The status of Iowa in the presidential selection process was elevated yesterday with Al Gore’s announcement that he will not run for President in 2004. Jeff Link was Gore’s state director in 2000, and Link was “shocked” by Gore’s decision he says it looked like all signs pointed to Gore running.Link says the 2004 Democratic presidential race is now “wide open.” Link says Gore’s decision makes the Iowa Caucuses more important. With the 2004 Democrat field wide open, the intensity of presidential politicking in Iowa will increase, if it hasn’t already. South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle was in Iowa Friday and Vermont Governor Howard Dean will be in Cedar Rapids tonight. Link’s last face-to-face chat with Gore came in late September of last year, and Gore told Link he was thinking through all his options when he visited Iowa for the Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner a year ago.Gore hosted this past weekend’s “Saturday Night Live” program and appeared in nearly every sketch, including a take-off on the “Hardball” cable t-v show in which Gore portrayed Mississippi Senator Trent Lott who’s been in hot water over a statement some have interpreted as an endorsement of racial segregation.Gore, who served as Bill Clinton’s Vice President, won the popular vote in 2000, but lost to President Bush in the Electoral College.
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