Next step the US presidency

WITH a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar under his belt, Al Gore’s fans are hoping he will take another shot at the presidency.

Speculation about Gore’s political future blossomed anew yesterday after the announcement that he had shared the Nobel award with a UN panel on climate change.

Supporters had already taken out a full-page ad in The New York Times on Wednesday, pleading for him to put his bitter 2000 loss to George W Bush behind him and have another go.

“Your country needs you now — as do your party and the planet you are fighting so hard to save,” said the ad, which boasted 136,000 signatures on a petition to draft Gore for president.

Gore, 59, is on a roll after transforming from what many considered a dull, pedantic politician to the rock-star-like champion of the battle against climate change.

In February, his film An Inconvenient Truth scooped up an Academy Award for best documentary. Five months later he was the headline speaker at the worldwide series of Live Earth concerts.

His book The Assault on Reason, essentially an extended rant against the Bush administration on a variety of issues, made it to the top of best-seller lists.

Although he is not an official presidential candidate, opinion polls show Gore ranking third among Democratic contenders with 10-12%, roughly the same as John Edwards.

Jimmy Carter, former president and also a Nobel Peace Prize winner, said earlier this year he had been trying to persuade Gore to throw his hat in the ring.

“I’ve put so much pressure on Al to run that he’s almost gotten aggravated with me,” Carter said.

But analysts agree that Gore would face a daunting task if he jumped into the Democratic race dominated so far by Senator Hillary Clinton, the wife of his ex-boss Bill Clinton.

Less than three months before the first nominating contests, it would be virtually impossible to match the $70 million warchest assembled by Clinton and the $75m raked in by her rival, Senator Barack Obama.

Gore would also be well behind in building a campaign organisation. Most of the top-draw Democratic political advisers have already been snapped up by Clinton or Obama.

But Gore, who won the popular vote in 2000 only to be edged out by Bush in the state-by-state electoral vote after a dramatic legal battle over Florida, stays open about a new run.

“I haven’t ruled it out. But I don’t think it is likely to happen,” he said in an interview with Time Magazine in May.

“If I do my job right, all the candidates will be talking about the climate crisis,” he said. “And I’m not convinced the presidency is the highest role I could play.”

His wife Tipper said several close friends had tried to get Gore to take the plunge but he had little reason to heed their urgings.

“He’s got access to every leader in every country, the business community, people of every political stripe,” she said. “He can do this his way, all over the world, for as long as he wants.”

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