"So, where were we?" That was the bit of humor former Vice President Al Gore delivered Friday in Florida, the state that dashed his White House dreams eight years ago after a confusing ballot, dimpled punch cards, hanging chads and a Supreme Court decision that stopped a 36-day recount. In the end, George W. Bush won the presidency by just 537 votes. "It's been a long eight years," Gore said as he took the stage to raucous applause from about 200 supporters.
The Democrat embarked on a series of events to boost the candidacy of Barack Obama, with sights set on Florida's 27 electoral votes, AP reported.
Gore's visit to Florida, a state still up for grabs, marked the first time he's hit the campaign trail for Obama since endorsing him in June and speaking at the Democratic National Convention in August.
Gore and his wife, Tipper, planned another rally in Pompano Beach later in the day. In Palm Beach County, voters have not forgotten what happened eight years ago. The county's confusing ballot in 2000 was blamed for people mistakenly voting for third-party candidate Pat Buchanan instead of Gore.
"We still feel like our vote was stolen," said Mary Phillips, 45.
"This election is personal to us," said West Palm Beach Mayor Lois Frankel. "We know it was the curse of the butterfly ballot that brought the chaos to the world. ... We're not going to let what happened eight years ago happen again."
Tipper Gore took the stage first and urged voters to cast their ballots early. She, too, couldn't resist the urge to recall 2000, but she reminded supporters that this is a new election.
"Hey, it's been a long wait, hasn't it?" she said. "So come on, Florida, let's finish the job that you started eight years ago."
Bush handily won Florida in 2004 over John Kerry, but times have changed, and quickly.
Florida helped propel John McCain to the Republican presidential nomination. It could now be a state that costs him the White House - he has almost no chance if he loses Florida.
The lead McCain had here for much of the year has slipped away largely because of Obama's aggressive Florida campaign and the public's reaction to the country's economic meltdown.
Gore said Florida "may well be the state that determines the outcome of this election."
"The choice is between change or more of the same," he said. "This is your challenge and we've got to make good on it."