Gore Campaign Chief Out

A model walks the runway for designer Karl Lagerfeld during his Spring-Summer 2007 ready to wear show in Paris, Oct. 4, 2006. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
AP Photo/Jacques Brinon
Tony Coelho, Al Gore's campaign chairman, announced Thursday he is stepping down. He will be replaced by Commerce Secretary William Daley.

Coelho, 58, cited health reasons for the move. He was hospitalized Monday night with stomach pains and was still being treated Thursday for diverticulitis, an inflammation of the colon. Coelho also said his longtime symptoms of epilepsy had worsened this year and doctors had told him he needed to lessen his workload or, better yet, quit the campaign.

"My doctors have told me that I need to slow down, eat better and travel less for a period of time," Coelho said in a statement.

At a joint appearance with Daley Thursday afternoon in Cincinnatti, the vice president called Coelho a "great friend" who'd done a tremendous job." Gore said he would continue to call on Coelho "to help out in appropriate ways."


William Daley   (AP)SIZE>
But sources in the Clinton administration and in the Gore campaign said Coelho's legal problems and problems in the campaign itself also contributed to his departure.

In recent weeks, Coelho's hard-nosed management style had worn thin with campaign aides. And a State Department investigation into his role in a U.S. pavilion at the 1998 exposition in Portugal had cast a shadow over his tenure.

Gore said the investigations of Coelho were "not in the least" a factor in his resignation.

CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer reported that while Coelho left because of illness, insiders said it was also a convenient excuse to bring in Daley - perhaps the best politician in the administration - at a time when Gore's campaign seems stalled.

Despite overhauls of everything from the vice president's wardrobe to his message, George W. Bush has climbed past Gore in the polls and Coelho got much of the blame.

"The campaign has had grumbling and growing pains for months now ... but Tony's Coelho's hospitalization apparently was the key that triggered this, especially this week when Gore is trying to put the focus on the economy and not on his campaign," said CBS News political director Dotty Lynch.

Daley, 51, has extraordinary connections in the Democratic Party and is considered one of the most politically savvy members of President Clinton's Cabinet. He is a son of the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and the brother of current Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Gore called Daley "a great leader" who will "bring his own style" to the campaign. Daley was the administration's point man on the recent congressional battle over trade relations with China.


William M. Daley

Education: Loyola University-Chicago, The John Marshall Law School (Chicago)

Experience: Private practice lawyer, first with Daley & George, then partner at Chicago law firm of Mayer, Brown & Platt since 1993; vice chairman, Amalgamated Bank of Chicago, 1989; president and chief operating officer, the Amalgamated Bank of Chicago, 1990-1993; chief lobbyist for President Clinton on North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993; top adviser to brother, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Commerce secretary since January 1997.

Commerce Report Card: Daley followed other politically connected officials who had held the job. He succeeded Mickey Kantor, who had run Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and who took the Commerce job after Ron Brown, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, died in a plane crash while leading a trade mission to Bosnia. Daley recently oversaw the administration's successful campaign to win House passage of a major China trade bill one of the president's top priorities.

Family: Wife, Loretta, and three children, Lauren, Maura and William. Son of the late Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and the brother of current Mayor Richard M. Daley.


Daley, who will leave the Commerce Department July 15, said he was "privileged and honored" by Gore’s call. The vice president said he consulted with his wife and brother-in-law, but not with President Clinton, before tapping Daley.

Mr. Clinton tapped him for the Commerce job in December 1996 when the president was shaking up his own Cabinet in preparation for his second term.

At Commerce, Daley followed other politically connected officials who had held the job. He succeeded Mickey Kantor, who had run Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign and who took the Commerce job after Ron Brown, the former head of the Democratic National Committee, died in a plane crash while leading a trade mission to Bosnia.

Coelho, a prominent Democratic strategist, became general chairman of Gore's presidential campaign in May 1999, taking over a political operation that had stumbled out of the gates as it confronted an unexpectedly strong challenge from former Sen. Bill Bradley.

Earlier, Coelho was the architect of the Democratic Party's failed 1994 midterm election strategy when Republicans won control of both houses of Congress.

Daley recently oversaw the administration's successful campaign to win House passage of a major China trade bill -- one of the president's top priorities. Daley called a meeting at Commerce to inform top staff officials of his decision, an administration official said.

George W. Bush, campaigning in Boston, wished Coelho well and said, "A man’s health is much more important than politics." Bush’s communications director Karen Hughes was less circumspect. "Does this signl yet another reinvention of Al Gore?" she said.

Bush said Daley, who ran the 1996 Democratic convention, strikes him as a "pretty darn efficient fellow."

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