Vice President Al Gore called Thursday for tax cuts for businesses which invest in high-tech research and told a crowd in a state that is politically crucial and home to a growing high-tech industry that he'd "invest aggressively" to create information-age jobs.
"I'm going to be talking about my economic ideas in real specifics," Gore said, at an "issues forum" in New Hampshire, moving to build on his front-runner status in the Democratic presidential fight.
Gore brought his economic message to New Hampshire, site of the nation's first presidential primary. The centerpiece of Gore's economic proposals focused on incentives for research and development.
"I will craft these tax cuts specifically to help the small businesses and startups that are crucial to our high-tech future," Gore said. He pledged to "double our investment in information technology over five years."
The proposals came as Gore opened his first full day as an officially declared candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, speaking with about 300 people jammed into a college gymnasium for a detailed policy discussion.
Aides hope to contrast the opening of Gore's campaign with that of Texas Gov. George W. Bush, the Republican front-runner often criticized for being vague on the issues. In the process, Gore was sketching out his own agenda apart from President Clinton.
"I think we need to avoid the false assumption that we can keep the good times going just by wishing it would be so and not trying to be proactive," Gore said.
Gore's event was interrupted briefly by a group of protesters who chanted and waved signs urging greater assistance for AIDS victims in Africa. "I respect our tradition of free speech," Gore said, as protesters were hustled out.
Gore pointedly scheduled the first two events of his campaign in important early test states, Iowa and New Hampshire.
"There's a very lengthy list of specific and hard-hitting proposals to make this country a better place," Gore said. "I haven't heard any of the others support this."
Asked by reporters if he was seeking a contrast with Bush, Gore said: "That is a conclusion that is almost impossible to avoid, but I'll let you reach it."
Gore officially kicked off his run for the White House in his hometown of Carthage, Tenn., on Wednesday, with a theme of "the family crisis in America." He also called for individual responsibility in a speech in which he also began to distance himself from the scandals that have plagued President Clinton.
"It is our lives we have to master if we are going to remain as role models for our children," the vice president said.
Gore repeatedly insisted that parents must "master their own lives" before lamenting tragedies like school shootings.
Gore followed the Carthage announcement with a town-hall meeting n Iowa, where about 1,000 activists cheered an abbreviated announcement speech, and asked a few carefully scripted questions about bolstering schools.
On Thursday, he also was heading to New York, and then to California to show the flag in states that could help settle the nomination by early March.
In the Democratic fight, Gore faces a challenge only from former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley. He holds a wide lead in the polls, and some strategists argue that - absent an unforeseen event - the nomination is Gore's to lose.
Al Gore at a Glance
NAME - Albert Gore
AGE-BIRTH DATE - 51. Born March 31, 1948
EDUCATION - Degree in government, Harvard University, 1969; studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and Vanderbilt Law School.
EXPERIENCE - Army service in Vietnam; reporter with The Tennessean in Nashville; House of Representatives, 1977-1985; Senate, 1985-1993; vice president, 1992-present.
FAMILY - Wife Mary Elizabeth "Tipper." Children Karenna, 25; Kristin, 22; Sarah, 20; and Albert III, 16.
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