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Gore: Homey to high-end

Al Gore rolled off a borrowed sofa bed at 6 a.m. and into an 18-hour grit-to-glitz jumble of campaigning.

Before the Boston ferry ride, the wharfside rally and the $1-million supper concert with James Taylor, the Democratic presidential nominee spent eight hours hustling around Lewiston High School's chalk-dusty classrooms, pushing his campaign proposals to make higher education more accessible and affordable.

Fifty-five days to the election, Gore's day began after four hours sleep at the home of Lewiston High teachers Don and Susan Jalbert. Daughter Marissa, 12, lent him her study room for the night, N'Sync posters and all.

"Getting a diploma is not the end of an education, but just the beginning," the vice president said at the school. "We need to make college education and skill training available for a lifetime."

In his education debate with Republican rival George W. Bush, Gore hopes to prevail with proposals to make up to $10,000 in tuition expenses tax deductible and to offer a credit to people without enough income to benefit from the deduction.

Also in the $170-billion additional federal spending that Gore has proposed for education over 10 years, is a 401(k)-styled system letting parents _ and working professionals eyeing advanced degrees _ have a tax-free, inflation-protected nest egg for tuition.

Teaching an hourlong American history class under the gaze of news cameras, Gore anxiously _ but with no flubs _ helped students with questions on everything from voting age changes to an Elvis letter on patriotism.

His lunch, a cheeseburger and bottled water on a plastic tray pushed along the cafeteria line, looked little like the dinner awaiting him in Boston, where he and singer-songwriter Taylor were collecting $1-million for the Democratic National Committee.

It was the second of three powerhouse concerts Gore was using to raise more than $7-million this week for the party. At Tuesday night's $800,000 gala outside Philadelphia, Gore and his wife, Tipper, joined Sister Sledge, Cher and Luther Vandross in singing disco's We Are Family.

For Wednesday's sunlit predinner rally in Christopher Columbus park, Gore made a grand entrance, cruising across Boston Harbor aboard the Flying Cloud with running mate Joseph Lieberman, Sen. Edward Kennedy and his nephew, Joseph Kennedy.

Gore told a raucous crowd of 5,000 that Republicans "have some gall" claiming the nation was better off before the Clinton administration took over from his rival's father, former President George Bush.

After dinner, a 53-mile drive to Bedford, N.H., and a rally timed for the 11 o'clock news stood between Gore and his hotel bed.