Thursday, September 07, 2000

Daughter stands in for Gore

Ky.'s importance noted

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Kentucky's prominence in this year's presidential race was highlighted again Wednesday as Karenna Gore Schiff, the daughter of Democratic candidate Al Gore, made a campaign visit to Northern Kentucky.

[photo] Karenna Gore Schiff greets supporters as she arrives at a rally for her dad, Al Gore, in Newport.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
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        About 200 people crammed into a second-floor room at Newport's Millennium Monument Park — home of the World Peace Bell — to hear a 10-minute speech from the vice president's eldest daughter.

        Apologizing repeatedly for being 45 minutes late, Ms. Schiff — a recent law school graduate and mother of a 14-month-old son — shook hands with nearly everyone present and then gave individual interviews to about a dozen reporters following her early afternoon speech.

        “I already know who I am going to vote for,” Ms. Schiff said, drawing chuckles from the crowd. “And not just because (Mr. Gore) has been a wonderful dad.”

        Ms. Schiff said she is going to vote for her father because of his plans to expand health care coverage to all children, protect Social Security for future generations, pay down the national debt, improve education, implement a prescription drug plan for senior citizens and continue the country on its long-running economic expansion.

        “We have come a long way in the last eight years,” she said. “We've gone from the biggest (budget) deficits in history to the biggest surplus. We have 23 million new jobs. Crime rates are down. Millions of people have moved from welfare to work.

        “America is moving in the right direction.”

        During an interview, Ms. Schiff, 27, talked about her role in the campaign and how she has been stumping for her father across the country.

        “I am reaching out to young voters around the country,” she said. “Unfortunately, young people don't turn out in very large numbers to the polls. And that's something that my dad and his campaign really want to change, and I'm proud to be a part of that effort.

        “Of course, the issues at stake in this election really touch everyone, whether it's health care, education, environmental protection, civil liberties,” she said. “These are things that really matter to people across the spectrum.”

        Ms. Schiff was also asked about the now infamous kiss Mr. Gore gave his wife, Tipper, during the Democratic National Convention.

        “Did your parents kiss like that while you were growing up?” she was asked.

        After stammering for a moment, Ms. Schiff just smiled and said, “I got over being embarrassed about that a long time ago.”

        Throughout her speech and again during media interviews, Ms. Schiff talked about the importance of Kentucky in the presidential race.

        The last nine winning presidential candidates have carried Kentucky, giving the state a reputation as a bellwether, must-win state for both parties.

        Mr. Gore was in Louisville Monday. Republican George W. Bush was there last week.

        “Kentucky is going to play a huge role in this election,” Ms. Schiff said. “You're going to make the difference ... and we'll be back.”

        Ms. Schiff's appearance, as most presidential political events do, attracted a handful of sign-toting supporters and protesters.

        Janet Campbell, 52, of Florence, stood just off the curb and practically in the turn lane on Fifth Street as she waved a sign disapproving of Mr. Gore for supporting abortion rights.

        “Al Gore is for killing babies,” she said. “We don't need someone like him in the White House.”

        On the other side of the park's parking lot, more than a dozen organized labor leaders clad in black T-shirts held up signs supporting Mr. Gore.

        “Look at how the economy has done the last years,” said Joe Zimmer, who represents the 13,000 construction workers who belong to the Cincinnati Building Trades Council.

        “Unemployment is at an all-time low,” he said. “More people are making money, more working people are making money.”

        As Ms. Schiff talked with reporters on the elevated walkway leading to the Peace Bell, two Northern Kentucky Republican Party activists — GOP strategist Marc Wilson and state Republican Executive Committee member Jay Hall of Florence — held up signs backing Mr. Bush and bashing Mr. Gore.

        “(Ms. Schiff's) message just won't sell here in Northern Kentucky,” Mr. Hall said. “This is Bush country.”
- Daughter stands in for Gore
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