Gore endorses Obama, attends Detroit rally

DETROIT – Al Gore made his debut in the 2008 presidential campaign Monday night, encouraging voters to back Barack Obama because “take it from me, elections matter.”

The former vice president’s speech at the Joe Louis Arena was part endorsement and part blistering attack on the man who denied him the White House eight years ago.

“After eight years of incompetence, neglect and failure, we need change,” Gore said. “After eight years when our Constitution has been dishonored and disrespected, we need changes.”

In 2000, Gore won the popular vote but lost the disputed election to George W. Bush, who captured Florida and its electoral votes after a divided Supreme Court ended the recount of ballots. Since then, Gore has made combatting global warming his signature issue and has been recognized worldwide for his effort – from an Academy Award to the Nobel Prize.

Gore is one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party, but he stayed out of the primary campaign.

It’s the second time Obama has rolled out a major endorsement in Michigan, where he did not campaign during the primary because its election violated the party rules. Obama is counting on a win in Michigan in November but brought Gore and 2004 vice presidential nominee John Edwards to help validate him among Democrats in the state after skipping their primary.

“I’m grateful Al Gore came to Detroit tonight,” Obama said. “But I’m ever more grateful for everything he’s done in the last 40 years for this country.”

Gore announced his decision in a fundraising e-mail earlier Monday. “From now through Election Day, I intend to do whatever I can to make sure he is elected president of the United States,” Gore wrote.

Obama and Gore were introduced by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who backed Hillary Rodham Clinton in the primary. She held up a navy blue pump and said, on behalf of women everywhere, that she was proud to say she’s supporting Obama.

She was loudly booed at the mention of Clinton’s name, and Obama chastised the crowd for that when he spoke. He said he’s a better candidate for having run against Clinton.

“She’s tough,” he said. “That’s why this race took so long. She’s a fighter. And we need fighters in the Democratic Party because we’ve got a lot to fight for.”

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