Mark Halperin insisted Thursday that he wasn’t just stirring the pot when he injected the notion of an Al Gore 2016 presidential bid into the political conversation.
The Beltway pundit had sent out a stream of tweets Wednesday listing Gore’s strengths as a Democratic candidate. Appearing on “Morning Joe,” Halperin argued that Gore is a clear alternative to Hillary Clinton, the presumed frontrunner in the race despite not having made up her mind about a presidential run, who Halperin said has shown herself to be vulnerable during her recent book tour.
That prompted “Morning Joe” co-host Willie Geist to ask “Are you just stirring the pot or is this based on some reporting you have?”
“I’m not saying he’s going to do it,” Halperin responded. “I’m just saying if he did, he brings enormous strengths within the Democratic Party to capture the anybody-but-Hillary support if she continues to be dinged.”
“He has won the Iowa caucuses,” he added. “She hasn’t.”
The rest of the “Morning Joe” crew then spent several minutes pressing Halperin to reveal whether he had any conversations with people close to Gore that informed his tweets.
“Is the catalyst for those conversations from someone in the Gore side of things saying ‘Oh, yeah he’s interested,’ or the catalyst being that you were just looking for somebody to be a nemesis to Hillary Clinton?” Thomas Roberts asked.
“People besides me who know Gore better than I do say that there is a vacuum right now and that she is extraordinarily vulnerable,” Halperin said. “But she is not vulnerable to Bernie Sanders, she’s not vulnerable to Howard Dean, I don’t think. She’s vulnerable to somebody who’s got what Gore has. Again, he’s won Iowa, he’s won the national popular vote, and he has a history with [the Clintons] that could animate a run.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.