Al Gore has once
again gone on the attack. His
target this time is not the governor from Texas, but the consumer
advocate from Connecticut. At
a recent campaign rally in Wisconsin, Gore said a vote for Ralph Nader
is a vote the big oil companies, chemical companies and other big
polluters would like to see you cast.
Gore attacking a
third party candidate sitting at 3-4% in the polls?
That, it seems, is where the Gore campaign has finally landed.
To have made such an earth shattering decision the Gore
campaign must believe that Nader is a bigger threat than they were
ever willing to admit before. Yet
most independent analysis doesnít support the Gore camps latest
shift in focus.
campaign says that over 50% of his supporters are independent and
disenfranchised voters who wouldnít be voting this year if not for
the Nader option. A
further 20% of his vote comes from Republicans.
Independent polling from various states shows that the race
would remain basically unchanged without the third part candidates.
Look for the
major polling firms to come out with a slew of data in the next few
days showing the impact Nader is having on the race in battleground
states. Chances are it will not support the new direction in the Gore
campaign but the press spin will not make that exactly clear.
ABC was the first
out of the box, heavily promoting their poll that shows over half of
Naderís voters (56%) may change their minds by election day.
The press has
also kept up the drumbeat about how close the race is.
A reporter from USA Today calls the race a dead heat on the
same day her own paper had Bush 7 points ahead.
Even CNN, co-sponsor of the same poll, takes pains to point out
that most other polls are much closer.
Any poll that shows Bush ahead is treated with derision.
Of course the
press has to say itís a dead heat.
Thatís the only way they can convince Nader voters that they
are effectively voting for Bush.
There is also the
possibility of Goreís new strategy backfiring on him. There is already evidence that Nader is receiving increased
attention. The New York
Times reported that Wednesdayís press conference by Nader was the
most heavily attended ever. The
candidate even admitted that the increased publicity was giving him
more opportunity to get his message out.
In fact the campaign against Nader has turned from the
ridiculous to the surreal. Pro-abortion activist Kate Michelman was
recently in Seattle to announce that she questioned Naderís
commitment to their cause.
Attack dog is not
a role that serves the Vice-President well.
In order to go on the attack, a candidate must have credibility
himself. This is not
something Gore can claim with the bulk of independent voters or with
the left who see Gore as unreliable at best.
He tried it in the early days with Bush and only succeeded in
convincing fence sitting Republicans and Independents that the
governor was all right after all.
controversy is forcing Gore to spend time in states he otherwise
wouldnít be in. He
currently has swings through Oregon, Arkansas and Minnesota scheduled.
Most recently he added California, a state long assumed to be
in the Gore camp, to the list. He
has vowed that he will not spend any money on advertising in
California, but even that could change in the final week.
How does one
explain the dissent in the Gore campaign with how to treat President
Clinton? Clinton is
chomping at the bit to get out into the field with the people he wants
to love him. The ever-disloyal Dick Morris predicted months ago that, in
the end, Clinton wouldnít be able to keep himself from campaigning
for Gore and other Democrats since he is the only one who really
understands what the people want.
But, just like in
1994, Clinton will hurt those he campaigns with more than he helps.
The undecided voters at this point donít look favorably upon
many of the presidentís actions and donít need the reminder of
what he has done. Maybe
Bill can make his call for an apology by the GOP for impeaching him
the centerpiece of his speeches.
© Joseph M. Giardiello, 2000
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View expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Political USA.