HOLLYWOOD, Md. – During a week of non-stop campaigning, Vice President Al Gore made a rare Maryland appearance here Thursday to outline his plans for reducing soaring home heating oil and gasoline prices in the nation.
“I started the week in Hollywood, Calif., and I’m proud to be in Hollywood, Md.,” Gore said of this blink-and-you-miss-it Southern Maryland town on the banks of the Patuxent River in St. Mary’s County.
But this small town’s unusual name also highlighted criticisms lobbed Wednesday by Texas Gov. George W. Bush attacking the Democratic presidential nominee’s financial ties to its larger West Coast namesake.
“At the beginning of the week, he sounded awfully tough on Hollywood. . . After a couple of fund-raisers, he’s changed his tune,” said Bush, the Republican presidential nominee, according to published reports Wednesday.
Gore helped raise $4.2 million for the Democratic National Committee at an event Monday just outside Hollywood, Calif.
Other than in name, the East Coast and West Coast Hollywoods share little in common. The movie capital features scores of bright stars with names like Costner, Cruise, and Beatty.
The stars in this town of 6,700 only come out at night. They carry monikers like Orion and the Big Dipper, and are highly visible precisely because there is no big city glow when the sun goes down.
When it comes to political contributions, Hollywood, Md., lags way behind the home of the movie industry. Federal Election Commission data shows Hollywood, Md., (one resident, actually) contributed just $1,000 to Gore in the 2000 election cycle.
In contrast, actor Kevin Costner alone contributed $2,000 to Gore’s campaign in the 2000 election cycle.
Bush has sharply criticized Gore’s contributions from the entertainment industry, saying they have softened Gore’s attacks on media violence aimed at children.
But audience members interviewed at Gore’s Maryland campaign stop Thursday preferred to talk about the vice president’s plan for reducing skyrocketing oil prices.
“He’s our man,” said Mark Heffron, a 43-year-old glass installer from nearby Mechanicsville. Heffron, a member of the International Union Painters and Allied Trade, was one of several dozen union members in the audience of about 200.
In his short speech, Gore recommended releasing oil from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to increase home heating oil supply before cold weather increases demand. He also proposed temporary tax breaks for small oil distribution companies that would allow them to build up supplies.
Gore also threw support behind Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Mechanicsville, whose congressional district includes St. Mary’s County, and who is running for re- election.
“Let’s re-elect Steny Hoyer, from this district, who is doing a great job,” Gore said.
This is Gore’s first Maryland campaign stop since Aug. 24, when he spoke at the University of Maryland, College Park. Will Gore appear again before election day in November?
“I’m sure he will,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a Gore campaign spokesman.
The Bush campaign’s last Maryland stop came in July, according Tim Braue, Bush’s state campaign director.
“I’m not sure if he’ll come back,” Braue said.
“He may, but campaign stops are based on his standings in the polls. He’s concentrating on the states . . . with more electoral votes,” Braue said. Maryland has 10 of 538 electors in the electoral college, or 1.86 percent, while California has 54 votes for about 10 percent.