Al and Tipper Gore Separate

UPDATED 06/01/2010 at 02:15 PM EDT Originally published 06/01/2010 at 12:40 PM EDT

Al and Tipper Gore Separate
Al and Tipper Gore
Steve Mack/FilmMagic
It was a Washington love story that followed a Hollywood script: But now Al and Tipper Gore's marriage is coming to an end.

The former Vice President, 62, and his wife, 61, are separating, they announced Tuesday. The couple, who have four children, have been married for 40 years.

The Gores said it was "a mutual and mutually supportive decision that we have made together following a process of long and careful consideration," according to an e-mailed statement obtained by The Associated Press Tuesday.

Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider confirmed the statement came from the couple, but declined further comment.

Animal Magnetism

Gore met Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Aitcheson at a high school dance in 1965. The following year, when he enrolled at Harvard, Tipper also attended college in Boston to be close with him.





"Absolute pure animal magnetism," Tipper told PEOPLE in 1994 about what she thought when she first met him at the Washington prep school function. Gore's college roommate, Tommy Lee Jones, even said women didn't chase Gore at Harvard because "they were all afraid of Tipper."

Five years after first meeting, the couple wed at Washington's National Cathedral on May 19, 1970, less than a year before he was sent to Vietnam as an army journalist.

Tipper often played a pivotal role in her husband's career. While campaigning, Gore relied on his wife as one of his key campaign advisers, "helping to soften her husband's stiff image at public appearances," the Washington Post reported.

Aides also credited Tipper for being able to bring out a more animated side of her husband than he normally showed on the campaign trail, at one time even famously exchanging a long kiss with her husband on stage at the 2000 Democratic National Convention.

"[Tipper] brings excitement to my life that wouldn't be there otherwise," Gore told the New York Times in between campaign stops in 2000. "She sees things I don’t see, understands things I don’t understand. I've learned so much from her."

"She's the person he trusts more than anybody," added Gore's former speechwriter Eli Attie.

That trust helped the couple weather Tipper's battle with depression and their son's run-ins with the law and drug and alcohol problems.

The couple, who have resided in his home state of Tennessee after he worked in Washington, D.C., recently purchased a $8.8 million home in Montecito, Calif., Los Angeles Times reported, a few days before their 40th wedding anniversary.

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