- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2000

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vice President Al Gore closed his marathon campaign for the presidency last night by waiting out the returns in Tennessee, his home state and a key battleground.

Mr. Gore and his wife Tipper were watching the returns with their family at the Loews Hotel when they got word that Mr. Gore had carried Florida, Michigan, New Jersey and Illinois. Cheers erupted in the room, Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway said.

"The pundits have had their say," Mr. Hattaway told reporters at the Sheraton Downtown. "Today it is time for the voters to have their say and they may be surprising the pundits."

"We are very gratified by the victories in Florida and Michigan and the other states that are coming in," he said. "We think people are responding to Al Gore's message of keeping this prosperity going and making it work for everyone."

Mr. Hattaway said the Gore campaign had continued to shift resources westward, urging people in Western states to cast their ballots.

Mr. Gore headed home to vote at the end of a sleepless 30-hour stretch in which he barnstormed trough swing states Iowa, Missouri, Michigan and Florida, before heading home to Tennessee.

"I voted for my husband, Al Gore, and it was a thrill," the vice president's wife, Tipper, said after the Gores voted at Forks River Elementary School in Elmwood, a tiny community next to Carthage, where Mr. Gore owns a farm.

The vice president then visited with small children at the school, talking about the importance of voting.

The final day of Mr. Gore's presidential campaign began with a star-studded midnight rally in Miami, where entertainers such as Stevie Wonder, Jon Bon Jovi, Robert DeNiro, Ben Affleck, Billy Dee Williams and Glenn Close urged Florida voters to back the vice president.

Mr. Gore then flew to Tampa, where he continued to stress issues. At 4:30 a.m. a bleary-eyed Mr. Gore sat with nurses at the Moffitt Cancer Center and discussed health care.

Mr. Gore left the Moffitt Cancer Center about 5:30 a.m. and headed for the Florida Bakery, in Columbus Spanish Plaza, a small strip mall.

Just before 6 a.m. Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman met in the bakery, where they sipped Cuban coffee from tiny plastic cups.

Mr. Gore lifted his cup and toasted Mr. Lieberman, saying "L'chaim," which means: "To life." Mr. Gore downed his coffee in one gulp.

"That's good," Mr. Gore said. "That feels like eight hours of sleep."

Mr. Lieberman asked Mr. Gore: "Are you in overdrive?"

"I do not feel tired," Mr. Gore said. Mr. Gore turned to reporters and said mischievously: "I think we'll put a couple more cities on."

In their final rally of a grueling campaign, Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman greeted campaign workers at the Hillsborough County Coordinated Campaign Headquarters, a small white cement building in a Cuban section of Tampa.

Mr. Lieberman, his usual ebullience sapped by fatigue, recalled that Mr. Gore named him his running mate Aug. 7.

"I just want to say to him: Thank you," Mr. Lieberman said, noting they have grown closer over the last 12 weeks.

Mr. Lieberman referred to the majesty and mystery of Election Day as the sky began to lighten and turn a mottled gray and orange.

"The dawn is rising on Election Day, right here in Tampa Bay," Mr. Lieberman said.

"This is the last official stop of Campaign 2000," Mr. Gore said. "It's not an accident that it's here in Tampa. It's not an accident that it's in west-central Florida, because Florida may very well be the state that decides the outcome of this election…

"And looking at you and hearing your enthusiasm, what I'm hearing from you is, tonight, when the vote comes in, we're going to win Florida and we're going to win the White House," he said.

"Well, it's almost 5:30 a.m. Texas time, and George W. Bush is still asleep and I'm still speaking to people here in Florida," Mr. Gore said.

At the airport, before settling in on Air Force II and heading to Nashville, Mr. Gore shook hands with volunteers and tossed a football around with aides on the tarmac.

At the airport in Nashville, Mr. Gore and his wife disembarked from the plane together, followed by their son Albert III and their daughter, Sarah. Mr. Gore took off his jacket then ran the short distance to the waiting crowd pumping both fists in the air, Rocky-style. He then boarded a helicopter for the ride to his family farm in Carthage.

After the voting ceremony, Mr. Gore. Tipper, Albert, Sarah and Kristin had lunch with Mr. Gore's mother, known as "Miss Pauline."

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