The terrorist attacks have fostered all kinds of political unions, the
latest being that between Bill Clinton and
Al Gore. After only cursory chats since last year's election, they met early Friday morning at Clinton's home,
where the former president was napping on his couch waiting for Gore's knock on his door.
They talked till dawn, and after an hour's sleep flew together to Washington
for today's prayer service. They spent the
afternoon at Gore's house in suburban Virginia, focused intently on terrorism but also on rebuilding their fractured
friendship, aides of both men said.
Both had been overseas when terrorists struck New York and Washington
on Tuesday. Clinton was in
Australia, Gore in Austria. They were on speaking engagements, both anxious to return to the United States
once they heard the news but stranded as American airports shut down. Clinton returned on Thursday to
New York in an Air Force jet. He and Chelsea, who had been just 12 blocks from the WTC when it was struck
by terrorists, walked the streets and talked with rescue workers and others looking for their loved ones.
Gore, who narrowly lost last year's election to Bush in a bitter fight,
was in Vienna
to speak at a seminar on the future of the Internet. He canceled his speech, announced his support for Bush
and took a commercial flight to Toronto, where he and an aide rented a car and headed south. They crossed into
the United States at Buffalo, where they stopped and Gore donated blood. At that point, Thursday, Gore's aides in Washington received a call that the White House was looking for Gore to invite him to the prayer service.
About the same time, Clinton called Gore. The two had left messages
for each other after the attacks, but Clinton
did not reach Gore until then. Clinton suggested that Gore spend the night at his house in Chappaqua and said
they could fly to Washington together Friday morning on an Air Force jet. Gore accepted and arrived there at 3:30
Friday morning after facing heavy traffic caused by the airport shutdowns. Clinton was napping on his couch,
waiting for Gore. People close to the two said they stayed up talking until dawn, mostly about terrorism and
what had happened. They caught one hour of sleep before they flew to Washington together Friday morning.
During the flight down, Gore invited the president to his home in Arlington,
Va., for lunch.
They met Mrs. Gore and Hillary at the National Cathedral. After the prayer service, Gore disappeared out
a back door of the cathedral. Clinton headed out the front door and greeted several people on the cathedral steps,
including former President George Bush and Bob Dole.
Eventually, Clinton and his daughter climbed into a Suburban, which
took them around the side of the cathedral
where Gore was standing. "My ride is here," Gore said, opening a door that revealed Clinton and Chelsea
inside. Gore and Clinton had lunch and spent most of the afternoon together. It was their first extensive visit since
a tense post-election face-off last year in the White House, where the two aired their anger at each other over the
One person close to both men said that they spent much of their time
"like every other American," talking about the
attacks, but also "had a wonderful chance to catch up." Another said that if Gore wanted to run again for
president, he needed to repair his relationship with Clinton.