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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Gore vs. Clinton?! Clinton vs. Gore?!

I recently had a conversation with a highly respected colleague and fellow blogger. We had both watched The Chris Matthews Show over the long weekend. On this weekend's installment, guest Howard Fineman all but guaranteed that Al Gore would enter the presidential race this fall. Fineman cited the ever popular "sources close to Gore." Now, I don't think Gore's running, but let's proceed as if he is...

Here are some FAQ's and answers concerning Gore throwing his hat into the arena:

What would be the effect of a Gore entrance into the Democratic field? - John Edwards would be the first to take a hit in the polls. Like it or not, his greatest advantage in being the next President is that he's the top ranked White Guy on the Democratic side of the field. Gore takes away that advantage, not to mention the countless undecided progressives who would probably vote for Edwards, but would definitely vote for Gore. Soon thereafter, Barack Obama would take a hit, as his strength was as the original anti-war candidate, and Gore was more vehement and vocal in a vociferous opposition. Obama's other strengths, specifically oration and owning the outsider label, will also disappear over the horizon, as Gore v 2.0 has been known to blow the doors off many halls since he left the public office in 2001. Two of the three viable Democratic candidates would essentially be immediately eliminated upon the arrival of Al Gore.

Wait, wait. Are you saying we could have a Gore-Clinton primary? - Yes. More on this later.

How would Clinton react if Gore entered the race? - Kind of like this.

Would Gore win the nomination? - Yes. He unites the left of the Democratic Party and splits the moderates with Clinton. He edges out Edwards (or earns Edwards' endorsement) to win Iowa, Nevada, and South Carolina. Clinton takes New Hampshire. After taking three of the first four primaries and riding a wave of momentum, Gore wins big on SuperDuper Tuesday, sewing up the nomination by midnight, February 6th. He then goes on an immensely popular national tour reminiscent of The Beatles, drumming up support for the Democratic Party, exciting the base to points not seen since Clinton in '96. At the Democratic Convention that summer, his national polls spike at near 60%.

Would Gore win the general? - I don't know. He handily defeats Giuliani. Romney could put up a fight and has a punchers chance. McCain with momentum could give him some trouble, especially if we begin to see progress in Iraq.

IC, does a Gore candidacy, easily the largest remaining possible variable in the Race to the White House 2008, make you giddy? - Um, yes. Yes, it does.

Why? - A Clinton vs. Gore battle is the most exciting primary since, well, the beginning of time, (with the possible exception of Bartlet vs. Hoynes in 1998). How in the world does Hillary Clinton (and Bill, of course) find a way to badmouth Gore's record as Vice-President? They can't! He was part of the Clinton administration! So do they go to pre-1992 to find Gore's holes? They can't! Then why would Bill Clinton have chosen Gore in the first place? Do they attack his lack of experience compared to Clinton? They can't! He was in the Senate, just like Hillary, and he served a national constituency as Vice-President under President Clinton for eight years.

So what would Camp Clinton be forced to do to try and dent Gore's inevitably strong numbers? They'd have to attack what he's done since 2001. And what has he done? Only put himself in front of two of the most important issues to Democrats: The environment and the war. His platform will be that he was right when so many were wrong, that he led when so many followed. Hillary can't get to the left of Gore on this one, and to stay to the right of him means she won't get the nomination.

So in the end, what's keeping Hillary Clinton away from the White House is her husband's Vice-President. Or, in the opposite outcome, what's keeping Gore away from a return to the White House is his ex-boss's wife.

Please join us next week for another installment of As the Country Turns...

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