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Gore resists push for ‘08 run

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Former Vice President Al Gore is basking in the global spotlight for nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar, but a growing number of Democrats want him to make another bid for the presidency.

He says he is interested in a "different kind of campaign to try to change enough minds" to solve the global-warming problem, but that doesn't stop people from asking.

Mr. Gore spoke to 1,500 Silicon Valley leaders gathered Friday for the annual "State of the Valley" conference, hosted by Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network. The audience sent the Democrat questions via text-messaging during the speech. The first on the list, projected on jumbo screens to Mr. Gore's left and right: "Will you run for president?"

He tried to dodge the question, rolling his eyes and inspiring laughter from the crowd, but he couldn't avoid the probing glances in the crowd or the attendee who shouted, "Please?"

"I don't have any plans to run for president, but I appreciate the request," he said, after a pause.

Not everyone is convinced, and "Draft Gore" movements are sprouting across the country.

"A lot of people are very excited, not only about Al Gore's potential candidacy, but about his ideas," said former San Jose Mayor Tom McEnery, a Democrat. "Very seldom in politics do ideas drive candidacy."

The problem is that Mr. Gore doesn't seem to want to renew his political career, and nothing about his lifestyle suggests that he'll mount a bid. His friends and former advisers say privately that he is happy with his life as a somewhat regular -- albeit wealthy -- public figure.

He closes events to the press while other Democrats seek headlines. His Web site, AlGore.com, is far from a campaign site.

DraftGore.com organizers say 2000 Democratic nominee should give it another try, calling him the "conscience of the Democratic Party" for his early opposition to the Iraq war.

"Given his unmatched experience and leadership on issues of moral imperative, Gore is increasingly seen as Democrats' best bet to win back the White House," the site declares.

Supporters say he wouldn't need to mount a traditional campaign because he is so well-known.

"I'll wait as long as necessary to see if Gore will jump in," wrote Markos Moulitsas, founder of the liberal DailyKos.com. "That's ultimately my guy this cycle. And even though I don't think he'll run, he's really got all the time in the world to make a final decision. It's not as if he'll need the full year to get his name-recognition up or make the case for his candidacy."

Donna Brazile, Mr. Gore's campaign manager in 2000, told voters recently: "Wait till Oscar night. If Al Gore has slimmed down 25 or 30 pounds, Lord knows," the Allentown (Pa.) Morning Call reported.

Mr. Gore on Friday did not appear to have lost any weight. The Academy Award winners will be announced Feb. 25. Mr. Gore's global-warming documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," is contending for two Oscars.

Some other Democrats have suggested that if Mr. Gore is named the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in October, he could easily wait to announce a presidential run until Dec. 10 when the award would be presented.

Also looming is the expected release of his new book, "The Assault on Reason," which will explore the "damage" he says has been done by the Bush administration "to the functioning of our democracy," according to a description on Amazon.com.

Russell Hancock, Joint Venture's chief executive officer, introduced the former vice president as "the one man who has done more than any other American to bring these issues to the forefront of the nation's consciousness."

Mr. Hancock later said Mr. Gore seems to be done with politics.

"He's done that. Now he's going to save the world," he said.

Aart de Geus, CEO of semiconductor software giant Synopsys, agreed.

"I'm thinking that ... looking back 100 years from now that may be a bigger impact than any president of the U.S. would have had," Mr. de Geus said. "In that sense, the platform that he's taken of dealing with global warming may be a more important platform than anything else he could do."

Mr. Gore's talk was held the same day the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a summary of a forthcoming report authored by scientists from more than 100 countries predicting the earth's temperature will rise by 2 to 11 degrees by 2100.

He told the leaders that they are on the forefront of innovation and said business will profit from technology's efforts to stop climate change or slow its effects.

He explored the valley's evolution from being the birthplace of electronics and the computer to the Internet and biotechnology.

"It's abundantly obvious that clean tech, green tech ventures ... will be a new pathway that attracts a lot more energy and time and investment," he said.

Mr. Gore, a member of Apple Computer's board of directors and an adviser to Google, seemed comfortable in the valley, which he called his "second home."

He spoke in a calm, patient voice, telling self-deprecating jokes and chatting about laws of thermodynamics in between jabs at the Bush administration.

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