- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2002

Former Vice President Al Gore announced yesterday he will not seek the 2004 Democratic nomination for president.
Mr. Gore's announcement came almost two years after he conceded the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush in the aftermath of a historic 37-day recount battle.
Had he run in 2004, it would have been the third presidential campaign for the former senator from Tennessee, who earlier lost a 1988 bid for the Democratic nomination.
He acknowledged that skipping the 2004 campaign would most likely close the door on any presidential ambitions, calling it "probably the last opportunity I have for president."
Characterizing the 2000 campaign as "difficult," Mr. Gore said a rematch between himself and Mr. Bush wouldn't be in the nation's best interest. "It would focus on the past instead of the future."
In an interview on CBS-TV's "60 Minutes," Mr. Gore said he had the energy and ambition for a campaign, but that some members of his party feel "exhausted" with him as a candidate after his narrow loss to Mr. Bush.
"I am sensitive to that," Mr. Gore said.
The decision not to run was a surprise to many, who had viewed Mr. Gore's recent increased visibility as an indicator of his candidacy. Tours for a book he co-wrote with his wife on family life, frequent criticisms of the Bush administration and even a stint over the weekend as host on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" seemed to point to a run in 2004.
Mr. Gore said at times he had fully expected to mount another presidential run, but that after spending the past few days in New York City with his family, he was ready to make the announcement not to run.
"I don't think it's the right thing for me," he said.
The departure of Mr. Gore from the 2004 presidential field opens the door for other Democratic hopefuls, including his 2000 running mate, Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina and Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont.
Rep. Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, who stepped down as House minority leader last month, also has prompted speculation he will make a presidential run.
Mr. Gore didn't expound on which candidate would have the best chance of capturing the nomination, but he said that the only way to defeat Mr. Bush is to have an "unrelenting focus on the economy."
"The policies [Republicans] are committed to don't work," he said.
Having won more popular votes than Mr. Bush in 2000, Mr. Gore lost the election in the Electoral College after the Supreme Court ruled against Democratic efforts to overturn Mr. Bush's narrow win in Florida.
Mr. Gore's edge in the 2000 popular vote gave him what many felt was a strong claim going into the 2004 election season. The latest polls showed him as a front-runner for the Democratic nomination.
Vice president for eight years under President Clinton, Mr. Gore had a strong resume for the top job. As a former member of both the House and Senate, and son of a senator, Mr. Gore had a political pedigree matched by few.
But in the 2000 election, many Americans saw him as boring, wooden and unsympathetic.
Mr. Gore spent much of his childhood in Washington, growing up as the son of Albert Gore Sr., who represented Tennessee in Congress for 32 years and who died in 1998 at 90.
After graduating from Harvard University, he married Mary Elizabeth "Tipper" Aitcheson whose crusade in the 1980s against obscene rock lyrics once made her more famous than her husband and volunteered for the military.
After seven months in Vietnam as an Army journalist, Mr. Gore entered divinity school at Vanderbilt University for a year and worked as a reporter for the Nashville Tennessean.
In 1976, a House seat from central Tennessee became vacant, and Mr. Gore jumped into the race. As a member of the House and, after 1984 of the Senate, Mr. Gore developed an interest in nuclear-arms control and began his lifelong interest in the environment.
In 1988, he ran for president, but his campaign proved to be unfocused and poorly organized. The nomination went to Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who lost the election to George Bush, the father of the man who beat Mr. Gore in 2000.
Mr. Gore decided not to run for president in 1992 but was catapulted back into the spotlight when Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton chose him as his running mate.
As vice president, Mr. Gore became one of Mr. Clinton's closest confidants while developing his own issues such as downsizing the federal government and fighting global warming. He also played an active role in foreign policy.
Mr. Gore was investigated and cleared of charges that he illegally raised money from his White House office.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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