Gore told Lesley Stahl on CBS’ 60 Minutes in a brief interview, ”I’ve decided that I will not be a candidate for president in 2004.”
“I personally have the energy and drive and ambition to make another campaign, but I don’t think that it ‘s the right thing for me to do.”
The announcement ensures there will not be a rematch of the contentious campaign of 2000, where Mr. Gore won the popular vote by more than 540,000 votes, but lost the Electoral College to then-Governor George Bush. The election remained inconclusive during a chaotic 36-day recount in Florida, which ended when the U.S. Supreme Court intervened 5-4 to stop the recount. Al Gore conceded the election on Dec. 13, 2000, just over two years ago.
Despite his decision not to mount a campaign, the former vice president said he intended to work with Democrats to defeat President Bush in 2004.
“I think the current policies have to be changed,” Gore said. “I think that my best way of contributing to that result may not be as a candidate this time around.”
Al Gore, who served eight years as President Clinton’s vice president and 16 years in Congress, said he made the decision with the knowledge that it was likely his last chance to run for president. He made his first run in 1988, winning several primaries before losing the nomination to Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis. In 2000, he handily defeated former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley for the nomination before facing President Bush in the general election.
Democrats already exploring presidential runs praised the vice president’s record.
“We all owe Al enormous gratitude for years of dedicated and exemplary public service and for his significant contributions to our party and country,” said Massachusetts’s Senator John Kerry, who has formed an exploratory committee to gauge a presidential run. ” I know that he is going to continue to speak out and be involved on the issues that make a difference to Democrats and all Americans.”
Analysts and others running said the move left the campaign for the nomination wide open.
“What it does is it makes sure there is no frontrunner… It opens up the party to new ideas,” Howard Dean, the governor of Vermont and only official Democratic candidate for president, told CNN. “I would like to see a new direction for the Democratic Party. “