AL GORE, Katherine Harris to appear at Iowa fund-raisers, signaling leap into politics

Tuesday, August 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) _ Al Gore has agreed to be the keynote speaker at the Iowa Democratic Party's annual fund-raising dinner next month, yet another signal that the former vice president is positioning himself for a leap back into politics.

Gore had been invited to speak at the party's Sept. 29 Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner months ago, a high-profile appearance in the state that launches the presidential nominating season.

Aides notified Iowa Democratic Party Chairwoman Sheila McGuire Riggs on Tuesday that Gore would accept the invitation, said two Democratic sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A key figure in the controversial Florida vote count that sent George W. Bush to the White House also plans to visit Iowa. Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris will attend two fund-raisers and speak to Republican women on Sept. 15, GOP officials said.

``She's in demand right now. She's a high-profile Republican,'' said Darryl Kearney, finance director for the Iowa Republican Party. ``A lot of people want to meet her.''

Harris' role in the five-week recount made her a Republican heroine. Party officials have said Harris will run for Congress in 2002, but she has not confirmed her candidacy. She also will attend two GOP fund-raisers in Minnesota next month.

Since losing the closest presidential election in more than a century, Gore has largely kept out of public view. He's taught college classes and declined to comment on his future or on Bush's presidency.

But besides accepting the invitation to speak in Iowa, there have been other recent stirrings in the Gore camp: Gore held a workshop over the weekend with key activists in Nashville, Tenn., and has scheduled a field session with staffers this week.

Though he won the popular vote, Gore lost the general election to Bush after the disputed Florida vote count. Gore backers have since been urging the former vice president to send a signal of his intentions to keep activists from moving to other contenders.