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Thursday, 14 December, 2000, 00:47 GMT
What next for Al Gore?
Al Gore
Al Gore: Bred to be president
By the BBC's US affairs analyst Gordon Corera

Normally when a candidate loses a presidential election, the commentators start analysing the mistakes they made in their campaign, offering explanations of how they were not right for the job and other attempts to explain the electorate's decision.

But it is a little different for Al Gore this time.

After all, he actually won the popular vote and came within a chad or two of being only the third vice-president in American history to succeed his boss in office (the last was, of course, George Bush senior in 1988).

He did make mistakes in the campaign, particularly before he finally stepped out at the Conventions as 'his own man', and he never really found a coherent way of distancing himself from Bill Clinton whilst also taking credit for the prosperity and peace America enjoyed over the previous eight years.

Desire for change

But in this sense, it is fair to say that two other men helped turn what should have been a comfortable victory into a close defeat.

Al and Tipper Gore
The kiss that helped Gore emerge from Clinton's shadow
Bill Clinton, through his actions with Monica Lewinsky, helped increase the public's desire to have a change in Washington, while Ralph Nader took away many of the liberal voters who would otherwise have gone to Gore.

In many states, including Florida, Gore would have comfortably won without Nader's presence.

Al Gore's future

And what now for Al? Both candidates were scions of political dynasties, but it was Gore who was bred for the presidency from birth and whose every political move was made with that goal in sight, while until recently most assumed it would be Florida Governor Jeb Bush who would follow his father rather than the more wayward elder son, George.

President Bill Clinton
Did Clinton lose the presidency for his vice-president?
In many ways it was Gore's very desperation for the office, set against Bush's lazy charm that did him so much damage.

It was probably that hunger that drove a man whom everyone agrees is deeply principled to make absurd comments about things like inventing the internet to boost his image, but ending up appearing as someone who was willing to say and do whatever it took to win.

That same hunger also led him to keep fighting in Florida even after things began to look bad rather than step down graciously - something which might have improved his chances of a comeback.

The rematch?

A defeat is not the end of the line for Gore though.

Most likely he will try to cleanse himself from the hell of the campaign by engaging in a more intellectual pursuit, maybe writing some books on issues he has showed aptitude for, like the environment.

But ultimately it is hard to imagine him keeping away from politics for very long.

And many candidates have had more than one shot at the presidential prize.

The obvious historical precedent is 1960 - then a vice-president was beaten by a whisker by a young, charismatic, relatively inexperienced opponent amid allegations of voter fraud.

Eight years after John F Kennedy, vice-president Richard Nixon took his turn on the steps of the Capitol to take the Oath of Office.

So in Gore's mind may be the thought of a 2004 rematch - Gore versus Bush part II.

But such a path would not be an easy one and the question is whether after the protracted struggle in Florida he will now look like a sore loser and so undermine any hopes he does have of achieving the final prize.

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