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Thursday, October 14, 1999 Published at 01:49 GMT 02:49 UK

World: Americas

Union boost for Gore

Face-to-face: Presidential rivals Gore (left) and Bradley

US Vice-President Al Gore has received the backing of the influential AFL-CIO union federation in his bid to win the Democrat presidential nomination.

The resolution was approved by voice vote at the close of the AFL-CIO's biennial convention, with only two unions opposed - the Teamsters and United Auto Workers.

The federation chose Mr Gore over his only rival for the Democrat nomination, former US senator Bill Bradley.

It said that while Mr Bradley had the "respect of many and a good record, there is no question that Al Gore is the favourite".

The move helps Mr Gore's campaign financially - the AFL-CIO intends to spend about $40 million in the 2000 presidential and congressional elections - and organisationally, through its 13 million members.

"It's been a good week," Mr Gore said.

'Too early to vote'

The Teamsters and the United Auto Workers had refused to back Mr Gore because it was too far ahead of the November 2000 elections.

Teamster president James Hoffa said: "Our no vote is neither a criticism of the vice-president, nor a sign of support for senator Bradley.

"We should allow the local union officers to learn more about the candidates and their positions on the issues of important matters that deal with their working lives," he added.

Bradley catches up

Although Mr Gore is still favourite to win the Democrat nomination for next year's presidential election, he is being closely pursued by Mr Bradley.

[ image: Al Gore:
Al Gore: "A good week"
Since beginning his campaign, Mr Gore has been dogged by observations that he is stiff and boring.

The AFL-CIO's endorsement comes at a critical juncture for the vice-president, who has seen Mr Bradley gaining on him in recent days.

A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll showed on Monday that Mr Gore's lead in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination has shrunk to 12 points from 33 points one month ago.

And Mr Bradley is ahead in the key state of New Hampshire.

A Reuters/WHDH poll showed on Wednesday that the former senator had widened his lead in the state over Mr Gore to 8.5%, beyond the margin of error.

Mr Bradley was leading Mr Gore by 45% to 36.5% in the survey of 602 likely voters in the Democratic Party primary scheduled for 1 February.

The overall front-runner in the presidential race is Republican George W Bush, the eldest son of former President Bush and Texas Governor.

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