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The "Draft Gore" Moment | The Nation

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John Nichols

John Nichols

Breaking news and analysis of politics, the economy and activism.

The "Draft Gore" Moment

Al Gore may well win a Nobel Peace Prize this week, which is no small accomplishment. But the more relentless of the former vice president's political proponents are saying, "Why stop with an trophy when can have it all?"

After all, the "Draft Gore" movement suggests, it is not that great a leap from the awards stage in Stockholm to the presidential campaign trail in Iowa and New Hampshire.

The peace prize winner -- or winners, if deserving Canadian Inuit environmentalist Sheila Watt-Cloutier shares the honor with Gore -- will be announced on Friday.

Then there will be headlines, broadcast reports, interviews with Gore about his Global Marshall Plan to address climate change, and the inevitable flurry of speculation about whether it wouldn't make more sense for Democrats to nominate an internationally acclaimed thinker and activist than a cautious-and-calculating former First Lady or a cautious-but-somewhat-more-inspiring junior senator from Illinois.

Conveniently, the speculation would probably reach a crescendo around the time of the November 2 deadline for entering the New Hampshire primary competition. Imagine the drama of days prior to that deadline, as America awaits the decision of a former congressman, senator, vice president and Democratic presidential nominee to enter the race for an office that -- had only the American political process been structured to accept the popular will of the people rather than the determination of an archaic and undemocratic Electoral College and its Supreme Court manipulators -- he should have held for the past eight years.

"We feel that if he wins the Nobel Prize... then he can't not run for president," chirps Roy Gayhart, a California "Draft Gore" organizer.

Perhaps. But, just in case the reluctant runner needs a push, his line coaches are yelling at the top of their lungs, "Run Al Run."

The crusading campaigners of a "Draft Gore" movement that is decidedly better organized and focused than at least a few of the declared Democratic presidential campaigns operate a sharp website at Draft Gore.com have active organizations in a number of states and are now capitalizing with some skill on the Nobel moment.

On Wednesday in the front section of the New York Times--the town square of American political discourse--is a full-page advertisement featuring a particularly trim and youthful image of the former vice president presented as "An Open Letter to Al Gore."

"You say you have fallen out of love with politics, and you have every reason to feel that way," the letter from the Draft Gore campaigners suggests. "But we know you have not fallen out of love with your country. And your country needs you now--as do your party and the planet you are fighting to save."

Suggesting that Gore must be president if he wants to tackle global warming, the letter prods him, "Only from the Oval Office can you wield the kind of influence needed to move countries, policies and corporations to bring about meaningful change."

The Draft Gore movement, which is seeking petition signatures urging their man to run, is hitting the former vice president where it counts. It is certainly true that the presidency would afford Gore an unrivaled opportunity to realize what for him are moral imperatives. And it is also true that the presidency is within his grasp.

The New York Times advertisement follows radio advertising in Iowa and Florida, as well as an ambitious "op-ed" campaign by Gore proponents such as Ben Barber. Already, Gore backers in Michigan are busy gathering the 12,396 signatures that must be obtained by October 23 to qualify their man for a place on the primary ballot in a state where an August poll by the Detroit News had Gore accomplishing what Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Clinton and the other Democratic contenders have not been able to do: leading Hillary Clinton.

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