That, and other news, in Thursday’s Political Panorama.
If Al Gore gets into the race — and he’s given no indication that he will — would he be able to resist becoming the victim of the consultants and strategists that seemed to weigh him down in 2000? Even with his more relaxed image on display in countless appearances, the latest being the tour for his new book, “The Assault on Reason,” many still have doubts that he wouldn’t fall back into the role of typical candidate.
One of the most common observations of those who interview Al Gore is how irreverent he can be one on one, compared to the stiff figure he was during the campaign of 2000. (I got a bit of it back then, when I watched a less-than-enthusiastic stump speech then interviewed what seemed like a totally different person.) John F. Harris echoes this sentiment in a new interview in The Politico, where the former vice president-turned-media-persona spells out how an unconventional candidate could run for president using netroots and other new media devices. But just as telling are Gore’s admissions that he’s just not good at conventional politics — as he tells Harris the game today “rewards a tolerance for artifice, repetition, triviality that I don’t have in as great supply as I might have had when I was younger.”
A little bit of stating the obvious here, but for Gore, the later he gets in may perhaps be better. It would force him to wage an entirely different kind of campaign in a limited amount of time.
Biden’s Vote: In the interview, Gore does give some cover for Democrats who voted to continue war funding. Writes Harris, “Even war opponents, Gore said, have a ‘moral obligation to see the complexity of the dilemma our country is in,’ trying to bring troops home while not leaving Iraq in even more dangerous turmoil. ‘So pursuing those twin objectives is not easy under any circumstances, but it’s not an act of cowardice or a lack of will on the part of Democrats in the Congress who see the complexity of this dilemma,’ Gore argued.”
Among all senators running for president, Joe Biden voted for continuing funding, albeit reluctantly. My interview with him is now posted at Variety.com, where he talks about the state of his campaign. It’s had a tough time getting fund-raising traction, but Biden hopes to change that. The stories of Biden’s penchant for rumination are true, but unlike Gore in 2000, he comes across as a relaxed figure unconcerned that every word of his will be parsed by the media. In fact, he volunteers personal information. He started the interview by noting how young he was (29) when he joined the Senate in 1973, shortly after his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident and his two sons were seriously injured. He still seems a bit surprised that, in contrast to when he ran in 1987, he’s no longer the young upstart underdog but the man that people know from “Meet the Press.” And the irony of all of this is that Biden, Bill Richardson and Chris Dodd, the three candidates who have the longest tenures in government, are struggling against the star power of Obama, Clinton and Edwards.
Some industry politicos doubt that he has a chance in an environment where people already are tiring of being hit up by fund-raising calls.
He plans to visit in June for an additional fund-raising visit. “This is probably the one community that gets engaged without an agenda for themselves personally,” he says. “That is the thing I like about it. There are a lot of people I am confident right now that I am their second choice, and if could ever convince them that I could win the nomination, this would break open.”
Hillary’s Night: You don’t get a much better mix than this: Hillary Clinton mingled with a crowd that included Chris Klein, Michelle Trachtenberg and Rebecca Gayheart at Brett Ratner’s home last night, but friend and former collague Elizabeth Snead reports for the Los Angeles Times that the event wasn’t as young as you might think (Brian Grazer, Steve Bing, James Toback). Fresh off of giving her his endorsement, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa followed Clinton to the event in the late evening. TMZ.com has footage of arrivals, those bounding across Benedict Canyon to get there.
Their Picks: Time queries some of the “Ocean’s Thirteen” cast on their presidential picks. George Clooney is for Obama, Matt Damon is for Obama and Brad Pitt is undecided. An excerpt from the Q&A:
“CLOONEY: I’m just hoping Gingrich gets in. Come on, Newt! Actually there’s a really good field out there. I like Barack Obama a lot. I’ve spent some time with him.
PITT: You just cost him votes.
CLOONEY: I’ve actually had that conversation with him, just saying “Look, I’ll give you whatever support you need—including staying completely away from you.” Actors have done a lot of damage to candidates lately. My father ran for Congress in 2004, and it was “Hollywood vs. the Heartland!” My father was Hollywood.
PITT: I’m just hungry for some honesty and leadership. And I’m following them all—on all sides.
DAMON: I’m an Obama guy too. I think a lot of the problems in the world would be mitigated if he were the face of our country. I haven’t ever met him or talked to him, but he’s the first person in a long time who I’ve been inspired by.
CLOONEY: When other politicians stop and listen, that’s how you know what charisma is. You can’t teach that. He walks into a room and you go, “That’s a leader.” “