Gore surprises friends with visits before big fund raiser

Wednesday, October 24, 2001

CONCORD, N.H. -- Former Vice President Al Gore paid a surprise visit to New Hampshire on Tuesday for informal meetings with party members, days before a key Democratic fund-raiser in the state that holds the nation's first presidential primary.

"We talked about everything from the economy to the idle mill in Berlin," said Coos County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Robitaille, who had breakfast with Gore at a restaurant in Berlin.

He said Gore was asked about his political plans.

"He said he was just thinking about it and we did not press him," Robitaille said.

Gore had called local Democrats late Monday to say he would be coming to New Hampshire a few days early.

"It's nice not to have a motorcade and an entourage and a strict schedule," Gore told The Associated Press as he left a Concord pub Tuesday. "It's very relaxing and fun.

"I'm just here visiting with friends," he said.

Gore, who lost in last year's presidential election, would not discuss his political future. He then jumped in his rental car and headed to York, Maine, to meet his wife, Tipper.

Gore's spokeswoman, Kiki McLean, would not give details on his schedule. But he will be the keynote speaker Saturday at the New Hampshire Democratic Party's Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, a key fund-raising event.

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