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Campaign for America's Future's "Take Back America" Conference, June 12-14, 2006
Scenes from the Exhibit Hall.  June 12-14, 2006--With the release of "An Inconvenient Truth" former Vice President Al Gore is much in the news.  Steve Robinson and Lori Learned of Lawrence, KS ran a table for the Draft Gore effort and found many people willing to sign up.  Learned said, "If we build it, he will come.  That's what we're hoping."  She said that Gore has been right on major issues such as Iraq, he has credibility "not just here in America, but also overseas," and he has not given a Shermanesque statement.  Robinson, who also promoted Draft Gore at last year's "Take Back America," stated, "This year we've got a rock star product to sell." 
New literature: a 9" x 6" two-side glossy card (printed on recycled paper by union printers).


Steve Robinson:  Since the last time we were here at this progressive conference Katrina has happened, Hurricane Rita, all of the environmental things that happened.  It's been documented now of course that 2005 was the hottest year on record.  Yet again we keep establishing that new record.  All of that's in the movie of course.  So not only is the climate changing around the globe, but the political climate in the United States is changing as people saw what happened in New Orleans.  People are meeting climate change refugees -- I met one a couple weeks ago in Lawrence, KS.

QUESTION: What is a climate change refugee?

Steve Robinson:  Sombody from New Orleans who doesn't have a place to live anymore, and there are lots of people like that, and of course what has the Bush administration done about that?  Well as Stephen Colbert might say, they always respond with a world class photo op, but when it comes to substance, afraid they're a little bit lacking there.

QUESTION: How about in terms of the movement,; are you sensing more activity not than you did a year ago?

Steve Robinson:  Yes.  It's picking up.  The number of volunteers coming through on the website, the level of intensity of people saying...we have to do something.  We're organizing around the movie.  We're trying to get tables set up.  We've got that activity going out in major cities where the movie's already rolled out and we're going to continue to do that as it gets to more and more places.  I live in Lawrence, KS.  The closest place its going to come will be June 16th, Kansas City; it starts there.  And in my hometown, Lawrence, it'll start July 14th.  So as I understand it, they're kind of doing this viral marketing strategy of rolling the movie out slowly and it spreads by word of mouth, and it has exceeded all expectations...

QUESTION: So how do you see this playing out?  What's your ideal scenario looking at 2007, 2008?

Steve Robinson:  Well of course all of the most credible contenders are certain not to declare before the mid-term.  That's well understood in politics that if you have a good chance, you wait as long as possible to declare.  I think that Vice President Gore is weighing his chances seriously.  He's said that he has no intention to run, and I take him at his word.  I think he means that.  On the other hand even some of his advisors have been quoted -- in the Nagourney piece in the New York Times in late May for example, were quoted as saying, I think he'll run if he feels htat he can win.  And so Al Gore's always been about what's best for the Democratic party.  He doesn't want an unsucessful bid for the nomination, but if his grassroots support is there and he feels like he can run the new politics style of campaign -- that's my person opinion, is what he'll do is the new politics, the Dean politics, the Trippi political style of campaign.  If he feels like he can do that, I think he'll run.

QUESTION: Do you think he'd be a better candidate than the 2000 Al Gore?

Steve Robinson:  I think so.  And I should respond to that by saying about the premise that he was a bad candidate -- I would challenge that premise directly.  Because if you look at historically what he did starting 18-20 points behind George W. Bush in March of '99, when the campaign started, to where we ended up on November 2nd or whater that date was of the election in 2000, he passed George Bush, back from about 20 points.  By any definition that means at least a good campaign if not an excellent campaign.  And the other thing I'd say about that is in an environment, the most incredibly hostile media environment in modern history...  So I just have to say that about the premise of your question as we look back at that 2000 campaign through the prism of a very hostile mainstream media.

Having said that I think he will be a better candidate this time.  As he said in 2002, when he was considering running in the last cycle, he said if I run, I'm going to let it rip.  And he has certainly done that; he has let it rip.

And the fact that we are giving out these Draft Gore buttons like candy shows that people are responding to that message not only because of what's happening with the environment, but what's happened in the political environment.  And Al Gore's behavior, his speeches, the way he's been so out front in articulating why Iraq was a bad idea from the get-go -- people are starting to rediscover that Gore was the first one who came out in a San Francisco speech in 2002, a month before the resolution was voted on, Al Gore came out and said if we do this it takes the focus off terrorism; it will bog us down.  It will be bad press for us around the world.  All these things have come to pass.

QUESTION: Back to the question of the scenario, how does it play out?  Do you see this as "if we build it he will come?"

Steve Robinson:  Yes.  Now I think unfortunately I think we're going to be aided by the continued progression of climate change...  That is going to continue to persuade people that Gore has been right all along about what I consider to be the most important issue of our age.

QUESTION: You talked about organizing around the film.  What are some other things that you can do at this early stage?

Steve Robinson:  You can go to our website, and sign up as a volunteer.  If you're not interested in the movie, we are wide open to possibilities.  This is a grassroots campaign; it's a bottom up campaign.  We want to take people's energy and harness it, their ideas, just in the same way that the Dean campaign took off, not because of a top down strategy, but because people got involved.  That's what we want our campaign to be about.

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Copyright © 2006  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action