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Run Al Run

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by EStreetJoe, Jan 27, 2007.

  1. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member


    The ideal candidate for the Democrats may be the man who won the popular vote in 2000 -- and who opposed the war in Iraq from the very start


    A stiff vice president campaigns on his administration's legacy of unprecedented prosperity. Looks terrible on TV. Bows out, following a disputed vote count. Then, two terms later, with no incumbent in the race, he re-enters the fray. Promises to change the course of a disastrous war founded on lies. And charges to victory. I'm referring, of course, to the 1968 campaign of Richard Milhous Nixon. But four decades later, history has a chance to repeat itself for Albert Arnold Gore.

    If the Democrats were going to sit down and construct the perfect candidate for 2008, they'd be hard-pressed to improve on Gore. Unlike Hillary Clinton, he has no controversial vote on Iraq to defend. Unlike Barack Obama and John Edwards, he has extensive experience in both the Senate and the White House. He has put aside his wooden, policy-wonk demeanor to emerge as the Bush administration's most eloquent critic. And thanks to An Inconvenient Truth, Gore is not only the most impassioned leader on the most urgent crisis facing the planet, he's also a Hollywood celebrity, the star of the third-highest-grossing documentary of all time.

    "He's perceived very differently now than he was six years ago," says Frank Luntz, the Republican consultant who advised George W. Bush to dispute global warming during the 2000 and 2004 elections. "He's an icon. Imagine that: Al Gore, Mr. Straight and Narrow, Mr. Dull on Wheels -- now he's culturally cool."

    Indeed, Gore is unique among the increasingly crowded field of Democratic contenders. He has the buzz to beat Obama, the substance to supplant Hillary, and enough stature to enter the race late in the game and still raise the millions needed to mount a successful campaign. "Very few people who run for president can just step in when they want, with a superstar, titanic presence," says James Carville, the dean of Democratic strategists. "But Gore clearly is one of those. He's going to run, and he's going to be formidable. If he didn't run, I'd be shocked."

    Look at what Gore has been up to lately, and it's hard to escape the impression that, on some level, he is already running for president. Over the past few months he has made high-profile appearances on the Today show, the Tonight Show and Oprah, and he displayed his trademark deadpan humor in a stint on Saturday Night Live. "He's keeping himself viable by keeping himself in the public eye," says Donna Brazile, who served as Gore's campaign manager in 2000.

    He has also been active under the media radar. In December, Gore quietly took part in the year's largest event organized by MoveOn, the grassroots group that helped make Howard Dean the front-runner in 2004. After tens of thousands of MoveOn members gathered at house parties across the country to watch An Inconvenient Truth on DVD, Gore joined them in an Internet conference call. Although global warming was the call's official topic, the discussion was charged with electoral expectations.

    As the Internet crowds submitted questions for Gore through an online interface, the text of each query popped up on an animated map of the United States for all to read on their computer screens. There were hundreds of submissions -- and at least a third of them dealt with regime change rather than climate change. "Would you please run for president," wrote Rhonda in Poway, California. "What are the circumstances under which you would run for president again?" asked Doug in Marshal, North Carolina.

    Eli Pariser, who was moderating the call as MoveOn's executive director, finally rose to the bait. "I have to ask this one because it's come up so many times," he told Gore. "Carol from Indianapolis says, 'Would you please, please run?'"

    Gore, on speakerphone with Tipper from his home in Nashville, offered his stock response. "I'm not planning on running for president again," he said -- stopping well short of an actual denial.

    But 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."

    (continued next post)
  2. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    But 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."

    Gore's biggest opponent for the nomination would likely be Hillary Clinton -- and no one in the current field of Democrats is better situated to capitalize on her weaknesses than Gore. In September 2002, just before Clinton and every other Democrat who hoped to run for president voted to authorize the war in Iraq, Gore gave a no-holds-barred speech inveighing against the invasion. "The chaos in the aftermath of a military victory in Iraq," he warned, "could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently face from Saddam."

    At the time, recalls Carrick, Washington insiders dismissed the speech as sour grapes. "The Democratic establishment all said, 'Oh, Al's just out there doing this because he's bitter. This just proves he's never going to run again.' But they all proved to be wrong and he was exactly right. There's nothing more powerful than that."

    Thanks to his vocal opposition to the war -- and his decision to back Howard Dean's anti-war candidacy in 2003 -- Gore has all but sewn up the backing of the party's "Netroots" activists. Eli Pariser calls Gore "a close friend of MoveOn," and Markos Moulitsas, the founder of DailyKos, is equally unabashed in his support. "More than any other Democrat over the last four years, Gore has actually delivered," says Moulitsas, one of the Internet's most influential organizers. "If Gore enters the race, it's his nomination for the taking." In an online poll of 14,000 activists held in December by DailyKos, sixty percent voted for Gore. By comparison, Clinton received just 292 votes.

    Gore's deep ties to online activists could neutralize Clinton's greatest advantage: her fund-raising prowess. Gore retains a network of big-dollar donors from his 2000 campaign, and many of the party's biggest funders are reportedly sitting on their checkbooks, waiting to see if he enters the race. "If Howard Dean could raise $59 million on the Internet," says Carrick, "the mind boggles as to what Al Gore might do." Joe Trippi, who managed Dean's campaign, believes Gore could raise as much as $200 million on the Internet: "Gore may have more money than anybody within days of entering the race."

    What's more, strategists say, Gore has mobilized an environmental constituency that rivals Hillary's support among women and Obama's standing among black voters. "There are millions of people who call themselves environmental activists -- but until now, no one has ever been able to make the environment a voting issue," says Luntz, the GOP strategist. "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.'"

    Above all, Gore has replaced his image as a boring, cautious technocrat with that of a dynamic, plain-spoken visionary. "We've seen the real Al Gore," says Moulitsas of DailyKos. "Not the prepackaged, consultant-muzzled Al Gore, but the actual, this-is-what-Al-Gore-who-doesn't-give-a-shit-about-winning-elections looks like." In national polls, Gore's favorability numbers now rank above Hillary's.

    Most of gore's closest associates believe that he is unlikely to run. "He's hanging out with interesting people, he's making money, but he's still having a serious impact on the political discourse," says Simon Rosenberg, president of the New Democratic Network. "You could look at all that and say, 'My God, he'll never run for president.'"

    But others who have worked with Gore insist that he is simply biding his time. "Gore seems committed to being a late candidate," says Dick Morris, the strategist who masterminded Bill Clinton's '96 campaign. "He's not going to be out front as a playmaker. He's going to wait and see if there's room for him."

    (continued next post)
  3. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    Waiting makes sense, given the current political landscape. "Jumping in too early is a huge mistake for him," says Tony Coelho, who chaired Gore's 2000 campaign. "If the party wants to have Hillary, there's nothing Gore can do or say to stop it. But Barack Obama could be a godsend for Gore. Obama makes Hillary look like just another politician, as opposed to a fresh woman's face. He could slow her up, and John Edwards can create further doubts."

    According to David Gergen, who has served in the Nixon, Reagan and Clinton administrations, that scenario could create an opening for Gore. "If the three of them fight each other to a bloody draw, nobody emerges as the cherished front-runner," he says. "Then you to turn to Al Gore as someone who is not scarred up by the battle. He would look very formidable."

    Letting others battle-test Hillary's viability as a front-runner has an added benefit for Gore: It allows him to put off a bruising political confrontation with Bill Clinton. Some insiders suggest that a reticence to take on his generation's most brilliant political mind -- and someone renowned as a take-no-prisoners campaigner -- is the primary factor keeping Gore off the roster. "It's one thing to distance yourself from Bill Clinton, as Gore did in 2000," says a Democratic strategist who has advised both men. "It's another to run against Bill Clinton when the former first lady is heading the field."

    If Gore does decide to run, there is no question that his entry into the race would instantly reshuffle the deck. "He would dislodge a whole lot of Hillary support," says Luntz, "opening up this race so that anyone would have a shot." He 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.

    But even those who have worked most closely with Gore agree that his candidacy would face some significant hurdles. "You got a lot of people pretty skeptical," says Carville. "There's labor. The African-American community is not particularly close to Gore. The trial lawyers are certainly going to favor Edwards." Even Gore's prescience on the war may not be the towering advantage that many are predicting. "One is always penalized for being right about too many things," Carville says. "Prophets are shot in this town."

    Further complicating the picture is the new, accelerated primary calendar, which adds South Carolina and Nevada to the traditional races in Iowa and New Hampshire, forcing Democrats to face four contests in the first fifteen days. A late start could make it tough for Gore to win Iowa, where Edwards has established an early lead and former governor Tom Vilsack looms as a hometown hero. But he would stand a good chance of beating Hillary in New Hampshire, where a battle between John McCain and Rudy Giuliani on the GOP side of that state's open primary is likely to siphon off large numbers of independent voters -- leaving anti-war Gore supporters to dominate the Democratic vote. Unlike Clinton and Obama, Gore could also sweep the South, knocking native son John Edwards out of the race.

    Should he win the nomination, Gore would stack up well against the likely Republican contenders. In the earliest head-to-head polls, he performs as well as Hillary and better than any other Democrat in the field, edging McCain by one percent and running even against Giuliani. "If Gore secures the nomination," says Gergen, "his chances of victory would be strong."

    Gore's biggest challenge, however, may come from within. "He's kind of a klutzy politician," says Elaine Kamarck, a Gore confidante. If he has any hope of being president, Gore has to find a way to stay in touch with the looser, more confident side of himself that has emerged in recent years.

    "Al Gore is so appealing now because he's free," says Trippi. "The real question is, will he be able to maintain that freedom as a candidate? Or as soon as he has something to lose, does he revert back to that cautious, overly consulted guy we saw in 2000?"

    As the campaign heats up over the next six months, Gore will remain very much in the public eye. In February, he'll be up for an Oscar for An Inconvenient Truth May, he will publish a new book, The Assault on Reason, and in July he is planning a series of concerts to raise awareness about global warming.

    But Gore's greatest appeal may come, ultimately, from what he represents to voters fed up with two terms of the Bush administration. "He'll be able to make the case that he should have been president already," says Carrick. "And that had he been president, things would have been a lot different, with the Iraq war being Exhibit A."

    This, agrees Luntz, is Gore's greatest draw. "Democratic voters in 2008 are not only looking to turn back the last eight years, but to erase the last eight years," he says. "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.' "
  4. Claws for Concern

    Claws for Concern Active Member

    I'm not a Republican, but just say no. Gore's had more than enough chances. New blood needed. Besides, wouldn't he be better off working for a new prez instead of running the whole f'n show?
  5. SportsDude

    SportsDude Active Member

    Maybe Rolling Stone can resize his crotch again on the cover of its magazine.
  6. FileNotFound

    FileNotFound Well-Known Member

    Had the 2006 version of Al Gore been around in 2000, he'd be president today. Would have been nice for him to show that passion and dedication to cause, rather than the programmed, robotic approach he was advised to take for the 2000 campaign.
  7. Columbo

    Columbo Active Member

    Had a standard ballot been in place in Palm Beach County, he is president.

  8. RedSmithClone

    RedSmithClone Active Member

    Most of you know that I am an independant who leans right when voting about 85 percent of the time, but I have to admit that if Al Gore ran for president again I would vote for him out of the group currently running on both sides right now.

    I know, the end of the world must be approaching.
  9. RokSki

    RokSki New Member

    I hope he does run, too. Clinton and Obama aren't doing a lot for me. I like Edwards. I'd be pumped if Gore does run. All he did last time was win the popular vote.
  10. ondeadline

    ondeadline Active Member

    Well, you know what Terrell Owens' former publicist would say: "A man of his statue can't win."
  11. RokSki

    RokSki New Member

    Thank God T.O. had the sense to fire that chick, and her hair. :)
  12. tyler durden 71351

    tyler durden 71351 Active Member

    My dream matchup is Gore/Obama vs. McCain/Hagel. Let's face it, if Ralph Nader didn't run in 2000, or Bill Clinton had never met Monica Lewinsky or Elian Gonzales didn't wash ashore in south Florida, Al Gore would be president today and things would be a hell of a lot different. (For one, we wouldn't be in Iraq.)
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