That person was Richard Nixon. What Nixon did in 1968, Al Gore could repeat in 2008. Like Nixon, Gore faces a nation divided by an unpopular war. And like Nixon, Gore could transform anti-war anger and general public malaise into votes.
Moreover, Democrats, moderate Republicans and independents are eager for a change, and Gore could emerge as a central agent for change in 2008.
A number of Americans strongly believe that Gore was unfairly robbed of the presidency in 2000. Two terms of George W. Bush have demonstrated that almost every point Gore raised in the 2000 election - the dangers posed by global warming, the criticality of alternative fuel sources, the foolishness of tax breaks for the ultra-rich, the need for international diplomacy and consensus building, prudence in Supreme Court nominations, and a commitment to civil liberties - were right on target.
Gore has learned the hard way about the extreme right-wing that now dominates the Republican Party. From being singled out for a special baggage search and frisking at Reagan National Airport in May 2002 to being one of the first to respond, on his own dime, to the plight of Hurricane Katrina victims on the Gulf Coast, Gore understands how the Bush administration and the Republican Party have destroyed the America in which the vast majority of citizens once believed.
And that gives Gore a unique perspective on matters of war and peace, civil liberties opposed to totalitarian rule, and a caring and service-oriented government as opposed to a detached bureaucracy only interested in lining the pockets of big business and political cronies.
Statesmanship is an earned attribute, and a Gore presidency would not require any on-the-job training on domestic or global policy making. The former vice president would be welcomed by a world eager to see America once again become a force for diplomacy and human rights and not a promoter of pre-emptive war and torture flights and secret gulags.
There is no doubt that Gore made a drastic mistake in selecting a neoconservative Democrat, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, as his running mate in 2000.Gore understands his mistake more than anyone else in America.
Gore, who has made no secret of his distaste for neoconservative policies at home and abroad, will be extra careful to ensure that his next running mate reflects the true values of the Democratic Party and not those of the pro-big business and neo-conservative aligned Democratic Leadership Council.
A Gore administration working with a Democratic Congress would reverse the dangerous actions incurred under eight years of right-wing misrule and deception. Gone would be the unitary executive and presidential signing statements, the weakening of Social Security and Medicare, and windfall profits for the oil industry.
Furthermore, Al Gore, more than any other potential candidate for the presidency, understands the importance of every proper vote being counted fairly and accurately.
Who better could use the White House as a bully pulpit to demand fair and fraud-free elections? That is something that would benefit democracy and every political party and candidate.
Born into a famous Washington political family, Al Gore now "gets it" about being an outsider. It is rare to find someone running for president as an outsider with the "inside the Beltway" experience of Al Gore.
The Democratic Party has the opportunity to nominate a candidate who has the right stuff and someone who could go down in history as a rare statesman-president. The Democrats would be foolish not to recognize such potential in a candidate.