Gore back­ers hold on to cash, wait to find out if he will run in ’08

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Christina Bellantoni

Prom­i­nent po­lit­i­cal fundrais­ers who backed Al Gore’s 2000 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign are re­serv­ing sup­port for the cur­rent slate of 2008 Democrats in hopes the for­mer vice pres­i­dent will swoop in for an­other White House bid.

H.E. “Sonny” Cau­then Jr. told The Wash­ing­ton Times he has been flat­tered to get calls from can­di­dates ask­ing for his help this time around, but said he is hes­i­tat­ing on pick­ing one while he waits to see what Mr. Gore de­cides.

“If he wants to run, I would be very sup­port­ive of that,” said Mr. Cau­then, a found­ing part­ner of the Wash­ing­ton lob­by­ing firm Cau­then Forbes & Wil­liams and a 2000 fundraiser for the Gore cam­paign.

“I just don’t see any rea­son for him not to run,” Mr. Cau­then added. “He’s the only prospec­tive can­di­date we have who has al­ready won one time. He didn’t serve — he was de­nied the pres­i­dency — but he won that race.”

Of the 25 ma­jor play­ers who helped raise at least $100,000 for Mr. Gore for the 2000 cam­paign, at least 12 have not do­nated or pub­licly com­mit­ted to a can­di­date.

“Peo­ple are still some­what re­luc­tant to get fully en­gaged at this point, and part of it is that peo­ple hope that Al would con­sider get­ting into the race,” said War­ren Gooch, a man­ag­ing part­ner at the Ten­nessee law firm Kramer Rayson and an­other Gore fundraiser.

Mr. Gooch is back­ing for­mer Sen. John Ed­wards of North Carolina, but said that if Mr. Gore en­tered the race, he would switch sup­port to his long­time friend.

“Some peo­ple still be­lieve or still hope that Al will re­con­sider, and the fact the cam­paign has started so early, the front-run­ners can’t pos­si­bly keep up the pace that they are at now,” he said.

Some of the Gore fundrais­ers have opted to help other Democrats, es­pe­cially Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illi­nois. But sev­eral, es­pe­cially those in Mr. Gore’s home state of Ten­nessee, are open to his po­ten­tial can­di­dacy.

“There would be a lot of sup­port” lo­cally for an­other Gore run, said Rep. Steve Co­hen, Ten­nessee Demo­crat. “He has re­ally grown in the pub­lic’s mind.”

Sev­eral key staffers and donors from the 2000 cam­paign also have not cho­sen a can­di­date so far.

For­mer cam­paign man­ager Tony Coelho told Rolling Stone mag­a­zine this win­ter that Mr. Gore could wait it out be­fore an­nounc­ing an­other pres­i­den­tial bid, and Peter Knight, Mr. Gore’s chief of staff dur­ing his con­gres­sional terms, is hold­ing an in­for­mal re­union of the Ten­nessee na­tive’s long­time sup­port­ers, the New York Times re­ported re­cently.

Joel Hy­att, who joined Mr. Gore to co-found the Cur­rent TV youth news net­work, was a top fundraiser in 2000 but has not pub­licly backed any can­di­dates.

Orin Kramer of New Jer­sey, a 2000 Gore fundraiser who helps the for­mer vice pres­i­dent with his global-warm­ing ef­forts, has agreed this time around to sup­port Mr. Obama be­cause he be­lieves “peo­ple are ready to turn the page on pol­i­tics, and he con­nects to that im­pulse.” Three other ma­jor Gore donors are help­ing Mr. Obama’s cam­paign.

Mrs. Clin­ton has nabbed 2000 Gore back­ers Ger­ald and Elaine Schus­ter and Stan Shu­man as ma­jor fundrais­ers for her cam­paign, along with five oth­ers. But New Jer­sey state Sen. Ray­mond Les­niak, one of the ma­jor fundrais­ers in 2000, thinks Mr. Gore is the one can­di­date who can re­store Amer­ica’s stand­ing abroad.

“A per­fect storm is brew­ing that could sweep Al Gore back into the race,” Mr. Les­niak said. “There is no one emerg­ing from the field of Democrats. [. . . ] That sets it up beau­ti­fully for Al Gore.”

The un­de­cided fi­nan­cial heavy­weights re­main loyal to the for­mer vice pres­i­dent and rep­re­sent a grow­ing group who think he should run and that he would win.

Nu­mer­ous polls about the 2008 pres­i­den­tial field show Mr. Gore solidly in third or fourth place with from 14 per­cent to 18 per­cent of the vote, be­hind Mrs. Clin­ton, Mr. Obama and Mr. Ed­wards.

Af­ter his star­ring role helped the global-warm­ing doc­u­men­tary “An In­con­ve­nient Truth” pick up an Academy Award, Mr. Gore tes­ti­fied on Capi­tol Hill to push ac­tion on car­bon emis­sions. He is train­ing a na­tional team to de­liver the slide show upon which the film is based and also was nom­i­nated for a No­bel Peace Prize. The win­ner will be an­nounced in Oc­to­ber.

The for­mer vice pres­i­dent will turn up the heat on the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion this month with the May 22 re­lease of his new book “The As­sault on Rea­son.” Ac­cord­ing to Ama­zon.com, where the book is al­ready ranked at 1,602, the book will ex­plore the “dam­age” Mr. Gore says has been done by the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion “to the func­tion­ing of our democ­racy.”

It also will “ex­plain how the pub­lic sphere it­self has evolved into a place hos­pitable to rea­son’s en­e­mies [. . . ] [and] lead us to an un­der­stand­ing of what we can do, in­di­vid­u­ally and col­lec­tively, to re­store the rule of rea­son and safe­guard our fu­ture,” the de­scrip­tion reads. His book tour in­cludes stops in Wash­ing­ton, New York, San Fran­cisco, Los An­ge­les, Den­ver and Chicago.

Gore spokes­woman Kalee Krei­der said her boss is ded­i­cated to the cli­mate is­sue and “has been very clear that he has no in­ten­tion of run­ning for pres­i­dent.”

Getty Images

The wait­ing is the hard­est part: Many of the ma­jor con­trib­u­tors to Al Gore’s 2000 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign have not do­nated to any of the cur­rent can­di­dates.

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