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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 >>

Gore's relationship with senatorial leadership

Though Gore had less seniority than Estes Kefauver, he soon found that he made political alliances more easily, making him more influential when negotiating for compromise.

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:
Senator Kefauver, I understand, was also interested in the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, and in fact inquired of Senator Lyndon B. Johnson if there might not be an opening on the Joint Committee in '54: that it would be a great help with his constituents, that it was a vital issue to Tennessee and was something he was also interested in. Yet when the opening came up, Senator Johnson chose you over the senior senator from the state. What do you think was the reason this? Was it simply a reflection of your own involvement and the concern of the Democrats to continue with perhaps the most prominent leader of the Dixon-Yates fight because the fight was not yet over--you continued it in the Joint Committee? What do you think was the reason? Did Kefauver get along well with Senator Johnson?
ALBERT GORE:
No, he didn't get along with the Senate leadership, any of the Senate leadership at that time. You will recall (I'm not sure) that Scott W. Lucas was leader, I believe, at the time.
JAMES B. GARDNER:
He had been defeated.
ALBERT GORE:
In '54?
JAMES B. GARDNER:
I believe before '54, because Lucas had opposed Kefauver's presidential nomination in 1952 in retaliation for his own earlier defeat.
ALBERT GORE:
Well, that's correct. So I guess Johnson had become Democratic leader. I know that Senator Lucas was very much opposed to Senator Kefauver, as was Harry Truman. And I think there was not a good equation between Senator Kefauver and Senator Lyndon Johnson at the time. There was a very good equation between Senator Johnson and me at the time. And I suppose because of that and then because of my experience in the House and my identification with the nuclear energy issue, with the TVA, with power, with energy, the whole category of legislation, I had been closely identified with it and Senator Kefauver had not. Now this may have played a part; I can't tell you now what brought it about, but I won it.
JAMES B. GARDNER:
Pursuing the same sort of thing, I understand that in 1955 Senator Kefauver wanted an investigation of the Dixon-Yates contract through the Judiciary Subcommittee on Anti-Monopoly. But yet he was blocked again on that. The Democratic leadership just didn't seem to be too interested in Kefauver's investigation. Yet I understand you had some role in persuading the leadership to let Kefauver set up this panel that eventually was important in exposing a conflict of interest in the contract negotiations.
ALBERT GORE:
I favored it; I favored it and did support Senator Kefauver in that. And he rendered a very notable service.
JAMES B. GARDNER:
Wasn't it unusual for the junior senator to have this much influence, that he had to help the senior senator from the state?
ALBERT GORE:
Well, there were unusual features. Senator Kefauver was not the usual type of legislator. Senator Kefauver was in many respects a public relations senator. He was a national figure; he personalized or epitomized many popular causes. And because of the renown he achieved and also because he seemed to eschew the daily give-and-take of legislation, he was never particularly popular with his colleagues in the Senate. To put it in common parlance, he was never exactly a member of the Senate club. I was more inclined to do the day-to-day chores. I was regularly in attendance to committees and on the floor of the Senate, and frequently in debate. I don't think I was ever a full member of the inner club, but I was a member of the Senate club--if that explains some of the differences.