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Gore Joins Calif. Special Election Fight

Former Vice President Al Gore is entering the fray in tomorrow's special election in California's 50th District, recording a phone message urging Democrats to turn out.

Al Gore
The former veep took time of from promoting his new film to help Democrats get out the vote in a California special election (Getty Images)

"I'm asking you to join me in sending a strong message to President Bush and the congressional Republicans that we've had enough," says Gore.

In the message, Gore says a vote for former Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) would be sending another "energy industry lobbyist" to Congress -- echoing one of Democrat Francine Busby's major campaign themes. "Francine Busby will fight to break the foreign oil stranglehold and make America energy independent by 2020," Gore says.

Gore's call appears in the final hours before voters head to the polls to pick a temporary replacement for Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R), who resigned last fall year after pleading guilty to accepting millions of dollars in bribes from a defense contractor.

The special election, which at first seemed an easy hold for Republicans, has tightened considerably with both sides acknowledging that either Busby or Bilbray could win.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has poured roughly $4.5 million into the race (considerably more than its Democratic counterpart) in an attempt to counter the toxic political environment created by Cunningham's ethical breaches and the continuing decline of President Bush's job-approval ratings. (Speaking of Bush, he is doing a robo-call on behalf of Bilbray as is Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, who represents a neighboring district.)

But as any loyal Fix reader knows, it is Gore's decision to involve himself in the race that fascinates us. The past few months have seen Gore reemerge on the national stage after a self-imposed political exile that followed his 2000 presidential election loss.

The ostensible reason for Gore's resurfacing is to promote the release of "An Inconvenient Truth" -- a documentary detailing his decades-long campaign to draw attention to the issue of global warming. But Gore's higher profile this year has led to speculation about another presidential campaign, especially among rank-and-file Democrats drawn to Gore's unwavering opposition to the war in Iraq and his outspokenness on the domestic wiretapping program.

Gore addressed all that and more during an interview yesterday on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" -- his first Sunday show appearance in more than three years. On the show, Gore was suprisingly careful on Iraq, refusing to endorse a specific timetable for withdrawal -- a step many potential 2008 candidates have taken in recent months. "I think the setting of a deadline is intended to -- sometimes it's described as a way to set in motion forces that will improve our options and improve the situation on the ground," said Gore. "It's possible that setting a deadline could set in motion forces that would make it even worse."

Instead of a specific deadline, Gore laid out two goals for moving forward in Iraq -- removal of American forces at the earliest possible date, but only if the United States can ensure that Iraq will not descend into civil war when the U.S. military leaves.

As for the possibility of running again for president, Gore left himself very little wiggle room. "I have no plans to be a candidate for president again," he said. "I haven't made a so-called Sherman statement because it just seems unnecessary, kind of odd to do that."

Conspiracy theorists out there (of which The Fix occasionally is one) will parse Gore's words and note that he never absolutely ruled out a run; not planning to run is not the same as not running. But at this point a Gore candidacy seems a real stretch; he seems genuinely content with his role as an agitator at the perimeter of the political debate rather than a candidate at its center.

By Chris Cillizza  |  June 5, 2006; 4:18 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008 , House  
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Next: Primary Day Primer: Your Guide to Key Races in 8 States


I've read all on this site, great info, good work.

my guestbook

Posted by: Rony | June 15, 2006 8:51 PM | Report abuse

has no one noticed that the news was reportng yesterday that the elec. voting machine company, Sequoia (sp) had been sold to a foreign company via a Florida based company. check it out!!!

Posted by: ba wall | June 6, 2006 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Last Jan I picked Al Gore as the "Dark Horse" for '08. His pigment has lightened and his gait has picked up, he's running at his own pace. There actually is two years until decision time for any candidate and the Demos have quite a few good ones.

While he may "deserve it" it's not going to come on a silver platter. He, or anyone else, will have to run for it.

Posted by: Peter L. | June 6, 2006 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Nixon got the 1968 nomination because no one else at the time stood as a strong leader, comparing him to Gore is interesting on the time line level, but there are 12 Democrats already running, (yes, they are) and he will have to fight to get the nomination. Gore is ranked lower than Hillary at this point, and she is at 35% I think, when he is listed on the long long names of Democrats testing the White House waters. My question is IF GORE will keep the voters he had in 2000 to win the primary, or will they see him as a LOSER, and that the Democrats need a fresh face for 2008. (Gore fighting Hillary for the same votes from Democrats would be fun to watch)

Posted by: Slim Girl in Pearls | June 6, 2006 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Re: Gore. Has anyone notice that if Gore ran he would have the exact same timing as Nixon did (serve for 8 years as VP, lose the subsequent presidential election, disappear, and reappear and win election 8 years later). Not that he would want to parallel Nixon in any other way. Actually Nixon signed into law the bill creating the EPA, so maybe there are no parallels there.

Posted by: Zathras | June 6, 2006 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Newt's not running for anything. Who cares.
That Hannity has a great show.
You catch him on WEOL? 930AM Elyria?

Posted by: vivabsuh04OH | June 6, 2006 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Funny Viva.

Interestingly, this was being discussed on Hannity yesterday with lovable former Speaker Newt Ginrich. When asked if it was a simple campaign trail mis-speak (which was immediately corrected by the way), Newt said Busby is a "typical liberal democrat" three times in a litany of reasons why she should not be elected in this district and then said "look she's a typical illegal immigrant".

Newt immediately corrected his mis-statement and there has been no political fall out as far as we can tell.

Posted by: RMill | June 6, 2006 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Go Al go! It took an act of treason by the Bush election stealers to thwart the will of the people in 2000 and prevent Al Gore from taking office. What differnt places both our country and the world would now be had the will of the people prevailed in 2000.

Posted by: Gore 2008 | June 6, 2006 9:12 AM | Report abuse

Vivabush04 is making calls to GOPs on behalf of Brisby:

"...Papers? You don need no stinkin papers to vote for Brisby. Jus show up an vote as many times as you want!"

Posted by: vivabush04OH | June 5, 2006 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Bah, your trackbacks are too slow Chris...

Posted by: Thanos | June 5, 2006 8:37 PM | Report abuse

there's a grown up issue...

that's something that every American whose values you can impugn by challenging their manhood...

Gore may have been president with all the voter fraud that went down in Ohio and Florida...

would he be using Homphobia to control you right now?

damn right he wouldn't,

I hope that he finds the time to bury this president and his core group of su-ck a-ss ess...

may they reap the friggin whirl wind....

may their lives be destroyed as they have destroyed others and may their money return to the nation intact.....

join me in a moment of prayer....

let them feel the pain that they have more no lessssssssssssssss



Posted by: gay marriage, | June 5, 2006 6:32 PM | Report abuse

publication, coming out of the closet of we need to stand United, behind the fraud of the current administration...

I currently, see the presidency as being in league with demagogurery....

selling hatred as it's party value of choice,

no balls here, bush/cheyney/rumsfeld they got balls when they want to steal,

but standing up to crackers....

they'll hand you the vaseline, but take action...balless...

hairless little chihuahuas'

you need to punt these rat dawgs through the goal post of like....along with their friggin gawd..

Posted by: I like the idea of Gore being on the front of major | June 5, 2006 6:27 PM | Report abuse

So if Bilbray wins, I guess I get to blame Gore to helping him win. There are Democrats who do not want him to run in 2008, which would make him like Adlai Stevenson, a two-time loser.
Funny how lobbyist is a bad word if you are a Republican but not if you are a Democrat. so it is back to the same ol lobbyist whining and whining again.
The race will be decided tomorrow and will be a "guilt by association" as the Democrats try to destroy Bilbray. I wish him luck, and I hope the Republicans support him.

Posted by: AMY/ Florida | June 5, 2006 6:14 PM | Report abuse

My heart goes out to the poor volunteers working the district. How many times are voters going to snap at them, insult them, and slam doors in their faces because they've heard enough and they know there's a damn election today?

Posted by: Brittain33 | June 5, 2006 6:12 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: DRINDL | June 5, 2006 4:38 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

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