Published: December 11, 2002
SECAUCUS, N.J. — December 11, 2002 — Following are excerpts from tonights appearance by former Vice President Al Gore on Hardball with Chris Matthews, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET. A full transcript will be available tomorrow morning at www.tv.msnbc.com. Hardball with Chris Matthews airs weeknights, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET on MSNBC, Americas NewsChannel.
Hardball host Chris Matthews: Did you always want to be President and do you still do?
Former Vice President Al Gore: Well, look. Im not ready to make any announcement of my intentions here.
Matthews: How about your emotions? Do you want to be President?
Gore: I care a lot about this country and Im deeply concerned about some of the policies were following now. I dont think were headed in the right direction, and Id like to help do something about that. Whether that will be as a candidate or not will be something Ill make a decision on with my family over the holidays.
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Matthews: Does your gut say I want a rematch?
Gore: Well, Im not ready to take a poll of my gut on that.
Matthews: At what point in January are you going to decide whether youre going to run for President or not? January 20th?
Gore: It will be much earlier than that.
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Gore on Trent Lotts recent comments about Strom Thurmond: Yeah, and he explained it by saying that he was just momentarily exuberant, at Strom Thurmonds hundredth birthday party, by then today we find out that he had said almost exactly the same thing in a political speech some years ago. As I said previously, I think its a racist statement, clearly a racist sentiment, and I think its part of a political strategy thats been used for quite some time, in some parts of our country to try to appeal to the racist sentiment thats sometimes below the surface, sometimes unfortunately above the surface. And now he has apologized for it and I think thats a good thing. He hasnt yet addressed the issue of this second time that he said the same thing and in his apology for the first one he said oh, it was just a birthday party and so forth. Wheres the explanation of the other time that he said it? And this is a man thats in charge of shepherding the nominations of Supreme Court justices, the consideration of whether affirmative action is going to be kept or ditched.
Matthews: Do you think your party, the Democrats, should keep holding his feet to the fire? Or just let this apology stand?
Gore: I think that, you know, its always hard to separate politics from something like this, obviously, but I honestly and sincerely believe that this is more important than politics, I think that the reason that the Congressional Black Caucus has been so active and eloquent in the last couple of days on this is they recognize that there are larger stakes. Look, this country has a continuing struggle with racism, it was by no means a certain thing that we would be able to pass through the era of civil rights reform and get closer to one nation. And there are still these elements in our country and for one of the half dozen most prominent political leaders in America to make statements like that is a setback for us.
Gore: Lyndon Johnson said back when the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act were passed that the Democratic Party had lost the South for a generation, and maybe he underestimated that, I dont know. But I know that my own native South is changing, there are forces of progress that welcome the winds of change, and I think its only a matter of time that the right of all people to vote is guaranteed and African-Americans are not prevented from voting by a lot of bad things that have happened, that weve seen some of recently, and I think when that day comes then the South will be back in the Democratic party.