Strong kickoffs by Bush, Gore leave other hopefuls scrambling
From CNN Correspondent Beth Fouhy
June 20, 1999
Web posted at: 7:17 p.m. EDT (2317 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 20) -- In the days since Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore formally announced they were running for president, the face of campaign 2000 has been transformed.
Quayle: 'American people ... they're not interested in slick slogans'
Their strong campaign kickoffs last week echo polls showing both Bush and Gore far ahead in their party's respective fields. And that has left other candidates scrambling.
"What we're seeing early on is Democrats rallying around Al Gore, Republicans rallying around George Bush and the difficulty of anybody else to get any room in the race," says CNN political analyst Stuart Rothenberg.
However, candidates on the GOP side are elbowing for room by challenging Bush to say what he means by the phrase that has become the centerpiece of his campaign -- "compassionate conservatism."
"I think the American people want to have substance and not glitz. They're not interested in slick slogans," former Vice President Dan Quayle said Sunday on NBC's "Meet The Press."
"I don't know what compassionate conservatism is if it doesn't include protection for innocent unborn children," said candidate Gary Bauer on "Fox News Sunday."
Bauer, a religious conservative activist, has been critical of Bush's statement that he wouldn't require his judicial nominees to be against abortion rights.
Even President Bill Clinton got into the game during an interview on CNN's "Late Edition" Sunday, saying Bush's broad themes sound much like his own.
Bauer, a religious conservative activist, has been critical of Bush's stance on abortion
"His announcement speech was very well crafted and was strikingly reminiscent of what those of us who call ourselves New Democrats have been saying since 1991," Clinton said.
In contrast to Bush's broad themes, Gore has ticked off a list of specific policy proposals.
He is also trying to distinguish himself from Bush by stressing gun control in a week when the governor signed into law a measure preventing Texas cities from suing firearms manufacturers to recover the costs of gun-related violence.
Both Gore and Bush hit the campaign trail again this week. Bush travels up the East Coast and across to Michigan; Gore goes to California, a state with a mother lode of electoral votes.
With 17 months to go before the 2000 election, it is far too early to be calling this a Gore-Bush contest. Still, the next big test of strength will come at the end of the month, when candidates must file their latest fund-raising reports. That may indicate how many of the other candidates can hang on for the long haul.