Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Foreign News Overshadows U.S. Race Bush, Gore Adding Issues to Strategy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Foreign News Overshadows U.S. Race Bush, Gore Adding Issues to Strategy

Article excerpt

DETROIT -- With sad eyes, Kathy Jackson gazes at a bank of newspaper boxes and their screaming headlines. Detroit Free Press: "Day of Violence." Detroit News: "U.S. vows to avenge act of terrorism." Lansing State Journal: "Violence Rocks Mideast."

The Lansing store clerk points to the murderous row of headlines and says, "That is what I'm thinking about today. Not politics, for God's sake."

Dramatic news overseas froze the presidential campaign, if only briefly, as Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush struggled to incorporate these events into campaign strategy typically heavy on domestic issues.

The suicide bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen and tensions between Israel and Palestinians captured the attention of voters just as the candidates tried to gain momentum from the second of three debates. The final face-off is Tuesday in St. Louis, where the twin crises and a town hall format are expected to mute the candidates' attacks.

"The events overseas froze the race," said Bush strategist Karl Rove, whose candidate had been gaining on Gore in several key states.

But with less than a month until Election Day, the candidates are obliged to plug away whether the public is glued to the race or not.

Bush discussed cancer research in Grand Rapids and energy policy in Pontiac, warning auto workers that a Gore administration would cost them jobs. The vice president tried to gain traction with attacks on Bush's record as Texas governor.

"You can see my opponent's priorities by what he has done in five-and-a-half years as governor of Texas," Gore said yesterday, telling several thousand supporters in an outdoor rally in Detroit that one in 10 uninsured children in America live in Texas.

Behind the scenes, Bush tweaked his electoral strategy and Gore overhauled his. The vice president has lowered his sights, citing a stiffer-than-expected challenge from Bush and the GOP's huge spending advantage.

Gore's original electoral map blueprint print had him competing in nearly two dozen states, giving his campaign a comfort zone that would put him well past the 270 electoral votes needed to win. …

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