Cheney says Gore not responsible for Clinton's personal failings

HOLLAND, Mich. - Dick Cheney said Friday Al Gore shouldn't be held accountable for President Clinton's personal failings, but Americans should reject him because his administration would be just like Clinton's.

Cheney, the GOP vice presidential nominee, said Clinton is ''still trying to deal with'' the fallout from his affair with a White House intern and subsequent impeachment, and it shouldn't rub off on Gore.

''Responsible for Clinton's personal mistakes? No, I don't think so,'' Cheney said in an interview with The Associated Press as he wrapped up his first solo campaign trip as George W. Bush's running mate.

Democratic presidential rival Gore is trying to ''avoid the negative aspects'' of the Clinton White House, Cheney said, suggesting Americans don't want another four years of similar policies. ''A Gore administration would be a continuation of the last eight years,'' under Clinton, he said.

Cheney's comments didn't square with Bush's harsher view. Bush said Friday that Clinton's ethical misconduct ''embarrassed the nation'' and Gore should do more to repudiate it. ''Americans want to be assured that the next administration will bring honor and dignity to the White House,'' Bush told reporters while campaigning on the West Coast.

As to Clinton's suggestion voters should not hold Gore responsible for his mistakes, the Texas governor said: ''Are they going to hold Al Gore responsible for missed opportunities? I mean, either you're part of an administration or you're not part of an administration is how I view it.''

On Thursday, Clinton's told a gathering of ministers that he had made a ''terrible mistake'' in having an affair with Monica Lewinsky. And he said of Gore: ''Surely no fair-minded person would blame him for any mistake that I made.''

Cheney said Gore's choice of running mate Sen. Joseph Lieberman, whose known for his strict religious observance and strong moral stances, doesn't help the vice president escape the shadow of Clinton scandals. The Connecticut senator was among the first Democrat in the Senate to openly criticize Clinton for immoral behavior.

Gore's pick doesn't change the fact that ''for eight years he was Clinton's vice president,'' said Cheney.

Cheney spoke over a cup of coffee before a campaign stop at a Meijers Superstore in Holland, Mich., a giant Midwest retailer that sells everything from groceries to couches under one roof.

Cheney was touring the Holland store, which hires people coming off welfare. Later, he was visiting a state employment center in Moline, Ill.

The stops were the last of a three-day trip aimed at beefing up support for Bush in states where millions of independent voters who swing between Democrats and Republicans could decide the November election. Cheney made stops in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois.

Just a week ago Cheney and Bush toured some of the same states, part of a strategy to have the former defense secretary shadow Bush to get the maximum exposure. Vice presidential candidates usually travel the country raising money for the party and campaigning on behalf of congressman.

Cheney said his first obligation is to the national ticket, but added that he plans to campaign for House and Senate Republicans in the fall. He has already talked about campaigning with two, whom he declined to name.

On a whistle-stop train tour with Bush last week and during his solo trip, Cheney often spoke of his experience in Washington.

Yet he accused Gore and Lieberman - who both served in Congress - of being Washington insiders, ill-equipped to run the country because they have no private sector experience.

''The other ticket basically comes out of Washington,'' said Cheney. ''For Al Gore virtually his entire life and for Joe Lieberman certainly a good part of it.''

Cheney spent the past five years as chief executive officer of oil-services giant Halliburton Co., which operates in 130 countries and has some 100,000 employees world wide. Bush, governor of Texas for the past 5 years, was in the oil business in Texas and was part-owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Before joining Halliburton, Cheney was secretary of defense in the Bush administration, a 10-year House member representing Wyoming, chief of staff to President Ford and he worked in the Nixon administration.

Cheney will officially resign from Halliburton on Aug. 16. He has resigned from the board of directors at EDS Corp., a computer services company that does a lot of work for the government and has taken a leave of absence from his board positions at Procter & Gamble and Union Pacific Corp., although he doesn't plan to resign yet.

''Well, why not? I'm not on the government roll yet, I have no control over policy,'' he said.


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