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Starting Gate: The Revenge Of Al Gore?

(Mat Szwajkos/Getty Images)
Time to revamp that old line about revenge being best served cold. In the case of Al Gore, it may be best served globally warm. With his crusade on climate change, Gore has won personal, public and political redemption, an Academy Award and, now, a Nobel Peace Prize. And suddenly, he's landed smack-dab in the middle of a 2008 presidential campaign heretofore dominated by an old rival – Hillary Clinton.

Long gone are the days of the 1992 campaign when the Clintons and Gores barnstormed the nation connected at the hip like lifetime friends on a family vacation. Eight years of the Clinton presidency – and one bitter campaign in 2000 – have left the two power couples estranged and, perhaps, resentful.

The Clintons think that Gore's decision to distance himself from the administration fumbled away what would have been a resounding affirmation of its record after the tumultuous impeachment of the president. The Gores believe that Clinton's tryst with Monica Lewinsky combined with a general malaise after eight years of high drama, prevented Gore from winning that razor-thin election easily.

Another eight years later, Hillary Clinton is riding high in her bid to win the Democratic nomination and Al Gore is an international superstar. Now the question is, will Al run? The answer is most likely no, but that doesn't mean Gore still can't cause plenty of trouble for Clinton in the nomination fight.

While Gore's stature would certainly allow him to enter the race at the highest levels, he would face plenty of practical obstacles in organizing a real campaign. He would lose the luster he currently carries and be forced into a process that has been in place for nearly a year. Besides, Gore is basking in the glow of his newfound stardom, not to mention making a very comfortable living in the process. Why give that up for the rough-and-tumble of a campaign?

But the mere speculation serves to take some of the steam out of Clinton's machine-like march to the nomination. When ads are being run in the New York Times begging Gore to run, it signals at least a measure of dissatisfaction with the field and the front-runner. Even if Gore were to outright rule out the possibility or when the filing deadlines have passed, the former vice president still holds a card – the endorsement. Should Gore publicly and strongly back and campaign on behalf of, say Barack Obama, it could be one of the most important endorsements of the campaign.

Of course, Gore endorsed Howard Dean in 2004 and we know how that worked out. But 2008 is not 2004 – or 2000 or 1992. Plenty has changed since and Gore is almost literally on top of the world at the moment. He's hot – will he heat up this campaign?

Rudy And Romney, Round Three: The sniping between Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani continues to heat up. Yesterday, the former mayor latched onto comments Romney made in the GOP debate earlier this week, calling on the former governor to admit his mistake. In the debate, Romney was asked whether, as president, he would seek congressional authority for military action against Iranian nuclear facilities. Romney responded, in part, that he would first consult his attorneys.

The comment looked to be a flub – asking lawyers about national security issues is probably not the best approach – but Romney points to the other part of his answer where he said, "the president of the United States has to do what's in the best interest of the United States to protect us against a potential threat."

But Giuliani was more than happy to keep the "lawyers" part of the answer out there, telling reporters, "He made a mistake -- he knows it. Giuliani said Romney should "tell the American people, 'I made a mistake.'"

What Did You Do During The Iran War? Forget Iraq, it's Iran that is becoming the focus of the Democratic race. Obama told CNN that it's time to start taking the gloves off: "I think that now is the time where we're going to be laying a very clear contrast between myself and Senator Clinton. Not just on the past, not just on Iraq but on moving forward. How would we approach Iran, for example." Obama has been criticizing Clinton of late about her vote to urge the administration to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Obama and other Democrats claim that vote provides cover for the administration to take military action against Iran.

Obama, however, did not vote on that sense of the Senate resolution, saying that he was campaigning in New Hampshire at the time. "This is one of the problems with running for president," Obama told the Chicago Tribune. "You can't always anticipate which votes are which, but I put out a statement at the time stating that this was a bad idea and that I would have voted against it." Easy for him to say. Clinton spokesman Phil Singer fired back, "If Senator Obama felt so strongly about this resolution, why didn't he speak out against it or vote against it?"

Around The Track

  • Former President Jimmy Carter said he would support Gore in a presidential bid, telling the AP: "I wish he would (run). If he ran, I would publicly endorse him. And he knows it. I've already told him that personally, and I've announced it several times."
  • Giuliani is set to unveil a "major" endorsement today. Rumors say it will be South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. Perhaps in a preemptive strike, Romney yesterday began running a 30-second radio ad in the state featuring his high-profile South Carolina backer, Senator Jim DeMint.
  • John Edwards responded yesterday to a story in the National Enquirer claiming that he had an affair with former campaign staffer. Edwards told reporters, "The story is false. It's completely untrue, ridiculous." Talking about his wife, Elizabeth, Edwards added, "I've been in love with the same woman for 30-plus years, and as anybody who's been around us knows, she's an extraordinary human being, warm, loving, beautiful, sexy and as good a person as I have ever known. So the story's just false."
  • McCain giving up on Iowa? In the words of Lee Corso, "not so fast my friend." McCain is on a three-day swing through the state and promises he'll be back often. "This is a tough state, and I have a long road ahead. But I am here now; I am going to be back a lot, and I intend to do well," he told the Des Moines Register.
  • Struggling to win GOP primary voters, Sam Brownback thinks he may have found something to boost his campaign – snuggle up to a Democratic presidential candidate in Iowa. Brownback will join Joe Biden there today to discuss Biden's proposal to divide Iraq into separate regions. "I'll be talking about the need to come together in a bipartisan fashion for a political solution in Iraq. I think it will really resonate with Iowa voters who are tired of the political bickering and want to see some people working together to get this figured out," Brownback said.