Clinton calls Gore to wish him well before announcement
By John King/CNN
June 16, 1999
PARIS (AllPolitics, June 16) - President Bill Clinton called Vice President Al Gore to wish him well before Gore's formal campaign announcement in Tennessee Wednesday and the president later watched his running mate's declaration on television and praised him for laying out specific goals for his presidency.
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White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart said Clinton was impressed that Gore detailed his views on an array of policy issues, saying he believed voters were hungry for specifics from candidates.
"The president believes that it's time for the vice president to get out and make the case, let the country know who he is, where he wants to take the country," Lockhart said. "He takes an important first step on that journey today."
Lockhart said Clinton called the speech "terrific. He laid out his ideas to the American people, who now have a choice - that they can build on the success of the last eight years or choose differently."
Lockhart misspoke in referring to eight years as it has only been seven.
Clinton is in Europe on his way to the G-8 summit in Cologne, Germany. Clinton's good luck call was placed in Geneva, Switzerland and the president watched Gore's kickoff speech during downtime at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Paris.
Top Clinton aides shrug off as inevitable the fact that Gore will distance himself from the president in some regards as he seeks to develop a clear identity with voters.
In recent days, Gore has been more pointed in his criticism of the president's personal conduct in the Monica Lewinsky affair. In television interviews, he has referred to the president's conduct as "inexcusable" and said Lewinsky matter "wasted time" for the Clinton Administration.
Gore also talked in his announcement speech of carrying the highest moral values into the Oval Office if elected president.
Lockhart said there is no friction between Gore and the president on this issue -- suggesting that Clinton himself had apologized for behavior he said was unacceptable and a betrayal of his family.
Privately, top Clinton aides say Gore has little choice but to draw a personal contrast with the president, given evidence of what some political analysts call "Clinton fatigue" -- and given the early focus of leading GOP presidential candidates on the theme of restoring personal character to the presidency.