Al Gore will try to boost his party’s chances of regaining the White House by criticizing President Bush’s Iraq policy in a speech today, in which he will call for the resignation of five Bush administration officials and one military leader.
The event, sponsored by the political action committee of the liberal group MoveOn.org., seeks to motivate the Democratic base. Mr. Gore will argue that Mr. Bush’s foreign policy has created animosity against the United States throughout the Islamic world and is putting Americans at greater risk.
Mr. Gore’s speech at New York University, the event’s sponsor said, will call for the resignation of five Bush administration officials — who were not named yesterday — as well as one member of the military command, whom he blames for the Iraqi prisoner abuse and for a failed policy in Iraq that is endangering American lives.
In December, Mr. Gore endorsed presidential hopeful Howard Dean, a vocal critic of Mr. Bush’s Iraq policy. Many viewed the endorsement as a mistake, and Mr. Dean lost the presidential nominating contests to Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat.
Political analyst and former Clinton administration official Morris Reid said Mr. Gore’s speech today is an example of Democrats trying to use high-profile members of their party to generate press coverage and help Mr. Kerry win the White House in November.
“Democrats are trying to rally every elder statesman or woman … to really motivate their base,” he said. “They know this is going to be a team effort.”
Mr. Reid said Democrats know they need people like Mr. Gore to make scathing critiques against Mr. Bush in order to bolster support for Mr. Kerry.
“Al Gore can go much further than John Kerry can go,” he said, noting that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, a fellow Massachusetts Democrat, has been playing a “surrogate” role for Mr. Kerry.
Republican observers said most people won’t take Mr. Gore’s speech seriously.
“I think people will view it as a partisan witch hunt,” said Republican pollster David Winston. “We need to win in Iraq, and I think most people will look on what he’s about to say as not particularly helpful and perhaps even continued sour grapes.”
Mr. Reid said the speech is not meant to reach everyone, but rather to rally and excite the Democratic base to get out the vote. He said even though Mr. Gore’ s endorsement of Mr. Dean was a mistake, the former vice president still has “a tremendous amount of credibility” and is “still one of the most popular Democrats.”
But Mr. Winston said rallying the Democratic base or the Republican base alone is not enough to win in November. “Both of us need the middle,” Mr. Winston said, predicting that the middle will react negatively to a divisive speech.