The US Presidential Elections: Clinton goes for a tailor's dummy with bright ideas

WHEN Albert Gore ran for president in 1988 the press corps joke was that the handsome but wooden-looking senator was indistinguishable from his bodyguards. Those who know him better say the tailor's dummy exterior hides a thoughtful, even a humorous man and, most unusually, a politician interested in ideas for their own sake.

Al Gore is both a conventional choice for presidential running mate - young, white, nationally known, with Washington experience - and a convention-defying one. This will be the first time a US presidential ticket has had two politicians from the South this century. In a year when everyone, even President George Bush, is trying to run as an outsider, Mr Gore, 44, is a career politician from a family in which politics is the family business. He was born in Washington. His father, Al Gore Sr, was like his son after him the Democratic Senator from Tennessee.

Bill Clinton, the Democratic candidate, has defied the traditional geometry of presidential ticket-building in yet another way. By choosing another centrist he risks the wrath - or more significantly the low enthusiasm level - of the party's core constituencies of the left. The Rev Jesse Jackson said the choice of Mr Gore made a 'fairly narrow ticket' and questioned whether two Southerners could inspire labour support.

The Clinton camp evidently calculates that the left has nowhere else to go anyway and that whether the independent candidacy of Ross Perot fades or not the election in November will be won and lost in the centre. By choosing another young, bright, moderate politician Mr Clinton is hoping to convert the revulsion against politics-as-usual in Washington into a desire for generational change. Two southerners on the ticket also give the Democrats serious hopes of winning states in the South for the first time in 16 years (especially if Mr Perot takes a bloc of moderate-to-conservative white, southern votes from Mr Bush).

Mr Gore has made a name for himself in the Senate as a lucid and thoughtful campaigner on environmental, scientific and disarmament issues. His book on eco-politics, The Earth in the Balance, is on the New York Times list of bestsellers. He has been a leading campaigner for tougher US policies on global warming and control of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). This should go down well with younger voters (in theory at any rate) especially in eco-conscious areas like California and the Pacific North-west (where Mr Gore is well-known and popular).

In other respects Senator Gore is a traditional moderate, southern Democrat: hawkish on foreign policy, liberal on domestic policy. He has always championed the need for a strong defence, voting for the Gulf war and non-military Contra aid. He is a thoughtful speaker in interviews but no great orator. It is said of him that he talks in perfect but rather stilted paragaphs. (This in the age of Mr Bush and Dan Quayle is something.) Senator Gore served as an army journalist in combat zones in Vietnam. He has admitted to smoking marijuana while at Harvard. So has his wife, Mary Elizabeth Gore, always known by her childhood nickname of Tipper. Mrs Gore, with Susan Baker, wife of the Secretary of State, James Baker, is a somewhat humourless activist against sex, race and violence in rock lyrics.

The Gores have four children. The youngest, Al Gore III, was seriously injured in a car accident in 1989. Senator Gore gave the need to spend more time with his recovering son as his reason for not running for the presidency. The more likely reason was that it did not seem that President Bush was beatable at the time.

(Photograph omitted)

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Gabriel Agbonlahor, Alexis Sanchez, Alan Pardew and Graziano Pelle
footballAfter QPR draw, follow Villa vs Arsenal, Newcastle vs Hull and Swansea vs Southampton
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam