An angry Al Gore finally fired back at Bill Bradley on Sunday, as the Democratic rivals all but labeled each other liars and continued their unlikely showdown over two issues _ abortion and campaign fundraising _ on which they almost entirely agree.
With some polls suggesting the Democratic primary race is tightening in the last days before the New Hampshire primary, Gore abruptly abandoned the restraint he had demonstrated in recent days as Bradley waged an escalating assault on the vice president's honesty and integrity.
In the latest volley, Bradley on Sunday accused Gore of falling "into bed with special interests" and called on the vice president to fully explain his role in the "disgrace" of the 1996 campaign fundraising scandal.
"Sen. Bradley has attempted to manufacture differences where there are none," Gore told more than 1,000 supporters at the Hilltop Equestrian Center barn in Somersworth. "Instead of character, courage, and commitment, we have manipulative attack after manipulative attack."
Bradley, speaking at Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, said the 1996 abuses were "so tragic" because they damaged the Democratic Party's "identity and credibility."
Meanwhile, Gore, sometimes shouting, said: "Today, the attack from Sen. Bradley is on campaign finance reform. This, coming from a man whose fundraising has been strongly criticized."
Town's approval no small victory
HUDSON, N.H. _ As Hudson goes, so goes New Hampshire.
With uncanny prescience, this small town of 22,000 near the Massachusetts border has consistently picked the winners for both parties in every New Hampshire presidential primary since 1952. Twenty other towns in the state can claim success in choosing the winning candidate for one party or the other. But only Hudson gets it right each time for both.
State political analysts are stumped for an explanation. Many residents are equally perplexed. But Town Clerk Cecile Nichols said the answer's easy: "Because we're good."
This year, folks here expect Al Gore to carry the day among Democratic voters, which is in line with current polls. But on the Republican side, the town's reputation could be at risk. The betting is that George W. Bush will win in Hudson, even as most polls show John McCain with a small lead.