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Gore Campaign Continues Freefall
By Joseph M. Giardiello

Bombs Away  

Al Gore has once again gone on the attack.  His target this time is not the governor from Texas, but the consumer advocate from Connecticut.  At a recent campaign rally in Wisconsin, Gore said a vote for Ralph Nader is a vote the big oil companies, chemical companies and other big polluters would like to see you cast. 

Gore attacking a third party candidate sitting at 3-4% in the polls?  That, it seems, is where the Gore campaign has finally landed.  To have made such an earth shattering decision the Gore campaign must believe that Nader is a bigger threat than they were ever willing to admit before.  Yet most independent analysis doesnít support the Gore camps latest shift in focus.

The Nader campaign says that over 50% of his supporters are independent and disenfranchised voters who wouldnít be voting this year if not for the Nader option.  A further 20% of his vote comes from Republicans.  Independent polling from various states shows that the race would remain basically unchanged without the third part candidates. 

Look for the major polling firms to come out with a slew of data in the next few days showing the impact Nader is having on the race in battleground states.  Chances are it will not support the new direction in the Gore campaign but the press spin will not make that exactly clear. 

ABC was the first out of the box, heavily promoting their poll that shows over half of Naderís voters (56%) may change their minds by election day.

The press has also kept up the drumbeat about how close the race is.  A reporter from USA Today calls the race a dead heat on the same day her own paper had Bush 7 points ahead.  Even CNN, co-sponsor of the same poll, takes pains to point out that most other polls are much closer.  Any poll that shows Bush ahead is treated with derision. 

Of course the press has to say itís a dead heat.  Thatís the only way they can convince Nader voters that they are effectively voting for Bush.

There is also the possibility of Goreís new strategy backfiring on him.  There is already evidence that Nader is receiving increased attention.  The New York Times reported that Wednesdayís press conference by Nader was the most heavily attended ever.  The candidate even admitted that the increased publicity was giving him more opportunity to get his message out.  In fact the campaign against Nader has turned from the ridiculous to the surreal. Pro-abortion activist Kate Michelman was recently in Seattle to announce that she questioned Naderís commitment to their cause. 

Attack dog is not a role that serves the Vice-President well.  In order to go on the attack, a candidate must have credibility himself.  This is not something Gore can claim with the bulk of independent voters or with the left who see Gore as unreliable at best.  He tried it in the early days with Bush and only succeeded in convincing fence sitting Republicans and Independents that the governor was all right after all. 

Meanwhile, the controversy is forcing Gore to spend time in states he otherwise wouldnít be in.  He currently has swings through Oregon, Arkansas and Minnesota scheduled.  Most recently he added California, a state long assumed to be in the Gore camp, to the list.  He has vowed that he will not spend any money on advertising in California, but even that could change in the final week.

The Clinton Factor

How does one explain the dissent in the Gore campaign with how to treat President Clinton?  Clinton is chomping at the bit to get out into the field with the people he wants to love him.  The ever-disloyal Dick Morris predicted months ago that, in the end, Clinton wouldnít be able to keep himself from campaigning for Gore and other Democrats since he is the only one who really understands what the people want. 

But, just like in 1994, Clinton will hurt those he campaigns with more than he helps.  The undecided voters at this point donít look favorably upon many of the presidentís actions and donít need the reminder of what he has done.  Maybe Bill can make his call for an apology by the GOP for impeaching him the centerpiece of his speeches. 

© Joseph M. Giardiello, 2024


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