BOSTON--In an address to 130 core Democratic fundraisers last night, Vice President Al Gore '69 returned to his favorite line of attack against his Republican rival, George W. Bush, calling the Texas governor's tax cut an economic "illusion."
Mixing new rhetoric about Republican economic values into his standard stump speech, Gore cast his opponent's plan in extreme terms, saying Bush's tax cut would either erase the federal budget surplus or take money away from needed social programs.
He said Americans were wise to such "risky tax schemes," which Gore branded "the politics of illusion."
When Ronald Reagan proposed tax cuts and increases in defense spending in the 1980s, Gore said, "confidence in America's stewardship and self-governance was lost." He said foreign investors began to look elsewhere for growth opportunities and domestic business owners could not do much to expand their businesses.
Bush's "two trillion dollar" tax cut plan would similarly "undermine confidence, instantly increase interest rates and take us back to deficit spending," Gore said.
In the past, Bush advisers have accused the vice president of rewriting economic history. Though Gore back then voted against most Reagan-sponsored economic measures, many of his Democratic colleagues did not, supporting, they said, the sound fundamentals of tax cuts.
Most of the speech adhered to Gore's normal campaign event script.
Invoking Monday's deadly shooting at the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., Gore accused Bush of pandering to the pro-gun lobby. "What does it take?" Gore asked to applause.
Near the end of the speech, Gore emphasized the importance of the upcoming election to Democrats--who hope to retake the House of Representatives--and the path the Supreme Court will take in the future.
"The majority may determine how our Constitution is interpreted for 30 or 40 years," Gore said, noting the next President might appoint as many as four judges to the bench.
Though the election season is too early for Bush to gloat about the polls, Gore trails the Texas governor nationally by about 10 points. Gore tacitly acknowledged last night he faces a fight in the months ahead.
Though he said he would clearly win if the election were decided solely on the issues, he said that "there's a second factor that determine the outcome of elections."
"And you can call intensity and you call it commitment and you can call it determination, you can use any word to describe it," he continued. "What it comes down to is what you feel inside how hard are you willing to fight.
The other side [is] committed, they are working hard, they're going to throw everything including the kitchen sink into this, and they've got blood in their eyes."
Gore mentioned President Clinton's name only once in the 15-minute address.
About 120 fundraisers, including Elaine Kamarck, a professor at the
Kennedy School of Government and top Gore policy adviser, packed into a small banquet hall at the hotel. His daughter, Sarah L. Gore '01, who has taken a more public role in the campaign in recent months, sat at his side and was referred to by two introductory speakers.
In observance of the Passover holiday, kitchen staff served matzo instead of dinner rolls, leading to crunchy interludes between speakers last night. But those in attendance didn't seem to mind.
According to a Gore press aide, the dinner raised more than $750,000 for the party.
Gore did try a few jokes. He asked a man in the audience with eight grandchildren to "give me some advice afterwards, sir, I need some help. I'm a rookie." A minute later, he said that his grandson, now 10 months old, has already learned two languages. "I don't understand either of them," he said.
Few laughed, but the vice president smiled broadly and continued.
He was familiar with his audience, as he has held three Boston fundraisers with similar attendees in six months.
Gore will return to the city on Sunday, making what press secretary Chris Lehane said would be a foreign policy address.