Oct. 21, 2004 — -- As if the Florida recount of 2000 didn't loom large enough in the minds of voters and politicians, ABC News has learned that former Vice President Al Gore will campaign for Sen. John Kerry this weekend in Florida.
Kerry made the request of Gore, the 2000 Democratic presidential nominee, over the weekend in a telephone conversation, Democratic sources told ABC News.
Gore's nail-biting 537-vote loss of the Sunshine State to President Bush led to recounts and legal battles and a Supreme Court decision that effectively handed the presidency to Bush. With partisans from both sides convinced the other side behaved dishonorably and tried to "steal" the election, both the Kerry and Bush campaigns have tried to conjure up ugly memories of that battle to mobilize voter turnout on Nov. 2.
Supporters of both candidates have already amassed sizable legal teams in case of close elections in any number of highly-competitive states (including Florida) with or without the combination of controversial voting methods like punch card ballots or electronic touch-screen voting.
The Kerry campaign has generally kept at arms' length from Gore, who endorsed Kerry rival Howard Dean during the Democratic primaries and has made scathing comments about Bush and his administration that have gone beyond the kind of rhetoric Kerry has employed. On Monday at Georgetown University, Gore said Bush "is arrogantly out of touch with reality. He refuses to ever admit mistakes. Which means that so long as he is our president, we are doomed to repeat them."
As of Thursday, Gore's schedule was still being worked out, but it was believed he would be campaigning Sunday in a number of churches throughout Florida's African-American community, where bitterness over the 2000 recount lingers amid new accusations against Republican election officials, ones many black leaders see as attempts to disenfranchise their community. For their part, Republicans suspect Democrats in numerous states -- including Florida -- of encouraging different types of voter fraud.
Plans are also in motion for former President Bill Clinton to campaign for Kerry in Broward County, Fla., on Tuesday, while Bush has star power of his own to recruit. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has plans to campaign for Bush next weekend, likely in Ohio.
ABC News' Marc Ambinder contributed to this report.