NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Pauline Gore (search), whose son Al became vice president and nearly captured the presidency and whose husband served a lengthy and distinguished career in Congress, died Wednesday. She was 92.
She had been weakened in recent years by strokes and a heart attack, and died in her hometown of Carthage, said James Bass of Bass Funeral Home. He said the cause of death was not immediately available.
In Tennessee, she was nearly as widely known as her liberal husband and played a central role in much of his campaign strategy. Gore Sr. served in the House from 1939-1953 and in the Senate from 1953-70.
"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 for the Democratic nomination for president in 1988. During the 1992 campaign, she and her husband campaigned actively 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, although she joked in a 1993 interview that she had saw so little of her son that she had "swapped a son for a vice president."
Her husband died in December 1998.
Pauline Gore's public appearances were more rare in recent years. But in April 1999, she accepted a state Senate resolution honoring her late husband, and she mentioned her son's presidential ambitions.
"I think Al is going to be elected — and you know I hope he is — and when he is and you need something, just let me know," she told the legislators. "You don't have to fool around with him. Just give me a ring."
She once said she never encouraged her son to go into politics, but impressed upon him the importance of "family values." She had hoped Al would become a lawyer. He was a divinity student who worked as a journalist before making his first run for Congress in 1976.
Pauline Gore was born Pauline LaFon in Palmersville, Tenn., and spent her childhood in Jackson, Tenn., before enrolling at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.
She worked her way through Vanderbilt University Law School as a waitress, meeting her future husband at the coffee shop where she worked. In 1936, Mrs. Gore was one of the law school's first female graduates.
Pauline Gore practiced law briefly in Arkansas before returning to Tennessee and marrying her husband in 1937.
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."
She watched her husband become one of only three senators from the South who refused to sign the "Southern Manifesto" opposing desegregation. 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 Sen. Estes Kefauver, who won the nomination and lost as running mate to Adlai Stevenson.
Al Gore Jr. is the Gores' only living child. Their daughter, Nancy, died of cancer in 1984.