- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2000

LOS ANGELES Karenna Gore Schiff last night used her hip yet wholesome charm to paint a portrait for the nation of Al Gore as an honorable man and a loving father, making a heartfelt case to elect him as the next president.
"I'm not asking you to support Al Gore because he is my father, or even because he's been a great dad. What really matters is what he will do for all our kids," she said.
Mr. Gore, whose stilted campaign style and wonky inaccessibility have worked against him with outside-the-Beltway voters, has tapped the winning personality of his eldest daughter to introduce him to the nation as a man they could trust and like.
In her short speech at the Democratic National Convention, Mrs. Schiff deemed her father a man with character who always put family first.
"My dad learned from childhood about the dignity working people have. My grandparents taught my dad that it is right to treat every woman and man with equal respect; to call them sir or ma'am; to do your own physical labor, and clean up your own mess," she said.
"I see a lot of my grandfather in my father. He believes in taking the hard road when that's the road that will take us to higher ground. And I think his old-fashioned politeness is refreshing in today's world."
As the vice president has wrestled with a vexing image problem and failed so far to take a substantial lead in the polls, the vibrant, blond, Harvard-educated Mrs. Schiff, 26, has risen as a media star. The mother of a 1-year-old, she is courting the nation's youngest voters as she takes a lead role in her father's campaign.
Mrs. Schiff, addressing delegates in the conversational narrative of a good friend, cast her father, who lived much of his life in Washington, as a populist who took to heart the pains of the common man.
She recalled that when she was a young girl and her father served in Congress, he published his home phone number in the local directory so constituents could always call. During her summer stays at the family farm in Carthage, she often answered phone calls from residents who needed assistance with veteran's benefits, health care and other concerns.
"I was taught to run not walk to get my dad, so that people wouldn't be kept waiting for a moment," she said.
Mrs. Schiff, clad in a lavender, cap-sleeve dress, shared the stories of her father's help with her dinosaur diorama in elementary school and told delegates about the time she and a friend tried to make an igloo outside in subzero weather.
Her father, she said, supported their fun, carrying hot chocolate to their makeshift dwelling only to welcome them back inside when they were nearly frozen "like adventurers back from the North Pole."
Mr. Gore, she said, "is a man of faith in the most gutsy, practical sense. He wants to see goodness prevail."
Mrs. Schiff's sense of throwaway chic elegant in jeans and a T-shirt is connecting with Generations X and Y. Younger voters showed up in full force to get a glimpse of her as she made the rounds of convention events this week.
"I'm sure I'm not right about everything I've said or thought," she confessed in the latest issues of Time magazine. "But I feel very free to say what I think."
She married Dr. Andrew Schiff in a lavish ceremony at Washington National Cathedral, and now runs GoreNet, a youth network for the Gore-Lieberman campaign.
While she has not yet expressed interest in public office, the law school graduate and New York City resident one day may follow her father and extend the Gore political dynasty into its third generation.
Mrs. Schiff's cachet as a trusted Gore team ally was in evidence last night as she was chosen to deliver the convention's nightly keynote address. Her remarks came on an evening devoted to sending up the Democratic nominee as a regular guy who can listen to real people and show strong leadership for a nation in prosperity.
The prime-time casting of Mr. Gore as cool comes at a much-needed time.
As the presidential race hurtles toward November, Mr. Gore now more than ever could use a dose of humanizing. Last night featured his daughter's speech as well as the appearance of his college roommate, the popular actor and polo enthusiast Tommy Lee Jones.
Mr. Jones, Mr. Gore's friend for 35 years, rose to formally support Mr. Gore's nomination, which was seconded by Lois DeBerry, speaker pro tem of the Tennessee General Assembly.
With scant political rhetoric, the Hollywood celebrity talked about their times together at Harvard. He told the story of a Thanksgiving feast they prepared together because neither could make it home.
"We made a fire in the venerable old fireplace in our room, wrapped a big turkey in a couple of rolls of tin foil, and roasted it right there in our dorm," said Mr. Jones, drawing laughs from the crowd of delegates.
While the vice president earned his party's nomination last night, the final convention session tonight will feature a bevy of Gore friends and colleagues sharing personal vignettes from his life.
They will speak at what convention organizers are billing as a "conversation," to be moderated by the Rev. Jane Holmes Dixon, suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. The bishop is a friend of Mr. Gore's sister Nancy and has known him since his youth.
Other speakers who will frame Mr. Gore for the nation include:
Michaela Alioto, who worked at the White House as a member of Mr. Gore's domestic policy team.
Steve Armistead, one of Mr. Gore's best friends who first met him in 1957 at the Smith County Fair in Tennessee.
Frank Hunger, Mr. Gore's brother-in-law.
Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, who was a freshman in the U.S. House of Representatives with Mr. Gore in 1976.
Robert E. Dunbar, a Seattle computer system administrator and Army buddy who continued a friendship with Mr. Gore after both served in the Vietnam War.
John Tyson, a college roommate of Mr. Gore's at Harvard.
Jim Frush, a mountain climber who guided Mr. Gore when he climbed Mount Rainer.
David Halberstam, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who reported on the campaign of Mr. Gore's father as a writer at the Tennessean.
While those speakers no doubt will paint Mr. Gore as a patriotic public servant in touch with regular voters, Mr. Gore might well take a cue from the ladies in his life, who move through the campaign throngs with ease.
There's his likable drum-playing wife of 30 years, Tipper, who works with the homeless. And the sweet yet chic Hadassah Lieberman, who, despite her recent entree to the campaign scene, seems camera ready like a seasoned political pro.
Not to be left out in the wake of the Mrs. Schiff's stardust is Mr. Gore's wise-cracking younger daughter, Kristen Gore, a Los Angeles comedy writer whose sense of humor makes her all the more engaging, as she too turns out to help her father win the election.
All have captured the public's heart just being themselves, a seemingly innate skill Mr. Gore desperately needs to perfect.

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