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
, 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
. 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.
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
or to exchange old times. But it was a very pleasant visit, very