DON'T SETTLE FOR ANYONE YET, AL GORE IS STILL OUT THERE-- AND NOT AS ADAMANT ABOUT HIS FUTURE AS NAYSAYERS CLAIM
OK, Kerry won't run-- he wouldn't have won the nomination anyway. But what about Al Gore? The new Rolling Stone makes the case that he should run, probably will-- and will win if he does.
Longtime DWT readers know we endorsed him in 2005. He's even more viable now. Tim Dickinson talked to lots of politicos for his article, from with-it, ears-to-the-ground grassroots operatives like MoveOn's Eli Pariser and Daily Kos'Markos Moulitsas to Beltway Bubble hacks of yesteryear like James Carville and Donna Brazile. And they all agree that Gore could wind up in the White House. Markos: "More than any other Democrat over the last four years, Gore has actually delivered. If Gore enters the race, it's his nomination for the taking." Cut to the anti-Markos, Carville: "He's going to run, and he's going to be formidable. If he didn't run, I'd be shocked."
... the nation's most experienced political strategists agree that Gore is carefully laying the groundwork for a possible run. "He's running in a nontraditional way, which has been powerful," says Bill Carrick, a veteran Democratic consultant. "It has made him look much more interesting than if he had just been the former vice president sitting out there and thinking about a run."
Gore has carved out a public role for himself that's usually reserved for rock stars and Tour de France winners. What Bono is to Third World debt and Lance Armstrong is to cancer, Gore is to global warming. "He's the indispensable character in the drama of the climate crisis," says Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club. "If it has a happy ending, he'll be the hero. If it has a tragic ending, he'll be the tragic hero." And like Bono, Gore can pack a house, even in red-state America: In January, tickets for a Gore speech at a 10,000-seat stadium in Boise, Idaho, sold out in less than twenty-four hours.
"He has built an infrastructure that is impervious to traditional political calculations," says Ron Klain, Gore's former chief of staff. "His base of support is truly national -- no matter what else happens, no matter who else is in the race."
When Hillary was voting to back Bush on the war in Iraq, Gore was up in arms. Everything he said came true. She still can't decide if she's for the war or against the war or just symbolically and nonbindingly against it. She doesn't ring rue to enlightened voters. He does.
Fundraising? Joe Trippi thinks he could raise $200 million off the Internet alone. "Gore may have more money than anybody within days of entering the race." (He's gotten very, very rich(er) from his work with Apple and Google.) And his image has been completely revamped. He's a star now, not a stiff, boring wonk.
Republican Frank Luntz think he's the first politician who will be able to mobilize the millions of Americans who think of themselves as "environmentalists" first and "political" second. "Gore took the environment from deep inside the newspaper and put it on the front page for the first time. He would be able to say to people, 'If you really care about global warming, you have to vote for me.'"
Dick Morris, and quite a few insiders I've been talking to, think he's biding his time and see what shakes out. "He's not going to be out front as a playmaker," says Morris. "He's going to wait and see if there's room for him." If Hillary, Obama and Edwards fight it out and muddy the waters, turning to Al Gore makes an awful lot of sense.
"If Gore secures the nomination," says David Gergen, "his chances of victory would be strong." GOP consultant Luntz, a lot sharper than Democratic consultants of his generation, points out that "Democratic voters in 2008 are not only looking to turn back the last eight years, but to erase the last eight years. If I were working for Gore, I'd message around a single word: Imagine. 'Imagine if I'd been president instead of George W. Bush. Imagine where we'd be today.' " I imagine if Frank Luntz gets that, an awful lot of Democrats and independents will as well.
Gore would also have history on his side: Andrew Jackson and Grover Cleveland, both of whom won the popular vote but lost the presidency, reached the White House on their next tries.