Nobel Prize renews calls of 'Run, Al, run'

But former Vice President Gore gives no sign he'll join the 2008 presidential field, keeping his focus on the global climate.

Al Gore's shared Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming, announced Friday, caps a year of accolades for the former vice president.

In March, he won an Academy Award for a documentary on climate change, "An Inconvenient Truth." In May, his latest book, "The Assault on Reason," debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times bestseller list. In September, his interactive cable network, Current TV, won an Emmy.

Now, the man who nearly won the presidency in 2000 faces another round of "Will Al run for president?" In anticipation of the Nobel Prize, the draft-Gore movement has been ramping up its efforts.

Fewer than three months before the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Gore could still jump in, given his fame, campaign experience, and fund-raising network, political analysts say. But he has all but ruled it out – leaving the tiniest crack open, perhaps to give his message on the future of the planet extra attention. Sources close to Gore say he has no plans to run.

So why is there still this yearning for another Gore candidacy? After all, Democrats tell pollsters they're happy with their slate of candidates – happier than the Republicans are with theirs. Yet Gore still gets 10 percent or more of the Democratic primary vote in national polls.

"First, there's a lingering frustration from 2000 that gets heightened because of all the problems that have confronted the Bush administration," says John Geer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. "Gore's been right about the big issues of the last 20 years. People can make fun of him, but ... this is someone who has a pretty good track record."

For now, though, Gore is pitching his message above politics.

"I am deeply honored to receive the Nobel Peace Prize," Gore wrote on his website, also citing his co-winner, the UN International Panel on Climate Change. "We face a true planetary emergency," he continued. "The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity."

The Nobel citation called Gore "probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted."

Gore says he will donate his share of the $1.5 million prize to the Alliance for Climate Protection, an advocacy group based in Palo Alto, Calif., that he chairs.

Meanwhile, the draft-Gore movement – an agglomeration of national and state groups – has also seized the Nobel moment. Recently, in anticipation of Gore's winning the prize, put out a call for funds to run the full-page "Open Letter to Al Gore" in The New York Times and raised the $65,000 needed in two weeks. Now that he has won, the group is running an online petition urging Gore to run.

As of Sunday the group had more than 200,000 signees. "They're just coming in lickety-split after the announcement," says Andrea Ronhovde, a board member. "The money is coming in fast and furious, so I imagine there will be advertising campaigns of sorts."

Some state groups are now gathering signatures to get Gore on the ballot in time for the primaries. Gore himself has not been in touch with the groups, but as some supporters have noted, he has not told them to stop, either.

Ms. Ronhovde, a retired social worker, says the continued appeal of a Gore presidency goes beyond what that would mean for advancing his global-warming agenda. "The Assault on Reason," she says, shows that he's thinking big about the future of the United States and the world. The book lays out not just a blistering indictment of the Bush administration but also a critique of America's entire political system, including blame for the media and their obsession with trivia.

Perhaps the only way for Gore to shut down the draft effort once and for all is to make an endorsement in the presidential race. He recently told the Harvard-focused magazine 02138 that he would endorse a Democrat. But more recently he told CNN that he was not sure.

Political analysts would be surprised if he were to endorse Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, given the tensions during their time together in her husband's administration. An endorsement of her top rival, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, or another Democrat would make for a big headline but probably would not have a huge impact on the race.

Some analysts say endorsements don't mean a lot in the presidential sphere. In local races, "they can give a candidate a base level of credibility, but Barack Obama and John Edwards don't need credibility from Al Gore," says unaffiliated Democratic pollster Mark Mellman.

Another possibility for Gore would be to run for president in 2012, if a Republican wins the White House next year.

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