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Sat Sep 16 14:28:19 MDT 2000
Friday September 15 1:04 PM ET
Long-Time Gore Supporter Defects to Bush Camp
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - A prominent Philadelphia Democrat and long-time
supporter of Vice President Al Gore has jumped ship to the Republicans,
saying he would back Texas Gov. George W. Bush for president, the
Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Friday.
William Batoff, who says he raised more than $100,000 for Gore campaigns
dating back to the 1988 U.S. Senate race, told the Inquirer he favors the
Bush tax-cut plan and predicted the U.S. economy would suffer if the vice
president is elected on Nov. 7.
The 65-year-old businessman said he has become disillusioned with Gore,
adding that he does not believe the vice president's contention that he was
unaware of illegal fund-raising during a 1996 appearance at a Buddhist
``The Buddhist temple thing bothered me. I believe he lied. I know he's not
inept. It had to be one or the other,'' Batoff was quoted as saying.
The Gore campaign had no immediate comment, while the Bush campaign issued a
statement calling Batoff's decision ``a powerful signal that Gov. Bush's
campaign is a campaign of inclusion.''
Democrats in Philadelphia said Batoff had ceased to be a meaningful factor
in Democratic fund-raising years ago.
He served on the Clinton-Gore campaign's national board in 1996 and the
Clinton for President National Finance Committee four years earlier. But he
said he declined an invitation to work for Gore's presidential campaign.
The Inquirer said Batoff has jumped ship to the Republicans before, backing
the 1998 reelection campaign of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and serving as a
long-time supporter of Republican Sen. Arlen Specter.
The newspaper said Batoff was offended when Gore did not invite him up on
stage at a campaign event in Philadelphia last year. But his final
conversion to the Bush camp came during the Republican National Convention
in August, when he joined Bush, Specter and Ridge at the governor's mansion
``I walk in and sit down, and lo and behold, I was met with honesty and
warmth,'' Batoff said. ``I'm talking to (Bush) about issues I've read, and
he said to me at the end, 'Bill, I'm asking for your support.' And I said,
'You've got it'.''
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