(Johnston, Iowa) It was not the “Al in Wolf’s clothing,” but the Veep in his very Gore-ganized, official looking navy blue business suit, starched white shirt and red tie.
Al Gore left the new clothes feminist author Naomi Wolf picked out for him in the closet, choosing instead the politician’s uniform for his Veteran’s Day trip to Iowa in which he addressed about 200 World War II era vets, met with “undecided” voters in a gabfest and appeared on a public television interview show.
The last time Gore wore a suit and tie in Iowa, it was June and he was standing in Iowa City, “formally” announcing his bid to get the gig Bill Clinton’s had since 1993.
As Gore in late summer reorganized his campaign to fight the labels of “stiff” and “wooden” — and a very real challenge from Bill Bradley, he began campaigning in the “business casual” style of clothing (envision an Izod shirt tucked into Dockers), adding black cowboy boots for that homespun Tennessee fashion flair. The look became so familiar, acerbic Iowa reporters began to joke about the Vice President’s new “Gore-animals,” a reference to the line of children’s clothing which feature labels which help kids match shirts and slacks.
But Gore’s national breakout fashion debut came at the Iowa Democratic Party’s Jefferson/Jackson Day Dinner in Des Moines October 9. when the Vice President of the United States didn’t don the politician’s uniform, appearing instead in an olive suit and fashionable “French blue” shirt. It was a marked contrast to Bradley, who did look like the former United States Senator and Rhodes Scholar he is, complete with those little half glasses sitting mid-nose.
Gore has since drawn flak for employing and accepting the advice of Wolf, who has advocated the controversial idea that teenagers should be taught how to sexually pleasure themselves as an alternative to promiscuity.
While he did not talk about Wolf’s controversial idea, Gore did talk about his renewed pleasure in campaigning during an appearance on the Iowa Public Television program, “Iowa Press” (taped 11/11/99, aired 11/14/99). Here’s a partial transcript:
Q: “You’re catching a lot of grief for having hired this feminist consultant at $15,000 a month and now it’s $5,000, to give you advice. What do you say about that? What’s your response to that?”
Gore: “She’s a valued advisor and she’ll remain one.”
Q: “Despite the criticism?”
Gore: “Well, uh, I’ve, I’ve always reached out for a diversity of advice, uh, and, uh, if somebody, uh, has views that’s controversial, that are controversial on something that have nothing to do with what he or she is advising me on, then I, you know I, that’s uh, I guess that’s a cost you pay for, for, uh, reaching out for diverse opinions, but, uh, I’m , you know, I value her advice and she’s one of many, uh, people who are on the campaign team who are helping us with the campaign.”
A few moments later, Gore ventured into a discussion of the “music” of the campaign trail.
Q: “Give us a status report on this campaign. There are some who suggest that you’ve stabilized your campaign and have begun to pull away and right the ship against Senator Bradley. What’s the status of that race?”
Gore: “Hmm. Well, I think if this Campaign, uh, 2000, on both the democratic and republican side were a book, we would just be finishing the introduction. And we’d be turning the page to begin chapter one. I think most people are just now digging in to what they feel about these candidates and the dialogue about our future and I think that’s as it should be…(thanks Iowans for receptions in recent meetings)…I think where my campaign in particular is concerned which I guess you’re kinda asking about here, I think starting a couple of months ago, I started to say a couple or three months ago, I began to connect with the groups I was meeting with and the individuals I was meeting with in a new way. It started, I think, ’round about the time I started spending the night on, uh, with farm families in Iowa and in the small towns with families here and really immersing myself in what you might call the music of campaign 2000 and really, really hearing not just with my ears but with my heart what people are dreaming about, what they want to see happen in this country and when I started connecting in a new way, I went through some changes, Mike. One of ’em was this: instead of thinking like a vice president, which means thinking, ‘How am I going advance the administration’s goals and help the current administration,’ I started thinking like someone who is asking the people for their ideas on how to make this a better country and then responding spontaneously from the heart about whatever they’re wanting to talk about and once that happened, then I said hey, I’ve got to move my campaign out of Washington…”
A few minutes later, Gore talked about what he’s called his”transformation” on the campaign trail:
Gore: “What campaigns are all about is a dialogue between the candidates and the people. And you know what, it’s also a learning experience for candidates. And if it’s done correctly, it’s a growth experience for candidates and if the people are willing to tell you what you need to know and if you’re listening with your heart, you can really learn a lot and I want you to know I’ve been learning a lot and I have really been enjoying it. Six months ago, if I’d told you I was enjoying it, I’m not sure that I really was that much.”