Gore picks up endorsements as Democrats push to solidify support
March 22, 1999
SIOUX FALLS, South Dakota (AllPolitics, March 22) -- Vice President Al Gore picked up the endorsement of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle Monday as the Democratic Party establishment continued to line up behind his 2000 presidential run.
"I am here to announce today with great pride and great enthusiasm that I will do all I can in the next two years to make this man the next president of the United States," Daschle said as he and fellow South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson formally announced their support of Gore.
Daschle was the second high-profile congressional Democrat to come out for Gore as the party sought to solidify support for the vice president and avoid a bruising primary battle. Later in the day Monday, Gore picked up the support of U.S. Rep. Leonard Boswell of Iowa, the sole Democrat in that state's House delegation.
The orchestrated rollout of endorsements, which began last Monday when Gore accepted the endorsement of House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt, is designed to Democrats from breaking ranks to support former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley.
Bradley, Gore's only announced opponent, waging a vigorous battle for the nomination and is increasingly critical of Gore, calling him too cautious and noting that he trails the leading Republican candidate in early opinion polls.
While the vice president is the prohibitive Democratic favorite, some Gore aides and party operatives have voiced concerns about Iowa, in part because Gore largely ignored the state when he ran for president in 1988, and in part because of the state's history for snubbing party favorites.
At the same time, several Gore associates told CNN that they worry the vice president is letting criticism from Bradley get under his skin. They also say that he is at times indignant about having to deal with a primary challenge.
While the state's precinct caucuses are still 11 months away, some Iowa Democrats are grumbling that Gore needs to work the state harder.
The Gore camp argues that it's way too early to worry. Nonetheless, in recent weeks Gore has stepped up his campaign activity in Iowa, where the caucuses leadoff the presidential nominating season. Last week, he stopped in the state after collecting Gephardt's backing and released a list of nearly 70 important Iowa Democrats who endorsed him.
CNN's John King contributed to this report.
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