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Jewish World Review Nov. 10, 2000 / 12 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761

Roger Simon

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Consumer Reports

Gore's Waterloo: The beginning of the end? -- NASHVILLE | Al Gore began his last campaign day in a town called Waterloo. If anybody thought about the symbolism of that, they did not say so.

Thirty hours later, without sleep, shower or a hotel room, the candidate and about 100 of us pulled into Nashville where we caught four hours of sleep and headed toward a big ballroom to watch the results come in the same way most of you did: on television.

Gore didn't even get those four hours of sleep, however. He could not sit still. At 5:30 in the morning, he had finished up a round-table discussion on cancer with nine nurses in Tampa, Fla., and headed for a bakery in a small strip mall nearby.

He met Joe Lieberman there and when the two went inside, they were given Cuban coffee in tiny plastic cubs and Gore lifted his and said, "L'chaim." Then he downed it and said: "That's good. That feels like eight hours of sleep."

He then turned to the row of photographers behind the counter and said, "This crew looks wide awake."

None of us was wide awake. We were barely able to stand. But Gore kept talking.

"Are you in overdrive?" Lieberman asked Gore.

"I do not feel tired," Gore said.

Then he turned to the reporters and said, "I think we'll put a couple more cities on."

He was kidding.

At 6:10 a.m., Gore got in his motorcade and headed for the Hillsborough County Coordinated Campaign Headquarters, a small white cement building in a Cuban section of Tampa Lieberman took the microphone and said: "Do you get the feeling that Florida might be important in this election?"

As the sky changed from blue-black to gray and orange, Lieberman also talked about the "majesty and mystery of Election Day."

Gore then said: "This is the last official stop of Campaign 2000. It's not an accident that it's here in Tampa. It's not an accident that it's in west-central Florida, because Florida may very well be THE state that decides the outcome of this election. And looking at you and hearing your enthusiasm, what I'm hearing from you is, tonight, when the vote comes in, we're going to win Florida and we're going to win the White House."

He noted that he has been in South Beach in Miami about 1 a.m. "Just before I went out to make the speech, somebody had one of the cable television networks on and was reporting news at the top of the hour and it was a roundup of the campaign activities. And it said, 'At this hour, George W. Bush is asleep and Al Gore is preparing to speak to 25,000 people in Florida.' Well, it's almost 5:30 a.m. Texas time, and George W. Bush is still asleep and I'm still speaking to people here in Florida!"

He finished and both men worked the rope line, where reporters asked Lieberman how he was feeling.

"I'm feeling an adrenaline rush," Lieberman said.

Gore headed back to Air Force II at the Tampa airport, but he couldn't make himself get on the plane. So he stood around on the tarmac tossing a football around with aides.

They finally got him on the plane and he flew to Nashville where about 200 supporters were waiting.

One of them, Ramon Cisneros, who runs La Campana, a Spanish-language newspaper in Nashville, turned to a reporter and asked: "If you get a good angle, could you take a picture of me and the president?"

"The who?" the reporter asked.

"The president," said Cisneros with a smile. "We've already erased the vice."

But we are just going to have to wait and see if Cisneros is right or not.

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