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banner Wednesday, 20 September, 2000, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Bush kisses Oprah and tells all
George W Bush on the Oprah Winfrey Show
Bush confesses his drink problem to the Oprah
Following in the footsteps of his rival, United States Republican presidential candidate George W Bush has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show - and courted women voters with a kiss.

Thanks for the kiss

Oprah Winfrey
In what some observers have seen as a parody of Al Gore's passionate embrace of his wife at the Democratic convention in August, Mr Bush walked onto the talk show and planted a big kiss on the surprised Ms Winfrey's cheek.

"My pleasure," he purred when she thanked him.

Generally, Mr Bush's appearance on Oprah, in which he brought the full force of his renowned charm to bear, has received a good press in the US.

George W Bush on the Oprah Winfrey Show
Bush surprises Oprah with a kiss
The Texas governor presented himself as a redeemed sinner who gave up drink for his wife and family.

The kiss between Mr Gore and his wife Tipper appears to have been the turning point in the campaign so far. Since the kiss, Mr Gore has maintained a slim but consistent lead in the polls.

Struggle with the bottle

Mr Bush's erstwhile drinking problem was discussed at some length.

"Alcohol was beginning to compete for my affections - for my wife and my family," he said.

Bush favourites
Sandwich: Peanut butter and jelly on white bread
Song: Wake Up Little Suzie by the Everly Brothers
Historical figure: Winston Churchill
Dream: No reply, but a broad smile
The Republican candidate refused to confirm or deny that his wife had threatened to leave him if he did not stop drinking.

Asked what the most widely held misconception about him was, Mr Bush replied: "Probably that I'm running in my daddy's name. That if my name were George Jones, I'd be a country and western singer."

Chat shows

Appearances on the chat shows - including the rival Jay Leno and David Letterman shows - are now a crucial part of the presidential campaign.

Al Gore on the show a week ago
Gore relaxed with Oprah last week
The theory is that they allow a candidate to show his true self and reach out to swing or undecided voters who would not watch a more formal debate or political discussion programme.

The importance of such appearances is amplified by the fact that the highlights are endlessly replayed on other channels and news bulletins, giving the candidate hours of free air time.

Women's vote

The Oprah Winfrey Show has a regular audience of 22m people. Most of these are working or middle class women, a constituency that is seen as key in November's election. More women are registered to vote than men, and women are believed to be less committed to one party than men.

Al Gore is believed to have the women's vote sewn up. This was underlined by a relaxed and well received appearance with Oprah last week.

At this point in the campaign, Mr Bush is on the wrong side of the widest recorded "gender gap" in US electoral history.

Slightly behind in the polls, Mr Bush actually leads among male voters, but lags a long way behind among women.

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See also:

15 Sep 00 | Election news
Head-to-head for Bush and Gore
05 Sep 00 | Americas
Bush: No apology for gaffe
12 Sep 00 | Election news
Gore woos female vote
24 Aug 00 | Election news
Boost for Gore campaign
05 Sep 00 | Election news
Why Bushisms matter
18 Sep 00 | Election news
Bush seeks to close the gap
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