Gephardt Will Stay in the House

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WASHINGTON: Al Gore just got himself a running mate. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt announced Wednesday that he'll forgo a White House run to gun for his other dream -- presiding over the House of Representatives -- and that means the two old rivals will be teaming up for a Democratic sweep in the year 2000. It's an uneasy embrace -- don't expect Gephardt to endorse Gore's candidacy until he gets some concessions from the veep to please his own labor-dominated, old-fashioned-Democrat constituency. But with impeachment now deflating the GOP's image at a record pace, they both know a great opportunity when they see it.

Bill Clinton will of course be rooting for them. A Gore presidency means a historic confirmation of Clinton's job approval ratings -- if Al Gore can get elected, then it couldn't have all been about charisma. And Gephardt's strenuous support during the House hearings kept Clinton's impeachment from becoming a bipartisan affair -- probably the underlying reason why those ratings have become bulletproof. Newt Gingrich's demise this fall told the story of the end of the 1994 Republican revolution. Gore and Gephardt hope the story of impeachment may similarly be told a few years after the fact -- in the 2000 election, when Americans finally let on what they were thinking about all this time. It certainly hasn't been the transgressions of their president.