Bill And Al Go Their Own Way Back To D.C.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, left, 2007/3/18 and former US Vice President Al Gore, 2007/2/7
AP Photo
"Bill and Al's excellent adventure" ended tensely in the Clinton impeachment crisis and the Gore election loss — the heady '92 campaign a distant memory. Now they're back in Washington, two policy wonks cutting up the rug in the capital once more.

The old boys on the campaign bus are on separate journeys that rarely bring them in front of Washington crowds, much less on the same day. Tuesday was an exception.

The former president, a judiciously used weapon in New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign, was the headliner for a fundraiser for his wife Tuesday night, pulling in more than $2.7 million from 1,000 or so guests. That was more than double the amount raised at a similar event Sunday in New York.

Bill Clinton walked the audience through his earliest years with Hillary, back to their first date 36 years ago this month, and traced his wife's advocacy for issues touching on the law, children and health.

"She wasn't elected to anything, but she was in public service," he said repeatedly, and he recalled telling her that between them, "I think you have the best combination of mind, heart and leadership ability."

For her part, a beaming Hillary Clinton said people everywhere ask her if she will make her husband the nation's secretary of state if she wins. "I think that's illegal," she said. "But I sure can make him ambassador to the world."

Earlier in the day, Gore previewed his testimony to Congress on Wednesday about the global warming issues that won Oscar accolades for his film, "An Inconvenient Truth." The former vice president wowed an audience of institutional investors who see him as a sage on patterns of future living.

Gore preached the virtues of long-term investing in a socially responsible manner, urging pension-fund executives and trustees to look beyond the impulse to reap immediate gain.

The question hanging over the crowd — as it surely must be for the Clintons — is whether Gore will eventually get into the Democratic presidential race despite his persistence in shooing away the idea, without ruling it out. He gave no hint Tuesday.

"At this point, Al Gore says he's not running for president and I think you can take him at his word on that," CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer said.

Polls consistently place Gore, the non-candidate, third behind Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama — ahead of John Edwards and other declared candidates — and indicate that much of his support comes from Democrats who would otherwise back the New York senator.

"Al Gore has been running for president all his life. If things break in a certain way for him — in other words, Democrats don't seem all that happy with their front-runners they have now — I think Al Gore will get into the race," Schieffer said.