What if Al Gore was poised to pick up the endorsements of over 50 prominent elected officials, private sector CEO’s, sports personalities and celebrities—who were all Republican? What if recent polling data showed that Al Gore was ahead of George W. Bush—in Bush’s home state of Texas?
Naturally, these tidbits would be on the front page of every major newspaper, and would be driven into the ground by every television, radio, and internet news outlet.
But what if the opposite was true? A large group of elected officials, all Democrats, endorsing the Republican presidential candidate, would certainly be a public relations nightmare that would threaten to seriously wound Al Gore and his lifelong presidential ambitions. The news would be too good to pass up for an American media that thrives on sensationalism. And to have Bush ahead in Tennessee, the state Gore calls home? Maybe the headlines would scream that Tennesseans finally reject the notion of Gore as "native son" since he really grew up in a posh Washington, DC hotel, anyway.
But isn’t this just fantasy? Not quite. The latest Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. poll, sponsored jointly by two local newspapers, the Tennessean and the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, shows Bush leading Gore in Tennessee 46 to 43 percent. Granted, the poll is within the four-point margin of error, but as Mason-Dixon pollster told The Washington Times, "The bottom line is, Tennessee is in fair play."
With only five weeks to go before Election Day, Bush’s strength in Tennessee is remarkable. Even Walter Mondale, who was routed in 1984 by winning only one state, could count on his native Minnesota all along.
And as far as the endorsements go, George W. Bush is slated to announce the formation of Americans for Bush-Cheney, a group whose core will consist of prominent Democrats and Independents who have jumped on Bush’s bandwagon. Included in Bush’s list of supporters is former Attorney General Griffin Bell, who served in Jimmy Carter’s White House. Also included are two Democratic mayors in Florida, one of the half-dozen states that will decide the presidential election.
Four-term Fort Lauderdale Mayor, Jim Naugle stated, "Gore has made so many promises to enact so many entitlements that I fear the nation will be saddled with tax rates of 50 to 60 percent to pay for them." That sure sounds like a "risky tax scheme," doesn’t it?
But picking up Democratic support is commonplace for George W. Bush. Democratic Lt. Governor Bob Bulloch was instrumental in Bush’s first campaign for governor—a remarkable achievement considering fellow Democrat Ann Richards was the incumbent governor. More recently, Will Davis, a Democratic member of the Texas Board of Education, and former Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal in which he chastised Gore for attacking Bush’s record in Texas. "[Bush] has created a bipartisan atmosphere never before seen in our state and, as a result, we are making huge strides," wrote Davis. Regarding Gore’s attacks, Davis also wrote, "As a registered Democrat, I am saddened that my party would employ such shameful propaganda."
Picking up Democratic support is also not foreign to the Republican Party as a whole. Republicans, usually derided by the media as intolerant and in desperate need of expanding their tent, have seen over 470 elected officials from across the country abandon the Democratic party and join the GOP since Clinton and Gore took office.
But have you ever heard one word about these facts? Probably not. There is no doubt that too many members of the media are abdicating their journalistic responsibility in favor of becoming mindless mouthpieces for the Gore campaign, willing to trumpet anything that makes Gore look good, while ignoring news that’s favorable to Bush. If they weren’t mouthpieces, Americans would know more about the significant support Bush has among prominent Democrats.
When George W. Bush announces the support he’s picking up from the Florida officials, possibly as early as this Thursday, don’t hold your breath waiting for what would otherwise be well-deserved extensive coverage.
To date, the only significant mention of Bush’s support came from one of Bush’s own answers during the first debate in Boston, when he mentioned that there were several Democratic officials from Texas who were in the audience who supported him. Did any of the networks conduct post-debate interviews these Democrats? I think you know the answer.
© Mario Lopez, 2000
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