Can former vice president Al Gore, who hasn’t been on the ballot in a decade and a half, persuade young voters to back Hillary Clinton by appearing in hurricane-battered South Florida?
The location has plenty of symbolic importance — the area has not only just been battered by Hurricane Matthew, it is also a part of the country most vulnerable to sea-level rise and in the state where Green Party candidate Ralph Nader helped derail Gore’s 2000 presidential candidacy.
The 3 p.m. appearance is timed to coincide with the state’s voter registration deadline, and the Clinton campaign announced Sunday that the two politicians would urge Florida voters “to check their registration status and to get registered by October 11 to make their voices heard this election.”
Gore’s pitch: People concerned about climate change, especially young voters, should ignore the siren song of third-party candidates and opt for Clinton. Millennials are a key target demographic for Clinton, because they consider tackling global warming a higher priority than older voters but have yet to fully embrace her.
“At the event, Gore will discuss the urgent threat posed by climate change and lay out the high stakes of November’s election,” the Clinton campaign said in a statement.
Gore spokeswoman Betsy McManus said Sunday in an email that the former vice president would emphasize the stark differences between Clinton and GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has questioned the link between human activity and climate change.
“For those who agree that we must solve the climate crisis, the choice is clear in this election — and VP Gore is looking forward to joining Secretary Clinton in Miami to talk with Florida voters about how we solve this challenge,” she wrote.
Many Republicans — and some Democrats — wonder whether Gore can actually mobilize young voters. Conservative radio show host Hugh Hewitt mocked the idea last week — a couple of days before he called for Trump to step aside — noting that many South Park fans are more familiar with the comic “ManBearPig” episode mocking Gore as an alarmist than with Gore as a political figure.
But League of Conservation Voters Action Fund President Gene Karpinski said this line of criticism ignores the fact that most environmentally minded voters in their late 20s and early 30s first learned about climate change through Gore’s Oscar-winning 2006 documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
“That’s how they got into climate change in the first place,” Karpinski said.