With a scant 1,247 days to go before the 2004 presidential election, prospective Democratic candidates are getting ready to run.

Connecticut Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman went to Austin last week to raise money for his political action committee (while bashing President Bush) at the home of Dell Computer Corp. executive Tom Meredith. Lieberman also went to South Carolina where he endorsed an early Democratic primary in the state in 2004 to mirror the traditional GOP contest there.

Meanwhile, speculation began to rise last week that former vice president Al Gore is ready to end his silence and return to the public arena soon, perhaps beginning with a Tennessee-based leadership institute. Gore promised to return and "mend fences" back home after losing Tennessee last year.

At least one longtime Gore fundraiser has been calling potential donors, but people close to the former vice president say no formal plans have been made and that calls to raise money for an institute, or a potential new political action committee, are preliminary and exploratory at most.

What is known is that Gore will co-host a seminar on grass-roots politicking and civic engagement with former Tennessee governor (and two-time GOP presidential hopeful) Lamar Alexander at Vanderbilt University in August.

Gephardt Is Headed

To New Hampshire Lieberman and Gore aren't the only ones acting like potential 2004 candidates.

House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) plans to be in the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire next weekend, according to the Manchester Union Leader.

The paper reported last week that Gephardt would be in the state June 8-9 for a Cheshire County Democratic Dinner, a picnic in Bow and a drop-by at the Manchester Democrats' Flag Day dinner.

Gore is also expected there soon, said the Union Leader. Lieberman, for his part, is said to be going for a fundraiser in October. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) may show up soon as well. All of which means that by next year, you won't be able to vacation in the Granite State without tripping over a crowd of White House hopefuls.