Tipper Gore In and Out of Public Eye

She’s a mother of four, grandmother of one, a photographer, and a drummer. She’s hoping to add first lady to the list as well.

If she and her husband move to the White House in January 2001, Elizabeth “Tipper” Gore would follow in the footsteps of Hillary Rodham Clinton. But Mrs. Gore is likely to carve out a very different niche for herself.

Whereas Mrs. Clinton has displayed an appetite for legislative policy rivaling that of her husband, which she demonstrated by tackling — albeit unsuccessfully — the high-profile task of overhauling the nation’s health care system, observers say Mrs. Gore would likely adopt the role of activist rather than policy wonk.

Family Woman

She was born Mary Elizabeth Aitcheson on Aug. 19, 1948. She was raised in Arlington, Va. Her mother nicknamed her “Tipper.” She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston University in 1970, and married Al Gore on May 19, 1970. She has described their first attraction as “pure animal magnetism.” Five years later, she earned a master’s degree in psychology from George Peabody College at Vanderbilt University in 1975.

She worked as a photographer for The Tennessean newspaper until her husband was elected to Congress in 1976. She and her husband have four children: Karenna, Kristin, Sarah and Albert. On July 4, 1999, Karenna and her husband, Dr. Drew Schiff, gave birth to their first son, Wyatt Gore Schiff. Wyatt is the Gore’s first grandchild.

While she is known to guard her family’s privacy carefully, Mrs. Gore has braved the political spotlight on numerous occasions.

Tipper’s Crusades

Her first major foray into the political arena came in 1985, when she took on the music industry. She co-founded the Parents’ Music Resource Center, and called for warning labels on music containing violent or sexually explicit lyrics. Gore took a lot of heat for her efforts, being cast as a prude and a crusading culture cop. She has since been less outspoken on the issue, but continues to urge parents to press for less violence and sex in music and other entertainment.

More recently, Gore has grabbed headlines and praise by advocating for better mental health care and by campaigning to eradicate the stigma associated with mental illness. She chaired the first-ever White House Conference on Mental Health in 1999. She has also spoken candidly of her personal bout with depression.

Advisers to the vice president say Tipper Gore’s warm and easy rapport with the public — a contrast to her husband’s — will be a strong asset for her husband during what is expected to be a very tight presidential race.

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