TODAY   |  June 02, 2010

Why are the Gores separating now?

People magazine’s Sandra Sobieraj Westfall tells TODAY’s Meredith Vieira that Al and Tipper Gore grew apart, according to sources close to the family, and that the “mutual” decision to split has been a long time coming.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

VIEIRA: Norah O'Donnell , thank you very much . Sandra Sobieraj Westfall is People magazine 's Washington correspondent. Sandra , good morning to you.

Ms. SANDRA SOBIERAJ WESTFALL (People Magazine): Good morning.

VIEIRA: You've been around Washington , were you as shocked as everybody else?

Ms. WESTFALL: I was. I covered the Gores in 2000 . Tipper , at one point, was reading me, you know, suggestive e-mails that they exchanged. They seemed very much in love, very openly affectionate.

VIEIRA: Yeah, everybody's wondering why now. Just two weeks ago celebrating their 40th anniversary. Why split up a this point?

Ms. WESTFALL: Well, you know, the friends that we talked to yesterday, about a dozen of them, said that, you know, they hadn't seen it coming, but if they thought about it more, maybe they should have.

VIEIRA: Why?

Ms. WESTFALL: That the two of them had been living increasingly separate lives . Their separate schedules took them in different directions. Tipper would be, you know, at their home in Arlington photographing Great Falls , while Al was down in Nashville working on his book. And, you know, there was never any acrimony that the friends could see so they just took it as scheduling conflicts, but say that they just had grown apart, their projects had taken them in different directions. Tipper loves life, wanted to have fun and Al remained a very driven man with a lot of projects and irons in the fire.

VIEIRA: Yeah, people were speculating yesterday, could there be another man or another woman involved if all of this. But friends have basically said absolutely not.

Ms. WESTFALL: You know, with the epidemic of infidelity lately...

VIEIRA: Yeah.

Ms. WESTFALL: ...that was the very first question. And friends closest to them at first really wanted to respect their privacy and not go any further than the statement the couple put out. But once they realized that that was the gaping question everybody was asking, they did go back and say, you know, there's never been a whiff of that. They firmly believe that there's no third party involved here. These are just two people that very amicably drifted apart.

VIEIRA: Yeah. They said in their statement that it was a mutual decision that they made together following a process of long and careful consideration. So it's surprising then, at least at first glance, that they would have purchased a home just a few months ago in California .

Ms. WESTFALL: Well again, they have their home in Virginia , their home in Nashville , and Tipper has been spending time in California . She has, I think, three of the four children live in California . So it can be a sort of a home base for one of them, both of them when they're traveling there. They were just on spring break with all of the kids and grandkids, so...

VIEIRA: Yeah, but let's talk about the kids. They -- four kids, three daughter and a son, and then the three grandchildren. What impact do you think it will have on their kids?

Ms. WESTFALL: You know, the family has already been living very private lives. One of the daughters...

VIEIRA: Yeah.

Ms. WESTFALL: ...already has gone through a painful divorce. You know, we don't know much about the Gore children because they have kept a very low profile, and I'd be surprised if that doesn't continue.

VIEIRA: Yeah, and you mentioned Al Gore , obviously very busy with his business ventures and environmental work, and she's been spending, Tipper , a lot of time with her family. Where do they go from here?

Ms. WESTFALL: You know, he has a -- very literally, he goes to China . He's got another climate change training session in Nashville at the end of the month. I mean, his calendar is already packed. And she's been very active in her photography. I'm told that -- expect that their lives will be still very intertwined around their family, but they're just going to make it official now that their projects have taken them in separate directions.