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latimes.com: Bush says poll numbers are giving Gore jitters
AUSTIN, Texas (Los Angeles Times) -- Gov. George W. Bush knows he's doing well in this presidential race, so well that he told state party leaders Wednesday that he must be making both his Democratic opponent, Al Gore, and President Clinton nervous because they "seem to be talking an awful lot about me."
"They're talking about me and I'm talking about me, and that's the way I like it," Bush said, drawing laughter from the roughly 150 leaders attending a National Republican Committee strategy meeting. "After all, these are people who live by all these polls and focus groups. [They] must be seeing something in those polls and focus groups that makes them nervous."
Still, the Texas governor was quick to acknowledge that, although he has been leading Gore in national polls, he plans to take nothing for granted in the weeks and months ahead.
"The good news is that I'm leading in the polls," he told the group in his brief remarks before a closed session. "The bad news is the election isn't tomorrow."
The Republican leaders and campaign workers are convening for the week to assess Bush's campaign so far and how they can boost his poll numbers in battleground states, where voters tend to bounce between both major parties.
A poll released Wednesday in Pennsylvania, for example, showed Bush with 44% support and Gore with 40%. The statewide Keystone Poll had a margin of error of 4 percentage points, making the race too close to call.
And although other polls show Gore consistently ahead of Bush in California, Republicans leaders said Gore should be concerned about Bush's strides there as well.
"Here's a state that Democrats have long considered an easy win. Not this time," said Jon Fleischman, executive director of the California Republican Party.
Gerald L. Parsky, a Bush campaign chairman in Los Angeles, said the governor visited 27 California cities in five months last year, demonstrating his commitment to reaching voters instead of "handing over the state" because of its voting history.
"He sends a message that is resonating with our voters," Parsky said. "It's a message of improving education, strengthening the military, protecting Social Security and the economy. But perhaps more importantly, it's a message of optimism and inclusion, and that's what sets him apart."
Bush excused himself from the group to meet with Henry A. Kissinger, who is advising him on foreign policy. The two huddled inside the Governor's Mansion, marking the first time they had met one-on-one, and Bush said later the former secretary of State shared some of his "enormous wisdom." Kissinger was a longtime advisor of Bush's father, former President Bush.
Dressed almost identically in gray suits, sky-blue shirts and maroon ties, the two men held a brief news conference in front of the house, with Kissinger saying he shares Bush's views on foreign policy and military protection.
"No president should leave this country unprotected against dangers unknown," said Kissinger, adding that he supports the governor's missile defense plan. He said he is honored to assist Bush in the "future direction of foreign policy for this country."
Kissinger said his expertise, however, stops there. Asked whether he gave Bush any advice on the choice of a running mate, Kissinger chuckled. "That is not a field in which I am particularly competent," he said.
Thursday, July 13, 2000
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