Clinton campaign effort could hurt Gore more than help, poll suggests
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- With the presidential race neck-and-neck, some polls indicate that bringing President Clinton out to campaign for Vice President Al Gore might hurt the Democratic nominee.
Democrats are debating whether Gore should bring the still-popular president into the campaign on his longtime lieutenant's behalf. But a recent Gallup poll shows Clinton's high job approval ratings are unlikely to translate into gains for the vice president.
The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup tracking poll indicates 45 percent of independents would be less likely to vote for Vice President Al Gore if
President Clinton were to campaign for him
Gore and his Republican rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, remain in a statistical dead heat just two weeks before the election. Monday's CNN/USA Today/Gallup tracking poll indicates Bush leading by just two points, 46 percent to 44 percent, although those numbers have been fluid in recent days and the survey posts a four-point margin of error.
Clinton has ramped up attacks against the Republicans in recent days, trying to boost his vice president's candidacy. Campaigning on Monday for his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is seeking a Senate seat in New York, Clinton hailed Gore's role in his administration and told supporters in the upstate Hudson Valley that Gore was "a big part of all the success in the past eight years."
But Gore, who declared at the Democratic National Convention in August that he was campaigning as "my own man," has kept the president at arm's length throughout the fall. Some analysts have suggested that Gore benefits from the debate over whether to bring Clinton into the fray, allowing him to share in the president's popularity while appearing to maintain his independence.
The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup tracking poll indicates 58 percent of Americans approve of the job Clinton is doing as president. But after surviving impeachment more than a year ago, Clinton trails Gore in the number of people who view him favorably.
Overall, 17 percent of all voters say they would be more likely to vote for Gore if Clinton were to campaign for the vice president. But 40 percent said they were less likely to vote for Gore with Clinton stumping for him, and 40 percent said that would have no effect.
Among independent voters, the net loss for Gore could be far greater: Gallup's survey indicated that 45 percent of independents would be less likely to vote for the vice president if Clinton were to campaign for him, while only 10 percent said they would be more likely to support Gore. Another 37 percent of independents said Clinton's efforts would make no difference.
Among Democrats, pollsters say, Clinton's efforts would do little to aid Gore, but would do little harm: 35 percent of Democrats contacted said they would be more likely to vote for the vice president, while 12 percent said they were less likely. But a majority, 52 percent, said Clinton's appearance in the race would make no difference to them.
News accounts have described Clinton as frustrated that Gore has not asked for his advice or help in an extremely close race against Bush. And the personal and political strains caused by Clinton's affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky have further complicated campaign planning.
Both men have disputed reports of a rift between the White House and the Gore campaign, and White House Press Secretary Jake Siewert last week dismissed the talk as "psychobabble." Clinton's aggressive work on behalf of the Democratic Party should ultimately end up helping Gore, Siewert said.
Gallup Poll Editor-in-chief Frank Newport and CNN.com Writer Matt Smith contributed to this report.