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Monday, 16 December, 2002, 01:35 GMT
Gore 'will not stand for president'
Al Gore on Saturday Night Live
Al Gore had even appeared on comedy shows recently
Former US Vice President Al Gore has decided not to run for the White House in 2004.

In a television interview, Mr Gore said that although he wanted to contribute to changing the Bush administration, he did not believe that running for the presidency was the best way to achieve it.

I personally have the energy, the drive and ambition to make another campaign, but I don't think it's the right thing for me to do

However, the Democrat told CBS' 60 Minutes programme that he believed he could beat George W Bush in a rematch.

Al Gore won the popular vote in the 2000 presidential election, but was narrowly beaten to the job by George Bush.

Before Sunday's interview, there had been widespread speculation that Mr Gore - a man said to have been groomed for the US presidency from birth - would try once more.

His decision to withdraw means that the race for the Democratic candidacy is wide open.

Optimistic

Mr Gore said the 2000 campaign had been "extremely difficult one" and had left many people exhausted within the Democratic Party.

"I personally have the energy, the drive and ambition to make another campaign, but I don't think it's the right thing for me to do," he said.

I think I could beat the president in a rematch

Al Gore

"I want to contribute to ending the current administration. I think the current policies have to be changed. I think that my best way of contributing to that result may not be as a candidate this time around."

While, he said, it was difficult to predict what would happen in two years' time, Mr Gore was optimistic about the Democrats' chances.

To win, his party needed to focus "unrelentingly" on the economy, Mr Gore said.

President George W Bush
Gore has openly criticised President Bush
He did not rule out running for the White House in 2008, but said it was unlikely he would have the opportunity again.

The Democrats have a year to decide who their candidate for the 2004 race will be.

The Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, Al Gore's running mate in 2000, has said he is interested in running, as has the Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle.

Missouri Representative Dick Gephardt and North Carolina Senator John Edwards are also considering putting their names forward.

Lighter side

Mr Gore disappeared from public view in 2000, after his election defeat.

But he has remained the Democrats' highest profile contender.

In recent months, Mr Gore has sought to resume his place in the spotlight, carrying out a book tour, several TV appearances and making some key policy statements hugely critical of President Bush.

Mr Gore and his wife Tipper have been on several key television programmes including Barbara Walters, Larry King, and also appeared on Saturday Night Live - a late night comedy show.

This was widely seen as an attempt to show a lighter side to his character ahead of declaring his candidacy.

Mr Gore was criticised during his 2000 campaign for not softening up his wooden image.

In the past few months Mr Gore has openly criticised President Bush's apparent determination to attack Iraq, accusing him of losing sight of the goal of hunting down those responsible for the 11 September terrorist attacks.

In another speech, Al Gore focused on the faltering US economy, warning of a "global crisis of confidence" in America's economic leadership.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Ian Pannell reports from Washington
"They say all political careers end in failure"
See also:

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