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The BBC's Philippa Thomas
"The candidates insist they are not going negative"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 10 October, 2000, 13:28 GMT 14:28 UK
Gore v Bush: Now it's personal
Al Gore in bookshop
Bookish but does Al Gore know fact from fiction
A fresh round of personal attacks from both main candidates has raised the temperature of the US presidential election.

As opinion polls show Al Gore and George W Bush neck and neck, the Republican campaign said their opponent had consistently "made up things, exaggerated and embellished facts".

The Democrats have hit back with a website called "Bush Lite" devoted to Mr Bush's record of gaffes and tongue-tied stumbles.

George W Bush
Democrats say George W is more likely to put his foot in it
The messages, ahead of Wednesday's second television debate, are clear: just like his president, you can't trust Al Gore; and George W Bush is too stupid for the job.

Although most commentators thought Mr Gore was the narrow victor in the first, 90-minute televised debate last week, most polls are unable to separate the two candidates.

The worst news for the Gore camp came with the weekend's US Today/CNN/Gallup survey, which showed Mr Bush ahead by 49-41.

Tongue trouble

They have hit back with a concerted attack on the Texan governor's intellect and his record in the Lone Star State.


George W said that a moratorium on the death penalty is not needed in Texas. However, George W did say that he might take some time off and find out what the word "moratorium" means.

Late Night with Conan O'Brien
Mr Gore's campaign spokesman Chris Lehane said Mr Bush had so far "failed to meet even Dan Quayle standards", referring to George W's father's vice president who famously misspelled potatoes.

On the Democrat National Committee's Bush Lite website, they highlight the Republican candidate's tendency to trip over foreign names, including various attempts to pronounce former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic as "Milosevick", "Milosevix", and "Vilosovich".

And the latest Gore television adverts show a smoggy city skyline with the message "There's nothing wrong with your screen. What you're seeing is the worst smog in America. The city: Houston, Texas."

"Serial exaggerator"

The Bush camp, meanwhile, are trying to characterise their opponent as a "serial exaggerator".


Al Gore is excited about the next debate. In preparation, he says he's made up five brand new stories. Five big fibs he's dying to tell.

The Late Show with David Letterman
"It is very troubling that Al Gore deals with pressure by making up facts and exaggerating," said Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett.

Mr Bush's joke during the televised debate that he wondered if Al Gore might claim to have invented the calculator as well as having been instrumental in the invention of the internet played well with voters.

Continuing the theme, the Bush campaign highlights Mr Gore's false claim during last week's debate that he visited an outbreak of fires in Texas in the company of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director James Lee Witt.

Mr Gore says the incidents are mistakes and not embellishments.

Comic candidates

But as the attacks get more personal, they could end up damaging both candidates' reputations, rather than persuading voters to switch to either candidate.

News sources
50% of US adults get information on candidates from entertainment TV like MTV News or Saturday Night Live
This rises to 80% for those under 30
Television chat show hosts are mining a rich vein of material from the respective campaigns.

On The Late Show with David Letterman: "Al Gore is excited about the next debate. In preparation, he says he's made up five brand new stories. Five big fibs he's dying to tell."

And Late Night with Conan O'Brien: "George W. said that a moratorium on the death penalty is not needed in Texas. However, George W. did say that he might take some time off and find out what the word `moratorium' means. He'll look into it."

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See also:

10 Oct 00 | Americas
White lies may cost Gore
04 Oct 00 | Americas
Al Gore 'wins' TV debate
04 Oct 00 | Americas
Gore and Bush lock horns
04 Oct 00 | Americas
Students' views on the big debate
04 Oct 00 | Americas
Analysis: Few sparks, little drama
06 Oct 00 | Americas
VP candidates play nice
06 Sep 00 | Americas
US networks relish Bush's gaffe
05 Sep 00 | Election news
Why Bushisms matter
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