Monday, November 26, 2001

The political team that helped Al Gore come within a few hundred Florida ballots of the presidency cannot be counted on to help him again, a troubling omen for a former vice president contemplating a second run for the White House in 2004.
Some supporters were angry or frustrated over the loss of a close election many thought they should have won, say veteran Democrats. Several close advisers have long-standing ties to potential Democratic candidates other than Mr. Gore and a few may not get involved in any campaign for personal reasons. Others lost favor with Mr. Gore.
For whatever reasons, he may not have the help of some of the party’s leading strategists in 2004 a benefit Mr. Gore enjoyed as a sitting vice president. He still has the support of a core of loyalists.
“It’s significant that many in the Gore team are not signed up with him,” political analyst Stuart Rothenberg said. “It reflects some uncertainty about his future prospects.”
While Mr. Gore cautiously explores his options, his loyalists include: close friend and adviser Peter Knight; veteran Democratic consultant Kiki McLean, press spokeswoman; Democratic strategists Carter Eskew and Mike Feldman; Reed Hundt, former chairman of the Federal Communications Commission; Katie McGinty, former head of the Council on Environmental Quality; and advisers Philip Dufours, Lisa Berg and Janice Griffin.
Fund-raiser Lon Johnson and consultant Brian Hardwick have been helping with Mr. Gore’s Leadership ‘02 political action committee, formed in early October. They say they are leaving at the end of the year to manage congressional campaigns, though Gore associates indicate they hope to lure them back after 2002.
Mr. Johnson will return home to Michigan to run the re-election campaign of Democratic Rep. John D. Dingell. Mr. Hardwick is going to Colorado to manage the campaign of Democrat Tom Strickland in his try for the Senate.
Some high-profile consultants on the fence:
Michael Whouley, a senior adviser to the campaign with longtime ties to Mr. Gore, and Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, who is organizing for a potential 2004 run. Mr. Whouley has moved back to Boston and probably will be courted heavily by both camps.
cTad Devine and Bob Shrum, two top advertising consultants in the Gore campaign, have long-standing relationships with Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina as well as Mr. Gore and many other veteran Democratic politicians. Many Democrats say their firm has a close link to Mr. Edwards, but they indicate they have kept their options open.
cDonna Brazile, Mr. Gore’s campaign manager, says she plans to remain uncommitted for now for the 2004 campaign. Miss Brazile, a prominent black Democratic consultant, will be courted heavily for her get-out-the-vote abilities and strong connections in the black community.
Ron Klain, a Washington lawyer, was a top adviser in the Gore campaign and managed the legal operation in the Florida recount. Democrats say Mr. Klain also has ties with Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware and Tom Daschle of South Dakota.
“There’s a lot of maneuvering, but not a lot of signing up,” Democratic consultant James Carville said. “I’m sure there’s a lot of people saying: ‘Keep your powder dry, don’t do anything until you talk to me.’”
It is too early for any of the 2000 campaign operatives to sign on formally with a candidate. Still, plenty of signals are sent just in case.
Potential Democratic candidates such as Mr. Gore, Mr. Kerry, Mr. Edwards, House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut are laying the groundwork in case they decide to run.

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