Would Al Gore ever jump back into politics if Joe Biden decided not to run?
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For several years, Al Gore was one of the Democratic Party’s standard-bearers – a streak that culminated in his nomination for president during the 2000 election. Even after his defeat to George W. Bush, Gore remained relevant, a prominent and respected figure within the party. Many wondered if Gore would make another bid for the White House; he was still a viable candidate. Of course, he never did.
Al Gore, Senator’s Son
No, probably not.
Gore was born with a silver spoon, and he used it well. The son of a senator, Gore was serving in Congress himself by the age of 28. Gore served in the House for nine years before moving forward to the Senate, like his father before him.
Although Gore would one day embody the hopes of liberal America, during his congressional tenure he was a self-described raging moderate. Gore opposed federal funding for abortion. He voted in favor of a bill supporting a moment of silence in schools.
He voted against a ban on the interstate sale of guns, and he denounced homosexuality. Perhaps most notably, Gore advocated for the development and implementation of new science and technology.
“As far back as the 1970s, Congressman Gore promoted the idea of high-speed telecommunications as an engine for both economic growth and the improvement of our educational system,” Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn, two early internet pioneers, wrote. “[Gore] was the first elected official to grasp the potential of computer communications to have a broader impact than just improving the conduct of science and scholarship…Congressman Gore provided intellectual leadership by helping create the vision of the potential benefits of high speed computing and communication.”
Gore was also one of the first elected officials concerned with greenhouse gas emissions and their effect on the environment. Today, Gore is one of the world’s most prominent environmental activists.
Not Quite Second Place
When Gore was sworn in as vice president, in January 1993, he entered a new realm of relevance. As vice president, Gore became one of President Bill Clinton’s “indisputable chief advisors,” and arguably the most involved vice president ever.
Yet, Gore was not quite second in the Clinton administration’s pecking order. First Lady Hillary Clinton seemed to hold that position, as became clear when she was appointed to the health-care task force without Gore’s input.
Democrats perceived the Clinton-Gore years as successful. The economy was booming, unemployment was low, the budget was balanced, and the internet expanded. Accordingly, Gore was well positioned to run for president when Clinton’s second term expired.
Gore lost what is perhaps the most controversial presidential election ever. Gore’s loss is still attributed to an ostensibly partisan Supreme Court ruling, Bush v. Gore, which halted a Florida vote recount, in affect handing the election to Bush.
The ruling was so controversial that Gore was able to sidestep the stigma typically attached to presidential election losers. Instead, Gore soldiered on, reputation intact, as something of a martyr.
As Bush launched two wars and oversaw the collapse of the U.S. economy, many Americans openly wondered what the aughts would have been like with Gore in charge.
Gore Is Never Far From Thought
Ever since the 2000 loss, Gore’s name has stayed close to the political surface.
In 2008, Hillary Clinton’s campaign wasn’t initially worried about Senator Barack Obama – they were worried about Al Gore. Hillary’s campaign knew that if Gore decided to campaign, he would immediately become the front-runner. Gore declined.
Gore, for his part, has stayed relevant, mostly through his climate-change activism. He has not run for public office since his 2000 defeat – and it seems unlikely that he would do so now.
He has even gone further, saying that he never should have been a politician – that if he could do it over again, he would have become a scientist.
While a lot of politicians say they’re not running for office – right before they run for office – Gore seems to mean it.
He has found renewed meaning in his post-political life, which he seems unwilling to disrupt.
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Harrison Kass is the Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken. Follow him on Twitter @harrison_kass.