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Gore Appears on Letterman

Lead strengthens as media appearances grow

By Brian Loux

Presidential candidate Al Gore appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman last Thursday night.

Gore entered the Ed Sullivan Theater and was met by a standing ovation. Gore proceeded to walk over to an audience member who earlier in the show identified himself as a Texan who loved his governor and struck up a brief conversation with him. Letterman quipped, “You never miss an opportunity for a vote, do you?”

The vice president appeared noticeably laid back, confident, and most importantly humorous. Both the audience and the majority of those who saw the show at home noticed and approved of Gore’s performance on camera.

Gore’s confidence was well founded, as the most recent polls show Gore and Bush in a dead heat as opposed to Bush’s substantial lead in the polls before the conventions. As well, on single issue polls, Gore has come from behind to take commanding leads on being the candidate most qualified to handle the budget, help the economy grow, and provide the best education for American schools.

One thing that has so far separated the campaigns of George Bush and Al Gore, especially after their respective national conventions, has been the type of public appearances. While Gore has jumped at almost every chance to appear on television, Bush has stuck to campaign trails and rallies.

Gore’s running mate, Joseph Lieberman, appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart the same night as Gore was on Letterman. Gore also appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show the day before the Letterman show and the Tonight Show with Jay Leno early in the campaign. Bush’s most recent network television appearance (not counting the convention) was on the David Letterman show during the Republican primaries via satellite. The appearance did not work as well as it did for other political figures; the audience booed one of Bush’s jokes about Letterman’s recent heart surgery.

Since the conventions, Letterman has since tried to organize a debate between Gore and Bush on his show. Gore replied within two days, saying he would debate. George Bush did not reply for weeks despite the constant prodding of executive producer Maria Pope, and Bush is still pondering his choice. Letterman has since joked about Bush every night during a segment of the show called “Campaign 2000.”

While some of the discussion focused on Bush, Gore mostly mentioned his own gaffes, such as his long kiss with Tipper at the convention. “Honestly Dave. To me, that was just a peck,” Gore said. He also focused on his eight years as vice president and the environmental goals he would like to accomplish as President.

Letterman and Gore discussed their views on global warming with great detail, leading to each calling the other a wonk.

Following Hillary Clinton’s lead, Gore made his own Top Ten List. The topic was “Failed Gore/Lieberman Campaign Slogans.” Along with some Bush cracks, Gore also made some Lieberman jokes, and also said, “America, I gave you the Internet, and I can just as easily take it away.”

Gore’s only rough spot was his discussion on Wen Ho Lee. Gore struggled to come up with something significant but acceptable from an executive official, which he found difficult “because this is an ongoing legal investigation.” Letterman was quick to steer the conversation to topics with more potential.

The interview ended with Gore promising to return for the election eve debate. Letterman also added that there was hope, since Bush called earlier that day to say he was considering whether or not he would participate.

Look for both candidates to make public appearances much more often as the campaign proceeds. There have been three national debates scheduled, the first to take place on October 3rd at the JFK library in Boston. The Boston debate will be a two podium format.