MIAMI — Former Vice President Al Gore relived his painful past Tuesday, invoking his campaign’s incredibly close loss to George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election as a way to motivate Florida voters to head to the polls on Nov. 8.
“Your vote really, really counts,” Gore said as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton sat next to him on stage at a rally at Miami-Dade College. “You can consider me as an Exhibit A of that.”
The former vice president made the plea repeatedly, telling those attending the event that their votes could decide whether Clinton or her Republican rival, Donald Trump, win the presidency.
“Take it from me, it was a very close election,” Gore said, referencing the race that introduced the nation to the phrase “hanging chad.” Gore did not react as the crowd began to chant, “You won!”
Gore won the popular vote in 2000, but not the Electoral College vote. The Supreme Court denied him a recount in Florida, enraging many liberals.
“Your vote counts. Your vote has consequences,” Gore said, adding that the future of Florida will be “on the ballot” in November. Clinton has said that she will address climate change, while Trump once referred to global warming as a “hoax invented by the Chinese.”
Gore closed his speech with yet another plea to Floridians not to throw away their votes.
“Please take it from me. Every single vote counts,” he said. “If you think your vote does not matter, take it from me, your vote can make all the difference in this election.”
Florida’s voter-registration deadline was originally set for Tuesday at 5 p.m. ET, but a judge extended it by one day to Wednesday, thanks to Hurricane Matthew.
Clinton holds a slight lead in polls in the state, as her campaign attempts to build a coalition of young people and minorities that allowed Obama to win Florida in 2012.
The campaign has focused on climate change, believing it is an issue that particularly appeals to millennials. That coveted demographic has been less supportive of Clinton than they were of Obama, though they dislike Trump far more. Floridians have special reason to care about the issue, given that rising sea levels pose a threat to the state’s coast. Clinton noted in her speech that the “ocean is bubbling up through the sewer system” in Miami.
Clinton and Gore both outlined the risks of climate change in their speeches, pointing to Hurricane Matthew, which rolled through the region last week, as evidence of its destructive effects.
“Some will say: We’ve always had hurricanes, they’ve always been destructive,” Clinton said. “And that’s true. But Hurricane Matthew was likely more destructive because of climate change.”
Clinton also promoted her agenda of more renewable energy and touted how she helped President Obama in the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce international greenhouse gas emissions.
Clinton said that her opponent doesn’t “care” about climate change, and that people should vote on the issue on Election Day when they choose their president.
“He may not care, but we do, and that’s why this election is so critically important,” Clinton said. “Because on the ballot is not just my name, it’s every issue you care about. Climate change needs to be a voting issue.”
At two points during the rally, Clinton was interrupted by protesters shouting that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, was a rapist. Trump has raised allegations of sexual abuse against Bill Clinton, most prominently on Sunday before the second presidential debate, when he held a press conference with several women who have accused the former president of abuse.
“Let’s focus on what’s really important in this election and your future,” Clinton said, as the second protester was escorted out. Radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has offered $1,000 to anyone who is filmed on television wearing a shirt with Bill Clinton’s image and the word “rape” on it.