WASHINGTON (AFP) — With a Nobel Peace Prize and an Oscar under his belt, Al Gore's fervent fans are hoping he will go for a unique grand slam and take another shot at the US presidency.
Speculation about Gore's political future blossomed anew Friday after the announcement that the former vice president and environmental guru had shared the Nobel award with a UN panel on climate change.
"Lots of people will be calling for him to get into the race and it's pretty hard to guess what he'll do," John Dickerson, political analyst for the on-line magazine Slate, told CNN.
Supporters had already taken out a full-page ad in The New York Times on Wednesday, pleading with the Democrat to put his bitter 2000 loss to George W. Bush behind him and have another go at the ultimate political prize.
"Your country needs you now -- as do your party and the planet you are fighting so hard to save," said the ad, which boasted 136,000 signatures on a petition to draft Gore for president.
But Gore, 59, kept everyone guessing Friday when he gave a short statement about the award and refused to answer any questions from waiting reporters at a hastily-organized briefing in Palo Alto, California.
"I will be doing everything I can to try to understand how to best use the honor and recognition of this award as a way of speeding up the change in awareness, and the change in urgency," Gore added, before rushing away.
Gore is definitely on a roll after completing a stunning transformation from what many considered a dull, pedantic politician to the rock-star-like champion of the battle against climate change.
In February, his film "An Inconvenient Truth" scooped up an Academy Award for best documentary. Five months later he was the headline speaker at the worldwide series of "Live Earth" concerts.
His book "The Assault on Reason," essentially an extended rant against the Bush administration on a variety of issues, made it to the top of best-seller lists.
Although he is not an official presidential candidate, opinion polls show Gore ranking third among Democratic contenders with 10-12 percent, roughly the same as the hard-running former senator John Edwards.
Jimmy Carter, former president and also a Nobel Peace Prize winner, said earlier this year he had been trying to persuade Gore to throw his hat in the ring.
"I've put so much pressure on Al to run that he's almost gotten aggravated with me," Carter told ABC television.
But analysts agree that Gore would face a daunting task if he jumped into the Democratic race dominated so far by Senator Hillary Clinton, the wife of his ex-boss Bill Clinton.
Fewer than three months before the first nominating contests, it would be virtually impossible to match the 70-million-dollar warchest assembled by Clinton and the 75 million dollars raked in by her rival, Senator Barack Obama.
Gore would also be well behind in building a campaign organization nationally as well as in key states. Most of the top-draw Democratic political advisers have already been snapped up by Clinton or Obama.
But Gore, who won the popular vote in 2000 only to be edged out by Bush in the state-by-state electoral vote after a dramatic legal battle over Florida, stays tantalizingly open about a new run.
"I haven't ruled it out. But I don't think it is likely to happen," he said in an interview with Time Magazine in May.
"If I do my job right, all the candidates will be talking about the climate crisis," he said. "And I'm not convinced the presidency is the highest role I could play."
His wife Tipper said several close friends had tried to get Gore to take the plunge but he had little reason to heed their urgings.
"He's got access to every leader in every country, the business community, people of every political stripe," she said. "He can do this his way, all over the world, for as long as he wants. That's freedom. Why would anyone give that up."
Michael Feldman, a senior Gore adviser, told the website Politico.com that the Nobel Peace Prize was not likely to change Gore's calculations.
"He has said all along he has no plans to run for president," Feldman said. "He's been spending all his discretionary time on the climate crisis. This great honor will further enhance that" effort.
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