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Jewish World Review Nov. 1, 2000 / 3 Mar-Cheshvan 5761

Morton Kondracke

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Lurking in the shadows -- DESPITE Vice President Al Gore's wish that President Clinton make himself scarce between now and the election, Clinton is making himself a factor -- in some ways helping Gore and in some ways hurting him. All the fuss during the past week over Clinton's role unquestionably has hurt Gore, knocking him off message and reminding people of his status for the past eight years as No. 2 to a politically gifted yet ethically flawed No. 1.

On the other hand, Clinton's use of his presidency -- notably in pushing hard for an immigration amnesty bill favored by Latino voters -- unquestionably will help Gore in several key states.

Clinton's prodigious fund-raising also has helped Democratic candidates, but if the president continues to attack Texas Gov. George W. Bush as he rallies the Democratic faithful for Gore, Bush promises to talk explicitly about ethical lapses he now only alludes to in his speeches.

Bush exquisitely put his finger on the right image for Clinton's place in the campaign when he joked on Tuesday that "the Shadow returns."

The term conjured up the old-time radio show, whose mysterious hero could "cloud men's minds so they cannot see him." The show's tag line went, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows."

Gore has been trying mightily to distance himself from Clinton -- escape the Shadow's shadow. But the more obviously he does so -- and he is not capable of being subtle about it -- the more he reminds people of their linkage.

Gore was so anxious to avoid references to Clinton during the television debates with Bush that, in the process, he underplayed his greatest strength in this campaign: the economic and social progress the country has made in the past eight years.

Yet, when Gore delivered his closing statement in the final debate, he found it necessary to emphasize that he had always been faithful to his marriage vows and had never violated his oath of office.

Obviously, he said that because the Shadow was not faithful either in his marriage or in sworn testimony in court, yet was famously praised by Gore as one of the greatest presidents in American history.

After The New York Times exhaustively established last week that Gore has been avoiding Clinton and refusing to take his campaign advice and that the president is miffed about it, the Gore campaign was buffeted by questions about Clinton's role.

Gore spokesmen specifically ruled out any joint appearances before the election, seeming to validate the Times' reporting that Gore feels "overshadowed" when he and Clinton are on the same stage.

Historically, sitting veeps always have a problem getting elected in their own right. Only three have ever done so -- John Adams, Martin Van Buren and George Bush.

Polls show why Gore faces a special problem: The ABC News and surveys this week reveal that while voters support Clinton's job performance and policies by a 60 percent to 30 percent margin, they disapprove of him as a person by similar or larger margins.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showed that among voters who support Clinton's policies but disapprove of him personally, Bush enjoys a 31 percent edge over Gore.

Gallup found that 26 percent of voters are less favorably inclined toward Gore because of his ties to Clinton, versus only 9 percent who are more favorably inclined toward Gore because of his association with the president. Further, Gallup revealed that 40 percent are less inclined to vote for Gore if Clinton campaigns for him.

Yet Clinton is out there, and his White House spokesman says reporters should have their bags packed for endgame campaign trips.

Clinton surely has been effective in fund-raisers that occur without television cameras. He also has been effective in using his position to help keep the Republican Congress in town and yielding to his priorities. Before the 1998 congressional election, he made education the basis of Democratic campaign appeals. This year, he is maneuvering Republicans into seeming anti-immigrant and anti-Latino, threatening to undo Bush's efforts to erase the memory of GOP immigrant-bashing in the early 1990s.

The Spanish-language media are giving front-page attention to the Latino and Immigrant Fairness Act, which calls for giving legal status to 400,000 immigrants who came to the United States before 1986 and to 300,000 who fled civil strife in El Salvador, Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras and Liberia.

The measure has split Republicans, with Sen. John McCain, Ariz., and Rep. Tom Davis, Va., supporting it, and Rep. Tom DeLay, Texas, and Sen. Phil Gramm, Texas, opposing it on the grounds that it gives "blanket amnesty" to illegal aliens.

Bush, who once hoped to score significant gains among Hispanics over past GOP performance, has said he opposes "blanket amnesty," but is likely to support compromise legislation.

Bush currently is polling around 25 percent among Hispanics, which is little better than the 21 percent former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., received in the 1996 presidential campaign.

While Clinton as president can help Gore, the question arises: What happens when he goes out on the stump? If he attacks Bush, the governor's aides say, "We are ready."

With what? Bush aides won't say, but I can envision an ad showing Clinton in 1993 promising "the most ethical administration in American history" followed by a catalog of horrors. The danger for Republicans lies in overdoing it.

JWR contributor Morton Kondracke is executive editor of Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


10/26/00: What's Gore's Social Security plan?
10/18/00: While Bush, Gore debate surplus, Congress spends it
10/16/00: Two debates leave lots of questions
10/03/00: What questions should be debated?
09/28/00: Gore and Bush should prepare to lead
09/19/00: Bush let values issue slip away
08/25/00: Gore hands center to Bush
08/22/00: AlGore, look to future, not to Bubba
08/08/00: 2000 race could leave high road for low
08/03/00: Convention must point Bush to center
08/01/00: GOP Readies 'Debt Lockbox' As 2000 Strategy
07/27/00: Cheney adds heft to GOP ticket
07/25/00: Foreign, Defense Policy Deserves Full 2000 Debate
07/20/00: Truman Show: Gore Replays 1948, But Bush Isn't Dewey
07/18/00: Bush Must Fight Gore's Drug Plan As 'Bad Medicine'
07/13/00: Mexico's Election Supports U.S. Action On NAFTA, Bailout
07/10/00: Abortion is good for something --- just ask AlGore
07/06/00: Meet Steve Ricchetti, Bubba's secret weapon
06/30/00: AlGore is down, but is he out?
06/27/00: Social programs caught in election-year game of one-up
06/22/00: Congress Is Near Flunking a Test On School Reform
06/16/00: Doting on the grandparents
06/13/00: On Stem Cells, Bush Has Wrong Pro-Life Stance
06/08/00: Has Gore Caught Bush?
05/26/00: PNTR Vote Could Tell Which Party Fits 'New Economy'
05/23/00: The secret to winning the election: Economic programs
05/18/00: Gore should regroup
05/16/00: McCain's Support Is Tepid, But Lets Bush Focus on Gore
05/11/00: Voters need wonk training
05/09/00: Bush Could Score With Charge That Gore's Too Partisan
04/28/00: Reno's force aids Clinton, not Elian
04/25/00: Should Clinton be indicted?
04/24/00: Can Gore win on Bush tax cuts?
04/18/00: Levin's 'bridge' key to China trade?
04/11/00: Congress, U.S. Voters Still Aren't Ready For Campaign Reform
04/06/00: Bush, Gore Silent As Popular Culture Gets Ever Coarser
03/30/00: Is 2000 Like 1948, 1976 or 1960? Or Is This Unparalleled?
03/28/00: Will Bush, Gore Go for a Better Way To Pick Nominees?
03/23/00: Medicare cutbacks bleed hospitals
03/20/00: Chances Improve That China Trade Will Pass Congress
03/16/00: Lieberman as veep would help Gore
03/14/00: Can Bush, McCain Unite to Beat Gore?
03/09/00: Can GOP Forge Unity After Nasty McCain-Bush Race?
03/07/00: What accounts for McCain's excesses?
03/02/00: 'Debate' Proved Gore Is This Year's Best Gut-Fighter
02/29/00: Surprises! The 2000 GOP race is full of it
02/25/00: Voters want centrist in White House
02/23/00: Gore would hit McCain's record
02/15/00: Will negativity hurt McCain in S.C.?
02/10/00: How hard should Bush hit McCain?
02/08/00: Bush must retool his entire campaign
01/27/00: Could Gore beat Bush as Truman beat Dewey?
01/20/00: Big New Surplus Estimates Could Alter 2000 Politics
12/21/99: Bush improves, everyone panders
12/16/99: Prospects improve for campaign reform
12/14/99: Riots raise free trade as 2000 issue
12/10/99: Gore won GOP 'debate' in N.H.
12/07/99: Election pits Bush cuts vs. Medicare boost
12/03/99: Can race be a constructive issue in 2000?
11/19/99: White House race may be best in decades
11/16/99: Where is Bush on health care fight?
11/11/99: Will TV stop profiteering from politics?
11/09/99: Is GOP isolationist, or just partisan?
11/04/99: Gore, Bradley Run Opposite Races On Style, Substance
11/01/99: GOP, Clinton could reach deal swiftly
10/27/99: Bush to fight 'culture wars' -- positively
10/21/99: Porter, Mack: heroes on medical research
10/19/99: Gore scores among party big shots, but polls go South
10/14/99: Bush critiques could help GOP Congress
10/12/99: Congress can save health care from ruin
10/07/99: Will gun-control cause the GOP to shoot itself in the foot?
10/05/99: Gore moves: Desperate but necessary
10/01/99: Fox, Armstrong make case for NIH
09/28/99: Dems' race brightens Bush's chances
09/23/99: East Timor deflates `Clinton Doctrine'
09/21/99: Buchanan v. Bush? Yeah right
09/17/99: Candidates turn attention to poverty
09/15/99: Bush's education problem
09/09/99: Budget makes 2000 an `issues' election
09/07/99:Airport rage increases, with good reason
09/02/99: U.S. future up for grabs in 2000
08/31/99: U.S. Capitol needs visitor's center -- soon
08/24/99: Will 2000 be the year of the foreign crisis?
08/19/99: Neither party has upper hand for '99
08/17/99: Ford gets freedom medal one month early
08/12/99: There's time to catch Bush, say Gore aides
08/10/99: Rudy, Hillary try much-needed makeovers
08/09/99: GOP must launch new probe of Chinagate
08/02/99: Pols blow fiscal smoke on budget surplus
08/02/99: One campaign reform should pass: disclosure
07/27/99: Gore leads Bush in policy proposals

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