Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

For Vice President Gore, Candor Is Best Choice Fund-Raising Allegations

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

For Vice President Gore, Candor Is Best Choice Fund-Raising Allegations

Article excerpt

DEAR Mr. Vice President: A little over a year ago, you met with a group of journalists in Chicago a few hours after delivering an impassioned attack on tobacco interests at the Democratic National Convention.

You had hardly sat down with us before you had to deal with a barrage of questions. They came down to this: How could you be a credible critic of Big Tobacco and the terrible damage you feel it has done to our society while having continued to raise tobacco on your land?

You calmly gave this response: You had simply been very slow to believe that tobacco was a killer - that it had taken the tobacco-related death of a sister to waken you to the truth. And you have awakened, you told us, and with that awakening has come the certainty that tobacco is a villain that must be destroyed. Your plea of being a slow learner when it came to accepting the destructive nature of tobacco found ready acceptance in our group. There were probably many other slow learners about tobacco's destructive effects among those 50 political writers sitting around the table at the Monitor-sponsored lunch. Your tobacco problem - of talking one way but acting in a contradictory way - could have caused you immense difficulties. It had the smell of hypocrisy. But you dealt with your problem openly and forthrightly - talking with reporters who would pass your explanation along to readers all over the country. You candidly told us that you had made a big mistake about tobacco but that you had switched your position, and with a vengeance. When people read what you said to us, they seemed to understand your position. Indeed, I think you put to rest that noon a problem that would inevitably have grown to career-threatening proportions, since your major political asset - a reputation for integrity - was in question. That leads us to your principal current problem, which doubtless is a much bigger one: the charge from your critics that you broke the law when you made dozens of calls from the White House to raise money from big political contributors. Your reputation for being "Mr. Clean" is under severe attack. …

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