Bridge to the 21st Century The Clinton and Bush II years Bush established a position on the right wing of the Republican Party, closer to the heritage of Ronald Reagan than to that of his father. He softened this image by displaying a special interest in education and calling himself a “compassionate conservative.” His embrace of evangelical Christianity, which he declared had changed his life after a misspent youth, was of particular note. It underscored an attachment to traditional cultural values that contrasted sharply to Gore’s technocratic modernism. Corporate critic Ralph Nader ran well to Gore’s left as the candidate of the Green Party. Conservative Republican Patrick Buchanan mounted an independent candidacy. The final vote was nearly evenly divided nationally; so were the electoral votes. The pivotal state was Florida, where a razor-thin margin separated Bush and Gore, and
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