Gore poised to enter 2000 presidential fray
Top Clinton operative tapped to run vice president's campaign
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, December 31) -- Vice President Al Gore will start 1999 by filing the paperwork needed to become an official candidate for president in 2000, CNN has learned.
On Friday, Gore will mail paperwork to the Federal Election Commission creating a campaign committee. Once he raises and spends just $5,000, he will be considered an official candidate for president, subject to the laws and regulations governing presidential campaigns.
CNN has also learned that Gore's campaign will be managed by Craig Smith, a top political adviser to President Bill Clinton dating back to Clinton's days as governor of Arkansas. Smith left his post as White House political director to take the helm of Gore's campaign.
The vice president becomes the first candidate in either party to form a full-fledged campaign committee. Two other potential 2000 contenders -- former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, a New Jersey Democrat, and Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican -- have formed exploratory committees, which allow them to raise and spend money without formally entering the race.
Filing candidacy papers a full year before the first Democratic primary and nearly two years before the 2000 general election could raise questions about the line between Gore's official duties and his political travels.
Back in 1988, Democrats complained that then-Vice President George Bush was using his office to campaign for the presidency.
Sources tell CNN that Gore and his staff plan to take precautions against mixing official and campaign activities -- reflecting their sensitivity to allegations of fund-raising irregularities by the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign being investigated by Congress and the Justice Department.
In addition to Smith, other major figures in the Gore campaign will include Roy Neel, a former Gore chief of staff; Jack Quinn, a former White House counsel; Michael Whouley, a Boston political operative who built the ground operation for both Clinton presidential campaigns; and Nick Baldick, a former White House political aide and veteran of New Hampshire presidential primary politics.
Gore, 50, served as a senator and House member from Tennessee before being elected vice president in 1992. He ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, losing to then-Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis.
CNN White House Correspondent John King contributed to this report.
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