As the Vice President, and one of the main running candidates in the presidential race, Al Gore has a lot on his hands. He manages to handle a full family as well as his duties at work and running a, hopefully, successful race. His main challenge will be to convince the people of the United States that he is the best of all of the candidates. This may be somewhat of a challenge for the Vice President with a formidable foe to run against. He and his running mate, Joseph Lieberman, are to face the one and only George W. Bush, the son of the former president George Bush Sr. Now we will travel into the life that has led up to this competitive race, the life of Al Gore. We will also meet the people that have played a major role in the way that this democratic candidate has formed his personality.
Al Gore was born on March 31, 1948, and is the son of former U.S. Senator Albert Gore, Sr. and Pauline LaFon Gore. Raised in Carthage, Tennessee, and in Washington, D.C. While in Washington D.C., Gore spent much of his time living out of hotels. His father was traveling quite a bit so he was forced to only live in temporary living quarters. This part of his life may have affected his people skills. He had very little contact with children and experienced most of his time with adults surrounding him. This may have caused the young man to mature at a much higher rate than other children. Gore then moved up in the world and went to college. Gore received a degree in government with honors from Harvard University in 1969. After graduation, he volunteered for enlistment in the U.S. Army and served in Vietnam. Gore used his military experience in his campaign, to relate to many of the veterans of foreign wars and to give the voters background as to his commitment to the country in which he lives. Returning to civilian life, Gore settled in Tennessee and studied religion at Vanderbilt University while working as a newspaper reporter with The Tennessean, in Nashville. He also managed to meet the woman he would marry. Her name was Mary Elizabeth Aitchenson, also known as Tipper. He and Tipper bought the farm they still call home in Carthage, Tennessee in 1973, the same year their first child was born. Gore later attended Vanderbilt Law School.
Gore began his career in public service in 1976 when he was elected to represent Tennessee in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1984 and was re-elected in 1990, when he became the first statewide candidate in modern history to carry all 95 Tennessee counties. A candidate for the Democratic nomination for President in 1988, he won Democratic primaries and caucuses in seven states.
Gore is married to the former Mary Elizabeth “Tipper” Aitcheson, an author, photojournalist and activist who now serves as President Clinton’s adviser on mental health policy. They have four children: Karenna, Kristin, Sarah, and Albert. Al and Tipper Gore own a small farm near Carthage, and the family attends New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Carthage. Al Gore’s father, Albert Gore Sr., was born on a farm in Jackson County, Tennessee, and worked as a schoolteacher before entering public service—first as Smith County Superintendent of Schools, then as Tennessee’s Secretary of Labor.
Winning election to the House and then to the United States Senate, Albert Gore, Sr. rose to national prominence as a champion of civil rights—one of only three southern Senators who refused to sign the Southern Manifesto; the author and sponsor of the bill that lead to the creation of the Interstate Highway system; a leader on tax reform and defense policy; and an outspoken opponent of the Vietnam War. Senator Gore was considered by many to be a new and progressive brand of southern politician, helping to connect the South to the rest of America. After leaving the Senate in 1970, Albert Gore Sr. worked as a lawyer and businessman, and tended the Gore family farm in Carthage, Tennessee. He died in 1998 at the age of 91. In December, Al Gore delivered the eulogy at a memorial service for his father in Nashville, Tennessee.
Al Gore’s mother, Pauline LaFon Gore, grew up in Weakley County, and then in Jackson, Tennessee, and worked her way through college and then law school working as a waitress for 25-cent tips during the Great Depression. It was during the night shift at the Andrew Jackson Hotel that she met another young law student; Albert Gore, Sr. Pauline LaFon was one of the first women to graduate from Vanderbilt Law School. After marrying Albert Gore, Sr. in 1937, she helped to forge a new role for political spouses—campaigning actively with her husband, serving as a close adviser throughout his career, and even coining the winning slogan in his first Senate race. After her husband left the Senate, she returned to her original career as a lawyer, and has served as a mentor to young women considering legal careers. In March, Pauline LaFon Gore was honored by Vanderbilt University Law School as its Distinguished Alumna of the Year.
In addition to her close partnership with her husband, Al Gore, Tipper Gore is a well-known advocate for families, women, and children in her own right. As President Clinton’s adviser on mental health issues, she has fought to end discrimination in health care for those with mental illnesses. She has been a leader on issues ranging from children’s health, to homelessness, to AIDS, to physical fitness. Born on August 19, 1948 as Mary Elizabeth Aitcheson, she was nicknamed Tipper by her mother. She grew up in Arlington, Virginia, and met Al at his High School Senior Prom. They were married on May 19, 1970, while Al was in the Army. That same year, Tipper received her B.A. in Psychology from Boston University and in 1975, a Master’s Degree in Psychology from George Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. She became an avid photographer and worked as a photojournalist at The Tennessean until her husband was elected to Congress in 1976. She immediately founded the Congressional Wives Task Force to focus on the issue of violence in children’s television programming.
In 1985, she co-founded the Parents’ Music Resource Center (PMRC), along with Susan Baker, to help give parents a greater ability to protect their children from inappropriate material in today’s popular culture. The PMRC won its fight for consumer labels on music with violent or explicit lyrics—labels that are still in use today. In 1987, she authored her first book, “Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society,” in which she detailed her work on behalf of parents and families. A major advocate for the homeless, she co-founded and chaired Families for the Homeless in 1986, a non-partisan partnership of families that works to raise public awareness of homeless issues. As Mental Health Policy Advisor to President Clinton, Tipper Gore has worked tirelessly to educate Americans about the need for quality, affordable mental health care. Regarded by many as the most visible advocate for mental health care services nationwide, she has served as a vocal proponent for the parity of mental health benefits with those of health benefits under medical insurance plans. Tipper Gore has also worked closely with her husband on the annual “Family Reunion” family policy conferences they lead each year in Nashville—which have promoted and encouraged crucial measures to help families such as Family and Medical Leave, the V-Chip, after-school care, and new efforts to promote family-centered health care. An avid sports enthusiast, Tipper Gore recently became Chair of the National Youth Fitness Campaign of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Her goal is to work with the Council to promote youth physical fitness and educate Americans, particularly young girls, about the positive physical and mental benefits to fitness and physical activity.
Al and Tipper Gore have four children: Karenna Gore Schiff, 27, is a recent law school graduate. She and her husband, Dr. Drew Schiff, are the proud parents of Wyatt Gore Schiff, Al and Tipper Gore’s first grandchild, who was born on July 4, 1999. Kristin, 23, is a comedy writer. Sarah, 21, is a senior in college and Albert, 17, is a high school senior. The Gore family have a black Labrador dog named Shiloh, from Clarksville, Tennessee, and a mixed-breed dog named Daisy that the children found, injured and abandoned, near Center Hill Lake in Middle Tennessee. This shows the compassionate and affectionate side of this democrat. He has formed a never-ending bond with his wife and children and therefore makes him a family man.