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Monday, 21 August, 2000, 10:59 GMT 11:59 UK
Gore rides poll boost
Gore and Lieberman
The Democrat challengers held four rallies in 12 hours
Al Gore, the Democratic candidate for the US presidency, is continuing his campaign in America's key battleground states as he rides an upsurge in the opinion polls.

On Monday, he plans to reiterate his populist message by presenting his tax plan, which aims to help working families by providing them with various tax incentives and breaks.

A poll for Newsweek magazine over the weekend said Mr Gore had 48% of the electorate behind him compared with Republican rival George W Bush's 42% - the first time the vice-president has pulled ahead of his rival since June.

Al Gore and his wife Tipper during a campaign rally
Mr Gore and his wife Tipper celebrated her birthday aboard the Mark Twain
The 52-year-old Democrat challenger and his running mate, Joseph Lieberman, are winding up a four-day swing aboard a riverboat on the Mississippi by meeting middle-class families to propose tax breaks for child care, elderly care and college tuition.

They plan to push the proposals aboard the Mark Twain and at open meetings during stops later on Monday in Illinois and Missouri.

Mr Gore's "bounce" of popularity follows last week's Democratic convention in Los Angeles.

Tax battle

Less than two weeks ago, he had trailed Mr Bush by double-digit margins.

Correspondents say it is too soon to draw conclusions from the poll but they say the numbers, which have a 4% margin or error, are the first hard evidence of what analysts have been predicting - that the race will get much closer before 7 November.

Al Gore
Things are looking up for the vice-president who has pulled ahead in the polls
Mr Gore is expected on Monday to take a swipe at the centrepiece of his rival's campaign - a proposal which projects a $1.3 trillion tax reduction over 10 years.

The vice-president, whose tax proposals would go towards write-offs, says Mr Bush's reduction in tax rates would benefit the rich at the expense of the middle class.

Mr Gore is also planning a media blitz on Monday, presenting his proposals on national television programmes.

On Sunday, Mr Gore and Mr Lieberman left behind their riverboat to barnstorm four US heartland towns.

Armed forces

"The stakes have never been higher," Mr Gore told some 3,000 cheering well-wishers, who interrupted his speech with roaring chants of "Go, Al, Go!"

Earlier, the two Democrats had told a crowd in Dubuque, Iowa, that they would keep the focus on the family and the middle class.

For his part, Mr Bush is planning to renew his promise to review foreign deployments of US troops, which he says are often expected to take on too many responsibilities with too few resources.

Observers say this, plus a promise to raise military pay, is an attempt by the 54-year-old governor to cast himself as a champion of America's armed forces.

He is scheduled to address the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Milwaukee.

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See also:

18 Aug 00 | Americas
Gore stands as his 'own man'
18 Aug 00 | Americas
Mixed reviews for Gore
18 Aug 00 | Americas
Analysis: Gore reinvents himself
16 Aug 00 | Americas
Clinton passes torch to Gore
15 Aug 00 | Americas
Picture gallery: The Democrat show
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