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Gore fest

The democratic race is getting messy, which can only mean one thing: it’s time to recruit Al Gore
By STEVEN STARK  |  April 24, 2008

In the wake of Barack Obama’s defeat in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, the Democrats have a huge problem. On the one hand, they have a front-runner who hasn’t won a single one of the major primary states other than his own, who’s a neophyte on the national scene, and who has enormous difficulties attracting the white, non–college educated voters he needs to win. On the other, there’s Hillary Clinton — a candidate who has greatly diminished her stature on the campaign trail, who faces huge liabilities of her own (in part because of her gender and in part because of Clinton fatigue), and whose chances of winning in November would require her to thread an Electoral College needle.

Furthermore, the long, bitter campaign has produced an untenable result: a large portion of each camp’s supporters now say they are unlikely to support the intra-party rival should their candidate not win the nomination.

Therefore, if the Democrats want to have their best chance to win an election in November that six months ago it looked like they couldn’t lose, they may have only one option at this point: they can turn to Al Gore.

In truth, Gore would be a stronger candidate in November than the two front-runners. He knows what it’s like to run in a tough presidential campaign, which, as we’re finding out with Obama, is a huge advantage. He is, after all, a Nobel Prize winner; he has the advantage of now running from outside Washington even though he’s as experienced as John McCain; and he might be able to pick off a Southern state or two. He’s already won once — with an asterisk. And he could put the electoral focus back on the economy and the Republican record of the past eight years — which it will rarely be as long as Clinton or Obama is the nominee.

Sure, Gore’s entry would obviously not be greeted with waves of enthusiasm by Obama supporters. Still, he is quite popular with one of the Illinois senator’s principal constituencies: the young.

Against all odds
It’s true that drafting a new candidate at this point would be unprecedented. But the virtually deadlocked race between the two remaining candidates makes it at least possible.

Several things would have to occur — and quickly. First, some senior Democrats — with the help, perhaps, of a former presidential candidate, such as John Edwards — would have to publicly urge Gore to make a run. It would help matters enormously if this group included former supporters of Clinton and Obama.

Second, though not required, a write-in campaign could be mounted in one of the remaining states, such as Kentucky or Oregon, on May 20, or Montana or South Dakota, on June 3. The advantage of Oregon is that, historically, at least one candidate — Jerry Brown in 1976 — ran a strong third there as a write-in.

The advantage of Kentucky, Montana, or South Dakota is that neither of the present front-runners looks particularly strong on paper in those contests. Furthermore, because those states are relatively small, a well-funded write-in campaign might have a chance to be successful. (Success in this case doesn’t mean winning, just doing “better than expected.”) The key, of course, is to raise the necessary money to mount such a campaign. But in the Internet age — with the right backing — it might be pulled off.

Third, a bloc of superdelegates would have to declare for the putative candidate. Again, this isn’t impossible. There are about 25 Edwards delegates still out there that might be persuaded by Edwards himself — so that’s a start. Plus, there are enough horrified and disgruntled party elders who would welcome an alternative, if they thought they wouldn’t be making fools of themselves by going out on a limb for a candidate with no chance of being successful.

Finally, a Gore draft would eventually need the support of either Bill or Hillary. While the Clinton effort has begun to succeed in its argument that Obama has major weaknesses, it is time for its principals to realize that Hillary is never going to succeed in the camp’s second necessary argument: that she should be the alternative. She’s never going to catch Obama in the elected delegate count. And her initial high poll negatives (that have never been reduced) — combined with the way she has alienated Obama’s supporters — make her now an almost certain loser in November.

So, if she and Bill care about the party and nation and truly believe that Obama is unelectable — an unpopular but defensible argument — they have, really, only two choices. They can throw in with an effort to draft their former protégé. (A Gore and Newark mayor Cory Booker ticket?) Or they can continue to indulge their illusions and send their party hurtling toward disaster.


The nominee


Odds: 1-5 | past week: same
Odds: 5-1 | same


Pledged: 1479
Superdelegates: 234
Total: 1713
Short by: 311

Pledged: 1328
Superdelegates: 258
Total: 1586
Short by: 438

Delegates needed to win: 2024

On the Web
The Presidential Tote Board Blog: //

  Topics: News Features , Barack Obama , Hillary Clinton , Al Gore ,  More more >
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Gore fest
This sounds like the idea of someone who has spent too much time as a Washington insider: Mr Stark, you are a subtle scholar, as critical a thinker, very likely, in ways, as Obama himself. But choosing Gore over the latter would be like choosing Michelob over Sam Adams--better than the swill that Clinton is offering us--and without the hangover of McCain's Bud, but let's order the best. Always a good decision.
By gordon on 04/23/2008 at 10:08:46
Gore fest
WELCOME BACK! Why on earth would Albert Arnold place his Nobel Prize, his Oscar and his Emmy on the shelf for the dubious distinction of re-entering the political mud wrestling pit and being sneeringly referred to as "Ozone Man"? Gore is in the stratified atmosphere of being "above it all" and his environmental work would look compromised were he again a partisan political candidate. Also, in June 2006, Gore indicated he would not run in 2008. Not to mention money. Hillary and Barack have burned through around $450 Million, leaving little lucre for Al. Lastly, why would a Hillary or Barack supporter switch to Gore, an outside observer and non-participant in the present contest. Ain't no love lost between Hillary and Al as she constantly usurped his power during the Clinton presidency. (Obama followers take note, lest you promote an Obama-Clinton ticket). My guess is, should the Democrats lose in 2008, then pressure picks up appreciably to have Gore run in 2012.
By L-J on 04/24/2008 at 9:05:38
Gore fest
Note to GORDON: Hey, slick! What a subtle reference to Cindy McCain's family owning the biggest Budweiser distributorship in the known solar system. Cool, 'bro! So-o-o-o-o, we take our pick. Barack's "wine-and-brie" (see Toteboard's massive archives) against Hillary's "burgers-and-boilermakers." Did she really up-chuck after the photo was snapped? Just a-funnin'.
By L-J on 04/24/2008 at 9:15:37
Gore fest
Steve...Dude, I'd like some of whatever you're smoking, because this analysis (if, by 'analysis,' we mean random half-thoughts and a complete lack of references or evidence to support them) is as fucked up as anything I've read about this primary to date. Do they actually pay you for this? Let's just say that I don't buy your scenario. We've got two strong candidates still in the race, but the numbers are starting to speak more clearly - Hillary's chances for the nomination grow ever dimmer both because of the math, and because the overall party hierarchy does NOT favor the kind of floor fight you fear. I'm looking for a steady stream of supers announcing for Obama after Indiana and NC, with him hitting his number in June. Hey, maybe I'm also smoking crack and have this entirely wrong. At least my mind-altering substances aren't buried in a Phoenix expense account. RubDMC
By RubDMC on 04/25/2008 at 7:59:15
Gore fest
The role of John Edwards may be a critical factor in the N.C. primary. John Edwards, anyone? Anyhoo, Edwards rang up 56 pledged delegates before withdrawing from the race. He has yet to endorse anyone and has not released his delegates.
By L-J on 04/25/2008 at 2:55:36
Gore fest
Clinton's new challenge is an honest won. Obama should do his homework and take it. A Lincoln-Douglas style debate would, in all likelihood, demonstrate the worthy candidates they both are, and obviate the need for blood and Gore.
By gordon on 04/26/2008 at 5:50:57
Gore fest
On second thought, no. Don't do it Obama. You've already been tried. It's as unconstitutional in practice as it is in conscience and intent--trickery and treachery...a simple duel with pistols would be more noble and true to the idea of Americana Clinton is pushing.
By gordon on 04/27/2008 at 1:23:04
Gore fest
Steve - Oh but that it could happen - one can only pray for it. Could Al possibly be drafted without the Clintons' support? They'd never go for it. I have no choice in November but to write in Al Gore's name, my only choice. A wasted vote but at least a choice, which I do not have now. Thanks for the uplifting column. It gave me hope. I agree with L-J, Gore is "above it all" now, but our political system could afford a good uplifting, and he's the guy who can do it. How can we start a draft?? Bettyboop hoping.
By Bettyboop on 04/27/2008 at 6:42:49
Gore fest
Concerned about these "super delegates" making their "pledges." To be sure, many if not most are quite sincere in committing to either Clinton or Obama. But "superdelegates" are not required to actually cast their votes until the Democratic Convention in Denver in late August when all delegations vote. DNC Chairman Dean has indicated he wants the "superdelates" to either be polled or have them actually cast their votes before July 1 so the nominee is determined. Whether the vote be taken at the August convention or Dean's July 1 date, their "pledge" may - may - be subject to change between now and then. I'm not looking to create any anxiety or cast doubt here but I am pointing out that delegates that are awarded through the primaries and caucuses themselves ---- not any "superdelegates" ---- are all that any candidate can rely on.
By L-J on 04/27/2008 at 5:01:57
Gore fest
Why do the Dems always turn to Al Gore instead of John Kerry? I hope somebody answers that before the election in November.
By Krogy on 04/28/2008 at 11:40:12
Gore fest
I would be cool with Kerry.
By gordon on 04/29/2008 at 12:51:24
Gore fest
REPLY to KROGY...seems that Al Gore was the one that got away while John Kerry was the one who had a tough time getting in...Democrats seem to specialize in disposal candidates. "One and done" is the guiding principle as prez candidates get but one bite of the apple. McGovern, 1972 nominee, was forgotten in 1976. Carter, having lost in 1980, was gone by 1984. Whatever happened to 1984's dynamic primary duo of Mondale and Hart? Gone in '88. Dukakis, 1988 nominee, was forgotten when 1992 rolled around. Kerry, IMO, was driven out of the 2008 presidential sweepstakes after he made some lame joke about failing in college or whatever made you a candidate for Iraq. (This from a decorated Vietnam vet?). The party elders' reaction to the humor was disproportionate to the joke itself. They - whoever they are - wanted Kerry outtathere. The Republicans, though, seem to specialize in political resurrections such as one John McCain. Not to mention Richard Nixon's return in 1968 after his 1960 loss. I had no problem with Gore and am still bothered by those who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 because they didn't like Al Gore. I'd reply that they helped elect George W. Bush. "Oh, I don't like him either" would come the response.
By L-J on 04/29/2008 at 4:51:57
Gore fest
The Democrats are like rookie Marketing majors fresh out of college, always pushing the flavor of the month. They lack the courage of their convictions. They believe what the opposition tells them. If Obama doesn't make it, he will start to believe that he really does have no substance. If Clinton doesn't make it, she'll think she really is an offensive opportunist, instead of a conflicted idealist/realist with a style that's a little off-putting. Whoever makes it, we have to tell the other one we'll be behind him or her eight years from now. We've still got a black mark against us until we have had both a black and a woman president, and these two are intelligent.
By gordon on 04/29/2008 at 10:26:23
Gore fest
Does anybody remember the gubinatorial race between Ed King and Francis Hatch in 1978? Well, King won by defining himself as the "can do" candidate, while his opponent was the cannot do" one. Clinton is the "can do" candidate in this run-off, precisely because she, like King in that one, is the less circumspect. She can set out plans for health care and education and give people hope, while Obama is tied up in his Hamlet complex of putting all his energy into thought--trying to hard to measure how doable everything is...It is the difference, in literary theorist Paul de Man's conception, between adhering to what is "true," and what is "right." To do what is right, we have to lie, which is why Clinton lies. That is, we have to tell ourselves lies to get anything done. If Obama loses Indiana, which it looks like he will, he may best follow Clinton, become her running mate, and learn how to make blind promises. Not all of them will be kept, but if no promises are made, NO promises will be kept.
By gordon on 04/29/2008 at 11:21:27
Gore fest
Perhaps we could put in place a Soviet "troika" in the election. We'd combine Obama's inspiration with Clinton's attention to detail and McCain's drive and determination. Failing that, perhaps a personality transplant from Barack to Hillary.
By L-J on 04/30/2008 at 8:34:00
Gore fest
The degree of manipulation going on in this election is unbelievable, and Gore has been campaigning all along to become the "draft" candidate. If he was the "strongest" contender, as has been suggested, why didn't he run in the first place? For more on who's doing what to whom, and how this will all end, check out an article at Here's a direct link: //
By YRM on 05/01/2008 at 12:25:09
Gore fest
Memo to GORDON. Another interesting scenario about the 1978 Massachusetts contest was that of incumbent Gov. Michael Dukakis assuming that he would be the inevitable nominee. Shades of Hillary, huh? Dukakis saved the state in the blizzard of '78 and would, of course, roll over "MassPort" King. Also, Cambridge Mayor Barbara Ackermann entered the primary, claiming that Dukakis was not liberal enough. Shades of Nader in 2000, huh? Frank Hatch was a liberal Republican (google it if you must) with about as much charisma as Dukakis. The most regrettable outcome was that the state Dept. of Social Services (DSS) was then forming and came into existence in 1981 under a governor - - King - - who didn't give much of a tinker's damn about social services.
By L-J on 05/11/2008 at 5:39:45
Gore fest
AddenDUMB to above. Ackermann got around 5% of the primary vote, thereby making King the winnah. King, in his acceptance speech, called it a victory for capital punishment and the right to life movement. Gotta hand it to the conservative Republicans. They stick together behind their candidates. Liberal Democrats may agree on 90% of something and will easily form factions and divisions among the remaining 10%.
By L-J on 05/11/2008 at 5:45:03

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