Gore and Bush go straight for personal attacks

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The Independent US

The two main candidates for the US presidential election, their nominations secure, lost no time yesterday. With eight months of campaigning left, George W Bush and Al Gore both got straight into the serious business of attacking each other, using allegations of corruption, claims of extremism, and even the spectre of Dan Quayle against each other.

Both won enough delegates in Tuesday's Southern primaries to be nominated after John McCain and Bill Bradley, their challengers, left the race. It is the earliest that the nominations have been settled.

Vice-President Gore, the Democratic candidate, attacked his opponent for extremism, and brought back memories of the last Republican administration. "There are two avenues leading from November of 2000. The path that I want to lead our country toward continues our prosperity, uses the surplus for constructive purposes," he said in Florida. "The other fork in the road leads off toward the right wing and curves around back toward the approach that failed during the Bush-Quayle years."

George W Bush is the son of George Bush, the last Republican president. Dan Quayle was his vice-president: the Democrats encourage comparisons between two men they regard as lightweights.

Mr Bush had his own lines of attack and defence well prepared. "The Clinton-Gore team love the politics of personal destruction and distortions and I understand they're going to throw everything they've got at me," he said in a television interview yesterday.

Mr Gore is pitching for the voters who supported Mr McCain, who has yet to endorse Mr Bush - or any other candidate. "I bring a new passion to it born of personal experience, just as John McCain did," he said. And like Mr McCain, he linked Mr Bush with leaders of the religious right. "I want to protect a woman's right to choose," he said. "Governor Bush, along with Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, want to ... take away a woman's right to choose."

Mr Bush, for his part, emphasised his message on education, which polls show is the main concern among voters."I want to solve our education problems; Al Gore wants to subsidise them," he said. "I believe that failing schools are unacceptable; Al Gore believes they are inevitable ... I will challenge the status quo; Al Gore is the status quo."