COVER

BABY BOOM TICKET

CLINTON AND GORE SIGNAL THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW GENERATION OF AMERICAN LEADERS

ANDREW BILSKI July 20 1992
COVER

BABY BOOM TICKET

CLINTON AND GORE SIGNAL THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW GENERATION OF AMERICAN LEADERS

ANDREW BILSKI July 20 1992

BABY BOOM TICKET

COVER

CLINTON AND GORE SIGNAL THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW GENERATION OF AMERICAN LEADERS

They are both southerners, Ivy League university graduates, churchgoing family men and veteran political campaigners. They are also baby boomers, claiming the largest generation of American voters as their own. Last week, 45-year-old Arkansas Gov. William Clinton named 44-year-old Tennessee Senator Albert Gore as his running mate in the race to unseat President George Bush on Nov. 3. Similarities aside, Clinton and Gore are clearly confident that their differences will appeal to voters. A five-term populist governor, Clinton is well versed in domestic affairs, particularly economics and education. Gore, who spent four terms in the House of Representatives before winning election to the Senate in 1984 and again in 1990, is an expert in the fields of environment, foreign policy, defence and arms control. “We have worked for the past 12 years in different ways to [solve] the problems America now needs the president to solve,” said Clinton, referring to the Reagan and Bush era. “I think that’s a case we can make to the American people.”

Over the course of his campaign, Clinton has hammered away at Bush’s economic policies, vowing that a Democratic administration will take a sharp turn away from Reaganomics by investing substantial amounts of tax dollars to get recession-hit America working again (page 32). Now, with Gore on the ticket, the Democrats are also poised to go head-to-head with Bush’s running mate, Vice-President Dan Quayle, on the hot-button issues of family values and military service. The choice of Gore also signals the campaign’s focus on the South, which has voted heavily Republican in the past three presidential elections, as the key battleground. Although educated at Georgetown University, Oxford and Yale Law School, Clinton’s roots are firmly planted in Arkansas (page 26). Gore, a Harvard graduate who has spent much of his life in Washington, claims the Tennessee town of Carthage as his home. Said Merle Black, an expert on political strategy at Atlanta’s Emory University: “This is the raging moderate ticket, the southern, yuppie, middle-class, suburban ticket.”

Character: The choice of Gore could help allay voter concerns about Clinton’s character. While at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in the late 1960s, Clinton says, he tried, but “didn’t inhale,” marijuana—an explanation that earned him criticism as an equivocator. A question mark still hangs over how he managed to evade military duty during the Vietnam War. And allegations by Gennifer Flowers, a sometime lounge singer from Little Rock who claimed that she had a 12-year affair with

the married Clinton, cast him in the role of a womanizer. Clinton denied the charges. And the issue has partly receded because of public support from his corporate lawyer wife, Hillary, who has taken an active role as Clinton’s campaign adviser (page 34).

Gore, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988, is untainted by scandal. Although five years ago he freely admitted to smoking pot as a Harvard student (he did inhale), the disclosure brought no media scrutiny. The son of Democrat Albert Gore Sr., who spent 32 years representing Tennessee in the House and the Senate, Gore decided against coming to Canada as a draft dodger, joined the army in 1969 and served in Vietnam despite his— and his father’s—opposition to the war. That stands in stark contrast to the hawkish Quayle, who found a safe haven in the Indiana National

Guard. In a thinly disguised swipe at Quayle last week, Clinton said of Gore: “The man standing beside me today has what it takes to lead this nation from the day we take office.”

Gore, a devoted father of four, also brings a pro-family element to the ticket. Last August, he cited family reasons for his decision not to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination. “I would like to be president,” he said at the time. “But I am also a father, and I feel deeply about my responsibility to my children.” Gore’s son, Albert m, had only recently recuperated from surgery to correct nerve damage sustained in a 1989 hit-and-run auto accident. Meanwhile, Gore’s wife, Mary Elizabeth (Tipper), led a campaign that forced the music industry to put warning labels on records whose lyrics deal with sex, drugs or violence. That may also provide a counter to Quayle, who carries the familyvalues banner for the White House.

Gore’s 16 years on Capitol Hill could prove invaluable to outsider Clinton. “If Clinton is the president he will be working with a legislature controlled by his own party,” said political analyst Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution, a nonpartisan Washington think-tank. “And it will be particularly useful to have someone who truly understands that body and can interpret it for him, and in turn interpret him to the legislature.” Clinton said that Gore would play “a leadership role” in a Democratic administration: “I’m going to send him to Capitol Hill to take the lead in passing our program in the first 100 days.”

Acid rain: Based on Gore’s voting record in Congress, a Democratic victory in November would also give Canada a strong ally. Gore is a prominent environmentalist who supported the U.S. Clean Air Act that led to the landmark acid-rain accord signed by Ottawa and Washington last year. And at last month’s United Nations Earth Summit in Brazil, Gore urged Bush, although unsuccessfully, to join Canada in signing a treaty to protect plant and animal species, and another to cut the world’s carbon dioxide levels. He also voted in favor of the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement in 1988, and on giving the White House “fast-track” approval to negotiate a North American trade deal.

The last Democratic ticket to win the White House, Jimmy Carter of Georgia and Walter Mondale of Minnesota in 1976, did so with heavy southern support. But by breaking the political tradition of choosing a running mate from a different region of the country, Clinton runs the risk of alienating many non-southern voters. Said Emory University’s Black: “From outside the South, people may find it hard to tell Clinton and Gore apart.” As political pundits are wont to ask, will it play in Peoria? Clinton is clearly convinced that his gamble in picking a running mate from a neighboring state will pay off on election day, opening the way for the Clinton-Gore team to turn the United States in new directions.

ANDREW BILSKI with correspondents’ reports