BOWIE, Md. – If you thought Democrats weren't still bitter about the 2000 presidential election, think again.
Former vice president and 2000 presidential candidate Al Gore on Thursday turned what was supposed to be a rally for Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend -- now the Democratic candidate for governor -- into a group therapy session exploring simmering resentment over the Florida recount.
He frequently mentioned the 2000 elections and repeatedly reminded voters that he thinks he and the Democratic Party should have had their day two years ago.
It all started with a greeting from Maryland Democratic Congressman Steny Hoyer, who said, "Welcome, Mr. President," referring to Gore.
Then Gore introduced himself.
"I'm Al Gore," he said. "I used to be the next president of the United States."
Then came a tongue-in-cheek review of Maryland election law by Gore, which received roaring applause.
"In the state of Maryland, does the candidate for governor who gets the most votes actually win the election? Yes? Okay."
But the turn-back-the-clock rhetoric reached its peak as Gore was winding up.
"How many of you remember where you were and what you were doing when the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a stop to the counting of the votes two years ago?" Gore asked the crowd. "If you were going to use one or two or three words to describe that feeling that you had, what words would you use?"
Then, while at the podium, Gore planted his flag of protest and urged Democrats to take that sentiment with them when they went to the polls on Tuesday.
"I want you to use that feeling as a source of energy and drive and commitment and if anybody tells you in this next week that one vote doesn't make a difference, send them to me, I want to talk to them," Gore said.
The groups Gore appealed to during his run for president are similar to those he thinks he can reach in the Townsend campaign -- union voters, liberals and members of the African American community.
Gore did eventually get around to Townsend's qualifications.
"I've worked with her, there has been no finer lieutenant governor anywhere in the U.S. of A.," Gore said. "And I've seen 'em all, I've worked with them all."
But even that topic doubled back to Gore.
"This is just a personal thing with me, but I kind of think when somebody does an A-plus job in the number two job, they ought just kind of you know, I think they ought to go on to the number one job," he said. "That's just me, though."
Townsend's opponent, Republican Rep. Bob Ehrlich, said Gore's presence spells trouble for Townsend.
"Clearly, the Democratic heavyweights are being brought in to save a failing campaign," Ehrlich said.
The polls show Ehrlich and Townsend either tied or Ehrlich slightly ahead. But Republicans know that's not enough and privately say Ehrlich has to be ahead by nearly 10 points to survive an expected Democratic surge.
Gore carried Maryland by 17 points in 2000, but he was merely the warm-up act in Democrats' push to get a heavy voter turnout this year. On Friday, Townsend was welcoming former President Bill Clinton to a Prince George's County get-out-the-vote rally.
Fox News' Major Garrett contributed to this report.