Washington Prowler

Gore More Ears

Al plans a secret speech. But is he on speaking terms with Joe Lieberman?

By 8.26.02

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STEALTH DWEEB
What with Dick Gephardt spending time in Iowa, and John Kerry and John Edwards traveling to New Hampshire and elsewhere to campaign, it's no surprise that Al Gore is also hitting the road. But whereas his competitors are making public appearances, Gore is behaving like a stealth candidate. For example, this week, he makes the keynote address at an information technology conference in Sacramento, California. Attendees are paying almost $800 bucks for the privilege of hearing him spout off on the topic: "How the Department of Homeland Security Impacts State and Local Governments."

Whatever Gore has to say must be worth the dough, because before committing to the speech, he insisted that it be closed to the media. The organizers of the event agreed. "Due to the nature of the material presented and requested by Mr. Gore, his keynote will be specifically closed to the press," the invitation reads.

It isn't that the material Gore is presenting is terribly compelling -- which apparently is one reason why Gore is looking to avoid the press. "He's been fighting the boring, dweeby reputation for years," says a sometime Gore adviser. "Why would you expect him to allow cameras and reporters into a speech where he is going to be at his dweeby best?"

LIBERATING LIEBERMAN
Ever since Sen. Joe Lieberman teed off on his former running mate Al Gore to reporters several weeks ago at the Democratic Leadership Council meeting in New York, insiders in both the Gore and Lieberman camps have been wondering if Gore will release Lieberman from his pledge made in the highly emotional aftermath of the presidential defeat. You'll recall that Lieberman, following the 2000 elections, pledged not to run for president in 2004 if Gore was running too. But Lieberman's critical remarks about Gore and the way he ran the 2000 campaign have people thinking that Lieberman is positioning himself to break with his pledge if Gore won't let him out of it.

"Everyone assumes that Lieberman will run for the nomination even if Gore doesn't release him from his promise not to," says a Democratic National Committee insider. "But no one thinks it will come to that. Gore is going to have to be the bigger man and tell Lieberman and the country that he can run."

Some construed Lieberman's DLC comments as a way to needle Gore into making some kind of announcement, like, "Okay, Joe, you think you can do better? Go ahead." But Gore didn't bite. In fact, things are looking pretty frosty between the two once-fast friends. Despite reports to the contrary, the two men haven't spoken since Lieberman's spoke to reporters. A week after the DLC conference, Gore advisers were telling reporters in Washington and New York that the two men had spoken, patched things up, and were talking about their future plans. Not so, say Lieberman staffers. Apparently the two men haven't spoken in months, and Lieberman has no plans to speak to Gore anytime soon.

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