WASHINGTON – Al Gore has drawn the staff for his new political action committee from the ranks of his veteran staffers and campaign loyalists while he prepares to raise money and campaign for Democratic candidates across the country during 2002.
Gore, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee and former vice president, is speaking to Tennessee Democrats Saturday in a speech aimed at setting the tone for his political reemergence.
"In this critical election year, I look forward to standing with Democratic candidates across the country," Gore said in a statement Wednesday announcing the committee's staff.
Gore's political action committee, Leadership '02, will be headed by Janice Griffin, a veteran Democratic strategist active with the Gore campaign and with the Democratic National Committee. The chief of staff is Philip Dufour, deputy chief of staff for Gore's wife Tipper at the White House.
The director in Tennessee is Robert McLarty, who worked for the Gore campaign and was a former director of the redistricting project for the DNC. Jano Cabrera, who worked as a spokesman for the vice president's office and his campaign, will be communications director. The political director is Mona Mohib, who worked at the Clinton White House and at the Department of Labor. Josh Cherwin, a former DNC fund raiser, will be finance director.
Two Democratic veterans, fund-raiser Lon Johnson and consultant Brian Hardwick, helped initially when the PAC was quietly formed in October, but left at the end of the year to manage congressional campaigns.
Gore has been driving around Tennessee this week, dropping in on old friends and political allies, associates say, and he plans to attend the Super Bowl on Sunday with his son.
Some Democratic insiders have grumbled privately that Gore has kept too low a profile in the last year, staying out of the political fray while other potential candidates courted party activists.
Gore, who says he hasn't decided whether to run for president again, made appearances at Democratic dinners last year in Iowa and New Hampshire. Other Democrats think Gore's low-key strategy was the best approach.
"We're in the midst of a very nervous, unsettling time," said Democratic consultant Peter Fenn. "It's as if folks don't even want to think about a presidential nominee yet."