The Playing Field for Gore
By Ceci Connolly
The Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, April 4, 1999; Page 8
Like other presidential hopefuls, Al Gore will rely on a handful of places and interest groups for the bulk of his money. Among his major targets:
Wall Street: While Gore found his campaign seed money inside the Beltway, it's no accident that his first fund-raising trip of the campaign took him to New York City, where, following in Clinton's footsteps, the VP is making major inroads on Wall Street, territory once off-limits to Democrats.
Steve Rattner, chief of the Lazard Freres investment house, is playing point man, escorting Gore to meetings with Wall Street's heavyweights. Rounding out the Manhattan A-list: Orin Kramer, a hedge fund investor who raised $250,000 for Gore's Leadership '98 political action committee; Jonathan Tisch, a hotel magnate and longtime friend of Gore's; Jon Corzine, co-chairman of Goldman Sachs, who gave $380,000 to Democrats in 1997-98; and chemical executive Jack Bendheim.
Tennessee: Gore hasn't spent much time in his native state of late but he's managed to keep his Tennessee money branch thriving. "From the Mississippi River to my hometown of Carthage to the Great Smoky Mountains and all points in between, the early support of fellow Tennesseans like you is the key to helping me continue America's progress," reads a recent fund-raising letter to home state supporters.
Gore has also given his D.C. operation a down-home feeling by importing his old friend Johnny Hayes from the Tennessee Valley Authority to run his finance staff. Hayes is an ebullient backslapper who remembers the days when he and Gore would drive the state in an old pickup truck, happy to collect a few bills in a hat. Now he's ensconced in a K Street office, presiding over a staff of 25 professional fund-raisers and a couple of hundred volunteers.
Hollywood: The vice president may lack Clinton's instant ability to connect with movie stars and moguls, but he has boned up on the industry's issues and methodically wooed every Friend of Bill in the entertainment biz. "Hollywood is the classic problem for Gore," says a prominent California Democrat who has raised money for Clinton but was no fan of Tipper Gore's campaign against sex and drug references in rock lyrics. "There is a formality and distance that is not there with the president. The difference between the two human beings is one loves Elvis Presley and one loves Beethoven, and we relate to Elvis."
Gore's difficulty with Hollywood is highlighted by the decisions of industry heavyweights such as Disney head Michael Eisner and USA Networks mogul Barry Diller to back former senator Bill Bradley for the Democratic nomination. But Gore has nailed down several big names, including Disney executive VP John Cooke and the DreamWorks triumvirate of David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg.
Silicon Valley: A computer geek himself, Gore has aggressively pursued the nouveau riche in America's technology capital. His biggest catch here has been legendary venture capitalist John Doerr, an early investor in Netscape and Sun Microsystems. Over an 18-month period beginning in January 1997, Gore met with Doerr about 15 times to discuss the "new economy," says Wade Randlett, Democratic political director of the lobbying group TechNet. The courtship complete, Doerr is now ready to "cut into his family life and professional life to be a campaign volunteer for Al Gore," says Randlett.
Jewish community: More than perhaps any other national-level politician, Gore has expressed unwavering support for Israel, and has won a loyal following among politically active American Jews. Gore's Jewish network extends coast to coast, from Brooklyn Councilman Noach Dear to Stanley Hirsh, former president of the Jewish Federation Council of Greater Los Angeles.
The rest of the team Other key players for Gore include Washington lobbyist Dan Dutko, Denver lawyer Norman Brownstein, Ohio trial lawyer Stan Chesley, Miami lawyer Mitchell Berger, San Francisco real estate magnate Walter Shorenstein, Connecticut lawyer-lobbyist Peter Kelly, and former DNC officers Steve Grossman and Alan Solomont in Boston.
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