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lildreamer316 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-18-08 02:54 PM
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Calling Al Gore
Edited on Fri Apr-18-08 02:59 PM by lildreamer316
By Dan Schnur
The New York Times
April 8, 2008, 7:07 pm

Dan Schnur was the national communications director for John McCains presidential campaign in 2000. (Full biography.)

Looking back at a week in which the most widely covered news to emerge from the campaign trail is that former presidents tend to write books and give speeches for large amounts of money, and that campaign consultants who undermine their boss key policy positions for personal profit tend to be fired, it may be worthwhile to consider where a Democratic primary based more on personal than ideological differences may eventually conclude.


The question isnt whether Democrats will come together behind the eventual nominee: judging by recent polling, the level of anger toward the current president among party regulars is such that they could decide the nomination on Halloween and still be a united force by election day. But the moderates, independents and even renegade Republicans who were thinking nice things about Senator Obama earlier this year are not nearly as favorably disposed to him anymore. And in the absence of large-scale policy distinctions between the two candidates, the personal nature of their exchanges are more likely to result in lasting damage. Its one thing to argue about the cost of two health care programs: its a bigger problem to be taking potshots at the honesty, integrity and experience of your opponent.
Any number of top Democrats have attempted to step in and bring some order to this process, but none possess the stature to help the candidates, the superdelegates and the rest of the party structure come together. Former President Bill Clinton is compromised, of course, former nominee John Kerry has been marginalized and most other high-level Democrats have already endorsed a candidate, undermining their credentials as impartial brokers.


The one Democrat who does possess the stature to provide the needed guidance is former Vice President Al Gore. While there have been rumors about his interest in Senator Obama, and age-old tales about tensions between him and Senator Clinton, the fact that he has not endorsed either candidate provides him with the necessary credibility that an honest broker requires. The disputed outcome of the 2000 election bestows not only respect on him, but virtual political martyrdom. Neither the Obama nor Clinton campaigns could ignore his pressure without risking sizable backlash from Democratic voters and delegates.
Mr. Gore has been understandably coy about taking on the role of power broker. Hes had a historically tenuous relationship with the party establishment, and theres an inherent risk that the supporters of the losing candidate blame him for any real or imagined role in the outcome. And theres certainly nothing to be gained by weighing in at this particular moment. Unless the Pennsylvania primary results in an extended winning streak for Senator Clinton, this problem could solve itself. But if the primary calendar heads into the latter weeks of May without resolution, the need for someone of Mr. Gores standing to engage will become much greater.
Should the nomination remain unresolved by that point, though, the question for Democrats is whether they would prefer to have Al Gore as their referee or as their nominee. If anything, the former vice presidents stature has only been enhanced since his own campaign eight years ago. His work to raise public awareness of global warming may be an unprecedented achievement in modern American history. It has netted him an Oscar, a Grammy, an Emmy and a Nobel Prize, and the enhanced respect of his partys voters. When he was interviewed on 60 Minutes recently, Mr. Gore seemed a lot more interested in his media campaign on behalf of his favorite issue than presidential politics. But he also seemed underwhelmed by the amount of attention that global warming was getting from the current candidates.


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