Gephardt Endorses Gore in N.H.

MANCHESTER, N.H.--With a key party endorsement in hand, Vice President Al Gore '69 kicked off his undeclared presidential campaign yesterday with a rally in the nation's first primary state.

House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), who decided only last month not to run for president and instead to concentrate on returning Democrats to power in the House, joined Gore at the rally to announce he would support his former colleague in the 2000 election.

Gore has not formally announced his candidacy but is the clear frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, according to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll released yesterday. Only one other candidate--former senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey--is currently contesting Gore for the nomination.

In his speech, delivered in the sweltering auditorium of a Manchester art museum, the vice president set out the goals he said would be the foundation of a Gore presidency.

While Gore hammered home familiar Democratic themes of environmental protection and health care reform, he said education would be his top priority.

"We need not evolutionary but revolutionary change to public education," Gore said. He said the government should hire more teachers and reduce the national student-teacher ratio to 20 to 1.

Gore also said he would try to strengthen Medicare and Social Security programs.

About 300 spectators made their way through yesterday's snowstorm to the packed auditorium--a gathering that included locals, dozens of reporters and a contingent of Boston-area college Democrats, including the Harvard College Democrats.

"I was glad to see the show of solidarity between Gephardt and Gore," said Erin B. Ashwell '02, a member of the College Democrats who attended the rally. "I thought it was a good way to get people interested in his campaign."