DES MOINES - Former Vice President Al Gore will headline the Iowa Democratic Party's annual Jefferson-Jackson Day dinner next month in Des Moines.
The event is the party's biggest fundraiser and traditionally launches the final sprint to the general election.
"We are excited to welcome him back to Iowa," Iowa Democratic Chairman Scott Brennan said Tuesday at a news conference.
Gore will be the keynote speaker at the dinner, scheduled for Oct. 4 at Hy-Vee Hall, Brennan said. It will mark Gore's first visit to the state since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on climate change, including writing "An Inconvenient Truth."
That book and a subsequent Oscar-winning movie warned of the looming crisis over global warming, stamping Gore as a leading voice in the environmental movement. In addition to raising money, the annual dinner also serves to energize activists heading into the closing days of a campaign.
It draws some of the party's biggest names because of the state's leadoff position in the presidential nominating calendar. Last year all of the major presidential candidates spoke and then-candidate Barack Obama's fiery speech was credited with launching him on the road to a win in the caucuses.
That win in turn dented Hillary Rodham Clinton's status as the presumptive nominee, and proved crucial to Obama winning the nomination.
Brennan said he wasn't disappointed that the party couldn't lure either Obama or running mate Joe Biden to the event.
"They are focused on a 50-state strategy," said Brennan, who argued that Iowa remains a battleground state with both parties vying for its seven electoral votes.
"We're clearly part of the battleground state strategy," Brennan said.
Most polls have shown Obama with an edge over GOP nominee John McCain in Iowa. Obama built a massive field organization in the state during the caucus campaign, and that operation largely remains in place. McCain campaigned with less intensity in Iowa, finishing fourth in the Republican caucus campaign.
In addition, Democratic voter registration has surged in the state, and they now outnumber Republicans by about 90,000 people.
"Clearly we have the advantage," Brennan said.
Despite that edge, the race is likely to tighten as the Nov. 4 election nears, Brennan said. He noted that Gore carried the state by 4,000 votes in the 2000 election, while President Bush won by roughly 12,000 votes in 2004.
"These races always get very close," Brennan said.