THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Aboard Air Force One) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release December 5, 1998
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE DEATH OF SENATOR ALBERT GORE, SENIOR
En Route to Washington, D.C.
6:55 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: -- his father was -- for people like me, growing up in our part of the country, Al Gore was the embodiment of the -- Albert Gore Senior was the embodiment of everything public service ought to be. He was a teacher, he was a progressive, he helped to connect the south with the rest of America, he was progressive on race, he was courageous in standing up for what he believed in -- Vietnam. You know, he might have been himself in national office if he hadn't been just a little too far ahead of his time.
He was a remarkable, remarkable man and I'm very grateful that I had the chance to know him and his wife and spend some time with them as a result of our relationship with the Vice President. The country has lost a great patriot, a great public servant, a man who was truly a real role model for young people like me in the south in the 1960s.
Q How far did you go back with him, sir? When did you first meet him?
THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I don't know that I met him, except maybe to shake hands with him, until 1988. But I knew who he was in 1968 -- '66, when I was working as a young student in the Congress. And I knew who he was when I was in high school.
You know, keep in mind he was talked about for national office from the '50s on. He and Estes Kefauver were both prominently mentioned. And Tennessee had these two very progressive, very articulate and very effective voices in the Senate. It was a remarkable partnership. So I always knew who he was, from the time I became at all politically aware.
Q How did people like Senator Gore, Sr., influence up and coming young southern politicians like yourself?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, they were progressive and they cut against the grain and the image that the south had in the '50s and '60s of being, you know, anti-civil rights, discriminatory, under-educated, underdeveloped. He was progressive on education, progressive on civil rights and sponsored the Interstate Highway Bill. He wanted to connect the south to the rest of America, educate the children of the south, stand up for civil rights. He was a remarkable man. And he was brilliant, full of energy.
And the amazing thing was what a life he had after he left the Senate. When his son and I ran in 1992, he and Pauline -- Mrs. Gore -- they went all over the country and he'd give these stemwinding stump speeches, you know. I remember once in 1988 I spoke at the Oklahoma Democratic Dinner and he came to speak for his son. There were seven speakers that night -- he gave by far the best speech, including mine. And everybody would have said that. So he was alert and active and contributing and remarkably free of bitterness or rancor even after he left the Senate and his elected life was terminated.
But his greatest impact may have been the inspiration that he provided to countless young people from the time he became a prominent figure in Tennessee.
Q Did you speak to the Vice President tonight? How is he doing?
THE PRESIDENT: I just found out a few minutes ago, so I'm going to go call him now.
Q Thank you, sir.
END 7:00 P.M. EST