Gore denies lying after `Love Story' claim

 

The US Vice-President, Mr Al Gore, has rejected Republican attacks on his credibility as opinion surveys show that Governor George Bush is making up lost ground, and even drawing ahead in some polls.

The two candidates are today preparing for their second debate, due on Wednesday. In the first debate Mr Gore left himself open to Republican criticism that he is prone to lying, or misrepresenting his record or that of his opponent.

A new poll shows that over 60 per cent believe Mr Gore "will say anything to get elected", compared with 46 per cent who believe that about Mr Bush.

Mr Gore angrily rejected this criticism at the weekend. He said he "did not want to get into each and every one of those . . . These are negative personal attacks of the kind I simply do not engage in."

But Republicans keep hammering away at what they call the "Gore credibility problem", and are encouraged by Mr Bush's rise in the polls. The Republican House majority leader, Mr Dick Armey, said on Fox News Sunday that "Bill Clinton had eight years of sort of making up things and getting away with it. This Vice-President thinks he can duplicate that."

The Bush campaign communications director, Ms Karen Hughes, said that Mr Gore "is gaining a reputation as a serial exaggerator. The Vice-President has consistently and repeatedly made up things, exaggerated, embellished facts, and that's a warning sign."

As examples Republicans point to a claim by Mr Gore in the first debate that he had accompanied the head of the government emergency agency, Mr James Lee Witt, to inspect fires in Texas in 1996. Mr Gore was simply briefed on the fires when he was in Texas two years later.

In the debate he also spoke of a girl who had to stand in her science class in Sarasota, Florida, because there were not enough desks. But the girl had to stand only on the first day of term, because new computer equipment had not been unpacked.

Other examples include his claim that he and his wife, Tipper, were the models for the book and film, Love Story, that he invented the Internet, that he saw combat in Vietnam where he was an Army journalist, and that his mother-in-law pays more for anti-arthritic drugs than his dog.

Mr Dick Cheney, who is on the Bush ticket, said last week that Mr Gore had "an uncontrollable desire periodically to add to his reputation."

In the latest CNN/USA Today daily tracking poll, Mr Bush leads Mr Gore by 48 to 41 points. A week earlier Mr Gore led by 11 points. A Reuters/MSNBC tracking poll by Gallup has Mr Gore ahead by two points. His lead a week ago was six points.