Gore's Presidential Guessing Game

Feb. 1, 2007 — -- International appointment as environmental crusader...check. Oscar buzz...check, check. And, as of this morning, 2007 Nobel Peace Prize nominee...check.

These days it seems like former Vice President Al Gore is in the official pool of nominees 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 today, 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 issue, of course, is 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.