Gore supports Sayles Belton at Monday rally

by Maggie Hessel-Mial

Former Vice President Al Gore spoke on behalf of Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton and her mayoral re-election campaign in downtown Minneapolis on Monday in one of his first public speaking appearances since the 2000 presidential election.

The mayor hosted an invitation-only breakfast for 250 of her supporters, featuring a speech by both her and Gore.

“We feel honored that (Gore) chose to support Sharon Sayles Belton,” said Randy Schubring, Sayles Belton campaign
representative. “She supported him in his campaign, and now he’s supporting her.”

Gore talked about positive changes Sayles Belton has made and the importance of getting people out to vote.

“Elections have consequences,” he said. “Every vote counts.”

Amid chants of “four more years” from her supporters, Sayles Belton spoke of the need to build a strong village within Minneapolis to create an environment people want to live in – through building more parks, creating more jobs, improving the housing situation in the city and beating poverty.

“The best prescription to beat poverty is to make sure all people are gainfully employed and making a living wage,” she said. “In my term of office, over 12,000 jobs were created in Minneapolis.”

Her speech stressed the integrity and results she said she has brought to the job.

Along with supporters came fans seeking a Gore autograph. Kevin Pachl of Coon Rapids waited for an autograph to add to his collection, which he started in 1979 and includes signatures from former presidents Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton.

Gore’s staff limited access to the speeches. Upon Gore’s departure, many members of the media followed, asking questions resulting in staff members pushing reporters and photographers out of the way to avoid the questions.

“Gore’s staff wanted his re-emergence into the public to be slow,” Schubring said. “Part of the negotiations we had with Gore’s staff was that reporters would not be allowed into the rally and no questions would be asked of him.”

The focus of his appearance was not to answer questions about himself or the current White House administration, but to support the campaign, which is exactly what he did, Sayles Belton said.

“Good leadership makes a real difference,” Gore said. “Sharon Sayles Belton is providing good leadership.”

Former Sen. Bill Bradley – Gore’s one-time rival for the Democratic presidential nomination – was in town Sunday to campaign for Democrat R.T. Rybak.