STEVE ARMISTEAD, Tennessee Childhood Friend: Everybody wants to get to
know Al Gore, like, "Well I hear all about Al Gore and how he really is. But
how is he? I don't see that," coming from all the reporters I've talked to.
There's definitely a funny side of Al Gore, and it's always been there.
MIKE KOPP, Deputy Press Secretary, '88 Campaign: What the country needs
to understand is Al Gore loves his family, he loves his wife, and he honors the
institution of marriage, absolutely believes in it... The passionate kiss at
the convention. I can't tell you how many times those of us who have been
around him have seen him do that. I mean, he's embraced Tipper that way before
he walks out and makes a major announcement in Carthage. For him to be overcome
with emotion and to embrace her and kiss her the way he did, I mean I just
smile, because that was the real Al Gore.
ARLIE SCHARDT, Press Secretary, '88 Campaign: His weakness would be that
darn curse of being, so often being stiff, which is such a contrast with--I'm
sure you've heard this 100 times, that, in private, he could be loose and funny
and pull jokes and pranks. I think it is definitely an obstacle to his
connecting with mass audiences that he doesn't show that side of himself more
often, than you see it if you're with him a lot, because it's there, but it's
not there enough.
DICK MORRIS, Political Consultant, Clinton Administration: When you look
at Al Gore and you see a lack of spontaneity, the unspoken text is, we're not
looking at the real Al Gore, we're looking at a rehearsed, pre-packaged,
carefully weighed, considered Al Gore. Well, I can tell you, that is Al Gore.
There's nothing underneath you're not getting--that is Al Gore. He's not
spontaneous, he is pre-packaged, he does think long before he speaks, he is
very carefully prepared. It's not like this is an act, this is him.
JUDGE GILBERT MERRITT, Gore Family Friend: You can't be something other
than what you are at the core. And at the core, he is a serious-minded person
who at least in public does not give this loose, friendly, uncontrived, "I'm
yours" impression that at least some politicians-- and particularly a
politician like Clinton, and to some extent his father-- gave. He is as he is.
And he's a hard-working, dedicated fellow. But he is not always smiling. And
I think he's kind of maybe more like his mother, always thinking.
STEVE ARMISTEAD: I see a lot of his father in him, from the standpoint
of getting on a subject and staying with it, and becoming well-informed and
educated about it. I mean, if you want to look back and see a trait that he's
picked up on issues and whatever, he's a very focused person. He was not
trained to be like that. That's just the way his-- I mean, that's part of who
he is. It was born in him.
DICK MORRIS: I think that in his formality, his bureaucratization, his
stiffness, his choice of vocabulary, his lack of spontaneity, those are all
reflections of a transitory insecurity that I think he's increasingly
overcoming by his successes.
MIKE KOPP: If you look at Al Gore, as a Congressman, and to a degree as
a Senator, he wore this blue suit...he felt like he needed to put on that
conservative blue suit, regardless of where he went, regardless of what he was
doing, because he needed to prove to people that he was a mature member of
Congress. He was not, you know, a 28 year old or 29 year old, 30 year old
Congressman. He wanted to be taken seriously...
ARLIE SCHARDT: There was a big parade up Peach Tree Street in all, at
that point, I think seven democratic candidates were to be lined up in this
parade up the Avenue, along with a lot of prominent Civil Rights leaders, and
so on. And as they were lining up I went up behind Al and just literally
reached up and pulled at his jacket until I was pulling it out over his
sleeves. And he looked around because he didn't know who the hell was doing
that, and he looked annoyed, which anybody would. But I said "Al, I'm not
going to let you wear that jacket in this parade." It was a beautiful, sunny
day. So finally he agreed and we stripped it off, so there was this phalanx of
people marching up the street. The next day on the front page of The New
York Times was a big photo of this scene of all of the candidates, and Al
just looked like Superman. He just stood out so much because he's got broad
shoulders --And everybody else was kind of faded into the dark business suits
that they were all wearing, and then here was this one guy with just a shirt
and a tie down there. And so we try to use that as an example of why he should
do that more often, but it never really worked. There were other times where
he did finally toss the jacket aside and pull down his tie, and he always gave
much better speeches that way too. He can do it very easily, and it was always
a mystery as to why he didn't, what it was that held him back from doing it
more often. I don't know the answer.
DICK MORRIS: One of the ironies of Al Gore is, the best thing that could
happen, to make him a good president, would be for him to get elected, because
then he would get rid of a lot of insecurity.
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