the choice 2000
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his father's son (transcript)
The Burden of Expectation?

INTERVIEWER: One of the things we hear over and over and over again is that Pauline, that Mrs. Gore and Senior Gore had almost from the beginning, almost from the time Al was born, political expectation for him. And it's not unusual to hear the tale that they expected him, almost from the time he was a boy-- I mean, expected as opposed to faintly dreamed, but expected that he might one day grow up to be President. You went out drinking beer and water-skiing with him at midnight. Was that ever part of the equation?

STEVE ARMISTEAD, Tennessee Childhood Friend: I totally disagree with that...not until later on in life, did all this perspective start. I think it got started off an interview with some reporter and Senior Gore, late in his life; and him being excited over Al. "We kind of expected that out of him," and that's a good time to say that, after he's achieved maybe becoming Vice-President of the United States. I think the odds of him becoming President, and then grooming him to be that, what are the odds? I think you can hit the lottery. They were never that type people.

ROY NEEL, VP Chief of Staff 1993-1995: I don't believe that Al's parents set about with a game plan to groom this child to run for president. I do believe they set him out for greatness, and to do big things, and to strive. I think there's no question about that

JUDGE GILBERT MERRITT, Gore Family Friend: Senator Gore had great pride and hopes for his son...and I think that he really wanted Al to run for President before he got too old to watch him run. And I think maybe one reason Al ran in '88 was Senator Gore talked him into it. That's my feeling about it. . .

JERRY FUTRELL, Gore Family Friend: Well, if you want to Monday morning quarterback it, you look back, and sure. It's like any parent preparing the child for becoming president of the company that his father works for, you know? "Hey, if you work hard, you can become President of the company and not have to work like your dad did." But at the time it was not an intentional, saying, "Now you've got to behave yourself because one of these days we want you to be President of the United States." But in retrospect we look back and say, yes, it could have well been preparation for the highest spot in the world.

JUDGE GILBERT MERRITT: Al told a story that on Christmas morning his father said, "Al, let's go downstairs." I guess it was cold that morning, and his father had a big roaring fire down there in the fireplace. And his father told him that he ought to run for President. There had been some talk about it, of course, and that "now's the time"; on the theory that, I think he would have said half-seriously, "I want you to run before I die!" But I think he also said, "You never know what's going to happen in one of these things until you get your feet wet. The turtle never moves until he sticks his neck out, you know. So you've got to see what..." And Al was interested...

MIKE KOPP, Deputy Press Secretary, '88 Campaign: 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.

ROY NEEL: I don't think there's any doubt that Al's parents wanted him to run and thought it was his time and he ought to go do it. All I'm saying is, I don't think that was an inordinate part of Al Gore's decision to run. I don't think there was any plan there to do this, and I think they would have been equally happy if he had become a very prominent and successful journalist or college president or businessman, or whatever. I think that they wanted him to do the best he could do, and to achieve greatness. So that's what they were kind of pushing him for, and it's what most parents do that want their children to succeed. They just did it under a spotlight.

Click here for longer interviews and more resources on the life of Al Gore.

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