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CAMPAIGN 2000

Gore Holds Cash Edge Over Bush

September 23, 2000|From the Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Vice President Al Gore enters the final phase of the election with a $10-million advantage over Republican George W. Bush, an edge the Gore team plans to use to blanket the airwaves in key states between now and election day.

The financial gap comes as the Texas governor is struggling to regain his lead in the polls and calm party leaders who fear he has squandered precious time and money since the Republican National Convention.

Bush's heavy spending during August--$21 million to Gore's $11 million--is significant because both candidates began the general election with the same amount of public funding, about $67 million apiece.

Bush allies say his money gap can be bridged in part by the Republican National Committee, which has a large cash advantage over its Democratic counterpart. Still, Bush's quick spending during a month in which his advantage in the polls evaporated has raised questions among some of his own supporters about the GOP nominee's judgment.

"The fact that they spent one-third of their resources in August, which was a devastatingly poor month, is shocking," said one Republican strategist who has spoken to frustrated GOP governors in recent days.

Although Bush has proved to be a prodigious fund-raiser, collecting almost $105 million for his primary effort, several Republicans questioned Friday how he has spent his money.

"He spent close to $75 million to win the nomination," said one Washington Republican. "It was a mistake that they couldn't put Gore away in some of those Midwest, suburban swing areas in the spring and summer," when Gore's primary bank account was severely depleted.

Tad Devine, a senior Gore advisor, said he plans to use the campaign's unexpected cash advantage on last-minute television commercials. "We have two campaigns that were given the same amount of money, and one campaign now has a lot more of it to spend between now and election day," Devine said. The $10 million, he added, "is a lot of money in a week or 10-day period."

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