Gore Still On The Sidelines

Every so often, about three or days, a Democratic consultant or activist e-mails or calls with a tip about Al Gore's imminent endorsement of Barack Obama.

The noise level of the chatter has increased, but really, outside of Gore's inner inner circle -- and that is a circle of about three people, none of whom has any inclination to step on their boss -- no one is qualified to say one way or another.

Gore hasn't ruled anything out, and it's certainly the case that he's been lobbied by Clinton allies to keep his carbon neutral powder dry, and lobbied by Obama allies to wade in.

My best guess, based on reporting and just a hunch, is that Gore will not endorse a candidate in the primaries. It's no secret that he has some issues with the Clinton family, and it's very easy to link his liberated post-White House persona with Barack Obama's campaign mien, but beyond these two givens, we forget that Gore has very little to gain from making an endorsement, and the downside risk of doing so, even if his candidate were to win, are fairly large.

Gore is the king; he is the senior statesman of his party; he does not need to be a kingmaker. He will almost certainly play a preeminent policy role in the next Democratic administration, possibly as some UN commissar of climate change. He also knows he might have to work with a President McCain as well.