Democratic vice presidential candidate Al Gore accused President Bush of being out of touch with the American public and touted the Democratic plan for cities and the economy during an enthusiastic pre-Election Day rally last night in City Hall Plaza.
Mr. Gore is a favorite target of Mr. Bush, who has ridiculed the Tennessee senator's zeal for the environment by calling him "Ozone Man." He returned the fire yesterday, tell- ing the cheering crowd that the president's "weak" positions and leadership on the economy, health care and education are hurting the average American.
"He didn't acknowledge the recession until he tried to say we were out of it," Mr. Gore said. "He's out of touch. He doesn't know what he's doing. He just doesn't get it."
Mr. Gore, whose appearance was preceded with a series of speeches from a host of Maryland politicians -- with the notable exception of Gov. William Donald Schaefer, who today is endorsing President Bush -- also defended his passion for environmental issues, saying that industries and technologies that don't pollute will be the biggest sources of jobs in the future.
"When he calls me Ozone Man, he insults all of the American citizens who realize we have to face up to the environmental problems we confront," he said.
Mr. Gore is the author of "Earth in the Balance," in which he calls for people to make the rescue of the environment "the central organizing principle for civilization."
In these final days of the campaign, Mr. Bush has attacked Mr. Gore for his environmental stance, telling crowds that if Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton is elected president, the new administration will throw people out of work by stifling industry with onerous environmental regulations pushed by Mr. Gore.
But Mr. Gore says that the president is stuck in the past. "The United States ought to be leading the environmental revolution, rather than dragging its feet," he said.
Yesterday's rally was organized with the help of Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, who has been a close ally of the Clinton/Gore campaign. The crowd outside City Hall last night numbered about 3,000 and included many municipal employees who were leaving work.
The Bush/Quayle campaign in Maryland yesterday accused Mr. Schmoke's government of crossing the line of legality in helping the Democratic presidential effort.
Bush campaign officials here sent a letter to state Specia Prosecutor Stephen Montanarelli asking him to investigate a report that a supervisor in the Department of Public Works directed a municipal employee "to volunteer" to work for the Democratic ticket on Election Day, a holiday for city employees.
"The mayor hasn't directly given an order like that," said Publi Works Director George G. Balog. "I don't know anything about this."
In his stump speech, Mr. Gore accused the Bush administration of ignoring cities. By contrast, he said, the Democrats have proposed federal funds to hire 100,000 new police officers nationwide and programs to rebuild the nation's infrastructure.
He also said Mr. Clinton is in favor of the Brady bill, which would require a waiting period for people who want to purchase handguns.
"We believe in the Brady bill," Mr. Gore said to wild applause from the partisan crowd. "George Bush has killed it."
Mr. Gore delighted the crowd when he accused Mr. Bush of not providing leadership on critical health issues, including AIDS, and of not doing anything to help average Americans pay for their children's college education.
"It's time for a change," Mr. Gore said. "And time to move forward with leadership on the economy, health care and the environment."