Gore urges local voters to support Democratic Party

by Megan Boldt

After cancelling his appearance Thursday, Vice President Al Gore urged a group of 150 supporters Friday night to keep Democratic legislators in power.
“I want your help. I want to fight for you,” Gore said to an audience of supporters, from carpenters to college students.
Former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale and Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn., also attended the event.
“Tonight we’re celebrating something very special in the Democratic Party,” Mondale said. “We’re united, and that doesn’t happen very often.”
Gore discussed issues from health care to education and spoke at length about the economy. Under Clinton, the economy has been strong, Gore said, and he will continue to increase the minimum wage and living standard.
Wellstone, who recently shifted his support to Gore after former New Jersey Sen. Bill Bradley’s retreat from the race, said Gore will continue to better higher education.
Increasing Pell Grants is the most important thing Gore could do for higher education, Wellstone said.
“We haven’t done that, and students are feeling it,” he said.
Students are taking six years to graduate because they are working so hard to get through school, he added.
Gore commended Bradley’s stance on campaign finance reform and attacked Bush’s use of “soft” money in his campaign.
“Soft” campaign contributions are indirect contributions from political parties and other independent organizations.
About 20 protesters from the University and Macalester College attempted to disrupt Gore’s appearance with signs and chants; two University students were ejected for disruptive behavior. They were protesting Gore’s family’s holdings in Occidental Petroleum Corp., whose oil drilling allegedly threatens an indigenous tribe in Colombia.
After the event, Gore met with the protesters and said he did not have the authority to sell his family’s stock in the company, said Kezia Wineberg, a Macalester student.
Gore also met with Gov. Jesse Ventura on Saturday morning in hope of gaining the attention of the independent voters Ventura attracted in the 1998 state gubernatorial election.
Gore promised to return to Minnesota at least once more before the November elections.

Megan Boldt covers government and welcomes comments at [email protected].