WASHINGTON, DC: With Vice President Al Gore lagging in the polls, the Veep's advisors have begun to fine-tune his PR thrust in the wake of George W. Bush's move to the center.
A Gallup poll taken last month showed Gore trailing Bush by nine percentage points, 50% to 41%. And while Democratic analysts insist the national numbers are less important than those from individual states (because of the Electoral College), they concede that there is an increasingly pressing need for Gore to sharpen his message.
'What Gore needs is to establish a positive rationale for his candidacy,' said Democratic consultant David Doak. He added that the best prescription for the VP is 'don't panic,' because a nine-point deficit at this early point in the campaign can easily be erased with a disciplined message.
Gore must first address the question of whether he would prove an effective leader. Of those polled by Gallup, 62% believe that Bush has the 'personality and leadership qualities a president should have,' while only 51% say the same about Gore.
Another issue that Gore must address is how to seize some credit for the Clinton-era economic climate while distancing him from Clinton the individual.
Highlighting the VP's good family relations and personal reputation for integrity will probably help. But Doak sees the VP profiting most from a 'keep a good thing going' message.