Gore Blasts Impeachment

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He's not in charge. He doesn't want to act like he's in charge. And that may be the best way to make it to the top. Vice President Al Gore has made perhaps the ultimate sacrifice for his boss, canceling a Thursday pre-2000 primary trip to New Hampshire in order to help out in Washington during the first day of impeachment hearings. Gore came out swinging on Monday in defense of Clinton, urging Congress to keep the President in office. He also blasted House Republicans for abandoning the censure option. The "decision to reject compromise," said Gore, does "not give the members of Congress a chance to vote their conscience. It is not in keeping with the wishes of the American people."

Special Report TIME Washington deputy bureau chief Jef McAllister believes the remarks showed "classic vice presidential behavior." Gore, he says, "has been remarkably loyal to the President, in large measure because in the long run it is wise to remain loyal." At a time of crisis in the White House, visibly staying on board is a good way to demonstrate the solidity of your own presidential timber, particularly when the crisis has a strong partisan undercurrent. The Gore statement also serves an immediately important cheerleading function. "It puts a stop to any possible Democratic wavering that might develop in the crucial next few days," says McAllister. Of course, if there is a lot of Democratic wavering, it might also put a stop to Gore's presidential aspirations.