Gore the bore sinks in polls

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The Independent Online
"CLINTON FATIGUE" is putting a drag on Vice-President Al Gore's campaign for the presidency, according to an opinion poll for The Washington Post and ABC News.

More than half of those questioned were "just plain tired" of President Bill Clinton, even though his approval rating is holding up relatively well.

There is a desire for change, and Mr Gore may well be its casualty. His opponent for the Democratic Party's candidacy, Bill Bradley, is also capitalising on the weariness with the Clintons, as the administration heads into its last year amid a welter of small and wearing political arguments.

Boredom with Mr Clinton is particularly strong among voters with no fixed party commitment, without whom Mr Gore cannot win. And Mr Gore has not done himself any favours, with 54 per cent saying they have little confidence in him because of his term in office. Although he was not blamed for the administration's ups and downs, he was not credited with any of the good things that have happened in America, either.

When contrasted with George W Bush, the most likely Republican candidate, Mr Gore does even worse. Only 38 per cent said that Mr Gore would make a strong leader, while the Texas governor and son of the former president gets 70 per cent. But the same percentage said that they do not know enough about him yet. A year out from the election, Mr Bush had a 56- 37 per cent lead over Mr Gore.

The two men remain front-runners for their parties' nominations - Mr Gore leads Mr Bradley by 69 per cent to 24 per cent for the Democratic slot, while Mr Bush is the candidate of 60 per cent of Republicans, 45 points ahead of second-placed Elizabeth Dole.

Congress returned to work yesterday, with Republicans intent on embarrassing the White House on a wide variety of issues. There has been fierce criticism of the handling of the 1993 Waco siege, in which 80 people were killed in a fire. The FBI was recently forced to admit that it authorised the use of flammable tear-gas canisters, a charge it has previously denied.

Congress is also promising investigations of alleged Russian money laundering, which reflects badly on Mr Gore, who has trumpeted his role in relations between Moscow and Washington.

Republicans are also stoking an argument over the presidential pardoning of 12 Puerto Ricans imprisoned for their links to a nationalist group on the US-ruled island. Hillary Clinton, who is likely to run for a Senate seat in New York, opposed the clemency.