Gore camp to hit Bush record in Texas; tactics faulted

Monday, October 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

By G. Robert Hillman / The Dallas Morning News

SARASOTA, Fla. – Shifting gears, the Al Gore campaign is launching a coordinated assault on George W. Bush's record as governor of Texas, Gore campaign spokesman Douglas Hattaway said Sunday.

After Wednesday night's second debate between the vice president and the governor, Mr. Hattaway said, Mr. Gore's running mate, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, will make a "Failed Leadership Tour" of Texas to discuss the governor's tenure.

Some members of Congress and other campaign surrogates will be making similar appearances, he said, and the Democratic National Committee will be airing television commercials along the same lines.

Mr. Gore will not visit Texas, Mr. Hattaway said, but will continue on a "parallel track" to hone his message on the broader themes of education, health care and Social Security, among other issues.

"He's going to focus on his plan for the future," Mr. Hattaway said. "Joe is going to be working to get out factual information about Governor Bush's record in Texas. We believe it is a record of failed leadership."

In Austin, Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett ridiculed the tactic, dismissing Mr. Lieberman as an "attack dog," and saying that his tour of Texas would amount to only more exaggerations and distortions by the Democratic ticket.

"The facts speak for themselves," Mr. Bartlett said, asserting that Mr. Bush has put together a good record in Texas during his nearly six years as governor.

Mr. Lieberman already has dipped into the state twice in recent weeks to criticize the Republican governor's record on health care, energy and the environment. And Mr. Hattaway said he expected the Democratic vice presidential nominee to raise those issues again because voters are beginning to focus more intently on the presidential race.

"They need good information," Mr. Hattaway said.

The switch in campaign strategy by Mr. Gore comes as his credibility is being increasingly challenged by Mr. Bush and his running mate, Dick Cheney, and as polls suggest renewed momentum by Mr. Bush since Tuesday's first debate in Boston.

On Sunday, Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush settled in to prepare for Wednesday's debate in Winston-Salem, N.C. Mr. Gore flew back to Sarasota, and Mr. Bush was secluded at his ranch in Central Texas.

Both candidates will campaign in the Midwest after the debate. Mr. Gore will be touting his education proposals, and Mr. Bush will concentrate on his Social Security and Medicare proposals, which his aides said are being repackaged as the "Agenda for America's Greatest Generation."