Al Gore balks at endorsing Hillary Clinton

Former Vice President Al Gore Jr., who will be a Tennessee delegate to the Democratic National Convention, is refusing to make an endorsement in his party’s presidential primary, reports Politico as part of a review of Gore’s long history in dealing with Hillary Clinton, her husband and presidential politics Seems Gore and the former secretary of state are not enemies, but they’re not exactly friends either.

The Hillary Clinton-Gore rivalry started when the two baby boomer policy wonks arrived in the White House in 1993. Gore got the new administration’s environmental and technology portfolios. Bill Clinton raised eyebrows by assigning his wife what would become an ill-fated attempt to pass comprehensive health-care reform legislation.

“Usually you give your vice president something of that level. You don’t give it to the first lady,” recalled a former Clinton White House staffer. “People forget that sort of started the relationship on a downward spiral early on.”

…”It’s still too early, in my opinion, to endorse a candidate or pick a candidate,” Gore told People magazine in an interview published last week ahead of a planned 24-hour webcast from Paris to raise awareness about climate change.

In an email Monday to POLITICO, a Gore spokesperson went a step further, saying the former vice president wouldn’t be endorsing in the primary at all. “[Gore] has great respect for and long-standing relationships with all of the candidates running for the Democratic nomination for president,” this person said. “He appreciates the emphasis each of the candidates has placed on advocating for solutions to the climate crisis and will do all that he can to ensure that climate change remains a priority throughout this debate. However, he has no plans to endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary.”

Close associates also note that Gore has burned bridges before when he has spoken up about other Democrats running for the White House. In 2004, he sat out a rematch with President George W. Bush and instead gave his endorsement to the surging anti-war candidacy of Howard Dean, snubbing his former Senate colleague and fellow 1985 freshman classmate John Kerry. Not only did Dean’s bid fade in the Iowa cornfields, Gore also left some feelings hurt because he didn’t back his own 2000 vice presidential running mate, Sen. Joe Lieberman, either.