"This is very much a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration," the former vice president and his wife said in the email first reported by Politico. "We ask for respect for our privacy and that of our family, and we do not intend to comment further." Gore's spokeswoman later confirmed the validity of the e-mail.
The news stunned many political watchers -- the duo's mutually affectionate manner on the campaign trail did much to enliven Al Gore's stuffy image -- but also good friends.
"I'm shocked -- beyond shocked," said Chris Downey, a close friend for many years who said she spoke to Tipper last week. "This is the least likely course of events I could imagine."
Since Al Gore's bitter loss of the 2000 presidential race, the couple has made their home in his home state of Tennessee. Al, now 62, has spent the past few years travelling extensively as an environmental advocate. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in 2007, and a documentary about his warnings on global warning won an Academy Award the same year. Tipper, 61, became famous in the 1980s for her protests of vulgar and sexually-explicit language in pop music. In later years, though, she turned her advocacy focus to mental health issues. A lifelong photographer who often showed up at official events with a camera in her hand, she more recently began selling her work, with proceeds going to her husband's Climate Project.
They met in high school -- she attended the Alexandria school that is now St. Stephen's and St. Agnes, while he went to St. Alban's -- and wed in May 1970 at Washington National Cathedral. They have four grown children -- Karenna, Kristin, Sarah and Albert -- and three grandchildren.
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