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Gore, Bush roll out gags at $900,000 fund-raiser

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The two men now running for the White House attended a dinner in honor of a man who lost his own presidential race in 1928.

Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush each hope the other will share that fate with the late Al Smith.

They traded barbs Thursday night during the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation dinner which, while known for its irreverence and political wit, also raised $900,000 for health care programs in the Archdiocese of New York.

Gore was introduced by the great-grandson of Smith, a Roman Catholic and four-term governor of New York.

"Your great-grandfather was my favorite kind of governor: the kind who ran for president and lost," said Gore.

Bush also mentioned Smith's ill-fated campaign, admitting, "It gives me hope that in America it's still not possible for a fellow named Al to be the commander-in-chief."

CNN's Candy Crowley reports on the highlights of the Al Smith Dinner

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Presidential race 2000

Both candidates drew a lot of laughter and Archbishop Edward Egan urged them to keep hold of "whoever is writing your material."

Gore also used his time at the podium to answer his critics, jesting, "I never exaggerate. You can ask Tipper or any of my 11 daughters."

Among the haves and the have-mores

The Texas governor acknowledged what he said were the vice president's efforts to get the facts right, especially about the Smith dinner.

"The other night after our third debate as I was leaving he said, 'I look forward to seeing you at our dinner in New York; meet you at the Carlisle and dress is casual,'" Bush told the crowd dressed in white tie and tails and evening gowns.

His jokes included being billed for thousands of dollars by a woman in the elevator who advised him to wear earth-toned clothes. And he said Gore's running mate was such a humanitarian he once gave a donation to a Buddhist temple.

Gore denied he was a policy wonk who was too stiff to relax and watch television.

"One of my favorite shows is 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?' Well, it should really be called "Who Wants to Be After Taxes a $651,430.70 Person?'" noted the vice president. "Of course, that is under my plan. Under Gov. Bush's plan it would be 'Who Wants to Be After Taxes a $701,587.80 Person?'"

Bush looked out over the well-dressed audience and declared it an impressive gathering of the "have and have-mores."

"Some people call you the elite, I call you my base," he said.

Both men poked fun at their own quirks and weaknesses.

Gore jokingly crowed about his strategy of using "real people" to illustrate policy points. "Like the woman who's here tonight, whose husband is about to lose his job. She's struggling to get out of public housing and get a job of her own. Hillary Clinton, I want to fight for you!"

Cracked the sometimes tongue-tied Bush, "You know what this world needs? It really needs more world leaders named Al Smith."

The first lady attended the dinner, as did her rival in her bid for the U.S. Senate, Rep. Rick Lazio. Neither spoke.



Thursday, October 19, 2000


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