GORE: He's Back And He's ... Bearded?!
Ex-VP Al Gore, who'll be "easing back into" politics by training Dem operatives and founding a PAC, "has been vacationing in Europe for several weeks and has changed his image again: he has grown a beard."
However, Gore associates said the new look "had nothing to do with politics and was unlikely to be seen" in the U.S. Gore "has promised to campaign" in NJ for Jim McGreevey and "expects to appear" for other Dems in states with mayoral elections.
These appearances and the "frequency of invitations to make them" will be an "important measure" of Gore's standing among Dems. Several associates said Gore's plans "did not commit him to running" for WH '04, although "they expected him to run."
Ex-Sen. James Sasser (TN) said that while Gore hadn't "told him his intentions": "I've always really thought that he would run. ... I've always taken it for granted. After all, he got a half million more votes than the other guy."
While in Europe, Gore has "stayed in touch with political and fund-raising associates, planning to resume political activity" (Clymer, New York Times, 8/3).
Trenton Times' Perkiss reports, Gore "will come out of political hiding" when he visits NJ to campaign for McGreevey, Dems said 8/2. Gore spokesperson Kiki McLean: "Al Gore ... wants to do what he can to help out in New Jersey." Observers "said Gore's willingness to campaign for McGreevey is an indication that he still has" WH ambitions.
UVA's Larry Sabato "This is one of the first concrete signs that Gore is considering running (for president) again." More Sabato: "Clearly this will mean more to Gore than it does to McGreevey" (8/3).
The first step in Gore's return "is running a political academy" in Nashville the week of 8/12. One "mark of the importance" attached to NJ, which Gore won by 504K votes, is that state Sen. Raymond Lesniak"will direct the school," along with Rep. Harold Ford Jr (D-TN) and Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA). The other state with a gov race, VA, "may be less hospitable" to Gore, who lost it by 220K votes.
Gore's "activities this fall, and some contributions to candidates, will be financed from" a PAC formed to help Dems in the '98 elections. That PAC, Leadership '98, had $281K cash on hand on 9/30. A new PAC "will be founded after the" '01 elections, a DC associate said (Clymer, New York Times, 8/3).
...Gore "plans to help train" young Dems to help in several elections, associates say. Gore "has kept a low profile," but friends "indicate he is preparing to gradually step back into" politics in the coming months - though Gore "has given no indication" of his long-term plans. Some two dozen young Dems "will attend a weeklong workshop" in August focused on grass-roots activism, and a "bipartisan" workshop 8/11 at Vanderbilt Univ. with Gore and Gov. Lamar Alexander (R).
The young Dems will then "work with" Dem party orgs in several states - including VA, NJ and NY.
"Details were not outlined," but in '01 VA and NJ elect govs, and NY City elects a mayor. Gore associates "gave no timetable" for the appearances with McGreevey (Lester, AP, 8/2).
Familar Second Fiddle
Newsweek's Fineman, on whether Clinton's "comeback" obscures Gore: "Al Gore is so invisible that a large foot is not required to obscure him. I was just told today that he's having Camp Al down in Tennessee in a couple weeks. Twenty five young activists are going to come down to be lectured in political activism by Al Gore."
MSNBC's Matthews responds: "You know what this reminds me of? In the back of the New York Times Magazine they have the ad for the camp for the fat kids. Please send your fat kid to this camp. ... You know -- Chester will come back 20 pounds lighter as a happy kid."
Fineman: "Al Gore is slowly re-emerging on the political scene. ... It should hit its maximum around 2032, I think" ("Hardball," MSNBC, 8/1).