(CNSNews.com) - Nearly a year since losing one of the closest presidential elections in American history, Al Gore is back in the politically crucial state of New Hampshire, perhaps mulling another presidential bid in 2004 even as President George W. Bush, the man who defeated him maintains a national job approval rating of about 90 percent.
Gore arrived in the state Tuesday, several days before he is scheduled to headline Saturday's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Manchester.
According to Colin Van Ostern, communications director for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, Gore "was just catching up with old friends and people who have helped out with previous campaigns. I don't know if he's had a chance to be back since the election. I think he just wanted to go around and see people he hasn't seen in a while," Van Ostern said.
Van Ostern said the Jefferson-Jackson dinner is "one of two annual dinners that we do every year for the party." He expects hundreds of guests to attend the $1,000 a plate fundraising event.
As America continues to cope with the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent anthrax crisis, Van Ostern believes Gore has not yet focused on the next presidential election.
"I don't think anyone is thinking about 2004 right now. We are in a unique experience after the attack of September 11th and everyone is supporting the president. I don't think 2004 is what is at the top of people's minds right now," Van Ostern said.
Chuck McGee, executive director for the New Hampshire Republican Party, said many high profile Democrats either plan to visit or have visited the state looking for support in 2004.
"There's been a lot of people up here looking for support for 2004. Al Gore was their nominee in 2000 so you would think that he would have a lot of friends here," McGee said. "But John Kerry has been here, Evan Bayh is coming, Joe Lieberman is coming, Dick Gephardt has been here, so they're all doing their best to position themselves for 2004."
McGee said he didn't know if Gore's intentions were to gain support for the 2004 campaign. "He's driving around the country, wearing his beard and eating some good food, I guess."
Gore met with several party leaders Tuesday. Coos County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Robitaille spoke with FoxNews about his visit with the former vice president. "We talked about everything from the economy to the idle mill in Berlin [N.H.]." Robitaille ate breakfast with Gore at a restaurant in Berlin Tuesday.
Robitaille told FoxNews that Gore was elusive about his political future.
"He said he was just thinking about it and we did not press him on it," Robitaille said.
Van Ostern said Gore's address at the New Hampshire fundraiser follows a similar event in Iowa last month.
"He talked about supporting the president and how important it is for our country to pull together, and he looked at the unique parts of American patriotism that have come out of the woodworks since the attacks," Van Ostern said.