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Gore Says Nothing Wrong With His Fund-Raising Calls

But he says 'concern' about his solicitations has prompted him to stop making such calls


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 3) -- Vice President Al Gore, under fire for alleged heavy-handed appeals to potential Democratic contributors, said he didn't do anything illegal. But he conceded his fund-raising calls from government offices have raised enough concern that he won't make any more of them.(224K WAV sound)

Gore came to the White House briefing room late today to defend himself against allegations that he had stepped over the line in making calls to prospective donors as he sought money for the Clinton-Gore re-election campaign.

Transcript of Al Gore's Press Conference

"Everything that I did I understood to be lawful," Gore said. "My counsel tells me there is no controlling legal authority that says that there was any violation of any law."

On a few occasions in fall 1995 and early 1996, Gore told reporters, he made telephone calls to potential donors, using a Democratic National Committee telephone credit card.

Gore said he was advised there was nothing wrong with the practice; he says the president and vice president are exempt from the Hatch Act, which bars other federal employees from soliciting political contributions.

Gore said he never asked anyone who was in a federal building for money, nor did he ever ask a federal employee for money.

Gore disputed a characterization in Sunday's Washington Post that some people he called felt shaken down by his blunt appeal for funds.

"I cannot explain to you what some anonymous source wants to say," said Gore. "I can tell you this, that I never, ever said or did anything that would have given rise to a feeling like that on the part of someone who was asked to support our campaign. I never did that and I never would do that."

Gore said he was proud of his role in the campaign, including his fund-raising. He said most of the money he has been given credit for raising came from events where he was the main speaker, not from his phone calls.(320K WAV sound)

But he said he has decided not to make fund-raising calls from his office in the future. Asked why he was changing his policy, Gore said, "Because it's aroused a great deal of concern and comment, and it's not something that I want to continue if it's going to raise this kind of concern."

He wouldn't admit to making a mistake, though.

"No, but I am saying -- I mean, implicit in the decision to change the policy and say I'm not going to make such calls again is an acknowledgment that if, you know, if I had realized in advance that this would cause such concern, then I wouldn't have done it in the first place," Gore said.

Gore said he would be surprised if all senators and most members of the House don't routinely make such fund-raising calls. "This is the standard way that we finance campaigns," he said.

Although he is clearly Bill Clinton's heir apparent, Gore fended off questions about the 2000 presidential race. That left unanswered the ground rules for possible future fund-raising.

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