- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2004

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Pauline Gore, whose son was vice president and nearly won the presidency and whose husband served a lengthy and distinguished career in Congress, died yesterday. She was 92.

She had been weakened in recent years by strokes and a heart attack, and died in at her home in Carthage.

“Her son called me earlier this morning and said she passed in her sleep,” former Gov. Ned McWherter said.

Trained as a lawyer, Mrs. Gore was a familiar figure in the campaigns of her now-deceased husband, Albert Gore Sr., and her son, former Vice President Al Gore.

In Tennessee, she was nearly as widely known as her liberal husband and played a central role in much of his campaign strategy. The elder Mr. Gore served in the House from 1939 to 1953 and in the Senate from 1953 to 1970.

“She was my father’s closest adviser,” the vice president said in 1999. “Together, they strengthened the future of this great country.”

Mrs. Gore campaigned for her son when he ran for the Democratic nomination for president in 1988. During the 1992 campaign, she and her husband campaigned actively for her son and presidential candidate Bill Clinton. They made a seven-week bus tour with many of the stops at senior citizens’ gatherings.

She never complained publicly about the demands political life made on her family, although she joked in a 1993 interview that she had seen so little of her son she had “swapped a son for a vice president.”

Her husband died in December 1998.

Mrs. Gore’s public appearances were rare in recent years. But in April 1999, she accepted a state Senate resolution honoring her late husband, and she mentioned her son’s presidential ambitions.

“I think Al is going to be elected — and you know I hope he is — and when he is, and you need something, just let me know,” she told the legislators. “You don’t have to fool around with him. Just give me a ring.”

She once said she never encouraged her son to go into politics, but impressed upon him the importance of “family values.” She had hoped Mr. Gore would become a lawyer. He was a divinity student who worked as a journalist before making his first run for Congress in 1976.

Mrs. Gore was born Pauline LaFon in Palmersville and spent her childhood in Jackson before enrolling at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

She worked her way through Vanderbilt University Law School as a waitress, meeting her future husband at the coffee shop where she worked. In 1936, Mrs. Gore was one of the law school’s first female graduates.

Mrs. Gore practiced law briefly in Arkansas before returning to Tennessee and marrying in 1937. The former vice president once said his parents studied for the bar exam together and passed it on the same day.

“I’ve heard them joke about who got the highest grade,” he said. “If I interpreted the jokes correctly, she did.”

She watched her husband become one of only three senators from the South who refused to sign the “Southern Manifesto” opposing desegregation. His opposition to the Vietnam War ended his 32 years in Congress.

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