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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, March 13, 1976. Interview A-0321-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Gore befriends politically powerful men in Washington, D.C.

Earlier in the interview, Gore had described his growing disillusionment with Roosevelt's New Deal policies. When he came to the House, however, Gore developed a personal relationship with the president. Following this passage, Gore describes his relationship with other important men, including Estes Kefauver, a fellow senator from Tennessee, and President Harry S. Truman, who Gore had rescued during a canceled speaking engagement.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, March 13, 1976. Interview A-0321-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Earlier, you said that you had not known President Roosevelt personally before going to Congress. Could you talk a bit about your relations with Roosevelt after you got to Congress.
ALBERT GORE:
The first time I had an opportunity personally to meet President Roosevelt was following my nomination to Congress before my election. I believe it was before my election. Anyway, before I took the oath of office, as I recall it, he came to Chattanooga to dedicate Chickamauga Dam. As a Democratic nominee for Congress, as I recall it, I was one of the ones who had the opportunity to meet him, sit nearby as he made his speech. Soon after being in Congress, he came to Tennessee again to dedicate the Smoky Mountain National Park. Then I talked to him in a meeting on that occasion, along with Mrs. Roosevelt both times. The first time I got invited to the White House, it followed my opposition to one of his favorite measures, of the Public Housing program. It was my first speech on the floor of the Congress, and I succeeded in defeating the bill. It was front-page news across the country. I must say, I could hardly contain myself. So in a few days, I got an invitation to come down to the White House. It was exciting; I'd never been there. I went out and bought a new briefcase [laughter] , and I took this briefcase along and had it sitting by me loaded with data to support my position. Everytime I would reach for that briefcase, Roosevelt would either tell a new story or he'd bring up another issue, other than the one I'd been invited to talk about! We never did get around to it. He really mesmerized me. I felt so jubilant as a young Congressman that I thought that I had arrived, and he was regaling me with humor. Then he talked about a national wage. He talked about some issues that he must have known appealed to my background. Finally, somebody came in and it was time to go. And I was all the way to the front door and had to send back for my briefcase [laughter] . He was a charming personality. One event endeared both Mrs. Gore and me to the Roosevelt family, though it was never mentioned between us. A Congressman from Kansas named Lambertson-he was a Republican and doing well. We served on the committee together. He began to make speeches every two days lambasting Roosevelt and the Roosevelt boys. They were being protected, they were not permitted to be in the firing line, they had a sort of a safe position, according to him. But it got a great deal of publicity. And about every two or three days, he'd take the floor and make the charge again. The war was raging, and this was damaging stuff. The national morale, the military all that. Speaker Rayburn and John McCormack, the Democratic leader at the time, well Rayburn called me into his office and McCormack was there. They asked me to get the records on the Roosevelt boys and be prepared to answer Lambertson the next time he spoke upon that subject. Well, I dug into the military records and, say what you wish to about the Roosevelt boys otherwise, they never feared to fight. They were in the thick of the war, and I had the records. So, the next time Lambertson spoke, when he finished, Rayburn slapped the gavel and recognized me. To use a colloquial expression here in the mountains, I took Lambertson't hide off. He never made another speech on it. But both Mrs. Gore and I began to get some invitations to functions at the White House. [laughter] Though, as I say, that event was never mentioned. There was a change in our entree to the White House. Incidentally, Lambertson was defeated in his next candidacy, and this was an issue in his campaign. Some months after his defeat, I was out in the yard in our home, just across the river here, one afternoon during a recess of Congress. And there drove up Mr. Lambertson. I didn't know whether he came to shoot me [laughter] or to exchange old times. But it was a very pleasant visit, very pleasant visit.