Gore teams with Ventura to tout special education proposals
MINNETONKA, Minnesota (CNN) -- Vice President Al Gore teamed up with an unlikely partner, Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, on Thursday to promote special education during one of the Democratic presidential hopeful's signature "school days."
Vice President Al Gore campaigned Thursday in Minnesota.
Ventura, the former pro wrestler who gained political fame by winning the state governor's seat as a Reform Party candidate, was at Gore's side during a forum to promote Gore's proposed "Education Reform and Children's Trust Fund."
"As president, I'll make the largest increase ever in special education funding," Gore told students and teachers at Hopkins North Junior High School in Minnetonka, a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.
"I will do more to help states and school districts provide special education, and I'll invest aggressively in early intervention and more teacher training."
The vice president touted campaign proposals to increase federal funding from the current $700 million to about $1.5 billion to help state and local school districts pay for the special education needs of students with disabilities.
Under the plan, Gore also pledged to commit more federal resources to support teacher training for students with disabilities, and he called for a fund to help states and localities identify and assess reading and behavioral problems at an early age.
Ventura, whose daughter is a special education student, endorsed Gore's proposals. An aide to the Minnesota governor said the 16-year-old girl was born with epilepsy, which caused permanent neurological damage at an early age.
Ventura not offering endorsement
Inside the school, both Ventura and Gore met with parents, teachers and others involved in special education to discuss funding and new learning technologies.
Gov. Jesse Ventura joined Gore at an event in St. Paul.
Ventura, who left the Reform Party earlier this year, has so far declined to back any presidential candidate.
"Will I endorse? I'm still a big advocate of the third
party movement and I feel that I'd betray that movement if I did
that, but what I will do is endorse policy," Ventura said Thursday.
"I'm not working on his endorsement. I'm working on his vote,"
Gore first visited with Ventura during a campaign swing in March, and also hosted the Minnesota governor and his wife during a recent visit to Washington, D.C.
"I think the vice president looks at me more as a break
from getting away from the rigors of the campaign trail," said Ventura, who appeared with Gore on NBC's "Today" program earlier Thursday.
"Believe me, having done it, having campaigned myself, you
do need a break now and then, so we really don't talk that much
on issues when we get together. We talk on other things."
Although Gore didn't leave with the Minnesota governor's endorsement, the high-profile visit could boost the vice president's appeal among independent voters -- and loosen his stiff image.
"It clearly means I need a live-action Al Gore figure," the vice president said Thursday, responding to comments from an MTV interviewer that Ventura was a better known national figure than he was.
Although Minnesota has voted Democratic in the last six presidential elections, Gore was tied with Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush in the most recent statewide poll.