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Democratic convention in brief

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 13, 2000

In speech, Gore to shift emphasis to his agenda

LOS ANGELES -- Vice President Al Gore said Saturday that his acceptance speech to the Democratic convention would embrace President Clinton's success in presiding over the economy but send an unmistakable message that "I'm running on my own agenda, on my own voice and through my own experiences."

In the first extensive interview previewing the address he will give Thursday, Gore told the New York Times that the speech would be loaded with policy specifics because he wanted the public to know he had a definite agenda.

He said he would pledge to connect with the American public as president by holding "town meetings" with ordinary citizens.

Gore said he would "speak very concretely" in outlining his plan for cutting taxes for middle-class families and altering the Social Security system, his championing of the environment and his role "in efforts to set time limits and reform welfare."

"The reason I'm going to take the risk of going into specifics," he said, "is that I think people ought to know the issues that are at stake."

Gore made clear that his proposal for town meetings was intended to help address what some of his advisers say has been his central vulnerability: that he is not personally appealing to the public.

"It will be the centerpiece of the way I conduct an open, continuing, candid, no-holds-barred dialogue with the American people throughout the Gore-Lieberman administration," Gore said.

Gore said he welcomed Clinton's comments that the vice president should not be tarred with any scandals of the Clinton years.

"I appreciate what the president said," Gore said. "He repeated what he said in the past and what many others have said: This campaign is about the future."

Dismissing worries among some Democratic officials that Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton were looming over the proceedings here and distracting attention from him, Gore said, "This election is about the future. It is about the choice that has to be made between Gov. Bush and myself. Anyone who doubts that underestimates the desire of the American people."

Gore stressed his commitment to the environment in his campaigning Saturday by visiting the homestead of Rachel Carson in Pennsylvania. Her 1962 book, Silent Spring was a seminal moment in the rise of the modern-day environmental movement, and Gore said his mother had given him a copy when he was a boy.

"It was a major lesson for me," he said, adding that many of the same groups that attacked Carson for her views were now berating him.

Lieberman, family break from trail for Sabbath

As they do every Saturday, Joseph Lieberman and his family began their day with a quiet walk to temple. But on this Sabbath day, about 20 Secret Service agents walked behind them and two vans filled with agents trailed as well.

Lieberman, the first Jew ever chosen for a national ticket, returned to his Orthodox synagogue for the first time since he was picked to be Gore's running mate.

The senator from Connecticut entered Kesher Israel sanctuary in Washington, D.C., wearing a prayer shawl over his shoulders and his yarmulke. He and his wife, Hadassah, sat separately, as all men and women must do.

Rabbi Barry Freundel recited the Ten Commandments, as he always does, but he also spoke of "Joe" and his "historic" run for the vice presidency. He warned fellow worshipers not to act "triumphant" or as if "he is one of ours," advising the 100 or so worshipers to remain humble throughout.

"This is a test case," Freundel said during the sermon. "We could squander this opportunity."

Hillary Clinton says she's been hard at work

LOS ANGELES -- Hillary Rodham Clinton said Saturday that she spent her White House years working hard on issues, and she dismissed critics who insinuate she "sat around eating bonbons."

In an interview with the Associated Press, Clinton defended her work on issues ranging from health insurance to education and adoption.

The first lady has been under attack in New York from her Republican opponent, Rep. Rick Lazio, for lacking a public record.

Clinton said she has a record to run on.

"I was deeply involved within the White House," she said. "I want people to know that, because if someone is going to claim I sat around eating bonbons for the last five or six years, I think it's only fair that the truth come out."

The first lady said much of her Monday night speech to the Democratic National Convention will focus on children and that she plans to use the prime-time slot to take on the Republicans.

"We heard a lot about children in the other party's convention, but their record doesn't match their rhetoric," she said.

Scattered protests greet convention preparations

LOS ANGELES -- Scattered protests from anti-abortion activists and immigrant rights advocates greeted delegates arriving in the city Saturday for the Democratic National Convention.

Thousands of protesters are expected to descend on the convention site in coming days.

Carrying poster-sized pictures of aborted fetuses, nearly 30 anti-abortion protesters marched around the perimeter of the site of the convention, which begins Monday.

Elsewhere, activists protesting U.S. immigration policies set up 553 white crosses in a church parking lot to commemorate people who have lost their lives crossing the U.S.-Mexico border since the 1994 inception of Operation Gatekeeper, a crackdown that pushed illegal traffic to more remote and treacherous areas.

Meantime, protesters continued planning for demonstrations outside Staples Center by manufacturing banners, picket signs and large, satiric puppets at their headquarters near MacArthur Park.

A day earlier, a federal judge ruled that police could only enter that building if they have a search warrant or during an emergency. The decision came in response to the American Civil Liberties Union's complaint that the headquarters, named the Convergence Center, has been a target of police harassment.

The Los Angeles Police Department earlier was ordered to shrink a security zone around the Staples Center to allow demonstrators to be nearer to Democratic delegates.

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