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Awkward moment:
Hear George W Bush's gaffe in Stephen Sackur's report
 real 56k

John Bolton, American Enterprise Institute
"It's the kind of straight talking that has been a hallmark of his campaign"
 real 56k

New York Times bureau chief, Mike Oreskes
"Adam Clymer is an extremely experienced veteran journalist"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 5 September, 2000, 20:59 GMT 21:59 UK
Bush: No apology for gaffe
Bush and Cheney in Nashville Illinois
A whispered moment became a public affair
The Republican presidential candidate George W Bush has said he regrets the fact that people heard him make an insulting comment about a journalist, but he refused to apologise.

Adam Clymer
Adam Clymer: Disappointed in the governor's language
Just before a campaign speech in Illinois, Mr Bush said to his running mate Dick Cheney: "There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole from the New York Times."

Mr Bush later said he did not realise that live microphones were going to pick up the remark, but he stopped short of an actual apology.

A BBC correspondent says that the Texas governor appeared shaken by the gaffe, which came as he started the final phase of campaigning for November's election.

Not the first time

Asked if "calling people names" was part of the campaign, Mr Cheney said: "The governor made a private comment to me."

Mr Bush has been unhappy with several articles by Mr Clymer which were critical of his record.

Bushisms
"There's Adam Clymer, major league asshole from the New York Times"
"I understand small-business growth - I was one"
"Keep good relations with the Grecians"
In response Mr Clymer said: "I'm disappointed in the governor's language."

The BBC Washington correspondent, Philippa Thomas, says that the incident is every politician's nightmare and it has happened to the Texas governor before.

On the campaign trail on Tuesday, Mr Bush returned to his normal agenda, delivering a speech about making medical benefits more widely available.

Democrats' delight

But the Gore campaign was quick to seize on Mr Bush's mistake, with a spokesman declaring that the Democrats had high regard for journalists.

Al Gore
The Gore campaign took advantage of the mistake
"We hold virtually all members of the Fourth Estate in the highest regard and we believe they should be part of the democratic process day in and day out," Democratic spokesman Chris Lehane said.

"It's the second time in less than a week that the governor has broken his promise to 'change the tone' of the campaign.

"First, he used an ad to attack the vice-president in a very nasty and personal way, now he's used an expletive to attack a member of the working press," added Mr Lehane.

Key states

With nine weeks to go, both presidential candidates are engaged in a sweep across key battleground states.

Vice-president Gore himself has been speaking about his plans to sustain the nation's economic growth, after a weekend of non-stop campaigning.

In the last two weeks Mr Gore has been buoyed by opinion polls which show him pulling ahead of his rival.

A Newsweek poll on Friday showed Mr Gore on 49% to Mr Bush's 39% - with Green Party nominee Ralph Nader receiving 3% and the Reform Party's Pat Buchanan 1%.

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See also:

04 Sep 00 | Election news
White House race on home straight
04 Sep 00 | Election news
No clear leader on Labor Day
23 Aug 00 | Election news
Conventions give US race momentum
05 Sep 00 | Election news
Why Bushisms matter
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