Gore Leaves Door Ajar for 2008

Al Gore, shown at the premiere of
Al Gore, shown at the premiere of "An Inconvenient Truth," his documentary on global warming, hasn't entirely ruled out another presidential campaign. (By Vincent Yu -- Associated Press)

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By Chris Cillizza And Shailagh Murray
Sunday, January 7, 2007

Will he or won't he?

As the Democratic field for 2008 takes shape, one big remaining question is whether former vice president Al Gore -- winner of the popular vote in 2000, an almost-candidate in 2004 and now the public face of the movement to address global warming -- will be in it.

Over the past six years, Gore has become a heroic figure for the party's liberal left, thanks in large part to his early and steady opposition to the war in Iraq. And it's not just liberals who have taken to Gore. "An Inconvenient Truth," the film detailing Gore's lonely quest to raise awareness of climate change, is one of the most successful documentaries of all time and, as important, has transformed Gore's public image from cold to cool.

That renewed popularity has stoked speculation that Gore just may have another national race up his sleeve. "He's the Rocky Balboa of 2008," said Chris Lehane, a former Gore adviser.

But is Gore ready to enter the ring one more time? Don't count on it, say his closest advisers. "There are no secret meetings going on to plan the Gore campaign," said Carter Eskew, a longtime confidant of the former vice president.

But neither Eskew nor any of the small cadre of Gore's closest advisers would entirely rule out such a bid, leaving the same small but substantial amount of wiggle room that Gore himself has left in his public pronouncements.

And there are small signs here and there that could be read as the stirrings of his renewed interest in a campaign. Early last month, Gore addressed more than three dozen labor leaders in Washington, a wide-ranging talk about the Democratic congressional gains and the media, said one attendee, who demanded anonymity. Asked about 2008, Gore said that he has taken a number of calls from people encouraging him to consider running but he "didn't know whether he was going to or not," the source said. "Everybody felt he left a small door open."

For the moment, however, Gore seems more interested in his role as global-warming warrior. He couldn't make time for an interview for the Sunday Fix because he was training 600 people on the slide-show presentation featured in "An Inconvenient Truth," according to his spokeswoman.

Rove's Progeny

As we suspected, Karl Rove really is the progenitor of all modern political operatives.

Need evidence? Look no further than John Weaver and Beth Myers, the lead political strategists for 2008 Republican aspirants John McCain and Mitt Romney, respectively.

The two met more than two decades ago in Texas while working on the gubernatorial campaign of Bill Clements. Both Weaver and Myers were deputy campaign managers in Clements's victory over Democratic Gov. Mark Wells White. Their boss? Karl Rove.

Back in 1986, Myers and Weaver started off as rivals. Myers was working for Clements, Weaver for Rep. Tom Loeffler. Clements, who had served a term as governor from 1978 to 1982, drubbed Loeffler in the primary, but Rove must have liked what he saw of Weaver as he offered the young operative a spot on Clements's general election campaign.

Myers recalled her time alongside Weaver -- and under the tutelage of Rove -- fondly.

"John and I were in our 20s working 18-hour days fueled by pizza and chocolate, and Karl provided the adult supervision," said Myers. Ah, those halcyon days!

Although the two principals are sure to be at daggers drawn many times between now and 2008, each said their experiences in Texas would preserve their bond. "She and I developed a fast and lasting friendship then, and I'm sure it will last through this next chapter," Weaver said.


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