What About Gore In 2008?
As we talk about 2006, there has been a lot written about 2008 in the last several days.
First, Lynne Cheney knocked down any stories that her hubby would be a candidate.
Third, the Sacramento Bee ran a piece speculating that Bush’s problems are giving McCain his opening.
Lastly, as for the Democrats, you have seen a lot written over the last ten days or so about Al Gore’s prospects in 2008. Gore seemingly took himself out of the race last week, but the New Republic’s Ryan Lizza argues today that despite that, Gore is still the only major Democrat who is positioned to run against Hillary as both electable and at her from the left as a true antiwar candidate who is stronger on national security than she is:
In fact, the anti-Hillary field is already carved up into two camps: those who are positioning themselves based on the electability argument and those poised to mount an ideological challenge from the left. Senators Joe Biden and Evan Bayh, as well as a cadre of red-state governors like Mark Warner, Tom Vilsack, and Bill Richardson, are in the electability camp. War critics like Russ Feingold and Wesley Clark are in the ideological camp.
But Gore is the only anti-Hillary candidate who can credibly attack her on both fronts. His early, vocal, and unwavering opposition to the war in Iraq has made him a hero to many Democrats. The Hollywood liberals over at Huffington Post as well as the university-town activists at Daily Kos and Moveon.org love Gore. If he ran, he would instantly become the favored candidate of the "netroots," the antiwar, anti-Bush crowd that championed Howard Dean and that will be a significant source of money and buzz in the run-up to 2008. The activists in the liberal blogosphere, more than any other opinion-making constituency in Democratic politics, revere Gore. They still wave the bloody flag of the 2000 recount. They still pump out bitter posts about how the mainstream media trashed Gore in 2000 yet gave Bush a free pass. They remember that Gore endorsed Dean in 2004 and they burst with pride at the fact that he chose Moveon.org as the forum for his most important speeches.
Of course, any antiwar candidate could criticize Hillary's vote for the war in Iraq. But the logic of the Gore candidacy is that, unlike other Democrats, he could attack Hillary as both out of step on the war and unelectable come November. If he runs for president he would be the only candidate in either party who instantly passes the post-9/11 threshold on national security issues. Hillary's credible case that as first lady she engaged in diplomacy and was treated abroad like a world leader would be dwarfed by Gore's eight-year record as vice president sitting on the National Security Council.
And Gore might be the only Democrat who can solve a vexing issue facing the party: How does a candidate establish a reputation for toughness on national security while simultaneously criticizing the war? Gore supported the Gulf War and, in most Clinton administration battles over the use of force, he took the more hawkish position. He is the party's only credible antiwar hawk.
Gore has other advantages as well. Having run for president or vice president four times, he has a strong national network of $2,000 check-writers. That network, added to the online donors he could tap, would make him the only candidate who could compete financially with Hillary.
Finally, Hillary may not be the ideal nominee to take advantage of the anti-Washington mood building in America. In presidential politics, candidates who run as credible outsiders have a remarkable record. One thing that the campaigns of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush all have in common is that they successfully ran against Washington. If the current mood of disgust persists into 2008, running as an outsider may be essential. Gore can credibly run such a campaign. Hillary can't.
As I noted in my previous post about how Democrats can win big in 2006 by running against Washington as reformers, it is in this same environment that non-Washington Democrats now could win in 2008. I lean at this point to the likes of Virginia governor Mark Warner, John Edwards, North Carolina governor Mike Easley, and yes, Gore. I am partial to Gore, as I was a supporter of his back in the 1988 primaries years before I ever knew much about Clinton. I was aghast as everyone else was at his mistakes in running the 2000 race with the pathetic Bob Shrum at the helm. But a Gore-Edwards ticket in 2008, with a Mudcat Sanders or David Axelrod at the helm would not only be a solid alternative to Hillary, but could win against any GOP candidate as well, given the likely mood the electorate towards Republicans by then.