Former Vice President Al Gore's is already stoking activists' pleas for him to make a dramatic late entry into the fractious presidential race, and some key strategists insist he could announce as late as September or October and still win the nomination.
"Honestly, this was the inaugural parade we all envisioned," said Donna Brazile, his former campaign manager. "Gore's political stock is hot right now. I don't know if I would cash in now with so many players still on stage. There's no reason to force him to declare tomorrow."
Indeed, Brazile said the former vice president could wait as late as the time states begin requiring delegate slates and statements of candidacy, since he could raise money quickly and much of the campaigns' budgets are devoted to a long nominating process he would avoid. "This was one of those rare moments, similar to the civil rights movement, when you experience the ground shifting," she said. "Perhaps it's not a movement for a presidential run, but a moment for the debate to start for real change on how we live on Planet Earth."
Friends who talk regularly with Gore say that he believes what he tells the press — that he's not planning to run for president. Backstage on Sunday night, he repeated his mantra: "I do not have plans to become a candidate for office again." Nois being authorized or encouraged, and there are no internal discussions of a campaign, the friends insist. But they say he has deliberately . It just doesn't feel right to him — and he's only 58.
So the crescendo will rise. Brazile, now the founder and managing director of Brazile and Associates, is neutral in the race but says she would work for Gore if he declared. She acknowledges that after the near miss of 2000, she was among those who said "hell, no" about a 2004 bid. But she feels very differently now.
"He could come in at the end of the day as a candidate who can truly unite his party as well as his country," Brazile said. "He can help repair our country's image abroad. He's someone who can go toe-to-toe with world leaders and doesn't need a crash course in diplomacy." She remembers back in the '80s when Gore was in Congress and used to often cite a quote from Gandhi, "'Be the change you want to see in the world.'" Brazile said: "I believe he has become that quote."
"" was based on Gore's traveling global warming show as he told audiences about what he calls a "planetary emergency." He threw himself into promoting the film, traveling to film festivals around the world and telling audiences he would take it "door-to-door" if necessary." The movie includes his stock laugh line: "I'm Al Gore. I used to be the next president of the United States of America."
Michael Feldman, who served in the Clinton-Gore White House for eight years and was a senior adviser and traveling chief of staff to the vice president, said the Oscar means that "more people are going to see the movie and more people are going to get information about the issue of global warming, which will help build the collective political will to get something done on the issue."
Feldman, a founding partner of the Glover Park Group, said Gore's stroll down the red carpet "must have seemed like a little bit of an out-of-body experience to him," but then much of the last year has been that way. "He still sees his job as trying to help create a better political climate for action on this issue," Feldman said.
Gore is the chair of the Alliance for Climate Protection, funded in part by proceeds he has donated from "An Inconvenient Truth." Others on the group's governing council include Theodore Roosevelt IV, Carol M. Browner, and Brent Scowcroft.
The former vice president will be in the spotlight again with three major events in the next five months:
• On March 21, he'll star at global warming hearings in both the House and Senate, testifying before a committee he once served on. He will be the sole witness before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. On the House side, he will testify at a Joint Subcommittee Hearing on Climate Change, held by the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, and the Science and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.
• A new book by Gore, "The Assault on Reason: How the Politics of Fear, Secrecy, and Blind Faith Subvert Wise Decision Making, Degrade Our Democracy, and Put Our Country and Our World in Peril," is due out in May.
• On July 7 (7.7.07), he will be among the luminaries heading a 24-hour "Save Our Selves" (SOS) concert marathon across all seven continents. The "Live Earth" concert will bring together more than 100 of the world's top musical acts and is designed to reach more than 2 billion people through attendance and broadcasts. SOS — The Campaign for a Climate in Crisis was founded by Kevin Wall, who won an Emmy as worldwide executive producer of the Live 8 concert marathon.
At 10:48 p.m. Sunday, when the nominees for "best documentary feature" were announced on the 79th annual Academy Awards broadcast on ABC, the clip from an "An Inconvenient Truth" showed a professorial Gore intoning: "Global warming creates more evaporation off the oceans. It seeds the clouds. But it sucks moisture out of the soil."
After Davis Guggenheim, the director, was announced as the winner, the camera in the audience showed him gesturing madly for Gore and the rest of the team to walk up with him. As they walked to the stage, the announcer said: "Davis Guggenheim and the cast were scheduled to shoot in New Orleans the night before Hurricane Katrina hit — an event that brought the threat and the impact of global warming."
"Thank you," Gore said, clutching the gold statuette. "I want to thank Tipper and my family, thank the Academy, and everyone on this amazing team. My fellow Americans, (laughter and applause) people all over the world, we need to solve the climate crisis. It's not a political issue; it's a moral issue. We have everything we need to get started, with the possible exception of the will to act. That's a renewable resource. Let's renew it." He raised the 8.5-pound, 13.5-inch-tall, 24-karat-gold-plated Oscar as if in a toast, and he and the director hugged.
A little over an hour earlier, Gore made a surprise appearance after being teased by the ABC announcer as a mysterious "distinguished guest." Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio announced a "Go Green" program showing the Oscar production was environmentally friendly, and DiCaprio teasingly asked Gore if he had a titanic announcement.
Gore, as deadpan as if he were a "Saturday Night Live" regular, responded: "I'm kind of surprised that the feeling's so welling up here — actually, you've been very convincing. And even though I honestly had not planned on doing this, I, I guess with a billion people watching, it's as (theatrical pause) good a time as (sighs) any. So, my fellow Americans, (laughter as he pulls a vertically folded sheaf of papers from the breast pocket of his Ralph Lauren tux), I'm going to take this opportunity right here and now, to formally announce —"
Then the orchestra burst in with the swelling music that's used to usher off long-winded winners. "— My intention —" Gore continued, then was drowned out and walked off arm in arm with DiCaprio, to laughter and applause.
Between the former vice president's onstage appearances, George Clooney, presenting the Oscar for best supporting actress, joked that he had been "drinking backstage" with Gore and added in mock confidence, "I don't think he's running for president." The telecast cut to Al and Tipper Gore, laughing uproariously in the audience.
Gore arrived on the Kodak Theater red carpet a few hours before show time, spoke to foreign broadcasters and waved big as he posed with Tipper Gore, their son Albert Gore III and one of their daughters, Karenna Gore Schiff. The former vice president had told The Washington Post for a Sunday front-page story headlined "Al Gore, Rock Star"
that he's "old enough to know that a red carpet is just a rug."
In case you missed it, here's the how the Al and Leo Show went:
DiCaprio: So, Mr. Gore, we've, uh, got a big crowd out here tonight — an even bigger one at home. Is there, is there anything you might want to announce? (Laughter, applause, whoops and a shout from the crowd of , "Oh, yeah!")
Gore: I'm just here for the movies. I'm just here for the movies, Leo. And on this occasion, I'm here to thank all of the talented people in this great industry who've been part of the mission to inspire a successful response to the climate crisis. And thank you, Leo, for being such a great ally in this effort. (Applause.)
DiCaprio: Thank you. The American film industry has always taken its obligations to society very seriously, and it's now stepping up once again. Tonight, we're proud to announce that for the first time in the history of the Oscars, this show has officially gone green. (Applause.)
Gore: Which means that environmentally intelligent practices have been integrated fully into every aspect of the planning and production of these Academy Awards. And you know what: It is not as hard as you might think. We have a long way to go. But all of us can do something in our own lives to make a difference.
DiCaprio: Check out www.Oscar.com to get ideas from the Academy and the National Resources Defense Council, the NRDC, about how you can do YOUR part. And now, although our time is almost up, I just want to say I'm very proud to be standing next to such an inspirational leader in the fight against global warming. You are a true champion for the cause, Mr. Gore. (Big applause.)
Gore: Well, thank you. (More applause.)
DiCaprio: Now are you sure, are you positive that all this hard work hasn't inspired you to make any other kind of MAJOR, major announcement to the world here tonight?
Gore: Well, I do appreciate that, Leo. And I'm kind of surprised that the feeling's so welling up here — actually, you've been very convincing. And even though I honestly had not planned on doing this, I, I guess with a billion people watching, it's as (theatrical pause) good a time as (sighs) any. So, my fellow Americans, (laughter as he pulls a vertically folded sheaf of papers from the breast pocket of his tux), I'm going to take this opportunity right here and now, to formally announce (music crashes in) my intention — . (Swelling music drowns him out and the two leave the stage to laughter and applause.)
By Mike Allen
TM & © 2007 The Politico & Politico.com, a division of Allbritton Communications Company