Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

And Now for the Fun

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

And Now for the Fun

Article excerpt

The torch has been passed. The speeches given. And as the crews begin to tear down the stage that hosted America 2000, as this convention was rather hyperbolically called, Al Gore's road looks complicated.

In Philadelphia, on the night of George W.'s big speech, there was talk of whether the candidate could "seal the deal" that night. This was always a ridiculous idea.

Americans are a tough sell. They hold their interest and support the same way they hold their remotes - at the slightest inkling of disinterest they are clicking away, looking for something better.

In the end, Mr. Bush got what he needed out of his trip to Philly. He received a little bounce and answered some questions when he didn't wilt during his speech.

And when the polls come out in the next few days they will probably show that Mr. Gore did the same here. But all of this is just the beginning of the fun part of this campaign - the stretch run - not the end.

Bush, a likeable character, is now left with the task of proving he's ready to be president. He has to show he knows the issues and explain his proposals for them. This is not simple. In the debates, in particular, where the scripts may not be completely gone but are at the very least pared down, he will have to show he can think on his feet.

But Gore's problem is harder. He has two missions.

Throughout the last four days, every journalist here was told about the need to re-introduce Gore to the American people. The focus on that point was so strong that at times you had to wonder why they didn't call the convention Cocktail Party 2000 and put Gore on stage with a "Hi, my name is ... AL" sticker on his suit jacket.

He has to continue doing this, humanizing himself by reminding people he has a life that began before he was Clinton's redwood backdrop.

At the same time, however, Gore knows his best chance to win in November is to focus as hard as he can on the issues, because that's where his strength is. …

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