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Va. governor campaigns for Bush in Pa.

October 13, 2000

Va. governor campaigns for Bush in Pa.



By DON AINES / Staff Writer, Chambersburg

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer

Va. Gov. James GilmoreCHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush was getting some help from fellow GOP governors Thursday in his effort to close a gap with Vice President Al Gore in the battle for Pennsylvania's 23 electoral votes.

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While the Texas governor was in Bucks County with Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, Virginia Gov. James Gilmore was stumping for him at a Chambersburg restaurant appropriately named considering the occasion: The Texas Lunch.

"I'm here because Pennsylvania is absolutely key in this race," said Gilmore, who headed for Altoona, Pa., after his appearance in Chambersburg. "We will carry Pennsylvania if the rank and file get out there" and energize the base, he said.

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"The latest polls we saw were showing him behind three or four points," Gilmore said to a group of several dozen GOP activists. "It could mean we're in a virtual dead heat here in Pennsylvania" because the gap is within the polls' margin of error, Gilmore said.

"I'd rather be on the upside, but it's pretty good," Gilmore said. State Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin, said the race was "nip and tuck," but Bush appeared to be closing the gap since the first debate.

The morning after the second debate between Bush and Gore, Gilmore put his spin on the outcome. "The truth is the debates are pivotal and our guy is winning the debates," he said.

"Last night was actually a forum that was even more comfortable for George Bush," Gilmore said of the forum that had the candidates sitting together at a table rather than standing at podiums. He said Bush spoke with "authority" on foreign policy issues.

Virginia is considered to be in the Bush column for the November election. Gilmore was elected in 1997 and for the first time in Virginia's history, both its House of Delegates and Senate have Republican majorities. "We're becoming more Republican all the time," Gilmore said.

The election, however, could turn on the outcome in a few pivotal states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri. Although some of those states have popular Republican governors, various polls show they are either in the Gore or toss-up columns with three weeks before the election.

Gilmore touched on several of the hot button issues in the election. On Bush's proposed tax cut, Gilmore said Bush "doesn't believe in taking everything from everybody and leaving politicians to decide" how their money should be spent.

"It isn't a matter of just throwing money at it," Gilmore said of education. He said Bush wants "quality and accountability" in education.

"The old way of doing Social Security is very troublesome," he said. Bush supports allowing people to invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in private investments. Gilmore said that would allow those people to reap the benefits of a strong economy.

About President Clinton's decision to release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Oil Reserve, Gilmore said, "It's not good to play politics with the nation's security... That Al Gore is dropping in the polls is not a national crisis."

Gilmore said Gore recently reaffirmed his beliefs in what he wrote in his book "Earth in the Balance," which Gilmore said "calls for dramatic increases in the cost of fossil fuels" and would be detrimental to Pennsylvania's coal industry.

"You can have economic development consistent with a clean environment," Gilmore said.

Gilmore urged those at the restaurant to get out the vote in the predominantly Republican county and try to swing undecided voters. "Pennsylvania could be decided by a thousand votes," he said.

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