Al Gore made his way back to the campaign trail tonight, stumping for Barack Obama for the first time. "Take it from me, elections matter," Gore told the crowd of almost 20,000 at the Joe Lewis arena in downtown Detroit. He added, "After the last eight years, even our dogs and cats have learned that elections matter."
Gore, who was visibly absent during the primaries, offered words of praise for all of the Democratic candidates, calling it the strongest field the party has ever offered. He said John McCain is also deserving of respect, but went on to defend Obama against Republican claims that he is naïve and inexperienced. Gore noted that Nixon made similar accusations against Kennedy in the 1960 election, but that Kennedy withstood the criticism as he expects Obama to do.
"I know what his inspiration meant to my generation," Gore said of Kennedy, "And I feel that same spirit in this auditorium here tonight, building all over this country this year."
Just minutes after taking the stage, Obama reminded the crowd that Gore won the popular vote in 2000 and praised him for his environmental work. "Eight years ago after the debacle in Florida, Al Gore could have just gone off and retired and no body would have blamed him," Obama said.
He vowed to continue the campaign against global warming, telling the crowd that he will count on Gore if he is elected. "Washington, which is always the last to hear the news, may not have listened to Al Gore 30 years ago, but America and the world are listening now."
Obama also offered extensive praise for Hillary Clinton, saying that she has made great strides for women including his two daughters. He also said that that Clinton's tenacity during the primaries made him a better candidate. "She's tough! That's why this race took so long. She's a fighter and we need fighter in the Democratic Party," Obama said.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, a longtime Clinton supporter, had similar praise for Clinton. "The ones wearing nylons and high-heeled shoes, these high heels and others like them have carried a lot of weight for first women everywhere," Granholm said as she held up one of her own shoes.
"I just have to say that for all of those who like me supported Senator Clinton, we recognize that Senator Clinton, she's a great American, she's a great senator."