Barack Obama gets the backing of Al Gore

June 17th, 2008 - 2:06 pm ICT by IANS  

(Second Lead)
By Arun Kumar
Washington, June 17 (IANS) Barack Obama, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, has won the much coveted endorsement of former Vice President Al Gore with the Nobel laureate hailing him as the one best suited to bring change to America. Speaking at a campaign fund-raiser in Detroit, Michigan, Monday, Gore ticked off a long list of challenges facing the nation. He hailed Obama as “clearly the candidate best able to solve these problems and bring change to America”.

The elder statesman, who has made global warming his signature campaign since narrowly losing to George W. Bush in 2000 in a disputed presidential election despite winning the popular vote, has stayed on the sidelines during the long Democratic primary fight between Obama and his vanquished rival Hillary Clinton.

Asking Americans to reject what he called the Bush administration’s legacy of “incompetence, negligence and failure”, Gore said: “Americans simply cannot afford to continue the policies of the last eight years for another four.”

Analysts said the decision to stage the appearance in Michigan underscored the importance of the state for Obama. It was also in Michigan that the 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards unveiled his endorsement of Obama in a surprise setting.

The state, a major battleground in the November presidential poll, was one of the few places where Obama did not campaign during the primary because of a dispute with the Democratic National Committee over the delegates.

Amid thousands of cheering supporters, Gore began by addressing head-on the criticism that Obama doesn’t have enough experience to lead the nation.

The former vice president said he recalled one Republican nominee wondering out loud whether his Democratic rival for president was “naive and inexperienced”.

“And yet another said the United States cannot afford to risk the future of the free world with inexperience and immaturity in the White House,” said Gore.

“Who were they talking about? Every single one of those quotes came from the campaign of 1960, when the the Republicans attacked John Fitzgerald Kennedy for allegedly lacking the age and experience necessary to be president.”

Richard Nixon was the Republican nominee in 1960.

Joining Obama in the midst of the candidate’s two week swing through the nation to talk about his plans to revitalise the economy, Gore praised Obama as someone who could mobilise people, young and old, people who had never before taken part in politics. Gore went on to praise the nominee’s vision on the environment, domestic and international issues.

Saying he will do whatever he can to support Obama’s bid for the White House, Gore said Obama has “inspired” him. “I feel that same spirit in this auditorium tonight, building all over this country this year,” he said.

Gore said the Bush administration has “dishonoured and disrespected” the Constitution and led the nation through “eight years of the most serious foreign policy mistakes in the entire history of our nation”.

“Over the past 18 months, Barack Obama has united a movement,” Gore earlier wrote to his supporters, asking them to join Obama’s campaign. “He knows change does not come from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (White House) or Capitol Hill. It begins when people stand up and take action.”

Monday evening’s rally was a rare political appearance for Gore, who implored Democrats to unify behind Obama, noting: “Over the next four years, we are going to face many difficult challenges - including bringing our troops home from Iraq, fixing our economy and solving the climate crisis.”

DPA adds: At the rally, Gore told Obama supporters: “I speak to you as a citizen of the United States … and a citizen of the world.”

Winner of an Oscar for his climate change documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, Gore shared last year’s Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign to publicize global warming. He declared that the outcome of the 2008 election would affect the future of the planet.

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