Gore, Albert A., Jr.

▪ 2001

      In the voting held on Nov. 7, 2000, Democrat Albert A. Gore, Jr., the country's vice president, lost his bid for the U.S. presidency to Republican George W. Bush (Bush, George W. ) (q.v.), governor of Texas. It was the closest presidential election in more than 100 years. Although Gore won the popular contest by more than 500,000 votes out of some 105,000,000 cast, he lost the electoral college 271–266. The final electoral vote, which hinged on disputes over the outcome in Florida, was not determined until December. Gore ran strongly in urban and industrial areas, and he won a number of states on the East and West coasts and in the Great Lakes region. He was hurt in some areas by Green Party candidate Ralph Nader (Nader, Ralph ) (q.v.).

      Gore was born on March 31, 1948, in Washington, D.C., to a prominent political family. His father, Albert Gore, Sr., represented Tennessee for seven terms in the U.S. House and for three terms in the U.S. Senate. After the son earned a B.A. (1969) from Harvard University, he volunteered for the draft and served as a U.S. Army reporter in Vietnam. He then worked as a reporter and editor for the Nashville Tennessean and also studied theology and law at Vanderbilt University, Nashville. In 1976 he was elected to the first of four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, and in 1984 he was elected to the Senate. Gore made an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination for president in 1988, but he won reelection to the Senate in 1990. In Congress Gore was known for developing expertise in such matters as technology and arms control, and his book on environmental issues, Earth in the Balance, was published in 1992. That same year Bill Clinton chose Gore as his running mate, and as vice president he took an active role in decision making.

      On June 16, 1999, Gore formally announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination, and he had the support of the party establishment. Nonetheless, former U.S. senator Bill Bradley of New Jersey took more liberal positions on many issues and mounted a strong challenge. By March 7, however, the date of Super Tuesday, Gore had won all 16 state contests, and it was clear that he would get the nomination.

      With the aid of running mate U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (Lieberman, Joseph I. ) (q.v.) of Connecticut, Gore tried to distance himself from the scandals of the Clinton administration, but he continued to face allegations that he had engaged in illegal fund-raising activities and over the years had taken inconsistent positions on issues. Gore's policy proposals included targeted tax cuts and the use of budget surpluses to pay down the national debt. Although he campaigned from the centre, there was a populist element to his proposals, which he said were designed to benefit “working people.” He was not successful, however, in taking credit for the economic boom of the Clinton-Gore administration, and despite his reputation as a debater, his performances against Bush were not strong. Polls indicated that a majority of voters agreed with Gore's positions on major issues and considered him the more knowledgeable and capable of the candidates, but it also was widely agreed that his was a poorly managed campaign.

Robert Rauch

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Universalium. 2010.

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