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Gore promises to fix education during OSU stop

    

February 3, 2000

By Ted Wendling
Cleveland Plain Dealer

COLUMBUS - Pumped up by a narrow victory Tuesday in the New Hampshire primary, Vice President Al Gore told a boisterous crowd inside Ohio State Universityís packed student union yesterday that "revolutionary improvements in our schools" would be his top priority if he is elected president in November.

High-fiving OSU students and nearly bringing the house down when he shucked his suit coat as he was being introduced by Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, Gore implored the crowd to help him win Ohioís primary next month.

"If you want a president of the United States that will bring not gradual, incremental change to our schools but revolutionary change, I ask for your vote on March the 7th," Gore said.

Gore repeatedly described his campaign against the Democratic challenger, former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley, as a fight. And the crowd responded enthusiastically when he pledged that, as president, he would help create more jobs and make it economically feasible "for every young person to go to college."

He said he would ensure that the countryís work force receives an education that will allow new graduates to compete for well-paying jobs that many high-tech companies have been unable to fill with qualified people.

Gore also drew cheers from the students when he reiterated his support for several other traditionally Democratic causes.

"I believe in civil rights!" he shouted. "I believe in affirmative action! I believe in a womanís right to choose!"

The only glitch in Goreís otherwise feel-good reception at OSU occurred when about a dozen protesters from the Student Environmental Action Coalition and Ohio Citizen Action interrupted the vice presidentís comments about his commitment to protect the environment with shouts of, "What about WTI?"

Gore has been dogged by accusations that he reneged on a promise he made as vice president-elect in 1992 that he would work to block the opening of the Waste Technologies Industries hazardous-waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio. The plant, located 1,100 feet from an elementary school, burns about 63,000 tons of waste a year, and has been blamed by environmental activists for an increase in the local cancer mortality rate.

Gore deftly encouraged the audience to drown out the protesters by shouting: "Letís hear it for the first amendment! Letís hear it for free speech!"