Vice-President stays out of sight

Gore Camp
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The Independent US

the thunderstorms, both electoral and meteorological, have passed through Nashville. The bunting has been taken down from Veterans' Plaza, as has the dais where Vice-President Al Gore was to make the victory-or-concession speech that never was. Instead Mr Gore is still at the downtown Loews' hotel where he arrived on Tuesday evening, watching the recount in distant Florida.

the thunderstorms, both electoral and meteorological, have passed through Nashville. The bunting has been taken down from Veterans' Plaza, as has the dais where Vice-President Al Gore was to make the victory-or-concession speech that never was. Instead Mr Gore is still at the downtown Loews' hotel where he arrived on Tuesday evening, watching the recount in distant Florida.

Mr Gore is cloistered in suites upstairs. Downstairs in the lobbies there is no sense of triumph, but not defeatism either. Instead Mr Gore and his advisers are bracing themselves for a long haul.

Already 75 of Gore's men are in Florida, monitoring events there. The campaign is also looking for office space in Washington. It will house not a transition committee in the conventional sense but supervise a sort of "transition to the transition". In other words, the Gore camp expects the immediate outcome in Florida to be only a first phase.

Mr Gore himself is keeping as far out of the picture as possible. He has not appeared in public since Wednesday afternoon. His aides occasionally appear, but with nothing to say.

And that is how it must be. Mr Gore may end up with a majority of the popular vote but this is a country addicted to its constitution, and woe betide the politician who flouts its rules. Nothing would damage him more than to come across as a petulant bad loser. If he does lose, Mr Gore must appear the statesman today to have a political career tomorrow. By that yardstick, on Wednesday the Vice-President passed the test with flying colours.

But as he waits Mr Gore must be asking how he contrived to lose his home state of Tennessee. Had he won its 11 electoral votes, the fuss in Florida would be irrelevant.

So it is that Mr Gore, who first imbibed the milk of politics at his Senator father's knee in a hotel in Washington DC, waits in another hotel to learn whether, at least for the immediate future, he has a political career at all.

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