On The Road Again

Hoarse from his acceptance speech and just two hours of sleep, Al Gore landed Friday morning in the swing state of Wisconsin.

Drawing on favorite themes from Thursday night’s address to the Democratic convention, Gore wound up a crowd in LaCrosse, then boarded a Mississippi riverboat, reports CBS News Chief White House Correspondent John Roberts.

"This whole struggle is about the future of our country and what happens for working families," Gore told a campaign crowd of 5,000 in this small Wisconsin town on the banks of the Mississippi. "Don't ever forget that this is a struggle."

Gore and running mate Sen. Joe Lieberman, accompanied by their wives, will float through Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri on the "Mark Twain," slowly making their way downstream in a mode of travel reminiscent of the 19th century. Along the way, rallies are planned aboard and on shore.

"It's good luck to start the entire campaign in Wisconsin," said Gore, noting that President Clinton started his 1996 bid in that state, which has voted Democrat in the past three elections.

Mark Miles, a delegate from St. Charles, Mo., said he would meet Gore at the Democratic nominee's final paddlewheeler "dock-stop" in Hannibal, Missouri, in his 34-foot party barge.

"The uniqueness of this boat trip is attention-getting, since they usually do planes, trains and buses," he said, and that should play well elsewhere in the state. Republican George W. Bush leads in the most recent polls in Missouri, where Mr. Clinton won in 1992 and 1996.

Bob Tully, the Iowa Democratic chairman, said he'd meet the ticket in Dubuque. "It is a smart move on their part," he said. Iowa has gone Democratic in the past three presidential elections, but Gov. Tom Vilsac said Bush would win narrowly if the election were held now.

Bush, meanwhile, was busy campaigning in Gore's backyard of Tennessee, where he took an audacious swing the vice president's convention address.

“Last night we heard a laundry list of promises which I thought was an attempt to cover up old failures," said Bush. "Will we prolong four more years of Clinton-Gore or will we have a fresh start?”

Voters were reminded of the Clinton scandals Thursday, after a well-timed leak that a grand jury would investigate possible perjury charges against the president in the Monica Lewinsky case. Leaving on vacation, Mr. Clinton gave a thumbs up to Gore's performance, but said nothing about the leak. The Texas governor though, jumped at the chance.

"I don’t think its fair that someone leaked an internal memo or whatever was ever was leaked that would affect his night," said Bush. "He needed to have his night free and clear I thought.”

By most accounts, Gore's speech was the biggest moment of his political career. It appeared to satisfy delegates and went a long way to unifying the party. Whether it energizd voters is a question that will be answered with the results of weekend polls on Monday.

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