Al Gore says he'll have to earn every vote he gets, and judging by the current polls, that seems to be true. Bill Bradley is gaining on him in polls taken in New Hampshire, New York and New Jersey. Polls also show Gore trailing the Republican front-runner, Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Gore's biggest problem appears to be defining who he is, as CBS News Correspondent John Roberts reports.
"I never thought that this would come without a fight," Gore said on Saturday at the Democratic National Committee meeting. "I always expected a fight. I enjoy a good hard fight."
But despite his claims of rambunctiousness, he hadn't yet convinced New Hampshire voter Randy Filiault of Keene, where they both attended a Democratic Party picnic on Sunday.
"I think Bradley and Gore have touched on the issues equally well, but Gore has to overcome the perception that he's unelectable. I think that perception has helped Bradley," Filiault said.
After his arrival at the picnic, Gore joined in a volleyball game for a few minutes before launching into his campaign speech.
With his wife, Tipper, by his side, he sounded broad themes of "expanding the definition of human dignity" by reaching out to people with disabilities and others who face discrimination because of their race, sex, religion or sexual orientation.
Then, a bit more fired up, he listed some of his familiar goals, including a higher minimum wage, smaller school class sizes, broader access to preschools and more organizational power to labor unions.
He convinced State Rep. Gus Lerandean of Swanzey, who appreciates the seven years Gore has performed yeoman duty for Mr. Clinton.
"He just has that stick-to-it-ness," Lerandean said about Gore.
Lerandean doesn't put much faith in the polls this early and criticized Bradley for abandoning the Democratic Party when he left the Senate. He praised Gore for "being in the trenches so long and not jumping ship on us."
Gore was asked at the Democratic National Committee meeting if he felt frustrated that he didn't get credit for the policies and programs that were initiated in the Clinton Administration--yet he seems to carry the baggage of that scandal-plagued administration.
"This campaign is not about credit or blame for the past," he said. "It's about where we go in the future and how we get there."
Gore may not be dwelling on Mr. Clinton, but a report in Time magazine said that Gore's campaign is beginning to orchestrate attacks on Bradley.
Gore denies the report, but in recent weeks, Gore's supporters have criticized Bradley's past support of school vouchers that would give parents tax money to use for private schools and his proposed policy that would allow declared homosexuals to serve in the military.
But after the picnic on Sunday, Gore said he no longer considers himself the front-runner in New Hampshire.
"I'm the underdog n New Hampshire," he told The Union Leader of Manchester. "Because of what you and the news media have been covering in the pollsÂ…"