Tags: Bill | Clinton's | Ghost | Hovers | Over | Campaign

Bill Clinton's Ghost Hovers Over Campaign

Friday, 03 November 2000 12:00 AM

An odd thing is happening as the most controversial president since Nixon winds up his term. The closer the nation gets to picking his successor, the more some voters wish there were no 22nd Amendment.

The Constitution prevents us from knowing whether Bill Clinton could be re-elected for a third term. Polls suggest Clinton could win in a race against George W. Bush. We'll never know.

But, as Bush likes to remind his audiences, with the economy this good after eight years, the sitting vice president should be sailing into the Oval Office.

Instead, it's a race to the last days and, perhaps, the last hours, with the governor of Texas and the vice president struggling in states that should be safe.

Al Gore has to work to seal the deal in many of the states Clinton-Gore won twice. Bush got on a bus to travel around Florida with his brother, the governor, last week.

Every day brings a new battleground state. Pennsylvania now looks promising for Bush, who's also gaining on Gore in California.

Even West Virginia, a Democratic stronghold, is in play.

At the same time, Gore's stock, which tumbled during the debates, seems to be on the rise. Maybe people are forgetting what they didn't like about him. Plus, he's gone back to showing his softer side.

Tipper Gore revealed last week that her husband has made it to every high school football game young Albert III has played this fall. Gore's senator father never made it to any of his son's football games when he was captain of his prep school team.

Gore, who declared his independence from Clinton last summer, evidently still believes the boss would be more a liability than an asset with the large chunk of the electorate that remains undecided.

And there's still a reservoir of hatred toward the Clintons. Everybody gets it when Bush, at the end of his stump speech, raises his hand as if at his inauguration and pledges to uphold "the honor and integrity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God."

Some voters say they wish they could have them both: Gore for his knowledge of the issues, Bush for his personality.

The Clinton who's not on the ballot contends he's "campaigning hard for spouse in chief." The campaign master has raised more than $100 million for Democratic candidates this year. He raised $2 million for his wife's Senate campaign and $1.3 million for other candidates in a single night in New York last week.

Clinton looks and sounds like a candidate as he travels the country on behalf of his wife and other candidates. He even has a stump speech in which he says there are just three things he wants to tell people about the election.

"And they're the same things I would say if I were sitting alone in a room with any of you and you asked me why we should be supporting Al Gore, Joe Lieberman, Hillary. ..." and he names the congressional or local candidate.

It's classic Clinton to bring the campaign into the living room and explain it with a simple three-point plan. He argues in ways that Gore could but doesn't that the voter's choice is whether to extend the good aspects of the last eight years. The pitch is short and succinct, and it answers the question.

Clinton's ghost hovers over this campaign. Three of four voters tell pollsters Clinton is not a good role model. They split over whether Gore or Bush would be better.

But this presidential campaign has lasted so long that we have grown accustomed to Bush and Gore as candidates – and flawed ones at that. The two seem to have been sentenced to run for the top job endlessly – and never to attain it.

Now, with only a few days left, voters are waking up to the fact that one of these men is going to be president.

It's one thing to find the governor of the nation's second-largest state an amiable fellow who would be fun to sit next to at a dinner party. It's one thing to find the vice president well qualified on paper for the job he seeks.

It's quite another to imagine one of these perpetual candidates being president. No wonder, perhaps, that some people think Bill Clinton, whose faults everyone knows all too well, is the one who looks presidential.

(C) 2000 Richmond Times-Dispatch via Bell&Howell Information and Learning Company. All Rights Reserved.

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An odd thing is happening as the most controversial president since Nixon winds up his term. The closer the nation gets to picking his successor, the more some voters wish there were no 22nd Amendment. The Constitution prevents us from knowing whether Bill Clinton could...
Bill,Clinton's,Ghost,Hovers,Over,Campaign
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2000-00-03
Friday, 03 November 2000 12:00 AM
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