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CAMPAIGN '88 : Alabama's Heflin Gives Gore Key Endorsement

February 23, 1988|Ron Harris

Democratic presidential candidate Albert Gore Jr. won the support Monday of a Senate colleague, Howell Heflin, a Southern conservative whose endorsement Gore campaign officials hope will boost their campaign in Heflin's home state, Alabama, one of 20 Super Tuesday states holding contests March 8.

Heflin said in a Washington press conference that he regarded Gore of neighboring Tennessee as the most electable of the Democratic candidates and "strong on national defense." But many of his remarks highlighted the difference between Heflin's conservative record in Congress and that of Gore.

Gore has positioned himself to the right of his rivals on defense and foreign policy issues but has a voting record that critics say is more liberal than his rhetoric suggests. The American Security Council, a conservative Washington think tank, rated Heflin a 100 in 1986, meaning his votes on selected defense issues agreed with that group's 100% of the time. Gore had a 40 rating, still much higher than his Democratic rivals.

"He's not too far to the left but I've got to bring him to the middle a little bit," Heflin said. "I'm going to work on him."

Heflin said Gore has a "down home, centralist philosophy" and is "the only Democratic candidate in this race who can carry the South in November."

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