Like Republicans when presidential front-runner George W. Bush was confronted with an impromptu quiz on world leaders, Democrats faced embarrassment when their presumptive nominee was charged with being a slumlord, following reports on Al Gore's absentee landlordism by Nashville's wtvf-tv.
"She had no political agenda," reporter Jennifer Krause said of Tracy Mayberry, who pays $400 a month to rent a four-bedroom house in the vice president's hometown of Carthage, Tenn., about 50 miles east of Nashville. "She just wanted her plumbing fixed."
The story, Krause found, took on a life of its own, particularly when Gore's opponents tried to use the revelation against him and when Gore's own damage-control machine kicked in.
Mayberry, whose family includes a disabled husband and two disabled children, called the station after she had been threatened with eviction. Apparently, the plumbing damage Mayberry has complained of is so extensive the family will have to leave the house during repairs, and the vice president's damage-control specialists are handling everything, putting the blame on Gore's property managers.
Among the more interesting follow-ups, Krause said, came when an apparent faux Gore called Mayberry and scolded her. The real, apologetic Gore has called her, promising to have the Mayberrys for dinner-presumably at his house-at a later date. It seems that Mayberry was charmed enough to reportedly revise, favorably, her opinion of Gore.