Election 2016

Odd surrogate

Hillary's secret weapon to win over millennials is ... Al Gore

Hillary’s Clinton’s secret weapon to win over millennials is … Al Gore

Congressman, senator, vice president, Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Al Gore’s list of distinguished titles is long, but he still thinks about the one he didn’t get. When Gore mentioned the 2000 presidential election in Miami on Tuesday, the Florida crowd chanted back “You won, you won, you won.” Gore seemed to agree, telling the packed audience at the campaign stop not to repeat past mistakes and let a Republican win the White House because “not all the votes were counted or whatever.”

In the swing state that cost him the presidency, Gore dusted off his campaign loafers to rally voters behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. He told the crowd he had only two messages for them. One was that “your vote really, really, really counts, a lot.” Again referencing his loss to George Bush 16 years ago, Gore said, “You can consider me as an Exhibit A of that truth.”

His second point was that the “climate crisis must be a national priority” and that “the choice in this election is extremely clear.” He explained that many politicians put forth disingenuous clean-energy plans rife with false promises but that Clinton was different.

With a wink of self-deprecation for being a policy wonk, Gore said he had gone through Clinton’s climate policies “with a fine-toothed comb” and was impressed by the commitment to install half a billion solar panels by the end of her first term. “It’s right at the limit of what we can do and that’s exactly the kind of ambitious goal that we need from the next president,” he declared.

Clinton, who has often been frustrated that she has not gotten enough credit for her detailed policy proposals, beamed at Bill Clinton’s former vice president.

The former first lady and Gore have at times had a tense relationship since the last Clinton presidency, when both vied for power and influence. The relationship soured during the Lewinsky scandal. Gore felt compelled to separate himself from the President and Clinton resented being distanced from.

Gore has also been noticeably absent from the former first lady’s presidential runs in 2008 and this year. When he finally endorsed her in July, he simply put out a short statement online and did not attend the Democratic convention. But on Tuesday, Gore and Clinton put aside any remaining personal differences to rally together for a second Clinton presidency.

The Clinton campaign said that Gore’s appearance was targeted at millennials skeptical and unenthused by the Democratic nominee. Gore is an odd surrogate for young voters since anyone younger than 35 was too young to vote in 2000, but the Clinton campaign is hoping his high-profile work on climate change will resonate with younger voters.

A recent poll from NextGen Climate of Millennial voters in swing states found that 76 percent were more likely to support a candidate who supports limiting carbon pollution from power plants and 83 percent were more likely to vote for a candidate who wanted to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

Illustration by Grace Shin

Cover: Grace Shin

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