Gore and Bush secure party tickets in primaries
The Vice President, Mr Al Gore, and Governor George Bush of Texas easily locked up enough delegates to assure their nominations for the Presidential election as voters went to the polls in six southern states yesterday.
Exit polls predicted that when the votes are counted in these primaries, Mr Bush will have 1,090 delegates and Mr Gore would have 2,540 which is far more than they need to become officially nominated at their party conventions next August.
With the withdrawal of former Senator Bill Bradley from the Democratic contest and Senator John McCain from the Republican, there was a low turn-out in the primaries in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Mississippi.
In a hopeful sign for Mr Bush, exit polls suggested that he ran stronger among Democratic voters than Mr Gore did among Republicans. Only six per cent of voters in Republican primaries said they would vote for Mr Gore in November but twice as many Democrats said they would defect to Mr Bush.
Mr Gore and his wife Tipper voted in his hometown of Carthage, Tennessee. He told schoolchildren who had gathered to watch that the election in November would be "a real choice between two different ways" of approaching problems like health care and unemployment.
Republican voters in Tennessee seem determined not to vote for their native son in November. Only four per cent said they would vote for him and 80 per cent expressed an unfavourable opinion of their one-time senator.
Mr Bush voted for himself by absentee ballot last week so that he could attend to state business in Texas. His father, the former president, Mr George Bush, voted in Houston. "It gets down to family and how lucky we are," Mr Bush said while insisting that his recent bout of irregular heartbeat was not connected with the stress of his son's presidential attempt.