Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gore Plumbs Advantages of Incumbency ; Emerging from President's Shadow, He Is Boosted by Administration's Good News

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Gore Plumbs Advantages of Incumbency ; Emerging from President's Shadow, He Is Boosted by Administration's Good News

Article excerpt

In some cases, campaigning for the presidency from a cubicle just down the hall from the Oval Office is an enormous boost.

In others, it's an intolerable burden.

For most of the campaign, Vice President Al Gore's close ties to the White House have been more of a millstone, weighing him down with shades of scandal. But now, President Clinton is handing out goodies to Mr. Gore's camp like a grandparent at Christmas.

Whether it has been breathless news of a boundless budget surplus or the decision to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the administration recently has been doing its share to buoy Gore.

But how these announcements are playing with voters is far from certain. The opening of US oil reserves, for one, caused a bit of backlash, with some seeing bald politics behind the move. The way the White House handles further serendipitous policy decisions and "good news" bulletins will help shape Gore's prospects in a contest so tight that polls are flip-flopping practically weekly.

"You have two very dramatic realities in this race: peace and prosperity - and the residue of Clinton fatigue," says Paul Taylor of the Alliance for Better Campaigns here.

In just the past few weeks:

The White House Wednesday touted a bigger-than-dreamed-of budget surplus. "When Vice President Al Gore and I took office, the budget deficit was $290 billion," crowed Mr. Clinton. This year's surplus is now pegged at $230 billion.

On Tuesday, the White House trumpeted a new Census Bureau report that America's median family income has hit an all-time high - and that the poverty rate is nearing its lowest recorded level. As with the surplus announcement, the implication was clear: Clinton-Gore policies have spurred this progress.

Last week, the decision to release 30 million barrels of oil helped Gore grab headlines.

On Sept. 10, Gore warned entertainment executives that as president he'd give them six months to "clean up their act" and stop marketing violent movies and video games to children. The next day, the Federal Trade Commission released a report critical of the industry. …

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