Gore courts South Florida voters
Vice president to name activist Bill Shaheen as N.H. Gore 2000 state chair
March 12, 1999
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 12) -- As Vice President Al Gore gears up his 2000 bid for the top White House job, the campaign trail took him to South Florida Friday where the Democratic front-runner raised $700,000.
First stopping in West Palm Beach, the vice president attended a luncheon reception hosted by the Gore 2000 group that is backing his expected presidential bid. The event drew about 150 supporters.
His next stop was Miami, where he joined Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas and U.S. Rep. Carrie Meek (D-Florida) at Florida Lumber Company. A reception and dinner for Gore 2000 will follow at the Sheraton Bal Harbour. Afterward, Gore will return to Washington.
Florida is a critical presidential battleground. Gore strolled the streets of Miami and enjoyed a cup of Cuban coffee as part of his effort to court a critical constituency: Cuban Americans and other Hispanic voters.
The Clinton-Gore ticket narrowly lost Florida in 1992 but won the state and its 25 electoral votes in 1996 -- in part because of increased support among Hispanic voters.
As Gore hits the trail, other aspects of his campaign are also shaping up.
Beefing up his organization, Gore announced Thursday that he plans to name long-time Democratic activist Bill Shaheen as his New Hampshire Gore 2000 state chair.
Gore said he will make the official announcement Monday. Shaheen helped lead Jimmy Carter's successful campaign in 1976 and is the husband of current New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.
"Bill Shaheen has played a major leadership role in New Hampshire state Democratic politics. I am pleased that he will be heading up my effort in New Hampshire," the vice president said in a statement.
"This is very exciting. Vice President Gore is a leader of vision, ideas and character," Shaheen said. "I can't wait to get started on Monday." Shaheen currently practices law at Shaheen and Gordon, a law firm with offices in Dover and Concord, N.H.
As Gore's infrastructure takes shape, his campaign strategy is also emerging -- one that borrows a play from his boss' book.
Throughout the week, the vice president has hosted daily events, stressing a new issue each day.
Monday? Monday was traffic day.
"Information is one of the best weapons against traffic congestion. The more families know about their daily commute or about road conditions during the day or weekends, the better decisions they can make about which routes they should travel," Gore said.
The suggestion? A national three digit number, like 411 for phone numbers, for traffic information.
Tuesday? Clean water.
Gore said it is necessary to develop "a much more sensitive and sophisticated and balanced approach that solves the pollution problem while at the same time allowing for continued improvement in our economy."
Wednesday was air travel day.
"Today I'm proud to announce that we are launching a brand new initiative to put passengers first and make airline traveling a much more pleasant experience for everyone consistently."
Thursday? That was drug labels.
Gore announced that will "labels will list ingredients and instruction in the same place on every product. And the type size is increased."
The issue-a-day strategy was first suggested by Clinton adviser Dick Morris and was used by the president during the 1996 campaign.
Some of the issues were less than presidential maybe -- Clinton coming out for school uniforms -- but they were poll-tested and showed an activist president dealing with things voters cared about.
Will this daily dose of problem-solving ideas work for a vice president, who has less access to the media?
"I think it's a good strategy, even if it won't dominate the news," political analyst Stuart Rothenberg said. "It identifies him with some public policy initiatives. It demonstrates that he is a person of substance. It's focused on helping people."
It may also help Gore establish a separate identity and emerge from Clinton's shadow, though the vice president says that is not a concern.
"I don't feel like I'm in a shadow," Gore said. "The job of vice president is very different and very distinct from the job of president."
"Al Gore doesn't have to become an entirely new commodity. He can take advantage of the president's success," Rothenberg says.
CNN's John King and Bruce Morton contributed to this report.
Friday, March 12, 1999
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