starting to question the math, the Post found. "It's great ... if it really happens," said Karen Berryman Harvey of St. Louis' Family Health Care Centers. "That's real money. It's got to come from somewhere." You can bet Bush won't find that somewhere until sometime after the election.

Pink panic button

The limits of Bush's "compassionate conservatism" are being sorely tested by his relationship with gay Republicans. The Texas governor, according to the New York Times, finds himself between a rock and a hard place. His halting efforts to reach out to gays have disturbed many family-values conservatives, and have not earned him the trust of the gay Republican community. Rich Tafel, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans, doesn't hold out hope that it will get easier. "It's dangerous to get involved in gay politics," he said, "if you have an underlying desire to be liked." That rules out Bush, probably Gore and perhaps every campaigning politician short of Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Christian conservatives: "Just say no"

According to the AP, the religious conservative wing of the Republican Party has let Bush know it will keep an eye on his meeting with gay Republicans -- and not a friendly eye. Said Janet Parshall, a spokeswoman for the Family Research Council in Washington, "It's not the meeting that's the problem, it's what he says when he gets there." "Hello" and "Goodbye" might be safe.

Rudy reaches out

is having an easier time reaching out to a new group of voters. A story in the New York Post reports that he continued to improve his chances with women voters, pledging $2 million for mammograms in response to relatively high breast cancer rates in Manhattan's tony Upper East Side.

Hillary's Middle East muddle

The first lady has discovered that the Arab-Israeli conflict is harder to cure than cancer, and that her history on this issue is a tough sell to Jewish voters. The New York Daily News reports that Clinton stumbled again, withdrawing as honorary chair of an Arab-American charity dinner when she discovered that Israeli diplomats had not been invited. This change of heart comes three years after Clinton began her support of the Mosaic Foundation, the organizer of the event. But that was Washington Hillary. Now she's in a New York Senate seat state of mind.

Whom should you vote for?

Take our survey and find out. You might be surprised.

Poll positions

Presidential race:

  • Bush 44 to Gore 44 (Newsweek April 6-7).

  • Bush 45 to Gore 37 (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics Poll April 5-6).

  • Bush 50 to Gore 41 (Gallup/CNN/USA Today April 7-9).

  • Gore 47 to Bush 46 (ABC News/Washington Post March 30-April 2).

  • Bush 46 to Gore 45 (CNN March 30-April 2).

    Vice presidential preferences (previous):

    Preferences for Republican vice presidential candidate among all voters (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll March 22-23):

  • John McCain, 27 percent
  • Elizabeth Dole, 19 percent
  • Rudy Giuliani, 6 percent
  • Christine Todd Whitman, 6 percent
  • George Pataki, 3 percent
  • Tom Ridge, 3 percent
  • Fred Thompson, 3 percent
  • Connie Mack, 2 percent
  • Other, 3 percent
  • Not sure, 28 percent

    Preferences for Democratic vice presidential candidate among all voters (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll March 22-23):

  • Bill Bradley, 27 percent
  • Dianne Feinstein, 10 percent
  • Bob Kerrey, 6 percent
  • Bob Graham, 5 percent
  • John Kerry, 4 percent
  • Bill Richardson, 4 percent
  • Evan Bayh, 3 percent
  • Other, 6 percent
  • Not sure, 35 percent

    New York Senate:

  • Clinton 52 to Giuliani 42 (New York Times/CBS News April 1-5).

  • Clinton 46 to Giuliani 43 (Quinnipiac College March 28-April 3).

  • Giuliani 46 to Clinton 43 (Marist Institute March 27-28).

  • Clinton 45 to Giuliani 42 (Zogby March 23-25).

    On the trail

    Bush: At home in Texas.

    Gore: North Carolina.

    Sound off

    E-mail Trail Mix with your comments, suggestions and tips at alicia@salon.com.

  • Alicia Montgomery

    Alicia Montgomery is an associate editor in Salon's Washington bureau.

    MORE FROM Alicia Montgomery

    Related Topics ------------------------------------------