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'Clinton Fatigue' Hurting Gore

It sounds so good on paper, a candidate's dream, reports John Henning of CBS station WBZ-TV Boston: A robust economy, budget surpluses, and an era of peace. But Americans aren't necessarily feeling so rosy about the Clinton years - and that may spell trouble for vice president Al Gore.

Gore's prospects could be suffering from "Clinton fatigue."

"'He has done a fine job, we don't want any more of him,' and that feeling taints those around him, including the vice president," said Gore biographer Bob Zelnick.

After years of toiling in President Clinton's shadow, the vice president should be able to capitalize on the administration's positive achievements. Gore might not have that option. There could be a strategic split, and Gore would decline any aid from the President on the campaign trail.

Gore biographer Bob Zelnick

"There is that schizophrenia built into the Gore campaign," said Zelnick. "On the one hand, he is trying to embrace the Clinton record for his own purposes. On the other hand, he is trying to distance himself from the personal Bill Clinton."

In a forum in Dover, N.H., last week, Laurrie Malizia challenged Gore on the president's morals.

The 42-year-old administrative assistant said she was disappointed in President Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Malizia declared she was looking for a leader who was "an honest man but a moral man," and with her 14-year-old daughter, Kendra, seated by her side, she stated: "I want your viewpoint on that."

Gore, his voice dropping noticeably, replied: "I want to take my own values of faith and family to the presidency. I understand the disappointment that you feel, and I felt it myself. I think most people want to look to the future, turn that page and move on. So, all I can do is tell you about myself and about my commitment to you."

With that, Gore recounted his personal history, his 29-year marriage and spoke proudly of his four children and first grandson, born on the Fourth of July.

Asked what impressed her, Malizia replied: "The fact that he looked at me straight in the eyes. The fact that he seemed disappointed in the actions of the president."

But Malizia says she's still not sure she'll vote for Gore.

Correspondent John Henning of WBZ-TV

Gore hopes the administration's record will outweigh the President's personal foibles.

"I think people will look back on the strong economy, on the lower crime rate, and the record of accomplishment," said Gore. "In the light of history, I think they'll see his presidency as a great success."

That may not be enough in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, and Zelnick says with only one opponent, that could be trouble for Gore.

"There is all the anti-Clinton/Gore sentiment, and that can flow into the campaign of Bill Bradley rather than being diffused among several candidates," he told WBZ-TV.

©1999 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report