COLUMBIA — As Lee Eames took his seat at the front of the Friends Room at the Columbia Public Library on Saturday afternoon, he was stricken by the low attendance for the first meeting of his Citizens for Gore campaign.
“I’m a little disappointed in the turnout, but when I started this project I hadn’t broken my hip,” Eames told a group of four supporters of former vice president Al Gore.
Inspired by the 220 regularly meeting Gore groups across the country, Eames hopes to assemble a Columbia group that will help influence the 2000 presidential candidate to run for the presidency again. At last Saturday’s meeting, the group discussed Gore’s environmental stance and what they can do to gain support for Gore in the area. Eames cited quotes in Gore’s “The Assault on Reason” as an impetus for his support of Gore.
“Many scientists are now warning that we are moving closer to several ‘tipping points’ that could — within as little as 10 years — make it impossible for us to avoid irretrievable damage to the planet’s habitability for human civilization,” Gore wrote in his new book.
Eames encouraged the group to sign online petitions in support of Gore, and he plans to speak to the Muleskinners, a local Democratic Party luncheon club that meets every Friday at noon in the Stamper Commons cafeteria on the Stephens College campus.
Though Gore has not said whether he will run, his supporters nationwide are committed to showing him that he has the necessary backing to win.
Asked why she is supporting Gore, California resident Monica Friedlander of DraftGore.com in an e-mail cited “the sense that 2008 may be the most crucial election in our nation’s history, and after the devastating crises created by the Bush administration, we are in desperate need for a qualified candidate with the courage of conviction and who is electable. Al Gore is clearly the only one who fits the bill.“
Gore Web sites help connect the national grass-roots movement. DraftGore.com has gathered more than 110,000 signatures on a petition urging Gore to run. Another Gore Web site, AlGore.org, is working to include Gore in the “Democracy for America” straw polls for the Democratic primary nomination.
“His lead is astounding in all online polls, leading the declared candidates by as much as 5 to 1,“ Friedlander said. “And he leads in a number of states in scientific polls as well.”
According to a Detroit News/WXYZ-TV poll earlier this month, Gore led in his party’s poll, beating declared candidates in a survey of 400 likely Democratic voters in Michigan. Gore received 36 percent of the votes compared to the runner-up, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., who received 32 percent.
“That’s without any campaigning!” Eames said Saturday.
Though Gore hasn’t indicated his intentions, his supporters are hopeful.
“He is the only person who has the gravitas (to serve),“ said Kay Callison, a local Democratic Party activist who attended Eames’ meeting.
The movement isn’t futile. Undeclared candidates, especially as popular as Gore, still have time to get on state primary ballots. In New Hampshire, which has the first scheduled primary, they have until mid-November.
According to an Associated Press report late Thursday afternoon, formerly undeclared Republican candidate Fred Thompson, partially inspired by grass-roots conservative support, announced his intention to declare himself a candidate for president on Sept. 6.
Gore supporters hope that their man, like Thompson, will eventually be persuaded to run.
“There are some efforts to put Gore’s name on ballots in various states, such as California and New Hampshire,” Friedlander said.
In the meantime, Eames will be ready if or when Gore does declare. Eames seemed confident that Gore will announce over Labor Day weekend.
“If he does that, we’ll be swamped. If he doesn’t, I’ll stick with it,” Eames said.