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“I hate apathy,” proclaimed Karenna Gore Schiff, the eldest daughter of Vice President, and presidential hopeful, Albert Gore Jr. It would be hard for anyone to dream of suggesting that Schiff, who has been actively campaigning for her father in the past year, is apathetic. On a recent sweltering, spring afternoon in an unremarkable coffee shop near her home on New York’s Upper East Side, Schiff, who is 26, chatted passionately about the issues she cares most about, which almost always coincide with her father’s platform. Lacking the stiffness that her father has been accused of, her lack of pretension and earnest approach have made her a favorite front person for women, mothers and young voters. Combatting apathy for the political process, particularly among members of her generation, is one battle she has made her own in this election. Schiff bemoans the fact that so many young people feel “detached from the political process” and are resistant to vote, which she sees as a possible hurdle at getting her father elected. Vice President Gore, who addressed his daughter’s graduating class from Columbia University School of Law Tuesday evening, likewise urged the Class of 2000 not to abandon public service or to shrink from running from public office. Schiff, who said she enjoyed law school but is now ready to move on, plans to help her father get his message across. As the national chair of GoreNet, a vehicle for arranging low-dollar fundraisers and for boosting voter turnout among 18-30 year olds, Schiff is determined to raise both awareness and funds. A close adviser to the campaign, she has also acted as a stand-in when her parents cannot attend an event. “She is a very principled person,” said David Ross, who taught Schiff in a negotiation workshop at Columbia. “One of the most intriguing parts of her personality is that she does not use her name to her advantage,” said Ross. “There are no airs,” he added. Besides striving to raise awareness among young people of the importance of the political process, Schiff, who is a new mother, likes to talk about the difficulties faced by working mothers and the importance of good child care. She admits to feeling torn between her child and a career, suggesting that the Family Medical Leave Act still has a “long way to go.” Although she did not offer specific strategies to alleviate the conflicts posed by the workplace for working moms, she said she wants at least to raise awareness of the struggles. She also said she feels strongly about keeping abortion from being criminalized and protecting the environment. “Now that I am a mother, I feel that we have a responsibility to future generations,” she remarked. Schiff, is married to Andrew Schiff, a doctor and son of David Schiff, managing partner of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. Not unlike the average 26-year-old, Schiff is not terribly directed about her career path following November’s election. Postponing the bar examination until at least February, Schiff said she currently has two principal jobs: caring for 10-month old son Wyatt and campaigning for her dad. Each could easily take full time, she admits. If her father is elected President, she could undoubtedly have one of many jobs in his administration. If not, she said, she might like to return to Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, where she was a summer associate. Or, she could see herself working for a public interest organization, she said, because she enjoyed working pro bono with Sanctuary for Families’ Battered Women’s Clinic while at law school. “It would be very fulfilling work,” she said. Henry B. Gutman, head of the intellectual property group at Simpson Thacher, said he would love to see Schiff come back. “She is a tremendously talented young lawyer. I would be disappointed if she didn’t [come back],” said Gutman who worked with Schiff. From her brief foray into online media as an editorial assistant at Slate Magazine, she became involved in copyright and trademark issues, she said. And Schiff, who has been subject of some speculation that she herself might seek political office, does not rule out that option either. Just not in the near future. “I feel a little embarrassed,” she said referring to predictions that she might run for Congress in the next couple of years. “There are so many more qualified people in my law school who should be tapped to run for office,” she added. But she admits to loving politics and cannot accept the notion that politicians do not make a difference. Growing up in Arlington, Va., with a father in the Senate, she has been around politics her entire life. She was only 3 years old when her father first ran for Congress. And her earnest, down-to-earth style, her intelligence and her photogenic looks have not only made her an asset to the Gore campaign but have fanned the speculation about her own political future.

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