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Al Gore, Tipper Gore Split: Friends, Political Observers React With Shock

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After Al and Tipper Gore announced on Tuesday that they were separating, reaction poured in from friends of the couple, political observers and pundits. Most expressed shock that the Gore's very public marriage was unraveling.

The Daily Beast's Lloyd Grove quotes several Gore sources who could barely believe the news:

"I am dumbfounded," says Gore confidant Marty Peretz, the editor in chief of The New Republic who was Al's mentor and professor at Harvard. Peretz is one of a close circle of friends who received Al and Tipper's puzzling email Tuesday revealing the split.

"I was very shocked," says longtime Gore watcher Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "One of the first things I tweeted was, 'Can you believe the Clintons' marriage has lasted longer than the Gores'?'"

Chris Downey, a longtime friend of Tipper Gore, said that she broke down when she heard news of the split and still remains "beyond shocked" that the couple is parting ways. The Washington Post reports:

Chris Downey, a friend of Tipper's since they were both young congressional wives, burst into tears when she heard the news. "I'm shocked -- beyond shocked," said Downey, who had talked to her friend just last week. "This is the least likely course of events I could imagine."

People magazine's Sandra Sobieraj Westfall conducted a dozen interviews with Gore family friends after news broke of the couple's decision to separate and appeared on NBC's Today Show Wednesday morning to share her findings.

"They hadn't seen it coming, but [said] if they thought about it more, maybe they should have," Westfall said.

"The two of them have been living incredibly separate lives -- their separate schedules took them in different directions," she added. "They said they had just grown apart. Tipper loved life and wanted to have fun, and Al remained a very driven man with a lot of projects and irons in the fire."

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On Tuesday night, CNN's John Roberts discussed with Time magazine's Mark Halperin the possibility that the "stress of the 2000 campaign" could have been a factor in Al and Tipper's Gore's decision to part ways.

ROBERTS: Yes, you know, if we could, let's rerun that video of the kiss from the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles, because this really was a defining moment in their relationship.

Mark Halperin, this thing lingered on and on and on. But maybe some people have suggested it was the stress of the 2000 campaign, the recount and him inevitably losing the presidency that may have begun to shatter their relationship.

HALPERIN: Well, they've dealt with other stresses, including some with their children. You know, that kiss revealed for a lot of people the quote/unquote private Al and Tipper, just as Al Gore on the public stage people often have said he's different in private, which is true than he was on the public stage as an elected official, a candidate. That kiss really illustrated for what a lot of very few people in the country have seen, the three of us have seen, which is in private they seem to be very passionate --

ROBERTS: Yes.

HALPERIN: -- very attached to each other and that was one time when they displayed it for the world, not pleasing everyone.

ROBERTS: And I remember that night, again, to go back to it, Doug, that night on the riverboat where in the course of Tipper's birthday party, the vice president had three or four pops, I guess we could say, and got loosened up a little bit and gave a midnight speech with a voice that was hoarse from the campaign that was the best that I've ever seen him give. And I thought to myself, wow --

Family friend Sally Quinn of the Washington Post said on Tuesday that Gore winning the popular vote, but losing the electoral vote in the 2000 presidential election may have inflicted irreversible harm on his longtime marriage.

Family friend Sally Quinn told CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson that Gore winning the popular vote for president but losing the electoral vote may have done the marriage irreparable harm.

"He's obviously suffered a lot," Quinn said. "He'll never get over that and neither will she."


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Al Gore, Tipper Gore Split: Friends, Political Observers React With Shock