Tuesday, October 10, 2000

GOP works to keep Ky. lead

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — With the second presidential debate looming, Kentucky's top Republicans hit the campaign trail Monday to rally GOP supporters and help George W. Bush maintain his lead in polls in the state.

        A group of more than 20 elected and party officials lead by U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Jim Bunning rode by bus to GOP campaign rallies in Burlington, Midway and Louisville on Monday, touting Mr. Bush's campaign and bashing Vice President Al Gore's alleged fabrications of the truth.

        The tour was designed to pump up enthusiasm for Mr. Bush, who led Mr. Gore in a recent statewide Blue grass Poll by 10 points, as the candidates prepare for their second debate Wednesdaynight in Winston-Salem, N.C.

        “Al Gore is a serial exaggerator,” Mr. McConnell told a group of about 60 Bush supporters who gathered at the gazebo adjacent to the Boone County Courthouse in Burlington.

        “He can't help himself. George Bush wants to make things work, and Al Gore makes things up,” he said.

        Mr. Gore has taken heat for allegedly embellishing facts and even lying during his first debate with Mr. Bush last week.

        Republicans and some pundits have claimed Mr. Gore was not accurate and truthful about the circumstances of touring natural disaster sites in Texas and when he used the circumstances of a Florida high-school student to make a point about crowded schools.

        Mr. Gore “has a hard time telling the truth,” Mr. McConnell said to cheers at the Monday morning rally.

        Mr. Gore's Kentucky cam paign reacted quickly to the charges, sending out statements and newspaper accounts a spokesman said validate the vice president's claims and show that any contradictions were minor mistakes and not outright lies.

        Jonathan Beeton, spokesman for Mr. Gore's Kentucky campaign, called the Republicans' claims “a desperation tactic.”

        Mr. Beeton said it is Mr. Bush who misrepresents the truth when saying on the stump that middle-income families will receive no tax relief under Mr. Gore's tax plan.

        “That's a very misleading statement because it assumes a family will not save for retirement or college or have any child-care costs,” Mr. Beeton said, “because under Al Gore's plan a family gets tax breaks for all of those and more.”

        There were families present at Monday's Boone County rally, including Bill and Leslie Brown, both 28, of Edgewood. The Browns — parents of three children ages 7, 4, and 2 — say they are supporting Mr. Bush because of his tax plan.

        “George W. Bush wants us to decide what to do with our money, not Washington,” Mrs. Brown said.

        “Under his plan we'll get tax relief and we, as parents and as a married couple, can decide how to spend that money instead of keeping it in Washington for some program that may have nothing to do with us.”

        Many of the speakers also implored the crowd to make sure they spread the word to get out the vote for Mr. Bush on Election Day.

        “It's going to be a very, very tight race that is going to go right down to the wire,” Mr. McConnell said. “And you don't win a close race as a Republican in Kentucky without a whopping majority in Northern Kentucky.”

        Mary Bunning, wife of Mr. Bunning, filled in for the senator in Burlington. He joined the bus tour in Midway after taking part in the dedication of an Ohio River bridge near Maysville, Ky.

        “I know in my heart,” Mrs. Bunning said, “that Northern Kentucky is going to come out big time for George W. Bush and Dick Cheney on Election Day.”


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