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Pauline Gore, 92, wife of senator, mother of vice president

NASHVILLE -- Pauline Gore, whose son, Al, became vice president and nearly captured the presidency and whose husband had a distinguished career in Congress, died yesterday. She was 92.

She had been weakened in recent years by strokes and a heart attack and died at her home in Carthage.

Trained as a lawyer, Pauline Gore was a familiar figure on the campaign trails of her husband, Albert Gore Sr., and her son, former Vice President Al Gore.

She played a central role in shaping her husband's campaign strategy. Gore Sr. was a liberal Democrat who served in the House from 1939 to 1953 and in the Senate from 1953 to 1970 and aspired to the presidency himself. He died in 1998.

''She was my father's closest adviser," the then-vice president said in 1999. ''Together, they strengthened the future of this great country."

Pauline Gore campaigned for her son when he ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for president in 1988. During the 1992 campaign, she and her husband campaigned for the Clinton-Gore ticket. They made a seven-week bus tour with many of the stops at senior citizens' gatherings.

She never complained publicly about the demands public life made on her family, though she joked in a 1993 interview that she had seen so little of her son that she had ''swapped a son for a vice president."

She once said she never encouraged her son to go into politics; she had hoped he would become a lawyer. He was a divinity student and journalist before running for Congress in 1976.

Pauline Gore was born Pauline LaFon in Palmersville, Tenn., grew up in Jackson, Tenn., and attended Vanderbilt University. She worked her way through Vanderbilt's law school as a waitress, meeting her future husband at the coffee shop where she worked. In 1936, she became one of the law school's first female graduates.

Pauline Gore practiced law briefly in Arkansas before returning to Tennessee and marrying.

The former vice president once said his parents studied for the bar exam together and passed it on the same day. ''I've heard them joke about who got the highest grade," he said. ''If I interpreted the jokes correctly, she did."

Her husband was one of the few senators from the South to refuse to sign the segregationist Southern Manifesto in 1956. His opposition to the Vietnam War ended his 32 years in Congress.

The senior Gore was briefly a vice presidential candidate himself during the 1956 Democratic national convention. He withdrew in favor of fellow Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver, who won the nomination and lost as running mate to Adlai Stevenson.

Mrs. Gore was known as ''Mrs. Pauline" during her frequent visits to her son's presidential campaign headquarters in Nashville in 2000.

''She was an optimist and one of the smartest women I've ever met in politics," said Donna Brazile, Al Gore's campaign manager.

In addition to her son, Mrs. Gore leaves a brother, Whit LaFon of Jackson, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her daughter, Nancy, died of cancer in 1984.

A funeral will be held Saturday in Carthage.

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