by John Hawkins | December 12, 2002 2:22 am
Gore in 2004? Don’t Buy The Hype About Him Not Running: In today’s New York Times we’re supposedly getting quite the scoop. According to the NYT’s source, Al Gore won’t be running for President in 2004…
“…(I)n interviews, a half-dozen friends, advisers and other close associates of Mr. Gore, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity and many of whom expressed a wish that he would run, said his demeanor and actions since Election Day had convinced them that this was becoming increasingly unlikely.
“He is really sort of assessing whether he is the best person to take on Bush and whether the rest of the party and other people in the country would respond better to somebody new,” one close associate said. “He really, really feels that the country is heading in the wrong direction. He certainly has the energy and appetite to do it. But if there’s someone else who would really carry the mantle and really be who the party wants, then he’s not going to stand in the way of that.”
There are several things that have happened lately that might make you think this is a credible story — at first glance. Al & Tipper’s new book “Joined at the Heart” is currently sitting at 3,999 on Amazon while their book “The Spirit of Family” is at 1,707. That’s not too impressive considering all the favorable press Al and Tipper have getting lately. Then their is the fact that Byron Dorgan and Barney Frank asked Gore not to run again. You also have to note that not only has John Kerry almost tied Gore in New Hampshire polls, but 44% of Democrats say they don’t want Gore to run again. So should we buy into Gore stepping aside?
No way. First off, while Kerry is doing well in New Hampshire, nationally Gore has been polling the high forties while his closest rival, Joe Lieberman who says he will only run if Gore doesn’t, is polling at around ten percent. Moreover, most political insiders believe that Gore will be the candidate for the Democrats is he decides to run. That being the case, we have to wonder if Gore still has any ‘fire in his belly.’
I’d certainly say so. Come on, this is the guy who has been running around saying for all intents and purposes that Bush stole the election from HIM after Gore tried every dirty trick in the book to hijack the presidency in the partisan FSSC. He’s also been campaigning for months with scathing attack after attack on the Bush administration. Gore flip-flopped on invading Iraq, even though it made his party look bad at the time, in all likelihood because all of the other major contenders for the presidency were supporting the invasion. So to sum it up, Gore is a political animal who has one more shot at the presidency in 2004. Personally, I think he’d sooner chop the pinkie finger on his left hand than drop out of the race.
So what is this all about? I’m guessing that Gore has decided to copy Ross Perot’s strategy from 1992. Back then, nobody was particularly excited about Bill Clinton or George Bush so there was definitely an opening out there for a strong independent candidate. Enter Ross Perot. Perot is sitting around on Larry King and making it clear that he doesn’t care one whit about being President — but — if people can get his name on all the ballot in all 50 states he’ll run. The more Perot tried to give off the vibe that he really wasn’t all that interested in being President, the hotter people got for him. It’s that old, “people want what they can’t have” effect. Eventually, Perot even pulled 30% of the vote in a national poll before he self-destructed and ended up pulling 19% of the vote.
I have to wonder if Gore is trying to use the same trick to generate some sorely needed enthusiasm for his campaign by getting a few of his friends to claim he’s going to drop out. The theory being that if the Democratic base thinks Gore is about to drop out (they’re going to lose him), then the base will start begging Gore to stay in. Then Gore comes out in January and says in so many words that he decided to stay in the race because of the all pledges of support he’s received lately. That wouldn’t be the worst strategy I’ve ever heard and I’d consider that a lot more plausible than a front-running Gore simply deciding to let some empty suit like John Kerry or John Edwards take “his spot.” We should know for sure within a month or so, but color me very skeptical about the chances of Gore dropping out.
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