ABC News' Nitya Venkataraman Reports: Grassroots organization DraftGore.com pleaded with former Vice President Al Gore to enter the 2008 presidential fray via an "open letter" in the New York Times.
Written on behalf of volunteers and petitioners behind the DraftGore movement and addressed to Gore, the full-page ad in the Times' A-section says:
"You say you have fallen out of love with politics, and you have every reason to feel that way. But we know you have not fallen out of love with your country. And your country needs you now -- as do your party and the planet you are fighting so hard to save." (LINK)
(The ad's timing comes two days before the announcement of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winners; Gore's crusade for the environment landed him a nomination.)
DraftGore.com founder Monica Friedlander started the group in 2000 after her "outrage" towards the outcome of the Bush-Gore battle for the White House. Today, the group is run by a five-member executive committee, including Friedlander, each of whom operate from different locations. Alongside Friedlander, the committee includes: Treasurer Eva Ritchey in North Carolina, Nathalie Green in Kentucy, Andrea Aronhovde in Washington, D.C., and web guru Bill McCormick in California.
Ritchey says the five organizers met "by accident over the Internet four years ago just seeking fellowship with other people who believe Al Gore was a missed opportunity for America" and insists DraftGore.com has had no contact with Gore's office outside of delivering a petition of signatures to the former Vice President in July urging Gore to make an '08 run.
Ritchey describes their efforts as "a draft, not a fan club."
Though they serve mainly as an Internet hub providing "resources to the ground troops," Ritchey says DraftGore.com will launch a letter-writing campaign in the next week to Florida DNC Chair Karen Thurman to put Al Gore's name on the state ballot.
"If the president serves the people, we ought to get the choice. And since he is a viable choice he ought to be on the ballot," Ritchey says.
Ritchey describes their campaign's defining moment as the New Hampshire Democratic debate on September 26 "when the country came face to face with major candidates waffling on the issue of Iraq. I think it hit them like a brick."
Air America Radio host Randi Rhodes the next night began promoting Gore as a "political solution", Ritchey says, ever since she describes the swell of ground support "like a tsunami."
Ritchey told ABC News the ad cost them $64,575 and ran on stand-by, meaning the ad could run at any time within a seven-day window. Though the ad has been part of the group's larger strategy since late spring, DraftGore.com founder Monica Friedlander says the money for the ad was raised in six days following an appeal about ten days ago to their 136,000-member signature base.
Abbe Serphos, PR Director at the New York Times, said Times policy does not allow them to "disclose the rate that any one advertiser pays" but did confirm the rate and standby status of the ad given to ABC News by DraftGore.com.
Serphos confirmed that the rate for a full-page, seven-day standby ad in this category is $64,575.
DraftGore.com chair Friedlander says most contributions came in small donations in the $20-$50 range.
Because of that, Ritchey adds the "ad belongs to the petitioners."
Both Ritchey and Friedlander mentioned the importance of keeping their grassroots movement to draft the former Vice President separate from Gore's office.
Friedlander insists, "This is our effort, no way driven by him or encouraged by him," but she adds, "They also don't try to stop us."
Gore spokeswoman Kalee Kreider told ABC News that the former Vice President "understands and appreciates the sentiment behind the ad" and "hears what people are trying to say to him, however he does not have any plan to run for president."
As for Friday's Nobel announcement, Kreider indicated that October 12 would be an "