Gore promises new start, Democrats party in L.A.
LOS ANGELES, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Vice President Al Gore offered Americans a fresh start on Sunday on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, as delegates led by President Bill Clinton enjoyed all the glitz of Hollywood in an extravaganza of entertainment.
Gore, who will accept the Democratic presidential nomination and deliver possibly the most important speech of his life on Thursday, told Reuters in an interview he would assure voters that if elected he would not let them down.
"I want to ask the American people to really believe that we can do the right thing in this country, and that I won't be falling short in giving them the kind of all-out effort that will justify that belief," Gore said.
"I'm going to talk about what I am recommending for the future, and in doing so I'm going to talk about how my proposals are rooted in the experiences I have had over the last quarter century, especially fighting for working families," said Gore, who served in Congress for 16 years before being elected vice president in 1992.
Gore seems to have received a modest bump in public opinion polls from his selection last week of Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman as his vice presidential running mate -- but he still trails Republican nominee George W. Bush.
While four polls on Saturday gave Bush, the governor of Texas, a lead of between 9 and 14 percentage points, a new survey released by Fox TV on Sunday had the race much tighter. The Fox survey of 900 likely voters put Bush at 45 percent and Gore at 42 percent.
Adding Green Party candidate Ralph Nader and the Reform Party's Pat Buchanan to the mix, Bush had 44 percent of the vote; Gore, 39 percent; Nader, 6 percent; and Buchanan, 1 percent.
The margin of error for the survey, conducted on Aug. 9-10, was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
LIEBERMAN MAKES ROUNDS
Lieberman made the rounds of Sunday television interview shows, making the case that his selection, as the first Jew to run on a presidential ticket of one of the two major parties, showed that the Democrats were the true party of inclusion, while the Republicans paid lip service to the idea.
"This week in Los Angeles, you're going to really see the broad face of America, and this party, the Democratic Party, has clearly been the party ... of those who are out and trying to get in and up," he said on Fox News Sunday.
Lieberman said Bush and his running mate, former Defence Secretary Dick Cheney, wanted to make the election about the scandals of the Clinton administration, while he and Gore wanted it to be about the future.
"The Bush-Cheney ticket seems to want to run against a guy who's not on the ballot this year, which is Bill Clinton. And we're about the future," Lieberman said.
While Gore is anxious to emerge once and for all from Clinton's shadow, the focus on the first night of the convention on Monday will be firmly on the president.
Both he and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is seeking a U.S. Senate seat in New York, will address delegates. The first couple is in the middle of a whirlwind of parties and fund raisers, rubbing shoulders with and soaking up adulation from media moguls and Hollywood's biggest donors.
On Saturday, at an estate nestled in a tree-lined canyon, Diana Ross, Sugar Ray and Paul Anka serenaded Clinton while a cluster of movie stars paid him tribute and poured about $1 million into Mrs. Clinton's campaign coffers.
That was just one of many gatherings. Reporters said the hills of Beverly Hills were alive with parties as Hollywood and Washington met in a lavish embrace.
A brunch on Sunday hosted by singer Barbra Streisand will net $10 million for Clinton's presidential library.
LA BRACES FOR PROTESTS
Police were out in force in downtown Los Angeles, ready to pounce at the first sign of trouble from protesters, who were gathering hoping to advocate a wide array of issues and, in some cases, disrupt the convention and the city.
Animal rights activists dressed in pig costumes set the tone on Saturday, dumping four tonnes of manure at a downtown Los Angeles hotel where many delegates are staying.
A few miles away in Long Beach, a different form of political theatre was underway. Buchanan, a conservative columnist and television pontificator who twice ran for president as a Republican, accepted the presidential nomination of part of what was once the Reform Party, which split into two competing factions last week.
"What are we fighting for?" he said. "To save our country from being sold down the river into some godless new world order, and to hand down to our children a nation as great as the one our parents gave us.... We will fight on and on -- until God Himself calls us home."
Buchanan and transcendental meditation adherent John Hagelin now head rival factions of the party founded in 1992 by billionaire businessman Ross Perot. They are fighting over control of $12.6 million in taxpayers' campaign funds -- a battle that seems certain to end in the courts.
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