Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack introduced Bill Bradley for a speech on campaign finance reform at a gym in Dubuque yesterday, and Bradley's campaign put out a news release blaring, "Bradley and Governor Vilsack Team Up."
Flash back 27 hours: There was Vilsack at a Des Moines hospital campaigning with Vice President Gore, Bradley's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination. As a Democrat who is the host governor for Monday's caucuses, Vilsack is remaining agnostic.
"He wants to promote a conversation about issues that Iowans care about," said Madhu Chugh, Vilsack's deputy communications director. "If you endorse one candidate, you may not have as good of a conversation."
While Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) sat next to him on the stage wearing a "Bill Bradley" button, Vilsack, a lawyer and former state senator who was elected governor in 1998, lauded Bradley and Gore.
"I want to tell you that Senator Bradley and Vice President Gore have made me very proud to be a Democrat," Vilsack said. "These two gentlemen have talked about real issues that affect real people in their lives: health care, the environment, improving education."
Vilsack's wife, Christie, has made speeches for Gore. The governor plans to endorse one of the men after the caucuses, an aide said, but has not set a date.
Voting With a Click
Appearing via satellite at a symposium on voting over the Internet, California Gov. Gray Davis (D) predicted voters will be casting ballots over the Web in five to seven years and that political advertising on the Internet will rival television and radio within a decade. "I'm bullish about the Internet," he joked.
The symposium at the Brookings Institution Thursday was the first in a series of panel discussions about the potential effects of the Internet on democracy and government in the 21st century. Davis was joined by New York Gov. George E. Pataki (R), who echoed Davis's enthusiasm but added, "We have to maintain the integrity of the voting process. There are some very real concerns" with online voting, such as hackers and computer viruses, as well as privacy issues.
Davis and Pataki, who lead two of the most populous and most influential states in the nation, said they favor an incremental implementation of Internet balloting with voters still having the option to vote the old-fashioned way at the polls. Davis also was cautious when asked about a proposed California initiative that would allow state petitions to be signed electronically, declining to say whether he would back the initiative because it has not yet qualified for the ballot.
But the governors were optimistic about the Internet's potential, not just for voting but as a communication tool, especially during campaigns. "It gives us the ability to spell out in-depth differences between candidates in a way you can't in commercials," Pataki said.
RNC's Anti-Gore Ad
The Republican National Committee will begin airing an ad Monday attacking Vice President Gore for saying during a Jan. 5 debate that he would have a litmus test for the Joint Chiefs of Staff requiring that they support his policy of allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Gore quickly backed off the statement and said he would require only that the Joint Chiefs carry out his policy, not personally support it.
The RNC ad will air through Wednesday in Nashua, Concord and Manchester, N.H., and nationally on the Fox News Channel. The ad features rapid, black and white clips of Gore and ends with the words: "Heard Enough? Call Al Gore. No Double-Talk. No Gore Litmus Test."
Staff writers Steven Hyden and Ben White contributed to this report.