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Inside Politics

Gore: Every vote counts -- and should be counted

Former VP praises Kerry as courageous leader

Al Gore said he wished he were speaking "under different circumstances, running for re-election."
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Former Vice President Al Gore says the U.S. needs new leadership.
America Votes 2004
Al Gore
John F. Kerry

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- Former Vice President Al Gore reminded delegates at the Democratic National Convention of the power of one person, one vote.

"Take it from me," Gore said Monday night, "every vote counts." (Read transcript)

In the presidential election of 2000, Gore lost the key state of Florida by 537 votes.

"In our democracy, every vote has power," Gore told the convention in a 13-minute speech. "And never forget: that power is yours. Don't let anyone take it away or talk you into throwing it away.

"And let's make sure that this time every vote is counted."

Gore emerged on the stage to raucous applause. He waved to the crowd, which roared even louder with delight. He paused several times as the Democratic faithful continued to cheer, waving "Kerry-Edwards" signs and soaking in the revelry.

In his speech, Gore praised Sen. John Kerry as a man of "courage, integrity and leadership."

Gore called Kerry, with whom he served in the U.S. Senate for eight years, a friend "who will stand by you."

Gore attempted to reach across party lines to urge some Americans to vote for the Kerry ticket. First he spoke to the portion of the TV audience that voted for Bush and asked eight questions.

"Did you really get what you expected from the candidate you voted for?" he asked.

Gore also spoke to people who voted neither Democratic nor Republican in 2000.

"Do you still believe there was no difference between the candidates?" Gore asked.

He asked more questions, getting the biggest cheer when he said: "Wouldn't we be better off with a new president who hasn't burned his bridges to our allies, and who could rebuild respect for America in the world?"

Gore drew several loud laughs from the 20,000 people assembled at Boston's FleetCenter.

He poked fun at his loss in the 2000 election, telling the crowd that he doesn't "lie awake at night counting and recounting sheep."

He also was critical of what he called a bad economy.

"I was the first one laid off," he said. "And while it's true that new jobs are being created, they're just not as good as the jobs people have lost. And incidentally, that's been true for me, too."

Gore, who in recent months has given some fiery speeches highly critical of President Bush, was more subdued in his address Monday.

He did call into question the president's approach to fighting terrorism.

"Wouldn't we be safer with a president who didn't insist on confusing al Qaeda with Iraq?" he asked.

The arena was so loud Gore's final words were drowned out by the crowd noise. He then ended his appearance on the same note he began the 2000 convention -- a kiss from his wife, Tipper, who rushed onto the stage. The two left arm-in-arm.

Melvin Alston, a delegate from Harlem, New York, called the speech "fantastic."

"He seemed like another person, seemed like a totally different person," he said. "The stiffness is gone."

Alston also applauded Gore for making nice with Clinton. "That was great," he said. "He should've done that before."

CNN's Wayne Drash contributed to this report.

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