Vice President says gun plans will not affect hunters, sportsmen
By G. Robert Hillman / The Dallas Morning News
GREEN BAY, Wis. â€“ Wrapping up his two-day Great Lakes Prosperity Tour on Monday, Al Gore spotted an opportunity in the rally crowd.
"Hunters for Gore," he shouted, reading a placard in front of him. "I appreciate you bringing that sign."
In his hard-fought battle with Republican George W. Bush in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and a handful of other swing states, guns are an issue that some aides worry could hurt the vice president on Election Day.
Mr. Gore supports what he calls "common sense gun measures," including photo-identification licenses to buy new handguns. But his stand is not popular at all with Errin Kolden and many other sportsmen.
And on Monday, across the street from Mr. Gore's boisterous rally at the Brown County Courthouse, Mr. Kolden steadied a plywood sheet, with his protest painted in blue.
"I like motorcycles ... snowmobiles ... and guns," it read. "I guess U don't have my vote."
A 30-year-old parts salesman for a recreation supply company, Mr. Kolden said he isn't supporting Mr. Gore, in part because of his gun control proposals.
"It's all or nothing. Either you're for all the guns, or you're against them," Mr. Kolden said. "You can't be anywhere in the middle."
Responding to the NRA
Mindful of such sentiments, Mr. Gore declared Monday, "There is not a single thing in our agenda that affects a single hunter or sportsman. And anybody who tells you otherwise is engaged in a smear campaign."
Still Mr. Kolden was not convinced. "I don't want any types of bans on guns," he said after Mr. Gore's speech.
So in the last days of the tightest presidential race in 40 years, Mr. Gore's campaign manager, Donna Brazile, took a minute on the campaign trail to explore the possibility of some 11th-hour radio ads to respond in part to an anti-Gore blitz by the National Rifle Association.
"Anytime a specific interest group like the NRA spends millions of dollars with outright lies, it's going to have an impact, and you have to respond to that," said Mr. Gore's press secretary, Chris Lehane.
Warnings about tax cut
Mr. Gore campaigned again with his running mate, Joe Lieberman, Monday in yet another bid for support in Michigan and Wisconsin, where the public opinion polls suggest a photo finish.
First on the sandy shores of Lake Michigan in Muskegon, Mich., then in downtown Green Bay, Mr. Gore boasted about the nation's strong economy, warning that Mr. Bush's $1.3 trillion tax cut over the next 10 years would threaten it.
"I am not going to let us be dragged back to the high deficits that would drive interest rates through the roof and drive our economy into the ditch," Mr. Gore said.
His more modest plan for $500 billion in targeted tax cuts, he said, would provide additional funds to pay off the national debt and finance other "urgent needs for our families."
Mr. Bush, however, counters that his larger tax cut still allows sufficient funds from the projected surpluses to ensure the stability of Social Security and Medicare and provide more money for defense and other priorities.
With the race entering its final week, Mr. Gore embarked on a grueling schedule of nearly nonstop campaigning. He flew overnight Monday from Wisconsin to Oregon and planned another red-eye flight Tuesday night from California to Florida.
He will return to the Midwest battleground and campaign over the weekend in his home state of Tennessee, where polls show his Republican rival could embarrass him.
Bush assault continues
At every stop, Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman not only have been touting the nation's good times, but also picking at Mr. Bush's record as governor. And in Michigan, Wisconsin and the other key states, their rhetoric is being reinforced by a blitz of television commercials and get-out-the-vote efforts.
"Make no mistake about it," Mr. Gore told supporters Monday on the shores of Lake Michigan. "On Nov. 7, a week from tomorrow, prosperity itself will be on the ballot. And the choice will be in your hands.
"Your one vote may well make the difference."