On Saturday on MSNBC, this writer volunteered that if Al Gore would enter the Democratic primaries, he could defeat Hillary Clinton and win the nomination. Hours later, there popped up on Drudge this headline: "Al Gore Says He Hasn't Ruled Out Second Run."
"I haven't ruled out running for president again in the future, but I don't expect to," Gore told reporters in Australia, where he has been promoting his film on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth."
Al must have been watching MSNBC.
And why should Al Gore cede the nomination and a place in history he coveted to the spouse of the man but for whose personal transgressions he would be president of the United States?
If Al ran, he would open with a pair of aces. To Democrats, Gore was right on the war when almost everyone else was wrong, which gives him the inside track to the antiwar vote that will be as crucial in the Democratic primaries of 2008 as it was in 1968 and 1972.
Both of the other major antiwar candidates, John Kerry and John Edwards, voted for the war -- before they voted against it. Gore opposed it from the outset. And his endorsement of Howard Dean, much ridiculed when Dean disintegrated weeks later, looks less like a political gaffe now than an act of principle.
Second, Gore has taken out the patent on the global warming issue, and the environmental movement remains a powerful engine of cash and campaign labor inside the Democratic Party.
Third, Hillary has slipped 11 points, from 43 to 32, in a Fox poll of Democrats as to whom they wish to see nominated. Gore has moved into second at 15, passing Kerry at 13, for whom a Gore run would probably mean the end of the line.
Clearly, Hillary has a hellish problem with her stand on the war. And though she will win a stunning re-election victory in November, that does not solve her problem with the party base. She is going to have to move on the war or be pummeled by the activist wing of the party for two years.
Fourth, as a candidate, Hillary is too programmed. She has made all the right moves in the Senate to erase her image as a militant feminist, but lacks the platform skills of Bill and cannot bring to a debate the passion of Gore, who appears to believe deeply in what he preaches on both the war and global warming.
Fifth, her position as front-runner makes her the natural target for the other candidates, while her loss of 11 points and slippage to 32 percent makes her vulnerable. In a head-to-head race, Gore runs stronger than Hillary against McCain. He is down 6, she is down 7. And while Gore has been damaged by defeats and some of his shrill speeches, he does not carry as much scar tissue as Hillary.
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