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Gore says he has no trouble raising funds

The fund-raising controversy has triggered federal investigations, drawn fire to the attorney general and deepened Democratic debts, but Al Gore says the affair has not hurt his ability to generate campaign cash.

Opening three days of money-related events, Gore also dismissed a suggestion that he suspend fund-raising events until Attorney General Janet Reno completes her inquiry into the 1996 campaign tactics of the White House and the Democratic Party."The idea that one of our two major political parties should cease its political efforts to gain the ability to put its views before the American people is one that I don't think has a lot of support or meets the test of common sense," Gore said Wednesday night.

Within 30 minutes of those remarks, Gore walked into the first of two fund-raisers for Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who faces a tough re-election campaign in 1998. The events were putting $225,000 into her campaign coffers.

He was attending a reception Thursday for donors and people who need high-level stroking before contributing. Gore was attending a $150,000 fund-raiser for Senate Democrats on Friday before heading home to Washington.

Hours after Reno defended her investigation to hostile Republicans in Washington, Gore was asked whether controversy related to the probe had hindered his fund-raising prowess.

"Hadn't thought about that one, but I think the answer is no," Gore said, noting that 250 people were waiting for him at Boxer's reception.

"People are really sick and tired of Washington being about political gains and losses and would really like to see taxpayer money spent on real issues," said David Novak, owner of a Los Angeles public relations firm.

"It's not an issue outside the Beltway," said Harry Zinn, a Los Angeles attorney.

Also on Gore's agenda: A speech Thursday to the Hollywood Radio and Television Society. He was planning to promote a promising future for the industry but remind executives that they have a responsibility not to glamorize violence.

In her remarks, Boxer addressed the dilemma of Democrats. "You might say, `You know, that's a contradiction, Barbara. You've been fighting for campaign finance reform and yet you have these events and you have to raise funds,' " she said.

"It is not a contradiction because the very senators that are acting so stunned and surprised that candidates have to make calls for contributions are the very ones who are blocking a vote on campaign finance reform," Boxer said.

Meanwhile, Gore's spokeswoman confirmed that an endowment at the University of Tennessee named in honor of Gore's sister received $50,000 donations from two government contractors who had retained a former longtime aide to Gore as a lobbyist.

Lockheed Martin Corp. and William Haney of Molten Metal Technology both contributed $50,000 to the Nancy Gore Hunger Chair of Excellence in Environmental Studies at the Knoxville campus.