Early voting has been the topic of much discussion in Florida over the last several days. To show support of the initiative, former Vice President Al Gore was in Tallahassee for a rally Sunday to encourage early voting.
Gore delivered a rousing speech to a crowd of more than 5,000 regarding the issues of health care, the Iraqi war, the lack of jobs and the national deficit. Gore made it a point to mention that currently the economy is the worst it has been in decades. He said with a growing population, new jobs must be created, not lost.
He referenced the nearly 70 years since the United States has seen such a high rate in unemployment. “Not since the Great Depression can you find a net loss in jobs. You have to go all the way back to the Great Depression,” Gore said.
Gore also quipped that he has witnessed the employment issue personally, as he was “the first one laid off.”
Gore expressed his pride for not only the amount of people in attendance, but also the amount of energy everyone had.
“I am Al Gore, your next president of the United States,” he chuckled, as he was met with cheers and catcalls. “I am a recovering politician but a crowd like you all could cause me to relapse.”
The former vice president left the audience with words to make sure Floridian Democrats and Republicans in favor of senators John Kerry and John Edwards turn out to the polls early and in record numbers.
“I know many of you felt angry, discouraged…I know because I did, too,” Gore said. He asked voters to disregard their discouragement because “this was nothing like what our foreparents went through,” regarding the events of the 2000 election. “I’m not telling you not to feel these things- feel them- but channel it. Get everyone to the polls today, tomorrow, the next day…Monday (Nov. 1) and all day Election day.”
Other notables turned out in support, including hip-hop pioneer Doug E. Fresh. Fresh, born Doug. E. Davis, who was on hand as part of the “Hip-Hop Team Vote: Get-Out-The-Vote” tour. The tour includes various musical artists who are visiting swing states, such as Minnesota, Ohio, Iowa, Florida among others.
Fresh sparked young, urban voters when he said, “I heard ‘If you’re voting Kerry, you’re voting right.'”
He also beat-boxed during his speech, a talent he is known for.
L. Londell McMillan, chairman of the McMillan Firm and the NorthStar Group, was also there with Fresh to deliver some encouraging words to the younger voters.
“The big payback is coming in Florida. We need John Kerry for the big payback,” McMillan said.
The tour made a stop on campus to pick up students and bring them to the courthouse Sunday.
McMillan said the tour came to the University as a “symbolic gesture.”
“(FAMU) is one of the leading institutions in terms of registered voters. And it is one of the finest HBCUs,” he said.
Others at the rally included County Commission Bill Proctor, Mayor John Marks, State Representative Loranne Ausley and City Commissioner Andrew Gillum.
Gillum, an alumnus and former Student Government Association president, delivered an address to encourage voters to cast their ballots for the Kerry/Edwards.
“How can you say you need to return to the White House when you can’t even recognize when you’ve made a mistake,” Gillum said. “We’re sorry, Mr. President, we will not return you to office…Think higher of yourself. Give Bush the pink slip, he’s fired on Nov. 2.”
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