Recently nominated for a Nobel Prize and waiting to walk the red carpet at the Academy Awards, former Vice President Al Gore unveiled his next big endeavor today : 'Live Earth', a 24-hour series of concerts to put the issue of climate change before a global audience.
Modeled after 2005's Live 8 concerts highlighting African debt relief, the event is scheduled for July 7 with seven concerts on seven continents.
The former Vice President has been on a host of lists this month. And these days it seems like he's is in the official mix for just about everything -- except the race for the White House.
Last June, Gore told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, "I can't imagine any circumstances in which I would become a candidate again."
It's a position Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider confirmed, adding that the Gore camp views 2008 as a "campaign on the issue to help change and educate the minds of the American public."
The Gore camp might be playing coy, but the Associated Press reported that supporters of his campaigns past met in Boston earlier this month to mull a potential Gore run in 2008.
Though the tone of the meeting was described as informal by one of the attendees, Chris Mackin, a Boston consultant and Gore supporter, told the A.P. it was "an early stage conversation" and added: "We're very serious about exploring this."
Gore himself is finishing his book, The Assault on Reason, scheduled to be published in May. The former Vice President is also scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill in March on global warming.
Kreider says as far as supporters of a 2008 presidential bid are concerned, Gore "appreciates the sentiment of where that comes from but feels that there are many ways to serve in what he's doing right now."
And what he's doing right now is serving as an international crusader for the environment.. Al Gore's record during 30 years in Congress and the White House proves he's always been one of its biggest champions -- even if subjects like global warming and alternative energy have, in a relative sense, only recently become the trendy political issues of the day.
"Al Gore, like no other, has put climate change on the agenda," Boerge Brende, one of the Norwegian members of parliament who nominated Gore for the Nobel Prize, told the Associated Press.
The Former Vice President's Resume
Add to that experience the former Vice President's early opposition to the war in Iraq, an Oscar-nominated documentary, and pop-culture stature that's replaced his once wooden persona, and what Al Gore could be is Democratic dynamite.
"I think it's difficult to come in late, but on the Democratic side, he would be the only person who has the stature to do it," said Bill Daley, Gore campaign chairman in 2000.
Daley, a current senior adviser on Sen. Barack Obama's presidential bid, says a successful late entry is contingent on the right mix of political circumstance and candidate attributes.
"Name recognition, substance, experience," Daley enumerated, "[Gore's] got that."
The 2008 election is 21 months away, the Republican and Democratic Conventions are 18. But in an ever growing field already 20 candidates strong, it seems there is not a moment to lose -- fundraising, shaking hands and leaving footprints in states like Iowa and New Hampshire with early nominating contests.
Some Notable Late Entries
Historically, late entries into the presidential field have made their mark.
Among them former President Bill Clinton who entered the '92 presidential race in December of 1991, bypassing the Iowa caucus altogether and coming out of New Hampshire as "The Comeback Kid".
The late Bobby Kennedy's entry in his 1968 bid for the presidency upset the Democratic ticket through a swell of popular support at the primaries.
Donna Brazille, Gore's campaign manager in 2000, said she's not sure "where the notion of early" came from this campaign season.
"In every campaign cycle, we look for opportunities," Brazille said. "Candidates are having the opportunity to get out there and talk to the nation. It's not because it's early, it's because there's a vacuum being created in the current leadership."
The Benefits of a Shorter Cycle
After newly declared candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del, suffered from acute foot-in-mouth disease yesterday, the benefits of a shorter campaign cycle -- with fewer opportunities for gaffes -- became clear.
"To be honest, I don't think anybody knows," Daley said. "Because it's so long, you take a punch and you can survive."
Daley describes the 2008 campaign season as "a marathon, not a sprint." As the formal candidates reach their stride, Gore's schedule -- jam-packed with a stroll down the red carpet at the Academy Awards, a book release in May, and the December Nobel Prize announcement -- will, if not heighten, surely sustain the buzz surrounding his candidacy.