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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Gore to declare for president Wednesday

Vice president faces 2000 challenges

June 15, 1999
Web posted at: 6:57 p.m. EDT (2257 GMT)

CARTHAGE, Tennessee (AllPolitics, June 15) -- Vice President Al Gore officially kicks off his campaign for president Wednesday in his homestate of Tennessee. On his way home Tuesday, Gore told reporters travelling with him aboard Air Force Two, he's "eager to formally begin the campaign and get out on the road and talk with people."

Chat: Vice President Gore's first online conversation as an official presidential candidate, Thursday at 4:50 p.m. EDT.

"I've wanted this to begin for quite a while and I am happy about it," Gore said of the formal launch of his campaign. The announcement is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET.

Joking, Gore said: "I made a commitment when I got out of the race in '88 that if I ever ran for president again I'd run as an older candidate. The record will reflect that I have kept that commitment."

On a more serious note, Gore went on to say he intends to describe what "I believe we can do to become a better country ... I am going to tell people what is in my heart, what I believe and what I think our country needs to do. I am not going to deal in platitudes. I am going to deal in policy."

Asked if too much attention was being paid to opinion polls that show Gore losing in a hypothetical matchup against the Republican front-runner, Texas Gov. George W. Bush, Gore said "I think instead of 18 months before the election maybe 18 days" is when people should pay attention to polls. (Latest poll)

Bush finally left Texas and debuted on the campaign trail this weekend. Asked if Bush's appearances was having an impact on his campaign the vice president said: "No."

Vital Stats

March 31, 1948

Washington, D.C.

St. Albans Episcopal School for boys;
B.A., Government, Harvard University, 1969;
Course work at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, 1971-72.
Course work at Vanderbilt University Law School, 1974-76.

Wife, Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Gore; four children.


Vice President of the United States

U.S. Senator from Tennessee, 1985-1992;
Author: Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, 1992;
Candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, 1987-1988;
U.S. Representative from Tennessee, 1977-1985;
farmer, 1973-present;
investigative reporter, editorial writer, The Tennessean, 1971-1976;
home builder and land developer, Tanglewood Home Builders Co., 1971-1976

U.S. Army, 1969-71

Gore 2000
White House


The Gore 2000 campaign's general chairman, Tony Coelho, said the timing of the vice president's announcement, which had been expected to come later this year, did not have anything to do with the Bush campaign at all.

Gore's advantages and hurdles

While Gore brings some giant advantages to his quest for a job promotion, he also faces major hurdles, not he least of which is Bush.

There are advantages to being the vice president in a presidential election, according to Ron Kaufman, a former political director for former President George Bush.

"Air Force Two being a great one, being able to pick and choose issues at the White House that you can foster the lead on, using the Rose Garden as a backdrop, going up to Congress, being president of the Senate, tons of very, very, very substantial roles that you use symbolically to show folks that you really are a leader," Kaufman said.

But Gore also faces challenges as he formally launches his campaign for president and tries to step out of President Bill Clinton's shadow.

"Bill Clinton is valued by Americans for what he has achieved and how the country has prospered under his leadership. But he's also tried the patience of the American people and I don't think Americans will be sad to see him gone," said Tom Mann of the Brookings Institution. "Al Gore needs to send the signal that this is not about a continuation of the Clinton Administration, this is about a new Gore Administration."

The Gore camp shrugs off early polls that show the vice president running behind Bush and Elizabeth Dole.

But Gore's announcement tour is carefully scripted, designed to highlight issues Gore hopes will play to his advantage against Republicans, especially in the competition for suburban women and other critical voting blocs.

So Gore's initial focus will be on the strong economy, health care, crime control and education.

Gore brings an impressive resume to the race: son of a senator, Vietnam veteran, eight years as a House member, eight years as a senator and six-and-a-half years as vice president.

The vice president has worked tirelessly to line up support among key Democratic constituencies like mayors, women's groups and labor organizations.

Bradley is lone Democratic challenger

But Gore still faces a Democratic primary challenge from former Sen. Bill Bradley of New Jersey and a few party mavericks are campaigning against the vice president.

"I think Bill Bradley has immense personal and intellectual integrity. I think he cares deeply about some issues that are very important to our country, how to get big money out of politics, how to revitalize democracy," said Sen. Paul Wellstone of Minnesota.

Gore's strategy calls for ignoring Bradley and guarding against an underdog upset in Iowa and New Hampshire.

"Bill Bradley is a serious politician and if Al Gore stumbles seriously, then Bradley is there to take advantage of that," Mann said.

Gore's challenge is a familiar one to veterans of the 1988 Bush campaign.

"George Bush was called a lap dog for Ronald Reagan," Kaufman said. "You have to overcome that. You have to overcome that by looking the voters right in the eye and have a solid reason why you are running for president."

I In Gore's case, he wants a share of the credit for Clinton's policy successes but wants nothing to do with Clinton's personal shortcomings.

"It's going to be clear that he is Al Gore, he's not Bill Clinton and he's not anyone else. He's Al Gore and his strengths are going to come out," said Roy Neel, Gore's former chief of staff.

Gore will launch his campaign in Carthage, Tennessee, on the same courthouse steps where he announced his short-lived 1988 campaign for president. He was 39 then and untested on the national stage.

Gore is 51 now and ready to argue he's the most tested candidate in the race.

CNN's Jeanne Meserve and John King contributed to this report.


Will Gore fall victim to Clinton fatigue? (5-27-99)

The Political Play of the Week: Gore makes a move (5-21-99)

Gore 2000 names former Rep. Coehlo campaign chairman (5-11-99)

Are women deserting Gore? (4-29-99)

Gore: Campaign will 'be about the American people' (3-10-99)


Al Gore: From Tennessee to the White House

Al Gore profile (1996)

Who is Tipper Gore?

Forty-five percent say they will vote against Gore (6-15-99)

Gore and Bush supporters cite experience, characters as top reasons (6-11-99)

Bush riding high, partly because he is not Gore (6-8-99)

'Reinventing America'
Gore urges rediscovering the 'service' in IRS (3-18-98)

Gore claims progress in 'Reinventing Government' (4-7-97)

Gore orders breath of fresh air for America's parks (4-23-99)

Leadership: Is Al Gore a hero or a traitor? (TIME, 4-19-99)


Senate OKs Democratic gun control measure; Gore casts deciding vote (6-7-99)

Foreign policy
Gore hails Kosovo victory; cautions tough times ahead (6-11-99)

If Clinton stumbles, Gore may pay the price in 2000 (5-25-99)

The secret passion of Al Gore (TIME, 5-17-99)

Technology and science
Gore announces Internet parents' protection plan (5-5-99)

Gore Announces Steps Toward An Electronic Bill Of Rights (7-31-98)

Gore Urges Congress To Pass Tobacco Legislation (2-27-99)


How much money has Gore raised? Here are all the candidates' quarterly FEC reports.

FEC reports: Gore and Bush dominate the race for campaign funds (4-15-99)

Gore raises $8.9 million (4-2-99)


Gore 2000

Office of the Vice President

Federal Election Commission


Tuesday, June 15, 1999

Election briefs:
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