NASHVILLE, TENN. -- Vice President Al Gore Jr. is on the eve of announcing that he will resign to devote more energy to his lagging presidential campaign. Sources close to the Gore campaign say the vice president may make his plans to leave office public as early as Dec. 1.
The prospective resignation was first reported last week by Internet journalist Matt Drudge. According to Drudge, publisher of The Drudge Report, Gore's team had floated the possibility of resigning months ago, but the candidate refused to consider the option seriously at that time. Unnamed sources from the Gore team told Drudge that the vice president's lackluster performance in the polls and former Sen. Bill Bradley's unexpected surge in popularity have forced Gore to take drastic steps to preserve his presidential bid.
Just six weeks ago, Gore relocated his campaign headquarters from Washington, D.C., to Nashville, Tenn., in an effort to shake his Beltway insider image. But as rival Bradley secures endorsements from such Democratic party luminaries as former Cabinet member Robert Reich and AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney, Gore continues to struggle to define his candidacy.
If Gore does resign his position as vice president of the United States, President Bill Clinton will be empowered by the 25th amendment to appoint a successor. It will be only the second time in U.S. history that a sitting vice president has removed himself from office. In 1973, then-Vice President Spiro Agnew resigned as part of a plea bargain in a tax evasion case. Gerald Ford was appointed by President Richard Nixon to finish Agnew's term, and, upon Nixon's resignation, went on to become the first unelected president of the United States.
The Gore campaign sees the resignation as a way for the vice president to be relieved of his largely ceremonial duties, so he can spend time traveling the country and "reintroducing himself" to voters nationwide. But many political analysts wonder whether even such a bold move can salvage Gore's presidential prospects. "This is either the smartest move the old Al Gore ever made, or the dumbest thing the new Gore 2.0 may well do," says David Gergen, a longtime journalist and adviser to presidents of both political parties.
To counter expected criticism that Gore is abandoning his sworn duties for personal gain, the vice president's handlers are spinning the move as a fiscally and politically responsible decision. "Vice President Gore has to be flown around the country in Air Force 2 at the taxpayers' expense," intimates one staffer, "but private citizen Al Gore will foot the bill for his own transportation, security, and staff." President Clinton is said to have settled on a short-list of potential replacements for Gore. Current Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman purportedly tops Clinton's list of prospective appointees. If appointed, Herman would, in the event of Clinton's death or incapacitation, become the first black and the first female to hold the nation's highest office.
South to the Future's stories contain fictional and factual elements. Except when public figures are being satirized, any use of real names is accidental and coincidental. Comments? Holler@sttf.org.