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morsels from Campaign 2000

Bobbing for votes

November 05, 2000

There was no doubt that Missouri state Rep. Betty Thompson was fired up last week as she introduced Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman to an eager St. Louis crowd.

"With Al Gore and Bob Lieberman, we will win on Nov. 7!" Thompson exclaimed.

The crowd's cheers quickly dissolved into puzzled silence, then the audience began chanting: "Joe! Joe! Joe! Joe!"

"We must pick up the flag!" Thompson went on. "Bob has picked up the flag!"

Exasperated supporters raised their voices: "Joe! Joe! Joe!"

This time, she seemed to hear them, referring to the Connecticut senator by his given name as she continued her introduction. But at the end of her speech, she proudly announced, "The next vice president of these United States, Bob Lieberman!"

"Bob, Joe," the Democratic vice presidential nominee said. "You can call me what you want, but just make sure you elect [Vice President] Al Gore and me next Tuesday!"

Thompson has spent the last month stumping around Missouri for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bob Holden. She attributed her slip to the "excitement" of introducing a vice presidential nominee.


Further name games: After giving Texas Gov. George W. Bush a ringing personal endorsement at a Saturday rally in Dearborn, Mich., local Teamster leader Larry Brennan proceeded to point out the GOP dignitaries joining the Republican presidential candidate on stage, including the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin L. Powell:

"You all know these folks up here," Brennan began. "You have the governor, John Engler. You've got Adam Clayton Powell, the ex-general."

Unlike Colin Powell, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. was a storied liberal, a longtime Democratic representative from Harlem. Dead since 1972, he was not in attendance Saturday.

Music man

Greg Simon, a Gore advisor, seems congenitally unable to get through the day without composing a song. Aboard Air Force Two, whatever his other chores, Simon produces ditties to match the mood and message of the day. Last week, as the campaign days grew ever longer, Simon crooned to reporters to the tune of The Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night." Here are two verses:

It's been a hard day's night

Working on the Gore campaign.

It's been some long night flights.

Get used to sleeping on the plane.

'Cause when election night comes,

And Al and Joe--oh have won,

You know we'll feel all right.

You know you work all day

To get your photos and write your lines.

And it hurts us all to watch you run

To catch the press vans and be on time.

But if you want something plush,

You better cover George Bush,

And you'll be done by nine.

Poll positioning

Despite declining voter turnout, election day in America was actually designated to get more people to the polls. November became the federal month of voting in 1845 because it was the most convenient time for farmers and rural workers to travel to the polls. Harvesting was over, but in most of the country, snow and rain had not yet clogged the roads.

Congress tapped Tuesday because most rural residents had to set out a day before election day to reach their county seat and doing so on a Sunday would have conflicted with worship.

Voting on the Tuesday after November's first Monday also keeps polling from falling on All Saints' Day, Nov. 1. Congress also worried that, because merchants tended to do their bookkeeping on the first, a sour month of business might influence their votes.

Signing off

Looking for New Orleans' local headquarters of the Bush-Cheney campaign? It's the house with the big Al Gore sign on the balcony.

When Republicans first moved in, they displayed their own banner above the front door. But a supporter of the Democratic presidential candidate who lived upstairs complained that the banner was too close to his balcony.

"We said it can't be seen unless it's above the door, so he said if we don't remove it he'll put up something to counteract it," said Peggy Gehbauer, the manager of New Orleans' Bush headquarters.

Amused residents and the media have photographed the dueling signs, which, as far as Gehbauer is concerned, is more a boon than bane.

The apartment's owner is a city firefighter who declined to give his name or speak to the media.

"It's worked against him because we have supporters who've never put a sign on their lawn for anything but they were aggravated by this so they're putting up whatever we give them," Gehbauer said.

"I'd really like to write him a thank-you note when this is all over."

Quote file

"Bush go home! Just don't drive."

--Handmade yard sign on the road to Saturday's Bush rally in Dearborn, Mich.

"I was born in Iran and I survived the Shah, Khomeini, Pete Wilson and now Gray Davis."

--Sara Amir, the Green Party candidate for California's 42nd Assembly District

seat, at a Friday night Ralph Nader rally in Long Beach.

Compiled by Massie Ritsch from Times staff and wire reports

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