Gore Knocks Bush on Environment

ByABC News

Oct. 27, 2000 -- Trying to fend off rivals on both his left and right, Vice President Al Gore is touting his environmental record and saying Texas Gov. George W. Bush will not address global warming.

Gore, the Democratic presidential nominee, has been under fire this week from Green Party nominee Ralph Nader for his environmental record. But Thursday the vice president pointed the finger at Bush, saying his Republican opponent was not committed to stopping global warming.

Stumping in Missouri, Gore called global warming “a moral issue,” citing a report released today by a United Nations-sponsored panel of scientists that concludes pollution has “contributed substantially” to the phenomenon.

Talking to workers at a diner in Kansas City, Gore said Bush was not committed to acting in order to stop the rise in the earth’s temperature.

“[Bush] has said that he’s not convinced that the pollution is causing it, and that he’s not convinced we should do anything other than just study it — and I disagree with that.” Gore said.

Later, at a speech in Davenport, Iowa, Gore referred again to the study, saying it showed global warming was a more severe threat than most scientists previously believed.

“Instead of just going up a few degrees in the lifetimes of these kids, unless we act, the average tempeture is going to go up ten or eleven degrees,” Gore said.

The vice president, author of the 1992 best-seller Earth in the Balance, has long called the environment as one of his pet concerns.

But his credentials as an environmentalist have been sharply challenged by Nader. Wednesday, Nader said the “best case Al Gore has made for being an environmentalist in the campaign is that he is not George W. Bush.”

Appearing on ABC’s Good Morning America Thursday, Gore responded, “where issues like the environment are concerned, I’ll put my record up against anybody’s.”

But while Nader claims Gore is not concerned enough about the environment, the Republicans are using the vice president’s concerns about the combustion engine — as expressed in his book — in an attempt to persuade voters that Gore’s plans will damage the Midwestern economy, home of the nation’s auto industry.

A Republican National Committee television ad, released Thursday in the crucial state of Michigan, features former Chrysler chairman Lee Iaccocca saying “Al Gore’s extreme ideas about cars could cost a lot of Michigan families their jobs.”

Bush Plays Leadership Card

Bush responded Thursday morning with a sharp attack on Gore during a speech in Pittsburgh, charging that the vice president, if elected, would not provide the leadership necessary for bipartisan cooperation in Washington.

Emphasizing one of the main themes of his campaign, Bush claimed a Gore presidency would “add four years of drift to add eight years of failed leadership.”

“Responsible leadership is the most important task of an American president,” Bush added. “And it should be the most important question Americans ask before they vote: What kind of leader will the president be?”

Bush also claimed that Gore’s campaign style demonstrated a tendency to pander, saying, “A good leader … doesn’t try to be all things to all people. He doesn’t change personalities.” Bush has repeatedly tried to cast Gore as a political chameleon during the presidential contest.

Bush appeared at the Pittsburgh rally with retired Gen. Colin Powell, who he strongly hinted would play a prominent role in a future Bush administration.

Fast Pace

After the Pittsburgh event, Bush stumped in Erie, Pa., and continued on to Ohio, a state crucial to his hopes. No Republican has won the presidency without capturing Ohio.

Gore stumped Thursday evening in Madison, Wisconsin, another crucial battlegound, before a crowd estimated at 30,000, the largest of his campaign.

A state-wide poll released earlier in the day put Gore ahead of Bush in Wisconsin, 46 percent to 39 percent, with Nader at five percent — but a different survey released Tuesday gave Bush a nine-point lead, 49 percent to 40 percent, with Nader also pulling down five percent.

The candidates, increasing the the pace of their campaigns at the close of the race, are typically making at least three stops a day in swing states.

Tuesday, Gore stumped for a second straight day in Tennessee, where a September poll showed Bush with a three-point edge late last month. But Bush has also been forced to stump this week in states where he once expected to win handily, taking an all-day bus tour of Florida on Wednesday.

Bush’s brother Jeb, the governor of Florida, joined him on the bus tour, as did Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Bush’s principal rival in the Republican primaries.

McCain’s insurgent bid for the GOP nomination drew record numbers of independent and new voters, and his appearances with Bush are meant to help attract still undecided swing voters to Bush’s banner.

With Gore’s ideological base apparently less energized than Bush’s, many political observers have wondered if the vice president will appear with President Clinton on the campaign trail in an effort to rally the party faithful.

When asked by Good Morning America Thursday about the possibility of joint appearances with the president, Gore said he had none planned.

“As for campaigning, look, I’m campaigning as my own person,” Gore said. “I am who I am. I’m running this race on my own vision and agenda for the future. I think that’s the way it should be.”

But Gore added, of his two-time running mate, “He’s out helping to turn out the vote.”

In an interview with ABCNEWS’ Nightline Tuesday, Bush said a high-profile appearance by Clinton would work to his advantage, not Gore’s.

“I think it would help me if the president were out,” he said. “I think it would remind people that my opponent wasn’t standing on his own.”

With less than two weeks to go before Election Day, an ABCNEWS tracking poll shows Bush leading Gore, 48 percent to 46 percent — a statistical dead heat given the survey’s margin of error.

ABCNEWS’ John Berman and Dana Hill and The Associated Press contributed to this report.