Howard Dean has boosted his presidential campaign chances by appearing on the covers of both Time and Newsweek magazines in editions set to reach news stands on Monday. 

Once dismissed as a longshot, Dean has emerged as one of the leading contenders for the nomination, with a surprisingly strong showing in the all-important campaign fundraising race.

He also ranks among the top candidates for his party's primary and caucus elections early next year.
  
Dean has been aggressive on the public relations front, and has become the most creative of the White House contenders in his use of the Internet to advance his campaign. 
  
Controversial on Iraq

The former Vermont governor is viewed as a refreshingly straight-talking maverick by supporters, and feared as something of a loose cannon by detractors who say he is too intemperate to lead the country.
  
He first attracted public attention with his outspoken opposition to the US-led war in Iraq and has continued to appeal to liberal, activist Democrats, the voters most alienated by Bush's conservative agenda and who supported Al Gore.

The Democrats' 2000 presidential nominee took himself out of the running as a candidate for 2004 in December.

But trial balloons are floating again and web sites portray Gore as someone who could beat President Bush.

Gore comeback

Political experts suggested that lukewarm support for the current cast of candidates might be spurring the latest rumbles for Gore.

Ed Rollins, a veteran GOP consultant, said Gore could pose a major threat to Bush next year and ranked New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as the only other potential candidate capable of such a challenge.

Clinton has said she will serve out her Senate term, which ends in 2006.
 
"If Democrats are concerned about slippage in the polls and they are looking for an alternative, there is no one on face value who looks more viable against Bush than Gore," Rollins said.

"He could gear up on short notice. But there is a very short window for him to get in there."