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Gore cites his 2000 defeat in a not-so-subtle bid for party unity


It is not Al Gore's style to wallow in what happened in the 2000 election -- at least in public. After all, winning the Nobel Peace Prize speaks to moving on.

But how could he resist referencing his popular-vote-win-electoral-college-loss, especially when Democratic Party unity is not a given?

And so he did, as he appeared Thursday at Denver's Invesco Field as a warm-up act for Barack Obama.

One paragraph into his speech, he said: "Eight years ago, some said there was not much difference between the nominees of the two major parties and it didn't really matter who became president. . . . But here we all are in 2008, and I doubt anyone would argue now that election didn't matter."

Earlier in the day, one of his former aides, Michael Feldman, elaborated on the point in comments to our colleague Peter Nicholas.

"When he walks out onstage tonight in front of 75,000 to 80,000 people, he's a very tangible symbol of what's at stake in a presidential election," Feldman said.

"Anyone who looks at Al Gore and what's happened over the last eight years knows what's at stake."

When Gore did, in fact, walk onto the stage at Invesco, he was greeted by strong applause -- and foot-stomping.

But if attitudes about what was at stake in the 2000 election have changed, one thing hasn't: Gore, for all his achievements, remains a wooden orator. In general, he failed to rouse the crowd (which, shortly after he left the podium, indulged in the wave).


Hudson's great; stage is off-key

Whoever designed -- and approved -- the easy-to-deride backdrop for the Democratic stage show Thursday at Invesco Field probably deserves to worry about their job security.

But whoever arranged for Jennifer Hudson -- she of "Dreamgirls" fame -- to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" probably should hit up Barack Obama's campaign for a raise.

Hudson -- no surprise on this -- delivered a stirring rendition of the tough-to-warble anthem.

In the best tradition of politicians linking themselves with Olympic athletes, the early crowd at the stadium was led in the Pledge of Allegiance by gold-medal-winning gymnast Shawn Johnson.

No word on Johnson's political allegiance, but the point is somewhat moot -- at 16, she's too young to vote.


Watching history with a jaded eye

Debbie Diver of Englewood, Colo., so wanted to attend the Barack Obama show at Invesco Field that she not only came early, she dragged along her 83-year-old, wheelchair-bound father, who was visiting from Los Angeles.

But don't mistake Diver for an Obama fanatic. In fact, she's precisely the demographic that the Obama campaign is trying to attract: a middle-aged (52), hard-core Hillary Rodham Clinton backer still dubious about the new Democratic presidential nominee.

"I'm leaning Obama, but I'm still mad. It's a childish mad, but there it is," she said before heading to her seat at the stadium.

So why was she even there? "I wasn't going to let my disappointment stand in the way of being at what is an historic event," she said.

Obama's selection of Joe Biden as his running mate -- widely praised by many party leaders -- actually made the sale harder for Diver, an office manager at a commercial furniture company.

The reason? Clinton's oft-touted 18 million votes compared to what Diver calculated was about 9,000 for Biden before he quickly pulled the plug on his presidential candidacy.

"She deserved it," Diver said. "I wanted [Obama] to pick her."


Excerpted from The Times' political blog Top of the Ticket, at ticket.

Frederick reported from Denver, Malcolm from Los Angeles.

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