Gore goes to Hollywood

Buchanan sees red over Bush's pink pandering and Nader's green gains give Gore the blues in the Golden State.

By Alicia Montgomery
Published April 17, 2000 11:12AM (EDT)

Al Gore shared some of the Hollywood spotlight with his boss. The Washington Post reports that Gore teamed up with President Clinton on the campaign trail to raise $2.7 million for the vice president's White House run.

Eager to avoid reviving any "Clinton fatigue," Gore hasn't shared a stage with the president in more than four months, and his dubious compliments may make Clinton wish that it had been longer. "Of all the criticisms of Bill Clinton that I've heard," Gore said, "the one that rings the most hollow of all is that he has pushed small ideas, little proposals." The vice president further remarked, "I could tell you about the many, many times when I have seen him, especially in the early years, nearly buckle under the pressure of this office, but never do so." And we thought the president unbuckled only when he was under pressure.

Elian gores vice president

Hanging out with the president may be fine for Gore, but he really needs to avoid Elian Gonzalez like the plague, according to the New York Times. Gore's dramatic break with the administration on the Cuban boy's fate not only has failed to convert many of the vice president's foes but has dimmed the regard of some of his friends. Democratic pollster Peter Hart says that Gore's Elian debacle has renewed the image of the vice president as "always trying to pounce on the issue of the hour." With Gore's ever-shifting position, it's more like the issue of the minute.

Bush's pink pandering

Gore isn't the only presidential hopeful being accused of caving for crossover votes. Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan, the Associated Press reports, has accused George W. Bush of surrendering family values for political expediency by meeting with gay Republicans last week. "He's raising the white flag ... in the cultural war for the soul of this country," Buchanan said.

But others say Bush has had a photo-op conversion on gay issues and that the meeting was a ploy to play up his "compassionate" side. "His every move seems based on political calculation rather than personal belief," says Jonathan Rauch of the Independent Gay Forum in a New York Times Op-Ed. However, former Wisconsin Rep. Steve Gunderson, who attended the event, says that Bush is moving forward on gay issues, though not fast enough. "I was struck by his lack of familiarity with the issues," Gunderson writes in Newsweek, "as well as by his desire to learn."

Pitchfork Pat's last stand

Buchanan may be battering Bush with fire and brimstone, but Congressional Quarterly's Ronald Elving writes that this may be the conservative commentator's last presidential gasp. Elving contends that the prominence of Buchanan's protectionist policies may hurt him in an America that largely embraces global trade. "Buchanan's risk is that his plebiscite on global markets will produce results that discredit his views for years to come," writes Elving, "and end the era in which his firebrand rhetoric could be mistaken for political viability." Not many voters have been that mistaken.

California is golden for Nader

In a San Francisco Examiner column, "Hardball" host Christopher Matthews says all the third-party action will be on the left, led by Green Party candidate Ralph Nader. Pollster John Zogby finds national support for Nader at 5.7 percent, compared with 3.6 percent for Buchanan, and that potential for a Nader vote is higher in California. Emphasis on the environment, an asset for Gore in his Golden State campaign against Bush, will eventually bring votes Nader's way. Matthews writes further that Nader will appeal to reform-hungry voters, left stranded after John McCain's defeat. "I believe there is a McCain vote out there," Zogby says, "and it's wide open."

Robertson ribs McCain

The Arizona senator is an old soldier who just won't fade away. Newsweek has revived McCain's feud with Pat Robertson in its interview with the religious conservative. In it, he responds to McCain's charges that he is a political extremist by implying that the former presidential candidate's time as a POW in Vietnam made him inflexible and a little mean. "There is a streak of bullheadedness," Robertson said. "Women noticed it. They saw beneath that rather plastic smile he kept putting on for television an anger in his eyes. Maybe that terrible treatment he had [in Vietnam] put it in him."

Never one to back away from a challenge, McCain blasted back. The New York Post quotes him as saying, "I just don't believe that Pat Robertson would know anything about what I went through in Vietnam, since he, thanks to his father's influence, ... was able to avoid being involved in combat." McCain has taught Robertson plenty about combat.

Rudy cleans up with Hillary-hater cash

McCain ally Rudy Giuliani is reaping the benefits of the right's war with Hillary Rodham Clinton. The New York Times reports that Giuliani has raised about $9 million from out-of-state donors, with a lot of the help coming in response to nasty direct mail to the anti-Hillary crowd. Many of these contributors are oblivious to Giuliani's stands on gay rights, abortion, immigration and other conservative hot buttons. "I wasn't aware of that," said one donor when he learned of Giuliani's positions on social issues. "But what do you think about Hillary Clinton? What do you think she stands for? She sure isn't pro-life. She'd probably do anything to get a vote." And what would Giuliani do for a dollar?

Hillary follows in Rudy's missteps

According to the Washington Post, the first lady's recent strength in the polls is due to Giuliani's weaknesses. Poll numbers climbed for Clinton after Giuliani bungled the public relations side of police shootings of unarmed black men. Clinton is also stepping on Giuliani's territory in upstate New York, traveling extensively in the region and running to Rochester when Giuliani abruptly canceled an appearance there. Perhaps the slogan of this race should be: "May the worst candidate lose."

Whom should you vote for?

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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: Arkansas and Michigan.

    Gore: Washington.

    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.

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