Podesta Says It’s Too Late For Gore, Getting Late for Obama

Is it too late for Al Gore to get in the race?

John Podesta thinks so.

“Yeah,” said Podesta, when I caught up with him yesterday at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in midtown. “I don’t think he wants to.”

At last year’s conference, the speculation surrounding Gore's potential bid was very much a running theme.

Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress, former Clinton chief of staff and current Hillary Clinton supporter, said that the enthusiasm for a Gore candidacy had diminished compared to last year, but he also figured that was probably something Gore wanted.

“I think it's changed, but I think he wanted it to change," said Podesta. "He is just going way deep on this one issue. And I think that's what he wanted to do."

As for Hillary, Podesta couldn't be more pleased with how her campaign is going.

"She is running a terrific, disciplined campaign," he said. "She has a very disciplined crew and is a very disciplined candidate from message to policy to execution."

Was he surprised that Obama seemed so reluctant to challenge Clinton?

"Obama has run a good campaign. He is playing to his strength. You can't be the guy who is going to do politics different, the guy who is going to bring everyone together and then be in there rabbit-chopping your opponent," Podesta said. He noted that Obama was spending a lot of money in Iowa, (nearly $3 million on ads alone) but without significantly affecting Hillary’s position there.

"She has solidified her position is because she has run a very strong and very appealing campaign," said Podesta. "I think where the race was in the spring, the structure of the race, has become more solidified."

If the race continued in the same way, he said, Obama would have to make a move.

"At some point, if this tracks the same way, he'll try and shake it up," said Podesta. "But I'm not sure that means trying to jam and jab her. I'm sure he is getting some of that advice. But if you ask me that is not the best advice.

"He wants to get his terms. So far she has dominated where the race has been, which is that she has got the experience to bring about real change. How he gets around that, I leave to his team to figure out."