Gore Doesn't Plan To Testify Before Senate Hearings
New poll indicates that vice president has not been hurt by flap
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 8) -- Vice President Al Gore is trying to stay above the uproar over his controversial fund-raising activities last year, and has no plans to testify before the Senate campaign fund-raising hearings as one panel member suggested this weekend.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), a member of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee investigating alleged campaign money violations, suggested that Gore can "save his political standing" by voluntarily testifying before the Senate hearings.
"There's no question as the picture has unfolded that the vice president has to speak out on it," Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." "I think Vice President Gore may well be able to save his political standing."
Gore's advisors insist the vice president won't try to completely dodge questions from the news media but has no intention of testifying before any congressional committees.
Former Gore Communications Director Marla Romash said, "I think any question the committee could have has been answered -- both by materials that the vice president's office has provided and by others who have freely and openly answered questions."
Gore became a focal point of the Democratic fund-raising flap as his attendance at a Buddhist temple fund-raiser last year and White House campaign phone calls were made public.
These revelations have been politically embarrassing for the vice president, who many consider the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2000, and who has previously enjoyed a squeaky-clean reputation.
Gore Still The Democrats' Choice
But so far, Gore's controversial campaign activities do not appear to have damaged his image.
A new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows 64 percent of the public considers him honest and trustworthy, compared to 53 percent for President Bill Clinton.
Thirty-seven percent say the allegations about his fund-raising are relevant, but 47 percent say they're not.
As far as the Democratic party's presidential horse race for 2000 is shaping up, the polls shows Gore still way ahead. Nearly half those questioned say he's their choice.
Still, Republicans are likely to continue raising questions about Gore's campaign fund-raising. The temple event was the focus of the Senate committee's hearings last week.
"I do not think [Gore] can ignore the mounting evidence and what the attorney general did in starting the process, which I think is going to lead to an independent counsel," Specter said. "And I do not think a news conference is enough.
"I know the vice president very well, served with him in the Senate for many years. I think he may very well come, and soon, to the conclusion that appearing sooner voluntarily rather than later would be to his interest," Specter continued.
For now, Gore's advisors believe he's weathered the worst as far as the Buddhist temple is concerned. Their nightmare is that Reno will call for an independent counsel to investigate the phone calls. That could easily keep this issue alive at least until 2000.
CNN's Wolf Blitzer contributed to this report.
In Other News:
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N.Y.'s Giuliani Riding High
The Push For Testing
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