Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Could Al Gore clinch the US Presidency?

When Al Gore lost the 2000 US Presidential race, it seemed he had blown his chance. But, as Sean O'Driscoll reports from New York, the White House could be his ... if he wanted it

The pleadings to Al Gore run from the most amateurish to the slickly professional. On a trip to the town of Marble Head in Massachusetts three weeks ago, I spotted a handmade "Gore For President" cardboard sign hanging outside a resident's gate.

It was made out in multi-coloured crayon, strikingly amateurish in the time of $$100m presidential campaigns.

This week, however, Gore's many beseechers went big and paid $$65,000 for a full page advert in the New York Times, pleading with him to run for President.

The advert's tone was one of pop psychology rather than blunt campaigning.

"You say you have fallen out of love with politics and you have every reason to feel that way," it said, in soft, healing tones.

The ad was paid for by Draft Gore, the biggest and most professional of three separate campaigns that urge the former Vice President to run.

After Gore shared the Noble Peace Prize late last week, the American media were salivating. CNN warned that Gore' candidacy would start a "civil war" within the Democrats.

Anguished party pundits weighed in, explaining that they were both Hillary Clinton and Al Gore fans and that it would be a really tough decision if he jumped into the race.

The main person missing from all of this is, of course, Al Gore, who has occasionally shaken hands with campaigners running 'Gore for President' petitions, but that's about it.

Andrea Ronhovde, a Draft Gore board member, remains undeterred, although she is honest about the chances of getting Gore to announce his candidacy.

"We haven't given up completely because he hasn't told us too," she tells the Belfast Telegraph. Not exactly an overpoweringly optimistic message but there is, of course, a back story.

Most Gore true believers feel that he is unlikely to run this time. However, if Rudolph Giuliani beats Hillary Clinton for the Presidency, 2012 would be a perfect opportunity for Gore to come bouncing into the arena, with an Oscar in one hand and a Nobel Peace Prize in the other.

For Ms Ronhovde, however, 2012 may simply be too late.

The Iraq war is a white hot issue right now; it might not matter as much in 2012, and no leading Democrat has a better record on rejecting the premise for the war than Al Gore.

That hand was strengthened by former President and Noble Peace Prize winner, Jimmy Carter, earlier this year when he revealed to ABC television that he had been repeatedly nagging Gore to run in 2008.

"I've put so much pressure on Al to run that he's almost gotten aggravated with me," he said.

At the same time, some of Gore's most senior political aides met in Boston to figure out how to get him to run. Gore played with the hype. On stage at the Oscars, he jokingly began to make a campaign announcement, allowing himself to be drowned out by the orchestra in a prearranged skit.

But for true believers like Andrea Ronhovde, Gore as potential President is a serious matter that would affect the world's future.

Now in her late 60s, she moved up to New Hampshire in 2000 to campaign for him. She can remember the bitter cold weather on the campaign trail.

"I was out on the street, I was on the phone banks, I did it all," she said.

She and many of her fellow supporters want revenge for the "stolen" 2000 election when George W. Bush finally overcame Gore's challenge following a Supreme Court battle over voting papers after trailing him in the popular vote.

She rejects criticism that their fundraising should go towards fighting global warming instead of blowing it on a man who doesn't even want to run.

"I can see that argument but Gore has said himself that he would have most influence as President," Ronhovde said.

"Al Gore has been campaigning on global warming for years. Now it's time for a solution. That solution can only come from the White House."

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