CHICAGO (Aug. 26)
Sounding the predominant themes of the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign, Vice president Al Gore rallied the Democratic faithful at a reception for Jewish delegates, activists and elected officials gathered this week for the Democratic National Convention.
This election “represents a choice between moving forward or moving backward,” Gore said to rousing cheers from more than 1,200 people gathered at the Park West dance club for a reception Sunday afternoon sponsored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the National Jewish Democratic Council.
“This is about the future, and the record of the past shows that the blueprint of the future will work,” the vice president said.
Interspersing his remarks with repeated references to the upcoming High Holidays and the themes of renewal and redemption, Gore said: “This is not only a season of political choices; it is a season of faith and solemnity.”
The sound of the shofar, he said, will usher in a “new season of renewal and redemption, introspection and soul-searching.”
The shofar sends a call for “not only renewal abroad, but also redemption in our own cities.”
Gore sought to draw sharp contrasts between Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole and President Clinton.
Playing the role of head cheerleader for Jewish Democrats on the eve of their convention, Gore touted Clinton’s achievements: anti-terrorism legislation, gun control efforts, the minimum wage increase, health-care reform and a “robust economy.”
“Let’s turn to leadership with compassion,” Gore said, adding a quote from the Talmud: “If he performs one mitzvah, he has tipped the scales.”
“May this new year be a year of mitzvot for all of us,” he said, where the scales are tipped toward “peace with security, understanding and opportunity for all.”
In contrast to his address to Jewish Democrats at the 1992 convention, where Gore drew criticism for not mentioning Israel during his remarks, the vice president this week paid tribute to slain Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and pledged to work closely with current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Peace and security are indivisible,” he said, borrowing a line from Netanyahu’s campaign.
“We seek this peace not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is our solemn responsibility,” he said.
The Jewish-sponsored reception, which has become a tradition at both Republican and Democratic conventions, also paid tribute to the late Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown, who was killed in a plane crash earlier this year.
After Brown’s son Michael called for a moment of silence in memory of Brown and Rabin, the nascent Democratic activist rallied the crowd around what has become a theme of the gathering: “Imagine what it would be like with Bob Dole in the White House.”
The comment drew hissing and boos from the standing-room only crowd.