Video: Will Gore enter presidential race?

NBC News

Tim Russert is NBC News’ Washington bureau chief and host of “Meet the Press.”  He regularly offers’s readers his insight and analysis into questions about politics past, present and future.

MSNBC: Tim, if anybody’s happier than Al Gore about his Nobel Peace Prize, it has to be the people in the draft Gore movement, don’t you think?

Tim Russert: They are pleading with him to get into the race. I think it’s unlikely. We’re only 12 weeks away from the Iowa caucuses. Caucus-goers put a premium on someone who’s spent a lot of time and invested a lot of energy in getting to know them in their state.

I do think that Al Gore is perfectly positioned for a very long-shot scenario: If there were a Democratic nominee who is chosen in January or February and along comes April or May something disastrous occurred and the campaign was crippled, they couldn’t go forward and the party was searching for an alternative.

But right now the Democratic primary base is very happy with the field of candidates. I think Al Gore is relishing his role as a prophet, as opposed to a presidential candidate. And he will continue to be an influential voice, but I don’t see him as a formal candidate.

MSNBC: He seems so much more comfortable in a role of non-politician advocate than being a politician.

Russert: I think that’s right. And he’s also gotten now quite wealthy. He was at Google at the very beginning, and Google is now $600 a share — even I can figure out that math.

Losing the presidency in 2000 after winning the popular vote was a huge psychological trauma for him. He’s put it behind him. He’s won the Nobel Peace Prize, his movie won an Oscar, he’s independently wealthy, and to re-enter elective politics and risk losing to Hillary Clinton in a Democratic primary is not where he wants to be in his life.

I also think that the next president could really take advantage of Al Gore’s talents, and use him as an ambassador, especially if there is a worldwide effort on global warming. I think he’ll continue to play a very active role as a citizen activist.

MSNBC: On the other side of the aisle, how did Fred Thompson do in his first outing in this past week’s debate?  It was his coming-out party — a chance to hit a home run.  How’d he do?

Russert: I think he did OK. I think people were expecting someone who has been billed as the next Ronald Reagan to walk into that room and take over and dominate, and that was clearly not the case. His campaign is still uphill, he started late, and he’s a little behind in money. I think it’s still a long shot.

MSNBC: Andnone of the above politicians is on your show Sunday morning?

Russert: That’s right. We are going to take a break from politics and talk to a fellow by the name of Bill Cosby. He has a new book called“Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors,” and he tackles head-on the problems he has witnessed in the black community. The highest cause of death for young black men is homicide. Seventy percent of black babies are born out of wedlock. Ninety-four percent of blacks who are murdered are murdered by another black. Blacks make up 12 percent of the population but are 44 percent of the prison population.

These are numbing statistics that Bill Cosby writes about very candidly, and then talks about how he thinks we have to deal with this situation as a country. Dr. Alvin Poussaint of the Harvard Medical School, a psychiatrist and a friend of Cosby’s, co-authored the book. I thought it important for the country to listen and focus on a real problem that confronts us as a society. And we’re going to do that Sunday, on “Meet the Press.”

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