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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, October 24, 1976. Interview A-0321-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The 1948 election and the various pulls on Gore's loyalties

In 1948, Estes Kefauver ran for one of Tennessee's United States Senate seats. Gore reveals that at that time, both he and Kefauver were feeling anxious to get out of the House of Representatives, but Kefauver was better prepared to move on at that time. Because of loyalties to another Democrat standing for the seat, Gore campaigned for Gordon Browning, Kefauver's ally, but not for Kefauver himself.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Albert Gore, October 24, 1976. Interview A-0321-2. 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

JAMES B. GARDNER:
Could you say a bit more, Senator Gore, about your relationship with Kefauver, both as he made the decision to run for the Senate in 1948 and as you may have been able to help him in his campaign? Or perhaps you thought that was not your business to interfere in a Democratic primary? So perhaps the question doesn't have very much meaning.
ALBERT GORE:
Well, Estes Kefauver and I were congressmen before we ran successfully for the Senate. We were personal friends. There was then and throughout our careers an element of competition (competitiveness, so to speak; not animosity, but competitiveness). Both of us thought about running for the Senate in 1948. Each of us knew that the other was thinking about it. We had no understanding as to which would run and which would not run. We talked about it from time to time in the cloak-room and over coffee in the dining room and so forth, and kidded about it. He decided to run and made his announcement, which meant that I could not run. But I had not decided to run, and I never thought that I really was going to do it. I was tempted to do it, but I didn't think that I was ready for it. So I don't mean to imply that Senator Kefauver beat me to the punch, so to speak, and announced surreptitiously and beat me to the draw. That was not the case. He did not consult me about his announcement, but the announcement was no surprise to me and no particular disappointment to me because I had not reached the conclusion to make the race. I did even then intend to run in 1952, if not in '48. I had then been in the House for ten years, and the time had come when I was looking for other political preferments or maybe private life. That's the choice one must take as a congressman: he either goes up or out most of the time, at least as far as the Senate is concerned or as far as the governorship is concerned. Some man can run for mayor in an off-year election and still be a congressman, as Congressman Fulton later did successfully in becoming the mayor of Nashville. I did not help Kefauver in his 1948 campaign directly. I campaigned very vigorously for Gordon Browning. I did not campaign for Estes Kefauver. Number 1: my political obligation and my political loyalty was to Gordon Browning. I had managed his first campaign for the United States Senate; I had served in his cabinet as governor. I admired him; and my political loyalty was there, my political obligation was there. I went from his cabinet to the Congress. Then there were two other elements: one was that I was personally attacked by a first lieutenant in the Crump machine (his name for the moment escapes me, of all times) and I was responding and retaliating for that. And another thing: one of the opponents of Representative Kefauver was a personal friend and a neighbor of mine, Judge Mitchell who lives in an adjoining county. So I directed my fire and my efforts to the gubernatorial campaign. I must say that I was well aware that Browning and Kefauver were more or less running together, and that if I helped one I indirectly helped the other. But I did draw that line: I campaigned for Browning and did not campaign, did not make mention in the primary of the senatorial campaign. That may appear at this distance as drawing the line finely, but that's how I drew it and I've given you the reasons for it. I also knew, I should add, that the key to power, to political turnover in the state, was the governor's office, not the Senate office.