Gore’s Political Future, including One Surprising Possibility

crossposted at Daily Kos and Truth & Progress

Last night, Tim Russert’s CNBC Show discussed the state of the 2008 race as it stands now.  This show, about which I’ve written before, has no transcripts available and almost every time I write about it, it is usually from memory.  Last night, however, I did take notes.

I almost always watch this one-hour show as it allows the guests maximum time to elaborate their viewpoint.  Unlike ‘Meet The Press,’ Russert rarely interrupts and proves what one of my favorite journalists ever, Robin MacNeil, once said of the concept behind PBS’ The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, “If you allow a politician or a policy maker more than a few seconds to speak, they might even say something substantive.”

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Towards the end of last night’s show, Russert and his panel discussed Al Gore’s political future.

 

It had been a few months since this show discussed Al Gore’s potential entry into the race.  From what I could tell, the show was taped just before Gore’s Nobel Peace Prize was announced on early Friday morning.  The panel included Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, Norah O’Donnell of MSNBC, and Chuck Todd, NBC News’ Political Director.  Apparently, they discussed the 2008 Republican field in the first half of the show of which I only caught the last few seconds. 

Russert asked his guests that if Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize (they assumed he would win), would he consider jumping into the race as a candidate?  Here’s a summary of what I heard with my comments following each pundit’s in italics.

1. Chris Cillizza: answered by saying that it was his job to keep track of “All Things Gore.”  At one point early on this summer, he thought Gore would strongly consider doing so should Barack Obama or John Edwards falter badly and lag far behind Hillary Clinton in the poll.  Cillizza also cited other reasons for Gore’s reluctance: new-found fame and fortune (literally), the ability to influence debate outside elective office, international status, and wondered why Gore would give it all up.  He said that presently “Gore had a great life.” 

I don’t know if Obama and Edwards have “faltered” but they do trail Hillary badly in national polls.  Iowa, however, is another story and remains much more competitive with the vast majority of voters not making a final decision until just before the caucus or primary.  As I watched, I agreed with the panel that with a tight primary schedule, Iowa’s significance would be magnified this year as, unlike in previous political cycles, it wouldn’t give the losers much time to recover politically.  Remember John Kerry from 2004? 

2. Norah O’Donnell: she really didn’t add much to the discussion except to offer that were Gore to become a candidate again, he would confront past charges (you know them all) and would have a difficult time changing perceptions.

Although she is a halfway decent reporter, her punditry skills are non-existent.  Don’t be dazzled by her looks or her smile.  She never mentioned that much of what she said has been refuted by articles in both Vanity Fair and by Bob Somerby’s The Daily Howler. In my book, O’Donnell frequently spouts conventional wisdom.  Last night was no exception.  Sorry, Norah!

3. Chuck Todd: he had previously been dismissive of the idea of Gore’s candidacy.  But, then he said something I paid close attention to.  He noted that given Gore’s assertion in The Assault on Reason that our political system was broken and that it was becoming increasingly difficult to get anything accomplished, could Gore decide to run on his own terms and possibly pair with NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg on an independent ticket next year?  This way, he avoids butting heads with Hillary during the Democratic primaries and still offers himself as an alternative to the country.  Of the declared Democratic candidates, based on his sources in all the campaigns, he said that Edwards was pushing the hardest for an endorsement from Gore.  And, how about Obama?  Todd was critical of Obama for not reaching out sufficiently to Gore.  Talking further about Gore-Bloomberg, he thought they’d be a serious ticket, if you combine Gore’s new-found fame and vast experience with Bloomberg’s deep pockets. 

I’d never heard a major political pundit suggest before that Gore could even run as an independent.  Could it happen?  It could.  Will it?  I’m not sure.  And even if it did, how would the Democratic Party (or each of us as his supporters) react?  Again, I don’t know for Gore has been a lifelong, loyal member of the Democratic Party.  But Todd did repeat the fact that if Gore were to run, he’d “do it on his own terms”.  Whatever that means.

4. Tim Russert: he acknowledged the potency of the Nobel Peace Prize and said it was a “great honor.”  He said that once someone runs for president, they never get rid of the urge to try again and given that some Democrats have reservations about the electability of many of the other candidates, wouldn’t Gore be the most electable Democratic candidate in 2008?.  He also didn’t dismiss the idea of a 2008 Gore-Bloomberg ticket as something out of left field.

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(h/t DKos member Panda)

What Russert said about presidential ambition is essentially true.  As 1976 Democratic presidential candidate, Congressman Mo Udall, once said: “Presidential ambition is a disease that can only be cured by embalming fluid.”  It is also true that once a potential candidacy (Hillary’s) is perceived as inevitable months before an election, reporters don’t necessarily want to write the same story over and over again.  Hence, the renewed interest in Gore.

I hope this gives you an idea of what was discussed on the show and while not definitive, it at least conveys what some of the major political pundits are thinking.

In my poll, more than one political event could likely happen next year.  If that’s what you think, do elaborate in your comments.

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  1. … of DraftGore.com, Monica Friedlander, issued this statement on Friday, October 12th after Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize

    We are gratified by the awarding of this prestigious award to Al Gore.  It confirms our judgment of the man, his principles, vision, experience, efforts — as well as promise.  He is in a unique position not only to lead our country, but to make America once again an agent for peace in the world.

    This award will only add to the tremendous tidal wave of support for Al Gore and the growing demands that he become a candidate for President in 2008.  He is in a unique position to make a difference in the world on the one issue he believes to be the most important of our times.  We believe that under these circumstances he has no choice but to take the one step left to have the greatest impact in changing policy on global warming — run for President.

    An additional 70,000 or so have signed the petition to draft Al Gore since DraftGore.com placed an ad in the New York Times on Wednesday, October 10th.  If you haven’t as yet, sign the petition here.  You can also read comments left by others who’ve done so. As of now, the number of petition signers is over 204,000, a remarkable number!

    Can a political draft succeed and propel a candidate to victory?  It did once before and resulted in a two-term presidency.

    ps: if you missed my previous Gore Diary — Fox News: Al Gore Has Debased the Nobel Peace Prize — check it out.

    Tips for Al Gore.  Thanks.

  2. If Gore was to run as a third party candidate, wouldn’t that be seen as splitting the Democratic Party supporters?

    Even more troubling for Al on a personal level, would he lose all of the traction he has gained from Democrats if he fails and a Republican wins in a plurality?

  3. I doubt seriously he would leave the party!

    I like the “different” perspectives shown here. 

    Al Gore is a driven man — no question about it.  However, I believe his drive has more to do with the crisis of global warming than anything else — he is dedicated in that endeavor.  That endeavor is what we NEED to set this country on the right track — for us — for the world!  I hope and pray that he will become a nominee that all of us will consider as absolutely the best leader this country could possibly have!

    • Pluto on October 15, 2007 at 6:51 am

    …but this endless need to drag Gore down in to the filth and pointlessness of American politics is embarrassing.

    People, please.

    We (me and my Plutocrat friends) already own Wally World and its economy. The moose out front shoulda told you.

    Let the man be the global spiritual leader we need. Stop trying to kick him into the US political gutter.

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