Gore: A Hard-Won Sense of Ease

A failed White House run and his son's accident tempered and matured him

Q. How do you tell Al Gore from a roomful of Secret Service agents?

A. Gore's the stiff one.

These days, Tennessee Senator Al Gore -- the bottom half of Bill Clinton's Democratic baby-boomer ticket -- freely retells this joke about his wooden campaign style in his ill-fated 1988 presidential race. The self-deprecating humor is a reflection of Gore's hard-won sense of ease, the tempering of the fires of ambition, the self-awareness that comes with staring tragedy in the face and surviving.

It was April 1989, and Gore, already mulling another presidential race, was leaving Baltimore's Memorial Stadium after taking his...

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