WASHINGTON -- A long-simmering tension between advisers to President Clinton and Vice President Gore boiled over anew Saturday in a dispute about Gore's political strategy of trying to distance himself from Clinton's scandal-tarred personal life.
The dispute is the latest example of the sniping and mutual recriminations that have become common this year between the Clinton and Gore camps -- a rivalry that is souring a once-smooth working relationship between the president and vice president.Clinton, according to various aides and confidants, has bridled at how freely Gore has spoken publicly recently of his displeasure about the president's affair with former intern Monica Lewinsky. Clinton is particularly baffled, sources said, by what he feels is a deliberate strategy by some Gore advisers to talk about the scandal as a way of illustrating how different Gore's personal values are from Clinton's.
Various Gore advisers, meanwhile, renewed their complaints that the president and those around him are so concerned with Clinton's reputation that they are not giving Gore the space he needs to establish his own identity and message.
"At the end of the day it's what Vice President Gore stands for and what he wants to do for the country," one Gore aide said.
Some on both sides of the dispute said the poor coordination between Clinton's team and Gore's is being exacerbated by turmoil within the Gore camp, which is beset by interecine warfare and pervasive rumors that campaign chairman Tony Coehlo is planning a shakeup. The confusion has left some Gore advisers uncertain of their status and some on Clinton's team uncertain of who is making decisions about Gore's strategy.
The latest feuding between the two camps was prompted by a New York Times story Saturday quoting an adviser to Clinton saying the president was "hurt" and "very upset" at Gore, and suggesting their relationship had suffered lasting damage. Various White House aides Saturday called the account exaggerated, saying that Clinton, while prone to emotional outbursts, continues to get along well with Gore.