Vice President Gore, returning to his home state of Tennessee to declare his candidacy for president on Wednesday, pledged today to focus on issues and not "just deal in platitudes."

Gore did not mention his chief Republican rival, Texas Gov. George W. Bush. But his aides are trying to draw a contrast between their boss and Bush, who has been criticized for failing to address specifics.

"I'm going to tell people what's in my heart and what I believe our country needs to do," Gore told reporters traveling with him aboard Air Force Two. "I'm not going to just deal in platitudes. I'm going to deal with policies and specific choices."

The vice president said he plans "to begin dialoguing with the American people about what kind of country I believe we must become."

"I've waited for this to begin for quite a while and I'm happy about it," Gore added, and then joked that he hopes this campaign goes better than his disastrous 1988 effort. "I made a commitment when I got out of the race in '88 that if I ran for president again, I'd run as an older candidate," Gore said. "The record will reflect that I made that commitment."