The Kids

The Candidates' Next Generation Lends Spark

This summer we're witnessing the birth of a new political generation.

Two weeks ago in Philadelphia, it was the Republicans' turn. With his matinee idol good looks, charm and poise, young George P. Bush is cutting his political teeth on his Uncle George W.'s campaign for president.

"Now is the time to end the cynicism and the fussing, and the fighting in Washington," says George P. in his speech to the convention.

The 24-year-old named by People magazine as one of the country's most eligible bachelors figures prominently in the Bush campaign strategy. His mother is from Mexico, and P. - as he's called - has the job of reaching Latinos in swing states and attracting young voters.

"I would like you to welcome a young man who's a star in our family," says his uncle. "And that's my nephew George P."

"You got more applause than I did, P.," says the presidential candidate.

"I'm definitely not used to this," is P.'s response.


AP
George P. Bush is helping his uncle's campaign attract Latino voters.

"I've never met him, but he seems charming. And I definitely applaud his efforts to reach out to young people," says Karenna Gore Schiff. "I do, though, deeply disagree with him on the issues."

This week, the Democrats will make the most out of their own rising political star: Al Gore's 26-year-old daughter, Karenna Gore Schiff. Correspondent Troy Roberts reports.

"I decided that I wanted to not only be involved behind the scenes and be engaged and interested, but also to come out and speak my mind," she says.

The oldest of the three Gore sisters, she had a storybook wedding. A new mother and law school graduate, she stands in stark contrast to her father's wooden image.

"Well I think at a time when there's no really disruptive scary enemy out there, appearances count for more than ever," says Talk magazine editor Tina Brown.

These two young people have very little political experience and for that matter very little life experience, yet they've been given prominent roles in the campaigns.

"I think that the Bush family and the Gore family are incredibly happy and grateful to have on their team these brillant, telegenic, youthful, contemporary spokespeople who can capture a whole new vote," Brown adds.

The truth is keeping them front and center is simply smart politics. Eighteen- to 36-year-olds are a huge potential voting block, 72 million strong, even larger than the baby boomers. How they decide this November could make all the difference in the eletion. The problem is they're not inclined to vote.

"It is a big challenge because there are good reasons for being turned off to politics," Gore Schiff says.

Karenna Gore Schiff - who runs Gore's youth Web site - and George P., who has starred in TV ads for his uncle, are leading their campaigns' efforts to woo Generation X voters.

"As a member of our generation, if there's one major objective of mine, it is to reverse the trend of younger people not hitting the polls," says George P.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the next president of the United States - not to mention a very fine dad - Al Gore," Gore Schiff declares.

Behind closed doors, Karenna Gore Schiff has an even greater role in the campaign as a trusted adviser to her father, counseling him on everything from strategy and this week's acceptance speech to the earth-tone color of the vice president's suits.

Can she really be objective enough to give him sound advice?

"Luckily, I'm not the only one giving advice," Gore Schiff says. "I've always been involved and around when he's making decisions."

Some campaign workers have quietly questioned the influence Karenna Gore Schiff has on her father. But author Gay Talese believes her role - like George P.'s - is fitting if not predestined.

"They do have experience that we don't think of as experience," says Talese. "The very fact of growing up in a household of political figures is an enormous gain in experience from childhood," Talese adds. "They are also representative of a future."

Has she always been conscious that she's part of this political dynasty and that much is expected of her?

"I have definitely not grown up feeling self-conscious about the political identity of my family," Karenna Gore Schiff says. "I just thought of my dad's job as - as like any other job in some ways," she adds. "He would come home from work and play with us. He would pack our lunch in the morning. And then he would go off to the Capitol."

"If you sit down at the dinner table with us, we mostly talk about sports and competitive things. Politics is not our obsession," says George P.

Politics may not be an obsession, but it's in the family blood. And for now there's no escaping the lure of the family business or the media spotlight.

"I think that clearly both of them have political futures," says editor Brown. "They're really just rehearsing their future roles in front of us all now."