Oprah hosts Al Gore

Monday, September 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

CHICAGO – In the "Oprah'' easy chair Monday, Al Gore charmed with talk of his "soul mate'' Tipper, promises to make life easier for working parents, and a high-five for ruby red stilettos. But he left the talk show diva wanting.

"No kiss? I was hoping for something,'' Oprah Winfrey shrieked after Gore, the first politician invited to her television stage, greeted her with a handshake and one-armed, half hug.

The Democratic presidential nominee slipped by her question with congratulations for her freshly minted Emmy award. With a slapped high-five, he admired her spike-heeled, Dorothy-from-Oz boots. Asked why she should vote for him, the 8-year vice president replied: "I know something about the job of president.''

The oft-reinvented candidate commiserated with the oft-reinvented TV star.

"You went through a big change in your life, I know,'' he said.

"Which one you talking about? I've had a few,'' she replied.

Gore: "So have I.''

His lighthearted appearance on the "Oprah'' season premiere kicked off a week in which Gore and running mate Joseph Lieberman hope to solidify gains among women voters by focusing on education policy and pledging to clean up entertainment violence marketed to kids.

Reacting to a new Federal Trade Commission report, Gore said Monday that they would ask the entertainment industry for a voluntary "cease-fire'' in marketing inappropriate videos, games and "albums'' to children.

"They're called CDs now,'' Winfrey corrected him.

Gore said his administration would give entertainment companies six months to clean up their act or face unspecified "tougher measures'' under current laws on advertising.

But Winfrey, who frequently interrupted as Gore lapsed into his stump speech, was less interested in policy than in personality – and especially the big kiss he laid on wife Tipper at the Democratic National Convention.

Gore explained it as "an overwhelming surge of emotion.''

"This was a great moment in our lives. I mean it's not as if I got there by myself. This has been a partnership and she is my soul mate,'' Gore said, to wild applause from Winfrey's mostly female audience.

Republican rival George W. Bush is scheduled to appear Sept. 19 on Winfrey's show, which reaches 22 million viewers weekly.

From Chicago, Gore was traveling to a Belleville, Ill., elementary school for a town meeting on education. His week was also crowded with $7 million in fund raising for the Democratic Party, which has been financing the lion's share of Gore's TV ad war with Bush.

Lieberman, also in Chicago, was headed to Texas later Monday for a $1.5 million lineup of four fund-raisers, but not before angling to capitalize on the FTC report.

Lieberman, a leading critic in Congress of the entertainment industry's glorification of violence, hastened to Chicago on Sunday night to be at Gore's side Monday morning for the taping of other TV interviews on the subject.

After a yearlong investigation sparked by the rash of school shootings, the FTC found that movie, video game and music industries aggressively market violent films and products that carry an adult rating to underage youths

On Tuesday, Gore and Lieberman reunite to tour Ohio in a pair of school buses. Later in the week, gala concerts are scheduled to bring the Democratic National Committee some $7 million.

Gore's emphasis on education was meant to help him put a lock on what is his strongest advantage among women in months. In the most recent polls, he leads by 14 to 20 points among women, whose support for him has waxed and waned through the campaign and typically determined whether surveys showed him as competitive or behind.

Pollster John Zogby credited the gains to Gore's focus in the last three weeks on education and health care, which helped him pick up support among politically independent women.

"He now leads among independents, and that's because of the lead that he holds among independent women,'' Zogby said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation.''

Republican activist William Bennett, asked on CNN how concerned Bush should be about Gore's growing gender gap, replied: "Concerned, but obviously not defeatist.''

He said Bush has "bold ideas about education, early education, about school choice, helping children who need help the most. Al Gore has a very tough time breaking from the hold of the teachers unions.''