ALBANY, N.Y. – Labeling the Democratic voices from the presidential field "babble," prominent Democrat Mario Cuomo (search) is calling on former Vice President Al Gore (search) to enter the race for the party's nomination.
Gore, who lost the disputed 2000 race to President Bush, has said he would not seek the party's nomination -- a point stressed by his spokesman Michael Feldman. "The vice president is not going to be a candidate in 2004," Feldman said in response to Cuomo's appeal.
Still, Cuomo urged Gore to return to the political fray because the party lacks a single candidate to rally around.
"I would like to see him get in," said Cuomo in an interview with WROW-AM radio in Albany, N.Y.
"Right now, the Democratic voice is not a single voice. It is not a chorus. It is a babble," said the former New York governor. Webster's Dictionary defines "babble," as "to make incoherent sounds, as a baby does, prattle."
In a subsequent interview with The Associated Press, Cuomo said that the Democrats are lacking a "positive agenda, one that the whole party can come around, and a guy like Gore -- who has done it, who has it and who can point to it -- I think he would be an advantage to the campaign."
Cuomo's comments came one day before Gore was to deliver a speech at New York University on the Bush administration's handling of the U.S.-led war against Iraq and other national security issues.
Cuomo, who contended that "my voice isn't that important," said he had not personally shared his thoughts about the race with Gore.
The former New York governor said he did talk to Gore in 2000, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Bush's favor to clinch the election, and told his fellow Democrat that he hoped Gore would run for the White House again.
"He did get more votes than the other guy," Cuomo said Wednesday, a reference to the popular vote.
Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean (search) didn't take Cuomo's appeal to Gore too seriously.
"I don't know, Mario is having a little fun," Dean said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think Al Gore is a terrific human being. ... I think Mario is stirring the pot. That's what he does and he does it well."
Another candidate, Sen. John Edwards (search) of North Carolina, said he believed Gore when the former vice president said he would not run. "I have high respect for Al Gore. He has said he's not running and I take him at his word," Edwards said, campaigning Wednesday in Berlin, N.H.
Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe (search), in an interview with Fox News radio Tuesday, said he spoke to Gore Saturday night and the former vice president "made it clear to me that he was not running in 2004."
Gore's 2000 running mate, Joe Lieberman (search), also dismissed suggestions that Gore will enter the race.
"I'd be very surprised if Al got back in," Lieberman, who is seeking the 2004 nomination, said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I think he's made a decision and he's very happy and at peace with it."
Cuomo, who was leading in the polls in late 1991 when he decided against a race for the 1992 Democratic presidential nomination, also criticized Lieberman for saying that Howard Dean was too liberal to win the White House.
"I think that's an unfortunate confession by Lieberman of weakness," Cuomo told WROW-AM about the Connecticut senator.
"It's another illustration that we need something more," he told the AP. "You don't need somebody attacking another Democrat."
Among the current crop of Democratic contenders, Cuomo praised Bob Graham but acknowledged that the Florida senator has yet to spark real interest among voters.
"One of the things I like about him, regrettably, is that he doesn't have that pizzaz, that jazz, that stuff that startles people," Cuomo said.
Graham might make a good vice presidential candidate, the former governor said.