The Iowa Democratic Party announced Tuesday that former Vice President Al Gore will be the keynote speaker at the party's annual Jefferson Jackson dinner this year.
Now, certainly there's good reason for Gore to be in Iowa in October, when the dinner will be held. The state's a potential battleground, one Barack Obama really hopes to win, and Gore's obviously the kind of big name who energizes Democrats.
But a more cynical-minded observer might wonder if perhaps Gore has something more long-term in mind. Perhaps, assuming John McCain wins the White House this year, a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2012?
The dinner is a ritual for presidential hopefuls in the key caucus state. "The JJ is a place to deliver a message," Tommy Vietor, then Obama's Iowa spokesman, said after the 2007 dinner, "but it is also a place to show organizing muscle. It shows you can get people to show up at the same place at the same time."
In 2004, Al Franken -- now a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota -- headlined the dinner. Meanwhile, the same night, the Iowa Republican Party held its own dinner. Mitt Romney was at that event, giving a speech regarded as an audition for the presidential campaign he ran this year.