Gore pledges clean-upsBy Jim Ritchie
Pledging to make the next 10 years the environmental decade, presidential candidate Al Gore swung through Rachel Carson's childhood home in Springdale on Saturday and told supporters "you ain't seen nothing yet."
"I'm proud that here in Pennsylvania we've cleaned up 46 toxic Superfund sites - more than in any other state in our union," Gore said. "We've made great strides but I'm here today to tell you - you ain't seen nothing yet."
The vice president thrilled a crowd of roughly 2,000 outside Springdale Junior-Senior High School, promising to create new jobs and cut the national debt while crediting Carson with inspiring his vision for a cleaner environment.
"If you entrust me with the presidency, I'll fight to protect our children from smog and soot that causes asthma attacks," Gore said. "I'll work to transform dirty, old power plants into modern, clean sources of energy."
Only a few protesters were visible at the school, demonstrating against Gore for not keeping a 1992 pledge they say he made to shut down the Waste Technologies Industries facility in East Liverpool, Ohio, a hazardous-waste incinerator.
During Gore's speech yesterday, protester Josh Knaver shouted, "Do the right thing about WTI." Gore did not appear affected by the comment and afterward briefly spoke with Knaver.
"I told him we want you to follow through with your promise to WTI," Knaver said.
Knaver said Gore told him he was waiting to see the results of an independent review regarding the opponents' claims of the facility, which is pending.
Gore's stop in Springdale fell at the tail end of an aggressive week of campaigning just prior to the start of the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, which opens Monday. He is scheduled to accept the Democratic nomination for president on Thursday.
State Rep. Terry Van Horne, a Lower Burrell Democrat and candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, introduced Gore to the crowd, a mix of local party faithful and interested residents.
"We want to build on the economic growth our country and our region has seen in the last eight years and that's one of the reasons Al Gore is here today," said Van Horne, who faces state Sen. Melissa Hart, a Bradford Woods Republican, in the 4th District race.
Gore spent about 45 minutes at the two-story wood frame Carson homestead, then spoke at the neighboring school.
Jim George of Cheswick said he was pleased Gore spoke with knowledge about the site and Carson. George's wife, Evelyn Hirtle George, was a co-founder of the Rachel Carson Homestead Association that manages the property.
"I was amazed at the amount of his speech that was devoted to Rachel Carson and the environment," said George. "I was interested to hear him talk and hear what he had to say about the environment. I was pleased with what he had to say."
Other famous people who have visited the historic site include Teresa Heinz and Bruce Babbitt, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
Babbitt spoke at the homestead in April 1995, using it as a backdrop to complain that his efforts to protect the environment were resisted and unproductive because of lobbyists' pressures.
Gore spoke at length about his affection for Carson's landmark 1962 book, "Silent Spring," which showed how industrial activity can affect nature and eventually led to the banning of the pesticide DDT in 1972.
"It is really for all of our children, and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, that we fight to protect the air we breathe and the water we drink, and it's for them we also fight to honor the legacy of Rachel Carson," Gore said.
"Rachel Carson is one of those rare individuals who brought about change in all of our lives and it all started right here," he said. "It is an honor to come here to her homestead."
"If he needs to win support in the Alle-Kiski Valley, he's in trouble," Aho said. "People in politics think in terms of media markets."
The White House press corps traveled to Springdale to cover Gore as did all local television and newspaper outlets.
Similarly, Republican challenger George W. Bush campaigned in Pittsburgh following the conclusion of the Republican National Convention a week ago, launching a multi-state train tour with vice presidential nominee Dick Cheney from Station Square.
Gore trails Bush by 10 percentage points, 48 percent to 38 percent, in a Newsweek poll of registered voters released yesterday. That was about the same margin as in CBS and ABC polls released the day before.
Prior to his arrival Friday night at Pittsburgh International Airport, Gore spent the day campaigning in Philadelphia, Michigan and New York, according to a Gore 2000 spokesman. Gore spent Friday night at the Westin William Penn, Downtown.
Gore flew yesterday afternoon from Pittsburgh International Airport aboard Air Force Two to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to stay overnight in Cleveland.
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