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Clinton and Gore help Carter build house

By
STEVE GLASSER

ATLANTA -- Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton said Wednesday indications by President Bush that he will replace some Cabinet officers in a second administration are an admission of failure.

'It's stunning acknowledgement of the failure of the first term,' Clinton told reporters.

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Bush has criticized Clinton for starting what Clinton calls early planning for his administration if he ousts the president in November.

The Arkansas governor and his running mate, Sen. Al Gore, D-Tenn., their wives, Hillary and Tipper, and their children spent about five hours Wednesday morning helping former President Jimmy Carter, his wife, Rosalynn, and volunteers build a house in the Edgewood area of East Atlanta.

Taking a break from the hammers and saws, Clinton and Gore spent only a few minutes talking about politics and more about the need to help the poor, their reason for joining Carter in the house-building project.

Gore's reaction to reports of a possible Cabinet shake-up was one of the few indications that he and Clinton were on the campaign trail.

'There's a real easy way for people of this country to engineer a real Cabinet change -- on November 3,' Gore said.

Carter tied the house-building to criticism of the Bush and Reagan administrations.

'Since I left the White House, there's been a 92 percent reduction in federal funds to build homes,' Carter said. 'I haven't heard much discussion at the convention about building houses for America.'

Carter said he hoped to hear something about the need to help the poor at the Republican National Convention in Houston before it ends Thursday.

The former president said he was not upset by partisan attacks against his Democratic administration made at the convention.

'Oh, for the first five or six years it bothered me,' he said. 'It doesn't bother me now.'

The Clinton and Gore families joined the Carters and 40 volunteers from the Home Depot home supply store in building the three-room, prefabricated house for Michelle Miller, a data processor, and her two children.

The construction was sponsored by Habitat for Humanity, a Christian housing ministry that helps poor people get their own homes, arranges affordable rent, and allows the tenant to buy the home.

Miller said Clinton's help in building her house was not a deciding factor in who she would vote for in November. She said she had already decided to vote for Clinton.

The Clinton and Gore families' effort to keep up with the volunteers showed in the sweat on their T-shirts and the dirt on their bluejeans.

'They're excellent learners,' said Carter. 'And they're trying to keep up with their children on the quality of work.'

Clinton's 12-year-old daughter, Chelsea, joined volunteers standing atop the crossbeams of the new house as the roof was placed into position and nailed down.

'Hi, daddy,' she yelled down to Clinton.

'You be careful,' he said.

Gore's three daughters and his son joined Chelsea hammering nails in the roof while his wife, Tipper, learned how to operate a chain saw.

Clinton and Mrs. Gore, who share the same birthday, were presented with a birthday cake by members of the campaign staff and volunteers. Clinton turned 46 Wednesday. She turned 44.

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