GOREWATCH. So...

GOREWATCH. So far as all the speculation that Gore has released his fundraisers and is definitively out goes, color me unimpressed. To be clear, I don't think Gore will run -- I'd put the odds at 60:40 against. But the decision has nothing to do with his funders. As Rich Lowry notes, Gore doesn't, in any case, have a serious network of longtime moneymen waiting for reactivation. Whatever cash-shoveling infrastructure he built in 2000 has long since atrophied, and much of it is probably solidly in Hillary's camp.

What makes divining his political intentions so frustrating is that Gore has, comparatively speaking, all the time in the world. It used to be that fundraising required a lot of rich buddies, a heap o' travel, and endless chicken dinners. Now, Gore could enter shortly before Iowa and, if the base was sufficiently dissatisfied, become financially competitive in a matter of hours. And he wouldn't have to lift a finger for infrastructure building until he sent out that press release. Moreover, Dean's loss and Kerry's triumph taught political watchers that the fundraising arms race isn't necessarily relevant -- Dean's money didn't slow his collapse, and Kerry's comparative disadvantage didn't impede his ascension. Pundits watching to see if Gore tries to compete with Hillary's monster fundraising operation will be disappointed. He has no reason to. The early primary states are cheap, and that's not even mentioning the rush of free media he'd get from entering the race. He'd be both Time and Newsweek's cover boy the following Monday. And if he won some primaries, as Kerry proved, the money would be there for him in the general.

Meanwhile, Gore is playing the reluctant savior card just right. The more desperate liberals are for him to swoop into the election, the less interest he needs to show in doing so. With no alternate bigfoots on the horizon (save maybe Obama), there's no other game in town for dissatisfied liberals. And the more he backs off, the more they'll beg him to step forward. To be clear, I'm not saying he'll run, but I would caution against anyone saying he won't. And giving up his nonexistent fundraising apparatus won't hurt him a bit.

SHAMELESS PLUG: I sketched out these scenarios in fuller detail in my piece on Gore from a few months back. There's also a section on what sort of campaign he'd try and run, so folks interested in the speculation should give it a read.

--Ezra Klein

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