Thursday, February 03, 2000
Gore asks students for help
BY MICHAEL HAWTHORNE
Enquirer Columbus Bureau
COLUMBUS With Ohio next on the list of key states in the presidential primaries, Vice President Al Gore urged college students Wednesday to help him fend off a strong challenge from former Sen. Bill Bradley.
A day after he narrowly beat Mr. Bradley in New Hampshire, Mr. Gore turned an appearance at the Ohio State University student union into a pep rally, exhorting his followers to organize every county and every precinct in Ohio before the March 7 primary.
He got polite applause and occasional cheers from a crowd of about 500 with a rapid-fire litany of slogans appealing to various segments of the Democratic Party, from African-Americans and environmentalists to union workers and abortion-rights activists.
Ohio is one of 14 states, including New York and California, that will choose delegates to the national party conventions on the same day. Mr. Gore's 20-minute speech was designed to build support for his campaign beyond the endorsements he's already picked up from many of the state's top Democrats.
We had a great victory last night, Mr. Gore said of his four-
point win in New Hampshire over Mr. Bradley. And you ain't seen nothin' yet. I have only just begun to fight for you.
Before Mr. Gore arrived on a post-New Hampshire swing through Columbus, New York and Los Angeles, OSU officials said the vice president intended to use the university forum to discuss his education proposals with students.
But his speech was more general.
We need to create more good jobs for kids coming out of college, Mr. Gore said at one point. Later, he said, We need to keep our prosperity going and use it to make sure no one is left behind.
The loudest applause came when he talked about his support for abortion rights. Mr. Bradley cut into the vice president's advantage with female voters in New Hampshire by bringing up Mr. Gore's opposition in the 1980s to federal funding for abortions.
I thought it was a good speech, but it was very simplistic, said Hope McIntosh, an OSU law student from Youngstown. He said all the right things, but I want to know how he's going to do them all.
Said Jody Sells, a Dublin, Ohio, senior studying to become a social worker: I agreed with everything he said, but I'm still open to Bradley. I want to hear more about what they want to do.
Mr. Gore, a seasoned campaigner, enlisted the crowd to drown out protests from a small group of environmental activists who contend he broke a 1992 promise to shut down a hazardous waste incinerator in East Liverpool, Ohio.
What about WTI? they screamed, referring to Waste Technologies Industries, the plant's operator.
Let's hear it for the First Amendment, Mr. Gore responded, nodding to the protesters. Let's hear it for freedom of speech. If you would like to meet with me afterwards, I would be glad to do that.
Amy Ryder, an activist with Ohio Citizen Action, said incinerator opponents have been trying for years to meet with Mr. Gore. They still were waiting after the speech.
With about a month left before the primary, Mr. Gore was expected to make another Ohio stop Wednesday in Dayton, where he was to attend the annual banquet of the Miami Valley AFL-CIO.
Mr. Bradley, meanwhile, is focusing on New York, where he played basketball for the NBA's Knicks and is considered to enjoy an advantage over the vice president.
We'll be competitive in Ohio, said Don Mooney, a Cincinnati lawyer coordinating the Bradley campaign in Hamilton County. We're excited to still be in play.
An Ohio Poll conducted Jan. 7-19 showed Mr. Gore led Mr. Bradley in Ohio 58 percent to 37 percent, with 4 percent of likely Democratic voters undecided.
The poll, sponsored by the University of Cincinnati, had a margin of error of plus or minus 5.5 percentage points.
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