LITTLE ROCK, Ark. UPI -- Stressing themes of social change and economic opportunity, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton and Sen. Albert Gore, D-Tenn., Friday laid out the ground work for their presidential campaign and ridiculed Republican charges that the Democratic ticket is too liberal.
Clinton, the certain Democratic presidential nominee at next weeks party convention in New York, vowed that Gore will be a non-traditional vice president who will play a strong role in his administration.
'I'm going to send him to Capitol Hill to take the lead in passing our program in the first 100 days of the new administration,' Clinton said.
The Clinton program will include putting Americans back to work, making the nation competitive again, placing a lid on health care costs and creating a national education system, he said.
'I don't want Al Gore to be the kind of vice president that sits in the Senate waiting to vote to break a tie. I want him to break the logjam in Washington,' Clinton said.
Gore, noting the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and South Africa's turn away from Apartheid, said this nation also has the capacity for change.
'Change can come and now it's our turn here in the United States of America,' the Tennessee senator said.
'I look forward to this assignment. I will undertake it with relish and enthusiasm.'
Clinton ridiculed charges by Republicans that the Democratic ticket is liberal.
'That's the old dog they trot out every election, and I don't think it will hunt this time,' he said, adding that using the liberal label is 'an excuse for not thinking.'
Gore said that since Thursday's announcement that he would be Clinton's running mate he has been accused of being both too liberal and too conservative.
'I guess we're doing something right,' he said.
Clinton, who is not enjoying as much support among blacks as some past Democratic candidates, downplayed comments by Jesse Jackson that the civil rights leader will support the Democratic party but not necessarily the ticket.
'He (Jackson) will just have to make up his mind on that, just like every other American,' the governor said.
Clinton vowed that he would work hard for the minority vote and announced that he will address the NAACP Convention Saturday in Nashville.
'I'm not taking anyone's vote for granted,' he said.
Clinton indicated that Vice President Dan Quayle will be a prime target in the campaign, noting that Quayle's selection as vice president was President Bush's first decision and that Gore's selection was his first decision.
'If we were evaluated on that I should be elected president,' he said.
Clinton also took aim at Quayle's seizure of the family values issue, saying that Republicans were using it as a 'wedge' to divide the nation.
'Family values are important, you can't raise children without them, ' he said. 'But they don't feed hungry children. They don't give dignity to the working parents. It's like the word liberal. It drips out of their mouth by saying 'we got it and they don't,' which is patently absurd.'
Clinton, who went jogging with Gore through the streets of Little Rock early Friday, also addressed the concerns of some about the relative youth of the Democratic ticket. Clinton is 45 and Gore is 44.
Clinton noted that he is among the 10 youngest governors and also the longest serving governor in the nation. 'I've been at this a long time, ' he said.
Clinton also said that Gore had attained numerous achievements despite his age and is a national and not just a regional figure.
The selection of Gore just four days before the Democrats open their national convention in New York Monday ended the last bit of suspense for the party and set the stage for an unusually harmonious gathering of delegates.
Gore brings a Washington background to the ticket with experience in foreign affairs and a strong record on the environment. He also is a veteran who broke with other Democrats and voted for the Persian Gulf War and has a wife who is in the forefront of fighting explicit lyrics in songs. In the primary season, Clinton took heat over the issues of family values and military record.