Son's accident changed Gore's life DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

July 17, 1992|By John Fairhall | John Fairhall,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Al Gore introduced himself to America last night as a father as well as a politician, describing how he nearly lost his son in an accident outside Memorial Stadium in Baltimore three years ago.

Young Albert was struck by a car after an Orioles game. For 30 days, the Tennessee senator and his wife, Tipper, remained at his bedside at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Mr. Gore recalled in his speech accepting the vice presidential nomination.

"That experience changed me forever," he said. "When you've seen your 6-year-old son fighting for his life, you realize that some things matter more than winning, and you lose patience with the lazy assumption of so many in politics that we can always just muddle through.

"When you've seen your reflection in the empty stare of a boy waiting for a second breath of life, you realize that we weren't put hereon Earth to look out for our needs alone; we're part of something much larger than ourselves."

Mr. Gore's lengthy recounting of the accident and its aftermath was the emotional highlight of his address to the Democratic National Convention. For Americans who know little about him -- and those who know his reputation as an overly serious person -- the story helped make him more appealing.

It also identified the Democratic ticket with the family values theme that the Republicans are trying to claim as their own.

In a sign of the choreographing that went on at the convention, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski of Marland also talked about the accident in her speech nominating Mr. Gore.

"When I heard about it, I was horrified for the family and I was in immediate touch with Senator Gore. What so impressed me was how he stayed by little Al's side. He never left him, and he never left Tipper to go it alone. Al was there hour after hour.

"You know, this is the true test of somebody."

Mr. Gore's account of his son's accident came near the middle of the speech, in which he served notice that he would help lead the attack against the Republicans.

He received repeated applause for lambasting President Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle for taxing "the many to enrich the few," for giving Americans "false choices, bad choices and no choice."

Concluding each line of criticism with the words, "It is time for them to go," Mr. Gore inspired delighted convention delegates to repeat the mantra with him.

He accused Mr. Bush of having:

* "Given us false choices, bad choices, and no choice. It's time for them to go."

* Ignored victims "of AIDS, of crime, of poverty, of hatred and harassment. It's time for them to go."

* "Nourished and appeased tyrannies and endangered America's deepest interests while betraying our cherished ideals. It's time for them to go."

* "Embarrassed our nation when the whole world was asking for American leadership in confronting the environmental crisis. It's time for them to go."

* "Demeaned our democracy with the politics of distraction, denial and despair. It's time for them to go."

As Mr. Clinton would do later in the evening, Mr. Gore appealed to supporters of Ross Perot.

"If you have been supporting Ross Perot, I want to make a special plea to you this evening: Don't give up on your fight for change. The time has come for all Americans to be a part of the healing."

He concluded the half-hour speech by likening his roots in Carthage, Tenn., to those of Mr. Clinton in Hope, Ark.

"It's a place where people know about it when you're born and care about it when you die. That's the America Bill Clinton and I grew up in."

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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