the choice 2000

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interview: mike kopp
photo of mike kopp

A former newspaperman, Kopp served as speechwriter and deputy press secretary in Gore's 1988 presidential campaign. He describes Gore's decision to run, and the ups and downs of the campaign, with a special emphasis on the relationship between Gore and his father. Kopp also talks about Gore's management style, his drive, his tendency to exaggerate, and his great promise as a president.
What's the first time you met Al Gore? What were your impressions?

Well, I was working at a small, rural daily newspaper which happened to be the largest newspaper in his congressional district, the old Fourth District. And I would work weekends. And typical Al Gore fashion-- it's actually something he continued to do after he went onto the Senate, when his schedule would allow it. He would just show up, oftentimes by himself, show up in the newsroom. And he had a newspaperman's instinct for timing, because he would show up about the time he knew I was frustrated and looking for something to put in the paper the next day. And he would show up with the story. He'd have something that I could use. So, we met. He did that over a period of about six months, and we struck up a friendship. He would come in on Saturdays. After awhile I was sort of like Pavlov's dog, that's where I got conditioned to it. And I needed him. When he didn't show I'd call him to see where he was. And he knew, in a sense he was building a relationship with a reporter, which was important. At the same time he knew how to use the media to get across his point of view on a particular issue. And he knew because of the timing that I would inevitably use it.

So, that's how we met.

Why was your paper so important that he comes in?

...Al was a smart politician. He knew that he needed to-- if he ever thought he might get some opposition from a particular area, he would concentrate on that area. He knew instinctively to do that. And he knew that one of the best tools to use was the media. And again, he had kind of an instinct for-- I mean, we're talking about somebody who would show up at 3 o'clock on a Saturday afternoon when he knew good and well we were trying to lay the paper and put it to bed by 6 p.m. And he knew just to get there early enough to give us what we needed, but not get there too early where we'd have too much time to think about what we just got. And it was very smart. And he just really impressed me...

Soon after you actually went to work with him.

Yes, we went through about six months of this sort of showing up on weekends... And it was a couple of weeks before Christmas and he called me. This would have been Christmas in 1980, I believe. He called me and asked if I would be his press secretary. That he wanted to do more than he had been doing. That he pretty much did his own press and he thought it was time to bring on somebody who would full time help you sort of nurture the relationships he had built. I had some background in radio, I would come background in print. So, he asked if I would come up. I literally loaded everything I had in my car and drove up the next week. Didn't have a place to stay. And that's kind of how we started the professional relationship after that.

What's he like to work for?

he tended to push the envelope to make a point about his achievements. And he did it, honestly, to try to connect with the person he was dealing with. ...Initially, I didn't have too much direct interaction with him. As he built some confidence in my ability to deal with the media on his behalf, we started interacting more, and he started seeking opinions. Very challenging, very challenging. But, it was never-- You know, there was a personal side to Al. He wanted you to call him "Al", not "Congressman." He wanted you to call him "Al" not "Senator." He'd always ask about your family. He always kind of knew what was going on in your personal life. I remember in the House years it would not be unusual if a group of us were working late, he'd come in and say, "Let's go get Chinese," and he'd take us all out to eat Chinese food. There was that personal side to him. But, in somebody in my position, particularly as he sort of moved into these more complex areas like arms control, he was real intense. It was sort of like having your worst nightmare as an editor looking over your shoulder... Anything anybody wrote, whether it was a letter, an issue, or whatever--you could always expect editorial changes from Al. And he would challenge you. He'd want to know, "Why did you say this? Why did you put my name-- Why did you convey this issue this way?" He was always challenging you. But, at the same time we never felt like it was personal. I always felt, at least with my relationship with Al, that he was trying to teach me. He was sort of like-- he relished the role of a teacher. He loved to teach people. He loved to teach people in open meetings. He loved to teach the media about an issue. And he loved to teach his staff, particularly the younger ones like myself...

When I first met Al, I think he was still trying to figure out why he was doing what he was doing. I think there was a-- I mean, he was in search of something. He was in search of the issue that would define him, he was in search of the issue that would have a dramatic impact on people's lives. I think there's a public servant heart that beats in Al Gore. I think it's evolved and matured...

We've heard he could be undisciplined at times, things would always go to the last minute.

Yes. A classic example is his speech writing. I attempted over the years to write speeches for Al Gore. And he would edit them up to the last minute. And it was a real frustrating process. And by last minute, I mean if he were going to give a breakfast speech at the Mayflower in front of some group, he'd be in the car, and you'd be in the back seat, and he'd be still editing the fifteenth draft of whatever you'd written for him. Even if it was a short generic speech, just editorial constant--

And there was a little bit of a lack of a discipline, because I think he did-- things did go down to the wire... It didn't matter what your skill level was, or what your credentials were, he was going to edit whatever you gave him. And he was going to take you through this process down to the wire... And anybody involved in that speech-writing process, you had to be on call or present in case he needed you during that all nighter. And he pulled those all-nighters all the time. I chuckled when I read that he was putting his campaign staff through that same process getting ready for the convention speech. That's classic Al Gore. Anybody who's ever worked for him knows that he will take it to the last minute.

What does it say about him?

Well, he's a perfectionist. I think that's-- And, I think, as any true perfectionist he feels he comes closest to perfection than anyone else. And I think it's a combination of perfection and a combination of, there's just some ego there. If he's going to lend his name to a weekly column for a small newspaper that people will probably never see, or a convention speech, by golly, he's going to mole over every word and he's going to be darn sure that it's his word.

Of course, the issue comes up is he Carter-like in the fact that his micro-managing is taking him away from the more important things? Did he fall into that trap?

Well, taking it to the 1988 presidential campaign, yes he did. His perfectionism and his insistence on controlling, particularly the written or spoken word on his behalf, the campaign was putting out, it did create a lot of problems. I think one of the reasons why in 1988 there was never a single coherent message was because Al wouldn't listen to all the people around him who kept offering messages. Unless it was his idea, or he could be convinced it was close to what his heart told him to do, he would reject it.So, here we are in 1988 and we're well into the campaign. We don't have a message; we don't have a single theme that people can be attracted to...

Why did he run in '88? He's a young Senator just in the Senate for a few years. Why, at that point, does he decide to run for president?

I can honestly say, so many years later, I don't know. I recall when he summoned in his senior staff into his office in the Russell Building to get an impression from people. I remember being called into his office. And Roy Neal and Peter Knight and, I'm trying to think who else might have been in the room-- one or two other people, I think staff were in the room.

We're sitting there and we're looking at Al. I don't know that anyone of us knew why we were in there. And he blurts out, "I'm thinking about running for president." And we all look at each other, and some of us laugh, some of us turn white. I asked the question, "Why?" And he sort of looked at me and said, "Why not?" And he went through all the reasons. The timing may be right. Gary Hart's having problems. Bill Clinton's probably not going to do it. The Democrats need a leader. Nobody takes Dukakis seriously. So, it was all these reasons why not. I never felt fully satisfied with the answer why. And so another time, there was another occasion when--and it was shortly thereafter--he called the same folks back in and said, "Okay, I'm going to do it. Are you all with me, and are you excited?" And again, I asked him the question, "Honestly, I don't see the fire in your belly. And I don't know why you're doing this." And I never felt like I got a straight answer. And looking back now and knowing more about who he was talking to, more than I did at the time, there was a tremendous amount of pressure from some people. And I think there were some tremendously generous offers made by people who called him and said, "Look, we can raise you the money you need. We'll provide you with consultants. You're young. If you don't win, it's good for you. You get your name out." And I think he was-- Walking away from the whole '88 experience, I got the impression he was sort of talked into it. He had all the answers to why not from the people that were talking him into it. But, as we got in the campaign, it was so obvious to me, and even with his struggle for the message, people would say, "Why are you running?" And there was never a cohesive clear reason why. It was always the why nots...

Was his father involved in pushing him?

Oh, clearly his father was all for it, from the get-go. Now, I think, at the same time, I wasn't privy to this, but I'm sure knowing his father that his father made sure that his son had serious commitments from people. He didn't want his son to go out there and embarrass himself or the family...When I was asked to come work for him, I got the call and he said, "Come on up." Just prior to that trip up to Washington, I got an invitation from Tipper. She called my old apartment in Murphysborough, and asked if I would come to their Christmas dinner that they hosted at the Gore Sr.'s house, that Al and Tipper did for the congressional staff in the district. And it was my first exposure to Gore Sr. and Pauline, and also Tipper. I really hadn't had a chance to meet her. And most of the congressional staff I really didn't know. And I drove up to Carthage and we had a meal. And I remember Al, Sr. talking about, "My son's going to really, really be famous. And he's a great public servant." And he was sort of talking to me, like you're the new kid here, "Let me tell you how it is, kid. And how it is is the man you're about to work for is a great man and he's a great public servant. And he's going to be famous one day. And he's going to go all the way to the top."I don't know that he ever used the word "president" then, but it was clear to me leaving that home that night that Al knew he was going to be president one day, or at least would make the effort. Tipper had accepted the fact that one day they'd have to face that. And certainly Al and his mother were 100 percent for it. And this was back in 1980, '81.

Let's delve a little bit more into the the presidential race. We talked about his dad, we talked about Al. How does Tipper fit into the presidential selection?

Well, in 1988, Tipper was probably his closest adviser. I don't know that there was ever a time when any of us ever thought we could convince Al of any strategic decision or message decision or any significant campaign decision without having run it by Tipper. It wasn't a dictate from Al. Those of us that had been around him long enough knew that if we wanted to get him to accept something, if we could, without stirring the pot too much, we might touch base with Tipper, and get a read on it. She knew him like a book. She knew where he was not only on the personal side, but where he might be professionally.

And it was not unusual in some conversations we had on some issues, where we would casually drop in, and we ran it by Tipper too, in hopes that it might speed up the process a little bit. So clearly, she was a real important confidante...

And I know there were times, there had to be times, when Al and Tipper wondered, "Why are we doing this?" And certainly the staff did. I mean, there were days-- and this went on for months -- where we'd get in there and think, you know, "We don't stand a snow ball's chance. Why are we doing this? We're killing ourselves. We don't have any resources. The candidates are unhappy. We don't have a message. We're all over the map."

And I think there was always a general frustration, a cloud of frustration.

Was there a moment when it all seemed-- I mean, when Super Tuesday came by-- was there a moment when everybody sort of said "Oh my God, this thing might actually go"?

No. I don't think there was ever a time, honestly, when we really, honestly, believed that we could make it work. Now, prior to Super Tuesday, I think people hoped. And I think we all knew, though; I think we all knew it was false hope... I can honest say I don't think any of us really ever thought it was going to happen...

Working for him, was it a job or was it a crusade?

It was a crusade. It was a job in the sense that there were expectations. Depending on what your responsibilities were there were pretty high expectations from Al. If you were going to write something for him, if you promised to write something for him, you better be damn good. If it wasn't, you're going to hear it.

But, at the same time we always felt that we were on a crusade. And it wasn't so much that-- Interestingly enough, it wasn't that people in my era that worked for him, worked for him because we wanted that ticket to the White House. We never thought about that. It's we liked working for a guy who wasn't much older than us, who was willing to go out and turn the tables. Sort of come into the temple and drive out the money changers. Whatever he had to do to turn things around, he was going to do. And he was aggressive and he was really good at it.

There was an energy in the House in early Senate years, unlike anything I've ever seen in any politician or political atmosphere that I've seen since. He was young. He was going to turn it around...

How hurt was he about dropping out in '88? Did he feel that he embarrassed himself and his family?

I think he was really hurt. I'm sure he felt a great sense of disappointment to his father. Because his father lived and breathed that campaign. Probably even more than we did after a period of time. His father probably wanted us to continue, it was never really clear, even beyond where we were.

I recall when the decision was made in New York, primary night, that he was going to pull out of the race, I flew with another campaign staffer with Al and Tipper in a private plane to Austin, Texas. There was a fundraiser scheduled the next day. And he was going to do it. He was going to do that fundraiser. And he was going to make it clear to that group, "I'm out of the race. Don't ...(inaudible) your money, and understand."

But, he wanted to go. "Asleep at the Wheel" was the band that was playing at this really nice affair. And it wasn't a big event, but it was a big ticket event. That flight home, or that flight from New York to Austin, Al seemed so relaxed. He and Tipper were holding each other. There was a lot of just feel a real closeness between them. Like they both felt like they'd just been through hell and back and they're still together after all this.

I'll never forget that next night at that event. They danced until they couldn't dance anymore. Had the campaign still been going on, they wouldn't have done that. They would have worked the crowd, or kept their distance, or put on this persona. But, they were determined-- Something happened between that flight to New York and that event in Austin that very next day. They decided they were going to have a good time.

So, they ate, had a little bit to drink, and they danced and they just-- It was like a couple on their first date. And those of us that saw it just thought how wonderful it was. And that got him in such a great mood the next morning, of course, he flew back to Washington and had the news conference and the Rules Committee Hearing in the Russell Building just down the hall from the ...(inaudible)

And having had a day removed from New York, going to Austin hearing one of his favorite swing dance bands and dancing with his wife, ...(inaudible) time with her, he was in a great mood. He joked about how he'd just turned 40. All this kind of just wonderful stuff.

So, I think there was a great sadness, a great disappointment, but he did what he always did in times like that. I think he retreated back to Tipper and his family, and it gave him a sense of comfort and security. And he was able to move on.

The other big thing that happened during the election is the more personal issues became fair game. Ginsberg sort of announced or talked about using marijuana. So, how did that come on to the radar screen. Tell me the beginnings of the words that the questions were going to be asked.

...It all sort of blew up when it was probably middle of the day--I don't recall the day--I got a call in the Press Office from this person we had travel with Gore. And, I believe they were in Alabama somewhere. And a reporter, a television reporter, had asked Al a question. ...(inaudible) never really answered the question.

Well, that person called in and said, "What do we do if it comes up again? Al wants to know what does he need to do?"

Well, it was kind of ironic because I think Fred, or some others had tried to have a conversation with him and he didn't want-- Well, all of a sudden to being asked, "Now, what do I do?" He was heading from there to Miami. There was a fundraising event, the next morning there was a news conference. And then that next morning he was heading to Iowa for a gathering of all the democratic candidates...

Then how did it unfold?

When I got [to the hotel in Miami], I was met by Kick in the lobby. (whisper) And he said we've got to go up, Al and his father are in the suite, and we need to deal with this. I was kind of surprised that they were still up. It was 1:30, nearly 2 o'clock in the morning, whatever. So, we go up. I'll never forget walking in the room with Dick. He and his father were arguing about this marijuana question. And it was one of the oddest kind of debates, discussions, arguments that I'd ever seen between a politician and anybody else.

Dick and I were able to get some questions asked. We framed some questions, we came up with a list of questions that we thought were going to be asked. We fired them at Al. Al responded to some; some he dismissed. We finally left that night having crafted with him, and it was primarily Al's words, a very brief statement that I then would pass onto the campaign. And it would be sort of the state-- the official response is anybody is asked. And it's the response that Al would give in Miami that next morning and then in Iowa later in the day.

But, for a period of about an hour to an hour and a half, Dick and I were sort of privy to this unusual kind of dance between Al and his father that I'll just never, never forget.

Tell me about it.

...All I remember was Gore, Sr. being very upset, it seemed very upset at his son for smoking marijuana. So, you sort of had this father, "Son what have you done?"

Then another equation in the argument, discussion, debate, whatever you want to call it, was father disappointed that son, candidate would have this sort of-- being exposed now as if Al had any kind of control over it.

Then there was Al, father, Al, Sr. father and his son, and Al, Sr. sort of debating whether or not Al, Jr. needed to say anything at all. It's sort of the old politics versus the new politics of today, ignore it, forget about it. And, of course, Al sort of standing his grounds saying it doesn't work that way anymore, dad. These days you can't run from the media. They're going to ask you until we give them an answer."...

Did Al Gore deal with his father's disappointment at that point?

No, he dismissed it. At that point--and this is why I think this has been going on for awhile--at that point Al just didn't want to deal with it. As much as he loved his father, as much as he respected his father, I think he would have been tickled to death if his father had just thrown up his hands and stormed out of the room. But, his father didn't. Like an old prize fighter he kept coming back in the ring, "And another thing..." And Al was just, you know, "Stop it." There was just this kind of, you know-- It's so hard to describe. You almost had to see it to understand.

Can you set the scene a little more?

There was what looked to be a king-size bed. Dick and I-- and it was a large room-- Dick and I were on the side of the room that had the little table and two chairs, and we're sitting there trying to write. There's this king-size bed, and there's Al, Senior, on one side of the bed, and Al, Junior, on the other side of the bed. And I remember thinking that it's a good thing that bed was between them, because they're not shouting, but making these sort of comments, flying and forth across the room...I remember thinking that it was-- what a perfect illustration that they were two politicians, two very determined individuals, two very ambitious individuals that came from two different worlds. One on this side, who was old politics, and "This is the way we used to do it, and you don't talk about such things and we don't do such things," versus the new politics, which is "You've got to deal with it. You can't ignore it. You've got to move on." And that's kind of what was going on in that room.

What did he tell his father he had done at that point? And how did he define it to his dad at that point?

When we got there Al was ready to frame the public message. I got to believe there was more of a heart to heart about all that was really involved in it. By the time we got there, Al-- enough had been said between the two of them that Al, Sr. was very disappointed in his son for what he had done.

Now, when we got there, and we sort of heard what Al's version was that we were going to relay, it didn't seem like that big a deal. Okay, a few times, kind of experimented with it, kind of a college Vietnam thing, which always led me to believe in my heart of hearts that there was probably more than that there. I don't know. None of us knew and will ever know. But, his father was so disappointed when we got there in his son that, I think, both Dick and I walked out thinking, boy, there really must have been some stuff that went on here that we only caught a glimpse of.

How did he first define it to you guys?

He did it like he had always defined it, always define any issue, which is, "Alright, take notes, here's the story." It wasn't a "Here's truth. Here's what you're going to say." It was, "Here it is." Now, here it is could be the whole story or part of the story; you don't know. It's just, "Here it is, guys, take it. And this is what you're going to do."

Now, while he's trying to convey this-- This should have been a short meeting... [but]it went on for a long time, and I think it went on for a long time because his father kept wanting to come back and bring up all these other issues. "You're my son, what have you done?" And at that point Al was just, "We talked about that. This is what we've got to deal with, dad."

"I don't know why, Al, you did this."...

So what happened the next morning?

Well, I mean, after that, I didn't get any sleep. Dick didn't either. We met early for breakfast the next morning, and I think we had no idea what was going to happen. There were a few reporters who were there in Miami. We had a brief press availability, I think, is what we decided to call it. We don't have a news conference; we were going to save that for later. And he made the statement, took a few questions. There was one reporter, Jim O'Hara, from The Nashville Tennessean, who Dick and I had briefed prior to that. You know, "Here's what's going to happen, Jim. He's going to make a statement. Here's the statement." And Jim may have asked him a few questions. It was a non-event. We walked out of there thinking, "Boy, that was easy."

Now, then ... (inaudible) realizes-- We then got on the plane. Gore had flown out ahead of us. Dick and I were on a charter flight with Howard Fineman from Newsweek, and we all caught a plane out of Miami and we're heading to Iowa. And we get to Iowa, and what the campaign had done in Iowa was interesting-- this is how chaotic we were, and disorganized we were. Our campaign folks in Iowa had been told by the office in Washington to schedule a major event and invite all the media down. But they really didn't know what it was about.

So when we got there, there was this enormous room, and everybody possible media you would imagine covering presidential politics was in that room. I mean, it was Sam Donaldson-- It was the cream of the crop, were there. Our campaign folks had done a great job, in the sense that they got everybody in that room for some major announcement. I think when Dick and I got there, our first reaction was, "What have they done?" I mean, we were going to try and coast through this day, and just let people know about it, so we can say we've talked about it. We never imagined having this cluster of people in this room, and such stellar folks.

But we met with Al briefly before he went in there, and told him, "This is what has been set up for you." His response was, "All right. I'm going to stay there until we answer every question." And we're thinking, "Well, we didn't go through every question." But he got up and did a great job. I mean, he gave a statement, took a few questions. There were very few follow-up questions that were done. And we sort of walked out of that with a sigh of relief, Gore, all the staff. We can now say that every media person who could ever ask the question was in that room. And if they did not ask that question that way, we could say, "You had your opportunity," whatever. So it actually worked out.

What were the questions that you posed the night before? What were the kind of things you were worried about?

Oh, I never thought that the media would accept an answer, like, several times, or a couple of times. I mean, you know, I figured some stellar, tough, hardened campaign reporter would say "How many is that?" I don't recall that question being asked. We thought the question would come up, "Where did you smoke it?" And part of his statement referred to "When I was in college in ... (inaudible)." "Where? Did you have a gun in your hand? Did you point it at somebody when you were smoking?"

You know, we thought there would be those sort of natural follow-up questions, wanting to get into more detail, and I think, because the media was so shocked-- I mean, Al was, really, I think, at that point, the first candidate to come out and hold a news conference to announce what he had done to the world-- And a couple things. A lot of those press in there were his peers. These were the people that are his age. I remember thinking that at the time. Well, you know, calling the kettle black.

And then there was sort of shock factor. So I guess at the end of the day that's probably why we didn't get a lot of follow-up. But it surprised me that we didn't.

Was it figured "bullet dodged?" I mean, what was your reaction?

Oh, big time. Oh no. We walked out of there and thought, "Whew! We just made it through probably the toughest task, from a media standpoint of this campaign. And everyone's going to think that we had engineered it this way, that we had called all the media together because, by God, we were going to stand there and take it like a man. Well, that's not exactly what we had in mind, but it worked out that way. And Al certainly got the credit for standing up there in front of everyone and God and telling his story.

And there just didn't happen to be any follow-up questions, and we very much we had dodged a bullet...

What was his dad's reaction after that?

It never came up again...

The marijuana issue, though, does bring up the question of Al Gore's tendency, in the past, to exaggerate here and there. And that, of course, is why the issue has come back. Not the marijuana smoking, per se, but the honesty issue and the question of did he try to persuade friends to be dishonest.

Well, I mean, it's been reported. I wrote a memo to Al that I do remember writing. I never kept a copy of it. ... (inaudible) But during the campaign, I wrote a memo to him saying "You tend to stretch the truth, and it's making our lives difficult." I remember that episode. I remember that. It was early in the campaign. But the context of that was on his credentials and achievements.

I mean, he was not satisfied telling a reporter that he was a reporter. He wanted that reporter to know that he was an investigative reporter for seven years. But you could do the math; it didn't make any sense.

He not only wanted to tell somebody or some group or reporter that he was a leader on science issues, but he might have invented the Internet. I mean it was-- he tended to push the envelope to make a point about his achievements. And he did it to, I think, honestly, to try to connect with the person he was dealing with. He talked about the exaggeration.

And the real thing that I had the greatest issue of during that campaign, what I was really-- the core of what I was writing about-- was you cannot tell the media over and over again that you-- You can't sit across the table from somebody from The Washington Post and convince them that you were at that level. You can't stretch your bio to that point. Just be satisfied by saying you once worked at a newspaper for awhile. You don't have to make that point to prove yourself.

But he always felt like he had to make that connection. If he were sitting here with you, he'd want to say, you know, "I once produced a major television broadcast, too," you know, because he's wanting to make a connection with you. And it just made it difficult. And that was sort of the genesis of it all.

I never felt he was lying or exaggerating about his personal faults or characteristics or personal life. The marijuana question was not part of the equation, in my mind. It was this bio thing, that he felt like he had to beef it up. It's like going back to when he was in his early days in Congress. He had to put that blue suit on, because putting that blue suit made him look more important than he thought he was...

Those tendencies, what importance-- why is it important for the public to know that, and how will it affect the way you perceive him doing his job, if he does get elected as president?

Well, I would hope that if he is elected president, he can step back and say "I don't have to exaggerate my biography anymore. Because I've got the brass ring now." So I hope that when he gets to that level, he doesn't feel like he has to do that anymore...

Do you think this tendency to exaggerate is part of why a lot of people think they're never seeing the real Al Gore?

...People do ask the obvious question: "If he's exaggerated his bio, has he exaggerated anything else? Is he telling the truth about anything else?" I think that you take that and you put him in the shadow of Bill Clinton, and all the promises broken, and commitments that were not honored on the personal side, I think, yeah, he's become fair game for that. But I think what the country needs to understand is Al Gore loves his familiy, 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.

And it really hurts to see people criticize him and say, "Well, it's staged." No, that was genuine. When it comes to Tipper, when it comes to interaction and how he interacts with his kids, going out after Karenna gave her speech, that is sincere. I mean, he absolutely adores his family...

So in the end, what kind of a president will he make?

Oh, I think there's a president who has matured into someone who I think is secure in who he is, who's come to realize more who he is. And who he is is somebody who loves family, wants to do everything he can to preserve family. And I think he's now figured out-- if we could have had this in '88 maybe things would have been different-- but now I think he's got his thing, his message, his purpose...

He talks about working families and doing things. It all comes from something that he understands, and it's very real to him. And that's what can we do for other people, who don't have the family opportunities that we do? What can we do to sort of surround them with that same experience somehow, give them that same sense of security?

You know, I think he's finally found his niche, and he's finally found his place, and he doesn't have to compromise anymore.

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