Election funding setback for Gore

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A DOUBLE dose of political bad news hit the White House yesterday, as both Al Gore and Hillary Clinton suffered setbacks in their attempts to be elected next year.

Mr Gore, Vice-President, is the most likely Democratic candidate in the presidential election. But he is being massively outpaced in the fund- raising race by George Bush, the most likely Republican candidate. Mr Bush has raised $35m (pounds 22m) in the first six months of the year, triple the previous record and twice as much as Mr Gore. "We're still counting," said Mr Bush's spokesman, David Beckwith, "Isn't that unbelievable?"

Mr Bush has raised far more than any of his rivals, raising questions over how long they can stay in the race. Steve Forbes, one of the rivals and a billionaire, spent $37m of his own cash in the 1996 election - he will stay. But Mr Bush has raised 10 times as much as his other opponents and has vastly outpaced Mr Gore, who has raised about $18m.

Just as worrying for Mr Gore is Bill Bradley, the only democratic challenger, who has raised about $2m, making him a serious contender.

Meanwhile, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the First Lady, who will launch an attempt to win the New York Senate seat next week, has slipped badly in the opinion polls and is now in a dead heat with her most likely Republican opponent - 46 per cent of those polled backed her, while 44 per cent backed Rudolph Giulani, the mayor of New York. Voters in Manhattan still love her, but in upstate New York - traditionally mistrustful of outsiders - Mr Giulani has a 12-point lead. Formerly, Mrs Clinton had a 13-point lead.