Gore's a Dean Man Now

By Nichols, John | The Nation, December 29, 2003 | Go to article overview

Gore's a Dean Man Now


Nichols, John, The Nation


Al Gore endorsed Howard Dean for President for the same reason that so many other Democrats have: He wanted to be where the action is in his party. The man who while carrying the Democratic banner in 2000 won the most votes for President said as much when he announced his decision at a Harlem event, declaring, "Howard Dean really is the only candidate who has been able to inspire at the grassroots level all over this country the kind of passion and enthusiasm for democracy and change and transformation of America that we need in this country. We need to remake the Democratic Party, we need to remake America, we need to take it back on behalf of the people of this country."

The former Vice President went on to chide other candidates for piling on Dean in increasingly desperate attempts to stall the momentum of a candidate who, polls suggest, is positioned to sweep not just the first primary state of New Hampshire but the critical contests that follow in the late winter dash for delegates. But Gore actually did a little piling on of his own. That remark about Dean being the "only candidate" able to inspire passion cut to the heart of what ails the candidacies of Joe Lieberman, John Kerry and Dick Gephardt--with whom Gore has longer and better relations than with the former Vermont governor, who made noises about opposing him for the 2000 nomination.

Those other candidates, and their amen corner in a Washington press corps that still can't quite accept that the Dean insurgency is for real, struggled mightily to come up with a spin that would allow them to dismiss the Gore intervention. But their attempts to reduce his decision to crass calculation missed the fact that Dean and Gore have been talking, and finding common ground, for months. Perhaps there is some truth to the claim that Gore's move is calculated to improve his standing with the party cadres that adore Dean in order to position himself for a 2008 race, or even that he is intriguing against Bill and Hillary Clinton's none-too-subtle encouragement of retired Gen. Wesley Clark's candidacy. But the word among former aides who remain close to Gore is that the nation's "geek in chief" believes, as many veteran Democrats do, that the Dean camp is securing the party's future by harnessing the power of the Internet and other new technologies for political good. …

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