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Gore comes out swinging at GOP

Gore said nothing about any plans he may have to run for public office.
Gore said nothing about any plans he may have to run for public office.  

ORLANDO, Florida (CNN) -- In an impassioned speech critical of the man who beat him in 2000's presidential election, Al Gore on Saturday blasted Republicans on a variety of topics and tried to rally Florida Democrats.

In his first major political speech since conceding the 2000 election, Gore mocked GOP policies on Social Security, the budget, taxes and the environment. Speaking in the state where his 2000 presidential bid derailed, the former vice president called on state Democrats to focus not only on November's gubernatorial election but on the 2004 presidential race.

"I'm tired of this right-wing side sidewind. I've had it," Gore told supporters at the Florida Democratic Party Convention in Orlando. "America's economy is suffering unnecessarily. Important American values are being trampled. Special interests are calling the shots, and it sometimes seems as if, in the words of the poet, 'The best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity.' If you agree with me, then stand up with conviction for what we believe in and fight for it."

Gore did not betray whether he plans to make another run for public office. Instead, he focused on the economy and the environment -- issues he championed during his ill-fated presidential campaign -- and "America's values."

Hear Al Gore speak to an enthusiastic crowd at the Florida State Democratic Conference (April 13)

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On the Scene: Gore clearly not a 'casual bystander' 

"This is not about what might have been, this is about what we can accomplish together for America in the future," Gore said. "Regardless of our nominee, we're going to elect a Democratic president in 2004, with Florida making the difference."

Gore is just one of several potential Democratic contenders in 2004 who are scheduled to address the Florida state convention. Others include Gore's former running mate, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman; Massacusetts Sen. John Kerry; and North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.

Gore repeated his support for President Bush's actions after the September 11 terror attacks, saying, "We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our president and our brave servicemen and women in defending America from terrorism."

But he took a swipe at the administration's handling of homeland security, referring to a Bush administration proposal to allow the transport of nuclear waste cross-country.

"Waste will be trucked through 45 states," he said, adding that's "some domestic security."

On the economy, Gore made his sole reference to his former boss. "I think Bill Clinton and I did a damn good job" by leading the country to its longest economic expansion in history and building up a budget surplus. But "in just 15 months under President Bush, that surplus has all but evaporated."

Gore also accused the White House of being "intent on raiding the Social Security trust fund" and questioned why Bush has paid little attention in recent months -- since the market has cooled -- to his proposal to allow workers to invest Social Security funds in the stock market.

Bush's victory over Gore in 2000 hinged on the 537-vote margin from a recount in the state where his younger brother, Jeb, is governor. Florida Democrats have made Jeb Bush their top target in this year's elections.

On the issue of values, Gore -- accompanied by his wife Tipper -- cited the Enron scandal and secrecy on the part of the Bush administration. He referred to Vice President Cheney's private energy task force meetings last year and a willingness on the part of the administration to "defy the General Accounting Office and the courts of this land to keep official files secret from Congress and from the American people."

Taking a populist stance in the hometown of Disney World, Gore called the Democratic party "the party of Main Street USA" as opposed to the GOP, "the party of the pirates of Enron."

The Pirates of the Caribbean and the Main Street USA are Disney attractions.




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