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Gore says he's the 'underdog'; announces lower fund-raising totals

September 30, 1999
Web posted at: 10:56 a.m. EDT (1456 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Al Gore declared himself the underdog in the heated presidential race Wednesday, while sources tell CNN Gore's campaign raised less money this quarter than in the previous two FEC reporting periods.

"I feel like the underdog," Gore told CNN's "Larry King Live." "I'm going to campaign like the underdog, and I think that's the way to get elected, I'm going to work my heart out for every single vote."

The vice president said he feels he's the underdog because "that's the way the press is writing the story. I think if you look at the most recent poll in New Hampshire, you'll see it that way."

Asked during the program if he'd debate his Democratic rival Bill Bradley on Larry King's show at some point, Gore said, "Sure, sure. Absolutely, of course."

In a possible sign that the Gore campaign may actually be facing some of the problems an underdog would face, Gore campaign aides told CNN Wednesday that the vice president raised about $6.5 million in contributions for his presidential campaign in the third quarter of 1999 and spent $6 million.

With the primary season just four months away, Gore raised less money this quarter than in the previous two reporting periods and spent virtually every dollar he raised. FEC reports show Gore raised $8.9 million the first quarter and $8.7 million the second.

The campaign has about $9.5 million to $10 million cash on hand.

The third quarter ends on Thursday, September 30. The candidates are required to file reports on their third quarter fund raising by October 15. Bradley is expected to announce his fund-raising figures Thursday, as is GOP front-runner George W. Bush.

Earlier Wednesday, Gore announced plans to move his presidential campaign headquarters from Washington to his home state of Tennessee and challenged Bradley to a series of debates.

The headquarters move, recommended by among others President Bill Clinton and his 1992 campaign strategist James Carville, is designed to distance the campaign from the daily talk in Washington that the Gore campaign is teetering.

Gore, 51, a native middle Tennessean who is a Harvard graduate, Vietnam veteran and son of a prominent senator, said he was taking his campaign "directly to the grass roots and directly to the American people." He plans to meet with voters in small groups to ask for ideas and get their input.

Asked if his campaign was moving away from Washington to distance itself from the "cloud of Clinton-fatigue," Gore said, "I think there's fatigue with questions about Clinton-fatigue."

Pressed further, he added, "I think there's Clinton-fatigue fatigue."

Gore challenged Bradley to debates on issues such as health care, crime, the environment and education. But he said each candidate first should be given a period of time to discuss the issues further with experts and the American people "to refine their thinking" before having "a genuine contest of ideas."

The Bradley camp welcomed the debate offer.

CNN's John King contributed to this report.


Gore says he's the 'underdog'; announces lower fund-raising totals (9-30-99)



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Thursday, September 30, 1999

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