HE AIN'T HEAVY
Are you ready for lots of heaping platefuls of Al Gore? Because that's what's going to be on the media's menu in the coming weeks. Gore intends to sit down with ABC News' Barbara Walters in mid-November. He'll give her a tour of the new home he purchased down in Tennessee, and discuss his failed presidential run and presumably more personal matters, such as his weight-gain, his bloating problem, and so on. According to an ABC News producer in Washington, Gore has agreed to discuss anything and everything, including his relationship with Bill Clinton. (Which doesn't mean Barbara is prepared to discuss hers with Fidel Castro.)
After the Walters show, Gore will undertake huge media blitz, in part to publicize a book he and wife Tipper supposedly wrote together (no word on who the ghoster or "editor" is). But beyond his attempt to make some money off a book is his attempt to turn around the Democratic establishment's perceptions that he's a weakened presidential possibility in 2004.
"He's going to be all over the place, TV, radio, newspaper features. The hook is the book, but more broadly he wants to get his base energized again for his 2004 run," says a Gore adviser in Washington. "He's aware of what people at the DNC and on Capitol Hill are saying about him. He's sensed the apathy for another run out on the road. He's looking to turn it around."
He's also apparently using his TV appearances as motivation to lose weight. "He'll have his wedding ring on when he sits down with Walters. He's been working out real hard," says the adviser.
The AFL-CIO, convinced that its TV ads weren't getting anywhere with voters, is focusing its energy and millions of dollars on get-out-the-vote initiatives in California, Missouri, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan and Illinois. Two years ago, those union-sponsored get-out-the-vote projects could be directly tied to the victory of Democratic Senator Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, where the unions and Democrats pooled their resources to defeat Sen. Spencer Abraham.
"They're trying to replicate that success elsewhere this time," says a Democratic National Committee staffer. "We're suggesting staging sites, but they're really doing this on their own. We know it's only going to help us, we aren't worried at all."
DNC officials expressed some concern that Big Labor's cash wasn't going to help with expensive media buys in some urban centers, according to the DNC-er. But those concerns were put to rest after the officials saw the AFL-CIO's plans for its ground attack.