Was Gore once a conservative?

A viewer asked this question on 3/10/2000:

Is it true that Al Gore was at one time a
republican? We have a breakfast bet on this and say he was.

JesseGordon gave this response on 3/12/2000:

Not that I've heard! We certainly was a "conservative", as Bradley accused him of in a number of debates, which is probably what started the rumor you heard.

But "conservative" needs to have quotation marks around it too, because he wasn't ever "conservative" by the Jesse Helms - Pat Buchanan - Ronald Reagan criteria.

Gore was a congressman & Senator from Tennessee, where conservative morality is the norm, so to get elected and re-elected, one must espouse a reasonably conservative philosophy.

Gore fit in with what were then called "Dixiecrats" -- meaning Democrats from southern states who were much more conservative than their northern brethren. The south, until recently, consistently voted for Democrats because they blamed the Republican party for the Civil War (Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president).

Gore's response to Bradley's accusations of past conservatism was that his philosophy "evolved" from some conservative stances to more liberal ones. I'd say that's about as true a statement as a politician is willing to make (the truth is really more like his stance changed as the people who he wanted support from changed). The "evolving" philosophy became more pro-choice and less pro-gun, which are the defining issues of the liberal-conservative axis today.

So, to settle your breakfast bet, I don't think he ever called himself a Republican. But if you're from a state on one of the coasts, YOU would probably have called him a Republican, if you had heard him speak as a Tennessee congressman. But you'd have called any of the Dixiecrats "Republicans" also.

You can read the details of Bradley's accusations and Gore's response at:
(on abortion)
(on gun control)

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