Al Gore: Let’s Hear It for Transportation!

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There’s gold to be mined on America’s byways --political gold, that is. Just ask Vice President Al Gore, who on Monday unveiled the Clinton administration’s latest transportation proposals for reducing traffic congestion. Among the items: tax incentives to benefit mass transit users, and a national hotline on travel information. Before you gasp the “B” word (for boring), just consider for a moment what’s in it for the veep. “Transportation is a stealth issue that has the potential of lining up a lot of voters,” says Washington correspondent Ann Blackman.

The vice president “has long been a strong opponent of urban sprawl and a vigorous advocate of smart growth,” says Blackman. His position on these issues tie to his views on the environnment and other matters that he is seeking to exploit under the general rubric of quality of life. “Quality of life is a broad heading that has strong appeal to many Americans,” says Blackman, "especially to harried suburbanites who will be a key constituency in 2000.” The vice president knows it, which is why he took the lead to unveil the administration’s latest transportation ideas -- and to do so in front of a group of traffic reporters, a press corps unlikely to be hostile.