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Gore Ready To Fly Solo

"I want you to be the vice president, I mean the president, for real!" says a young Iowa girl to Al Gore.

And that's what he's wanted since he was a kid growing up in Tennessee and Washington. He's been on the national political stage for more than two decades, reports CBS News Correspondent Phil Jones, yet all this experience doesn't register in public opinion polls.

"I think the most striking thing is that most people tell us they don't have an opinion about Vice President Gore and yet he's been vice president for seven years," says Kathy Frankovic, Director of Surveys for CBS News.

At an appearance with Gore, Hillary Rodham Clinton says, "He is my choice and I hope your choice for the next president of the United States."

The Clintons, who view the election of Gore as part of their own legacy, are speaking out for the vice president as he starts to reach out to key constituencies, like women, that elected Bill Clinton twice.

"The progress we have made in the 20th century for women's rights will only be the beginning and the foundation for much more progress in the 21st century. We have a long way to go." says Gore.

After eight years of loyalty to the Clintons - including standing at the president's side during the bleak months of impeachment - the vice president now faces a delicate political necessity.

CBS News consultant Bob Beckel, a Democratic political analyst, says "what he has to separate himself from is Clinton's character. 'I am not like Clinton in terms of Clinton's character, but I will carry on the mandate of the centrist Democrats.'"

Gore has money and organization to wage his nomination battle, but he also has a formidable opponent: former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley.

"I think that anybody who assumes today that Al Gore is assured the nomination of the Democratic party has not been through Democratic presidential politics," says Beckel.

And history also adds to the uncertainty about Gore. Only one sitting vice president has been elected president in this century - and that was George Bush.

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