When I was sixteen and he was seventeen, at a dance after a St. Alban's prom.
And he was graduating from high school. I was a junior in high school, just
finished my junior year. We both had dates with different people, but a mutual
friend introduced us at this party, and we had a brief but intense, and
obviously meaningful, conversation. He called me the next day and asked me out
for the following weekend.
He was terrific. He was a gentleman, he was funny, he was serious, he was very
interested--made me feel as if he was very interested in me. He seemed to be a
lot more mature than a lot of the young men that I had known up until that
point. And he was extremely good-looking.
Where His Heart Is
When I first met him he was here, graduating from a school in Washington, and
all he talked to me about was Tennessee. I mean, we had our circle of friends
here in Washington and we cared a lot about them, don't get me wrong, but he
told me about the people in Tennessee that he wanted me to meet and how eager
he was for me to be able to come to Tennessee. And so I looked forward to that
first invitation, and in fact it was a great trip. And he drove me all over
and showed me where people lived, and we went to parties, and he showed me the
lake, and we walked all over his farm. Obviously, that's where his heart
Everybody was faced with this decision--all the young men in his graduating
class, everybody in our school, all of them. That was the different reality.
There was no choice. If you were a young man and you were graduating from
college, you had to know what you were going to do. You were either going to
go into the armed services, or, what were you going to do?
Number one, he was anti-war; number two, there was no choice, you were drafted,
at that time, if you were a young man; number three, he knew that he or someone
from his draft board, his number was going to come up, and he was probably
going to know them. He might have grown up with them. It might have been
Steve Armistead or Goat Thompson. And he decided he wasn't going to do
something fancy so that he would not serve, and that one of him would have to
serve in his place. He's not that kind of person. He's got a lot of
How much was his dad's jeopardy in the '70 election, from the
anti-Vietnam stance, a part of that equation?
I think it was a factor. I mean, Al knew, clearly, that, ironically, to
strengthen his father's hand he should go, that that would strengthen his hand,
and he was anti-War as well as his father, his father was a well-known anti-war
Senator. But again, that wasn't the deciding factor. I would say the deciding
factor really goes to the heart and soul of the man I know, and that is, he
wasn't going to have someone else go instead of him. It's that simple.
Why does he run in '76? Did you want him to?
I think it was because being a newspaper reporter and covering the city council
and covering the issues that he had covered by the time that race came open and
presented the opportunity to him to run for Congress, a number of things had
happened. He had been disenchanted and alienated - took no part in politics.
At the same time, we had our first child, Karenna, born in Nashville. We were
becoming members of the community and had a sense of that, and, I think he
really understood that politics was personal, that it did matter who you
elected to the city council, the Mayor or the Governor or the White House. It
really could matter in people's lives.
And it was unspoken. And, of course, it obviously was a lesson that he was
taking in, against the background of his own life, with parents that were
involved in public service for the public good.
So when an opportunity presented itself, it was very unexpected to him
and to me. And I was surprised, but he decided initially that yes, he
was going to go for it, and after we talked about it that weekend, I was
supportive of that.
The Call in '92
The night that then Governor Clinton called, it was around 11 o'clock at night
and I happened to answer the phone, and we were at our farm in Tennessee, and
he just asked to speak to Al, and that was it. He asked him to be on the
ticket, and he accepted.
I think it's one of those very profound moments, when you know that a decision
has been made that is going to possibly change your life, certainly going to
change our lives for the next four months for the campaign. But we felt very
good, very comfortable, because we felt we were doing it for the right reason.
We felt it would strengthen the democratic ticket tremendously, that it was
already going to be strong, with Governor Clinton as the nominee for president,
but that he could bring a lot to the ticket. So, in other words, it felt good,
we felt like we were doing the right thing is what I'm trying to say.
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