With Nobel in Tow, Will Al Gore Run?
WASHINGTON – Al Gore now has a Nobel Prize, an Oscar and an Emmy. Probably the only thing better might be getting a chair in the Oval Office.
But despite Friday's announcement that the former vice president would share the Nobel Peace Prize with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and an entrenched activist movement to dust off his 2000 campaign, sources close to Gore say he likely will not seek to ride the wave of popularity into the White House — not in 2008 at least.
Gore — who was President Clinton's vice president for eight years — already appeared to be attempting to put distance between himself and the idea of a challenge in his first statement about the prize, and he didn't mention politics in a later appearance before reporters.
"The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity. It is also our greatest opportunity to lift global consciousness to a higher level," Gore said, also saying he was "deeply honored" to win the award and share it with the UN IPCC, and would be donating the $1.5 million proceeds of the award to the Alliance for Climate Change, a noprofit organization.
Facing reporters Friday in California, Gore avoided the politics discussion, saying: "This is just the beginning. ... Now is the time to elevate global consciousness about the challenges that we face."
Reporters shouted questions about the presidential race as Gore was leaving, but he ignored them.
There was wide speculation that Gore would win the prize. He canceled a large political fundraising event in California set for Thursday only to change plans around later in the day. He won the Oscar this winter for his widely popular climate change documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth."
The Nobel committee lauded Gore's long history and attention to the issue in citing him for the award.
"His strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change," the Nobel citation said. "He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted."
The Nobel committee said the UN IPCC — a network of 2,000 scientists focused on climate science and how humans affect weather patterns — was equally deserving of the award because it has "created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming" over the past 20 years.
Political speculation on Gore has abounded, despite his repeated claims that he enjoys the private life, which not only has been celebrity-filled with his newfound Hollywood fame, but also has been lucrative. Gore has done well financially since leaving office and starting a new climate-friendly investment firm.
Kenneth Sherrill, a political scientist at Hunter College in New York, said Gore probably enjoys being a public person more than being an elected official.
"He seems happier and liberated in the years since his loss in 2000. Perhaps winning the Nobel and being viewed as a prophet in his own time will be sufficient," said Sherrill.
And while not entirely ruling out a presidential run for Gore, sources say it's highly unlikely. Speaking with FOX News, the sources said political calculations factor heavily into the equation that would either amount to Gore running for president or not.
With barely 12 months to go before Election Day 2008, and no more than two months before the first Democratic nominating votes are cast, Gore would have to face the massive fundraising juggernaut that is the Clinton and Obama campaigns. Both New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama have raised more than $70 million so far.
And in one of the key primary states, Iowa, polls are indicating that voters are happy with the candidates before them — meaning a Gore run might fizzle out before it started in the Hawkeye State. Up until recently, Obama, Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards were in a statistical tie, although Clinton recently edged ahead by a few points.
Gore is expected to address the media later Friday, but sources said don't expect anything on the presidential front. Gore likely will stick to the matter of climate change, global warming and the reduction of greenhouse gases — the subject matter of "An Inconvenient Truth."
Gore's potential run was the subject of a full-page ad in The New York Times just Wednesday, in which Draftgore.com said 136,000 online petitioners can't be wrong, and called on Gore to enter the 2008 race.
"America and the Earth need a hero right now — someone who will transcend politics as usual and bring real hope to our country and to the world," Draftgore.com said in its open letter to Gore.
On Friday, Draftgore.com issued a statement predicting the Nobel would add to demands that he run, and saying "he is a unique position to make a difference in the world"
"We believe that under these circumstances he has no choice but to take the one step left to have the greatest impact in changing policy on global warming — run for President," the group said.
Asked what President Bush's thoughts were on Gore's prize, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said, "Of course he's happy for Vice President Gore .... He's happy for the International Panel on Climate Change scientists who also shared the peace prize. Obviously it's an important recognition. And we're sure the vice president's thrilled."
Meanwhile, current Democratic candidates on Friday began heaping praise on the international climate celebrity.
"By having the courage to challenge the skeptics in Washington and lead on the climate crisis facing our planet, Al Gore has advanced the cause of peace and richly deserves this reward. His voice and his vision have awakened the conscience of America to the urgency of this threat," a statement from Obama's office said.
Edwards' campaign released this statement from the candidate, using it as a vaulting point to point a finger in the Bush administration's eye: "Congratulations to Al Gore. ... His leadership stands in stunning contrast to the failure of the current administration to pursue policies that would reduce the harm of global warming."
"The Nobel Committee's recognition of Vice President Gore shines a bright light on the most inconvenient truth of all — the selection of George Bush as president has endangered the peace and prosperity of the entire planet. Two terms later, Americans are ready for bold change," Edwards said.
FOX News' Carl Cameron and The Associated Press contributed to this report.