Gore Accuses Dole of Engaging in the "Politics of Pinocchio."
by Ron Fournier of The Associated Press, June 16, 1996.
WASHINGTON (AP)--In an unusually harsh attack on President Clinton's campaign rival, Vice President Al Gore accused Bob DOLE on Monday of engaging in "the dangerous din of dishonesty" and the "politics of Pinocchio."
Gore, in a speech in Philadelphia, said DOLE's campaign misstated the vice president's position on the connection between tobacco and lung cancer. Gore also suggested that the former senator was "addicted to tobacco money" for campaign contributions.
"Is this presidential election about truth and character? You bet it is," Gore said. "And those characters--Senator DOLE and Speaker (Newt) Gingrich--are just not concerned with the truth. They're trailing in the polls, so they're flailing for a lifeline."
Gore's remarks, aggressively promoted to reporters by Clinton aides inside and outside the White House, were designed to counter Republican attempts to make Clinton's character an issue in the November elections.
His remarks came on the same day that Senate Republicans prepared a report that sharply criticizes White House handling of Whitewater matters, two longtime Clinton supporters went on trial in Arkansas, and the White House faced another barrage of questions about its collecting of FBI files on Republicans.
DOLE's office responded with a list of Gore's connections to the tobacco industry, including his acceptance of tobacco contributions as a U.S. senator, a 1987 article in which Gore was quoted as expressing opposition to cigarette ad bans and a 1988 article in which the thepresidential candidate was quoted as characterizing himself a friend of tobacco.
Campaigning in California, DOLE seemed puzzled by Gore's attack.
"I haven't heard his remarks," DOLE said in Oakland, Calif. "I haven't talked about tobacco I don't know what he's talking about."
"In the last year he started talking about tobacco. Why doesn't he talk about legalizing marijuana, which is what (former Surgeon General) Joycelyn Elders wanted to do ... Talk about that. Talk about money they took from tobacco companies," said DOLE.
Gore objected to a statement in The Washington Post by DOLE aide Christina Martin, who quoted the vice president as saying in a 1992 television interview that there is "no proven link between smoking and lung cancer."
Gore, supported by a transcript of the interview, said that Martin failed to mention that the vice president had attributed the assertion to scientists working for tobacco companies.
Gore, whose sister died of lung cancer, urged DOLE to "correct the record, and instruct his campaign team to respect the truth."
His sister "started smoking when she was 13 and could not quit. She died when she was 46 years old. I held her hand when she took her last breath," Gore added."
"To suggest that I'm not convinced of tobacco's deadly power is an outrage. I will not stand by and let anyone twist my words or change my position in order to serve some cynical political strategy, " said Gore, drawing applause from a supportive, 125-person audience of senior citizens and local Democratic leaders at a union hall.
"Kick the habit, Senator DOLE," Gore said. "It's not worth stinking up your reputation with the smoky stench of special interest politics and the dangerous din of dishonesty."
DOLE and Republicans "seem to believe that the way to turn their tattered campaign into a Cinderella story is to engage in the politics of Pinocchio: Forget about the truth, tell a bunch of lies and let someone else pull the strings."
Gore is frequently designated to deliver the administration's harshest political discourse, but his remarks Monday were particularly strong.
Picking up a Clinton-Gore campaign refrain, the vice president said DOLE and the Republican National Committee accept thousands of dollars from tobacco interests. He called the RNC `"a wholly- owned subsidiary of the tobacco lobby."
The Clinton-Gore campaign put new emphasis on the tobacco issue after DOLE last week objected to government regulation of tobacco as a drug and said cigarettes were not necessarily addictive.
Campaign spokesman Joe Lockhart said Gore's acceptance of tobacco money and any words of support he may have given tobacco farmers do not take away from the administration's stand against targeting tobacco ads to children.
"Dredge up as many quotes as you want. The bottom line is Bill Clinton and the vice president stood up to tobacco companies and said stop poisoning our children. Bob DOLE on the other hand has --- gone off and counted his cash."