If Clinton stumbles, Gore may pay the price in 2000
By Bruce Morton/CNN
May 25, 1999
Web posted at: 6:37 p.m. EDT (2237 GMT)
WASHINGTON (May 25) -- Vice President Al Gore's strength has always been the promise that he'd continue President Bill Clinton's strong performance. But being the continuation of Clinton may be his weakness too.
Take the issue of ground troops in Kosovo. From the beginning, Clinton told the public that ground forces would not be necessary. "I do not intend to put our troops in Kosovo to fight a war," he said.
And Gore echoed his boss. "I do not support the introduction of ground forces into combat settings in the Balkans."
Since then, Clinton has said, "We have not and will not take any option off the table."
Voters could be forgiven for saying, 'Huh? Who's in charge here?'
Then on China, the administration denied there had been Chinese espionage on U.S. nuclear facilities, knowing the bipartisan Cox report said such spying started back in the 1970s.
Are the voters puzzled? Gore has to wonder if any of that is running off on him.
Back during the 1988 campaign, Republican candidate and Vice President George Bush insisted he'd been "out of the loop," didn't know about selling arms to Iran or sending the profits to rebels in Nicaragua.
Lots of people wondered, but Bush went on to beat Michael Dukakis, his uninspired Democratic opponent.
Gore may remember Democratic political adviser's James Carville's 1992 axiom, "It's the economy, stupid." But in April, the consumer price index went up .7 percent, the biggest monthly increase since 1990.
And the Gore campaign has another worry. A spring poll showed that 49 percent of Americans wanted new policies from their president and only 41 percent said they were happy with Clinton's.
None of this signals big trouble for the vice president -- at least not yet. But they are reminders that Gore's fate is linked to Clinton, and that if the president stumbles, the vice president may be hurt too.