Former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore says he will not run for president in 2004. He made the surprise announcement in a nationally broadcast interview.
Al Gore has been highly visible in recent days, making a series of television appearances and traveling the country to promote a new book.
All signs pointed to another Gore campaign in 2004. But Mr. Gore says it will not happen. "I've decided that I will not be a candidate for president in 2004," he said.
He made the announcement with little warning on the CBS news program "60 Minutes." He said he has the energy and drive to run again, but does not think it would be the right thing to do.
Mr. Gore talked about the agonizingly close 2000 election and said he did not want it to be the focus of the next presidential campaign. He said he still wants to work to put a Democrat in the White House, but not as a candidate.
Mr. Gore won the popular vote in 2000, but conceded to George W. Bush after a 36-day recount in the state of Florida and a Supreme Court ruling that favored the Republicans. The Florida vote decided the outcome in the Electoral College, which ultimately determines the winner in presidential elections.
The former vice-president was the early favorite for the 2004 nomination in early polls among Democrats. He seemed to be encouraging their interest in recent months with a series of tough speeches challenging Bush administration policies, including one on Iraq and the war on terrorism delivered September 23 in California.
"Great nations persevere and then prevail. They do not jump from one unfinished task to another," he said.
But in the end, Al Gore decided he could best challenge the Bush White House in other ways continuing his life as a lecturer, college professor, author and executive with a Los Angeles-based financial service company.
His abrupt departure opens the door for an expanding group of would-be nominees. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry and Vermont Governor Howard Dean have already taken the first steps toward launching formal campaigns. Others said to be considering a run for the Democratic nomination include Senators John Edwards of North Carolina and Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut Al Gore's running mate in 2000. Also mentioned as possible candidates are Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle and Missouri Congressman Dick Gephardt.