Former Vice President Al Gore stepped forward to endorse Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for president on Monday night -- an attention-grabbing event that came as no surprise but renewed the speculation about whether they might form a joint ticket.
Obama's first campaign appearance with Gore, at the Joe Louis Arena in downtown Detroit, came after Gore announced his support in a blog item on his website, AlGore.com. In the item, Gore said he would "do whatever I can to make sure he is elected president of the United States."
"The outcome of this election will affect the future of our planet," Gore said Monday night.
He said Obama, 46, had more than enough experience to be president.
"Take it from me -- elections matter," Gore said.
Gore also used his website to solicit donations for Obama. It was the first time, he said, that he had asked supporters to give to a political campaign.
During the primaries, Gore's endorsement was heavily courted by Obama and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, who was first lady when Gore was vice president. But Gore held out until after Obama secured the nomination.
Meanwhile Monday, Obama sent a strong signal that he was not considering Clinton as his running mate: He announced that Patti Solis Doyle, who was ousted as Clinton's campaign manager in February, would be chief of staff to the future vice presidential candidate.
The announcement outraged Clinton supporters, who said it proved that Obama was not taking Clinton seriously. Solis Doyle, who worked for Clinton most of her career, is barely on speaking terms with her former boss.
"It's a slap in the face," Susie Tompkins Buell, a prominent Clinton donor, said Monday. "Why would they put somebody that was so clearly ineffective in such a position?" She said it was a "calculated decision" by the Obama team to "send a message that [Clinton] is not being considered for the ticket."
Solis Doyle is the most prominent person allied with the Clinton campaign to join the Obama team; so far, no one who stayed with Clinton until the end has made a similar leap. Since clinching the Democratic nomination two weeks ago, Obama has sought to win over Clinton donors and is now facing a challenge by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for her female supporters.
Clinton insiders said picking a fired Clinton staff member would not help ease the transition.
Solis Doyle is blamed by some close Clinton loyalists -- and reportedly the candidate herself -- for not keeping the campaign in order heading into Iowa.
Officially, Clinton campaign spokesman Mo Elleithee praised Solis Doyle. "Patti will be an asset and good addition to the Obama campaign," Elleithee said. "After nearly two decades in political life, she brings with her the ability to tap an extensive network that will be a huge asset to Sen. Obama. As Sen. Clinton has said, we're all going to do our part to help elect Sen. Obama as the next president of the United States."