Former Vice President Al Gore is having a moment -- but he's not running for president.
Despite a spate of recent media attention about the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee potentially challenging Hillary Clinton in 2016, those close to him tell msnbc it's not happening.
With plans to visit politically important Iowa in May, Gore has been profiled favorably in the New York Times, was warmly welcomed at South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, and has been the subject of growing speculation that he might mount another presidential bid.
In a widely shared column, Vox’s Ezra Klein laid out the case for Gore, saying Democrats need a real debate about the future of the party and the former presidential candidate is one of the only people in the party with the clout, fundraising prowess, and profile to rival to mount a credible challenge to Clinton. “[I]f he is really so obsessed with the future, then running in 2016 is his best chance to change it,” Klein wrote.
And Klein is hardly alone among political prominent analysts thinking Gore could cause Clinton trouble. This week saw more columns and discussions about why Gore might be a formidable alternative to the former secretary of state, with Fox News reporting his potential candidacy was "gaining steam." The former vice president is closer on policy to the liberal Democratic base than is Clinton, the argument suggests, but he remains well respected among the party’s establishment and donor base, especially in Silicon Valley.
But those searching for an alternative to Hillary Clinton will probably have to look elsewhere, two of Gore’s closest political allies say.
Carter Eskew, who ran the advertising and messaging team for Gore’s 2000 campaign and remains in contact with the politician-turned-climate change advocate, flatly shut down the notion. “[H]e is neither doing nor thinking anything about running,” Eskew said in an email.
“I have no indication this is real,” said longtime Democratic strategist Bob Shrum, who was a top strategist on Gore’s 2000 campaign. “I think it’s a media creation.”
Indeed, Gore himself has given no indication he's interested in a return to politics. He's become a wealthy businessman, author, and advocate and has avoided weighing in on politics outside the handful of issues he deeply cares about, including climate change. And running against the wife of his former ticket-mate would tip of a Democratic family battle royale that the party seems uninterested in having.
Gore has loomed over Democratic presidential politics since he won the popular vote in the 2000 general election against George W. Bush, but has since opted to sit out another bid. He took a serious look at a run in 2004, but ultimately decided against it and Shrum went on to work for that year's Democratic nominee John Kerry.
In 2008, a potential Gore candidacy worried both the Clinton and Obama campaigns, and both quietly courted the former vice president and hoped he would stay out. He did, and waited to endorse Obama until after Clinton bowed out of the primary race.