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Saturday, 23 November, 2002, 11:03 GMT
Will it be Gore in 2004?
Larry King interviews Al and Tipper Gore
The Gores are in the midst of a media blitz

It is only two years to the next American presidential election in 2004 and Al Gore is preparing to decide whether he will challenge President Bush.

You can almost hear the slogans now - "Gore in Four" and even "Four more for Gore" on the grounds that he really won last time - denied victory by the US Supreme Court which stopped the recounts in Florida.


With Al Gore, even the spontaneous is calculated. Perhaps he should just be himself and be serious

He has promised to make his decision known at the end of this year.

In the meantime, he has just launched himself back on to the public stage with a book written with his wife Tipper called Joined at the Heart, which is all about the American family.

Al and Tipper have been on several key television programmes including Barbara Walters, Larry King, and are also appearing on Saturday Night Live - a late night comedy show - in an effort to show a lighter side to his character.

Calculated character

People who know him say he has one, though the voters have never seen it. With Al Gore, even the spontaneous is calculated.

Perhaps he should just be himself and be serious.

Al Gore with a beard
The beard may be gone, but Al Gore is back
After all, this is a man who was speaking of the "information superhighway" long before most of us knew what an ISP was.

He even wrote a book once about the end of the world as we know it, though he did not mention the environment in the 2000 campaign because he had been told people were not interested.

That said a lot about his campaign. It was all politics and no principles.

The family book blitz serves as a convenient vehicle to test run what Time magazine called the "New Gore". But equally, if he decides after all that people are simply reminded of the "Old Gore", he can say it was all just about selling copies.

The Washington Post's media commentator Howard Kurtz remarked that: "Al Gore's post-election re-emergence has been as carefully choreographed as a political campaign."


Gore has developed his attack on President Bush and has come up with some catchy criticisms.

The "New Gore" seems to be someone who claims to have got over the defeat of 2000, though he admits it was a "crushing disappointment".

He has shaved off his beard and has started wearing white shirts again.

Next time, he has said, he would not listen to his managers but would follow his instincts and "let the chips fall where they may".

New position

He probably cannot do much about his own character. After all, who can? But he is doing something about his politics.

Al Gore
Gore hopes to cash in on voter disillusionment
He is positioning himself to the left.

He had already started the process before the recent mid-term elections when he came out against a war in Iraq saying that it would detract from the war on terror.

Now, in an interview with Time, he has developed his attack on President Bush and has come up with some catchy criticisms.

He described Mr Bush's economic policy of tax cuts as "catastrophic", his foreign policy "based on an openly proclaimed intention to dominate the world" as "horrible" and his environment policy as "immoral".

Not a bad start. And he has now thrown in another idea, which is aimed at those American families he has been writing about - a national system of health insurance.

This, incidentally, was something he attacked former Senator Bill Bradley for during the contest of the Democratic nomination last time. But times change.

Leadership potential

Al Gore's position as the potential Democratic Party nominee has been strengthened by the poor showing of the Democrats in the mid-terms, in which the Republicans took back the Senate and kept control of the House of Representatives.

The elections did not throw up a new leader. "It was a massive defeat," he said to the Washington Post and one could almost hear relish in his voice.

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Hillary Clinton is Gore's closest Democrat contender

Perhaps, he might feel, the party will turn to him as France once did to Charles de Gaulle.

Certainly among the party faithful, Gore is still well ahead of anyone else likely to be in the race.

In a Time poll, 61% of Democrats said they wanted him to run in 2004.

Against six talked-of candidates - Senators Joe Lieberman, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, John Edwards, Representative Dick Gephardt and Governor Howard Dean of Vermont - Gore was ahead with 53% of Democrat support.

None of the others got more than 10%. Interestingly, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton did better than all of the above against Gore, though he still beat her by 36 to 26%.

And she is unlikely to run in 2004.

Real battle

Cynics in the Democratic party have almost written off 2004, unless Iraq and the economy go badly wrong for Mr Bush.

President George W Bush
President Bush is still riding high in the polls

They do not expect George Bush junior to do what George Bush senior did with his popularity after the Gulf War of 1991 - throw it away.

The real battle, they think, will come in 2008 when George Bush cannot run again.

If that feeling is widespread, then perhaps they will let Al Gore have another go.

He seems to want to.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rob Watson
"People believe Al Gore will run in 2004"
See also:

15 Nov 02 | Americas
15 Oct 02 | Americas
03 Oct 02 | Americas
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