Gore draws line at pressing the flesh at the Playboy mansion

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The Independent US

Forget about anarchists in the street or shadow conventioneers challenging the candidate's policy platform. The event that Al Gore is most sorely afraid of at next month's Democratic National Convention involves buxom young women in skimpy cocktail dresses and a high-profile entrepreneur who believes that freedom's just another word for ogling naked flesh.

Forget about anarchists in the street or shadow conventioneers challenging the candidate's policy platform. The event that Al Gore is most sorely afraid of at next month's Democratic National Convention involves buxom young women in skimpy cocktail dresses and a high-profile entrepreneur who believes that freedom's just another word for ogling naked flesh.

Already struggling for momentum, the Vice President is now worried that his presidential campaign will suffer deep embarrassment as one of his key lieutenants, California congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, plans to throw a high-profile party fundraiser at the Playboy Mansion.

Ms Sanchez, who heads the Hispanic Unity Caucus in Congress and was recently appointed a co-chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee by Mr Gore, has been resisting pressure to cancel her party with the bunnies at Hugh Hefner's fabled estate in the Bel Air hills - within distant sight of the main convention centre in downtown Los Angeles.

She is betting that there is no such thing as bad publicity. But Republicans are having a field day posting head-shots of Ms Sanchez attached to the naked bodies of Playboy models on their websites.

Democrats, including prominent Latinos, have expressed disgust and sworn to stay away. A spokesman for Mr Gore said: "We're not attending, participating, supporting, condoning or giving our imprimatur in any shape, way or form."

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