- The Washington Times - Monday, October 10, 2016

Al Gore will campaign for Hillary Clinton Tuesday and call for greater action to fight climate change, but political analysts say there’s a deeper motive in putting the former vice president on the stump — to tell his first-person horror story of what can happen when progressives reject the Democratic nominee and vote for a third-party candidate.

Mr. Gore’s razor-thin loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election partly has been blamed on then-Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, who siphoned off Democratic votes in an election that ultimately was decided by the smallest of margins.

In Florida, where Mr. Bush won by just 527 votes, Mr. Nader received more than 97,000 votes. Exit polling showed that Mr. Nader drew much more support from voters who considered Mr. Gore to be their second choice, leading to charges that Mr. Nader in essence handed the election to Republicans.

This time around, with the Clinton campaign struggling to win over liberal millennials and other key voting blocs, Mr. Gore could be an effective messenger in telling skeptical progressives that a vote for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein could swing the election to Republican Donald Trump — an unacceptable candidate in the minds of most Democrats.

And in what surely isn’t a coincidence, Mr. Gore will deliver that message Tuesday at a campaign rally in Miami, Florida.

Gore is a potent symbol of what Democrats, a lot of Democrats, still feel was an election that was basically taken away from them,” said Matthew Dallek, an associate professor of political management at George Washington University. “People who cast a vote for a third party, who thought their vote didn’t matter or were making a protest vote in places like Florida, that did ultimately matter. There’s a lot of layers of meaning wrapped up in Gore’s appearance, and that could be helpful to” the Clinton campaign.

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For millennials, the 2000 campaign could be a distant memory. Younger voters know Mr. Gore more as perhaps the most aggressive climate change crusader in America than as a two-term vice president or failed White House candidate.

But with his address Tuesday, Mr. Gore likely will try to resurrect the memories of the 2000 presidential cycle and urge young voters to abandon idealistic, long-shot candidates

Even though Mrs. Clinton has opened up a double-digit lead against Mr. Trump, recent polling shows, there still are warning signs. A Wall Street Journal survey released Monday gave Mrs. Clinton an 11-point edge over Mr. Trump, 46 percent to 35 percent, but Mr. Johnson captured 9 percent in the poll and Ms. Stein garnered 2 percent.

Among millennials, the situation is much more dire for the Clinton campaign.

A Quinnipiac survey released last month found that just 31 percent of millennials support Mrs. Clinton, while 29 percent say they’ll vote for Mr. Johnson, 26 percent back Mr. Trump and another 15 percent are behind Ms. Stein.

While Mr. Trump’s support seems rock solid, the Clinton campaign hopes it can rip away support from both third-party candidates — or at least keep its own voters from defecting by pointing to Mr. Gore’s crushing 2000 defeat.

Gore is the perfect messenger for the idea that third-party voters can hurt Democratic candidates,” said Darrell West, director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution. “He can help her appeal to young voters and those worried about climate change. He has a lot of credibility on those issues. I would anticipate he will argue that people should not waste their votes on Johnson or Stein.”

For its part, the Clinton campaign has given little hint that it intends to use Mr. Gore as an anti-third party messenger. Instead, his appearance has been cast solely as a call to action on global warming.

“At the event, Gore will discuss the urgent threat posed by climate change and lay out the high stakes of November’s election,” the campaign said in a statement Monday.

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