Gore sending $200,000 to four key states

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Vice President Al Gore is distributing about $200,000 to political groups in four key states, a largess filled with political overtones for 2004, a knowledgeable source told CNN Tuesday.

The money will come out of Gore's "recount fund," set up by his campaign to pay legal challenges in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election.

All four states -- Florida, Tennessee, Iowa and New Hampshire -- are key political battlegrounds in next Tuesday's midterm elections, and Gore among others wants to help his party establish footholds that would increase their organizational and fund-raising strength for 2004 and beyond.

Former President Bill Clinton will campaign Saturday and Sunday throughout Florida for Democrat Bill McBride, who is locked in a tight gubernatorial race with Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, the president's brother.

Gore, who lost his 2000 bid after falling short in Florida and his native Tennessee, has decided to direct $50,000 to a coordinated campaign fund in Tennessee and another $50,000 to the Florida Democratic Party.

Bob Poe, Florida Democratic Party chairman, said the party would spend Gore's contribution on field and get-out-the-vote operations for Tuesday's elections.

"Gore has made long-term commitments to the party, and he has told me ever since 2000 that he would be there for us and help us along the way, and he has kept his promise," Poe said. "We're thankful he's really stepping up."

With an eye toward the 2004 nomination, Gore is also making $50,000 gifts to Democrats in New Hampshire and Iowa.

In New Hampshire, which holds the first presidential primary, Gore will donate $30,000 to the state Democratic Party and $20,000 to the state Senate Democratic caucus.

In Iowa, the site of the first presidential caucuses, Gore is donating $25,000 to the "Truman Fund," which helps state Democratic candidates, and another $25,000 to the state party's coordinated campaign.

"It's a big help, especially at this stage of the game. I'm very grateful to the vice president. It comes at the right time," said Kathy Sullivan, chairwoman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party.

"Every dollar helps us accomplish things we might not have been able to do otherwise, things like late phone banking and direct mail that's going out over the weekend. It's this type of thing that helps us get over the top Tuesday."

Gore has $100,000 remaining in his "recount fund," which a source said could be given to charity, kept on hand for further legal bills from the 2000 vote, or for other political purposes.

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