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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Is Gore The Best The Dems Got?
Jimmy Moore
November 18, 2002

The 2004 race for President of the United States has already begun and it’s beginning to look a lot like deja vu all over again.

A new CNN/Time Magazine poll was released on Sunday revealing two-thirds of the American people think Al Gore will be the Democratic challenger to George W. Bush in 2004. However, half of those surveyed think that Gore will not win the White House. In fact, only 41% of them said they would even vote for him if the election were held today. The poll had a margin of error of 6 points.

Former Vice-President Al Gore must still be smarting from the 2000 election where he actually received more of the popular vote than George W. Bush, but lost the election because Bush received more electoral votes. Although he says he is still deciding whether he is going to run again or not, why wouldn’t Gore want another shot at facing George W. Bush for President? After all, he and his supporters still think he won the first time around. Shouldn’t he run again to prove that he deserved to be President instead of Bush?

You know, come to think of it, that wouldn’t be a bad campaign theme for Gore to run on. He could say something along the lines of this: “In 2000, me and George tied in the race for President. Since we couldn’t be co-Presidents, we decided to flip a coin and George won. For the past four years, George W. Bush has served America well during some trying times with the war on terrorism and has done an admirable job. Now it’s my turn to be President for the next four years so we can get to work just as hard on the economy, job growth and other domestic issues. That is my pledge to you as your next President.”

What is most interesting about this proposed platform for Gore to run on is that I wouldn’t put it past him to do it! Furthermore, there will be some Americans who will be persuaded to vote for Al Gore out of a sense of justice. After all, if Gore can play up the fact that he actually TIED Bush in 2000 and deserves a chance to be President, then he may win enough sympathy votes to tip the scale in his favor.

Even more interesting is the fact that Al Gore is still extremely popular with Democrats. In that same poll, 61% of Democrats said they would like to see Gore run again. And 55% of those people said that having Gore’s name on the ticket would be good for the Democratic Party. Al Gore has actually become even MORE popular with rank-and-file Democrats in this year alone. In March 2002, Gore’s favorable rating with Democrats was 56%. Today, that number is 71%.

Why is Al Gore still so popular among Democrats even after his devastating loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 elections?

The answer is simple. The Democrats do not have a leader. The Clinton/Gore era was so immersed in and focused on Bill Clinton that the Democrats have neglected to cultivate any real replacements as the leaders of their party. As a result, Al Gore is still the most recognized eligible candidate for President that the Democratic Party has to offer (I am sure they would run Bill Clinton if he wasn’t term limited!).

And therein lies the conundrum facing the Democrats in 2004.

Do they nominate Al Gore as the Democratic challenger in a rematch of the 2000 Presidential election or do they try to groom a candidate over the next year who will have a viable chance against a popular sitting President? Do either of these options look good for the Democratic Party?

If that is all the Democrats have to work with, then they should stick with nominating Al Gore. At least he has proven once that he is as popular (even slightly MORE popular) than George W. Bush. However, keep in mind that Al Gore was a part of the incumbent team when he ran the first time around against Bush. This time, Bush is the incumbent and will carry with him all the intangibles that come with being the President. That could be the key difference in 2004.

Don’t forget that the American people still give President Bush extremely high favorable ratings for the way he has handled himself as President. Of course, much of that has to do with how he has led the country since 9-11. Nevertheless, well over 60% approve of the job that President Bush is doing. That number obviously includes a lot of people who voted for Al Gore in 2000.

Al Gore, on the other hand, has seen his popularity among the general public become weaker since he ran for President in 2000. Although a majority of Americans find Gore to be likable, compassionate and honest, less than 40% of them see him as a strong leader, especially in terms of foreign policy and with the war on terrorism. This is the exact opposite of what Americans thought of him during the 2000 election, when a majority thought Gore would be a strong leader in the midst of a crisis.

It is still way too early to predict whether Al Gore will be the Democratic nominee or not. There are a lot of things that could happen between now and the 2004 campaign. But, it certainly looks like Al Gore will be the Democratic nominee for President in 2004. He certainly is more electable than Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY)!

But I have to ask this question: Is Gore the best the Democrats have got?

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