If Bill Bradley finds himself in need of consulting advice as he continues his public examination of Al Gore's veracity and occasional run-ins with the truth police, he might turn to an unlikely group of political pros -- former Gore campaign aides.
CBSNews.com has obtained two memos written to candidate Gore by campaign staffers -- staffers on his 1988 presidential run. Both warn then-Senator Gore that a tendency to "stretch" the truth about his biography could get him into serious trouble.
The first was written in September 1987 by Mike Kopp, the campaign's deputy press secretary. "In the past few reporters cared if you stretched the truth," Kopp wrote in a memo addressed to "Al." "But gone are those dayswe are becoming increasingly scrutinized, particularly by the national press."
As an example, Kopp cited a claim Al Gore made on CBS's Face the Nation that he had campaigned in the South more than all the other candidates combined. "That comment is not easy to defend," Kopp delicately wrote the boss. Translation: it ain't so.
"This impression that you stretch the truthreared its ugly head in Portland with your remarks about women staffers," the 1987 memo continued. Translation: Gore had claimed that half of his staffers were women, a false claim.
"The point of all this is to caution you about your press image, and how it may continue to suffer if you continue to go out on a limb with remarks that may be impossible to back up," Kopp concluded.
Several months later, on February 15, 1988, campaign press secretary Arlie Schardt again wrote to Gore that "your main pitfall is exaggeration." Schardt's memo was more concerned with Gore's own accounts of his life story. At points, Gore apparently claimed he had been a hands-on homebuilder, which Schardt couldn't quite substantiate. "The main point is to be careful not overstate your role," Schardt wrote the boss.
The other that was vexing the campaign was Gore's stump boast that, "I'm the only farmer in this race." The worried memo warns Gore "not to overstate your accomplishments in these 2 fields."
These memos add context to the current controversy surrounding changes in the Vice President's position on abortion.
Remember, this is the same Al Gore who sometimes has claimed to have invented the Internet. This is the same Al Gore who claimed that he and Tipper were the models for the characters in Love Story, which was news to the author, Erich Segal.
More important politically, this is same Al Gore that served as Bill Clinton's Vice President for eight years.