(CNSNews.com) - "In a field of great candidates, one candidate clearly now stands out," former Vice President Al Gore said Tuesday morning. "And so I'm asking all of you to join in this grassroots movement to elect Howard Dean president of the United States."
Gore said he made his decision after carefully looking at all the Democratic candidates and their campaigns.
Gore said he concluded that, "Howard Dean really is the only candidate who has been able to inspire at the grass-roots level all over this country the kind of passion and enthusiasm for democracy and change and transformation of America that we need in this country."
Gore told a cheering crowd in Harlem - where former President Bill Clinton has an office, coincidentally -- "We need to re-make the Democratic Party; we need to re-make America; we need to take it back on behalf of the people of this country,"
Gore said he's proud and honored to endorse Dean to be the next president of the United States of America.
Plea for unity
Gore noted that "there are a lot of great [Democratic candidates] out there," and he urged all of them to "keep their eyes on the prize" -- to concentrate on defeating President George W. Bush, rather than tearing each other down.
"The stakes are high," Gore said. "This nation cannot afford to have four more years of a Bush-Cheney administration. We can't afford to be divided among ourselves...
"What is going on in this Bush White House today is bad for our country, and it's slowly beginning to sink in to more and more people out there," Gore said. "We don't have the luxury of fighting among ourselves to the point where we seriously damage our ability to win on behalf of the American people."
Gore said he's spent a long time thinking about national security and national defense, and he said Howard Dean's decision to oppose the war in Iraq was right.
"He was the only major candidate who made the correct judgment about the Iraq war, and he had the insight and the courage to say and do the right thing."
"Those judgments - that basic common sense - is what you want in a president," Gore said.
Gore accused the Bush administration of making a "catastrophic mistake" in taking the nation into war in Iraq. "It was Osama bin Laden that attacked us, not Saddam Hussein," Gore said. "It was a mistake to get us into a quagmire over there," he added.
Gore said he will do everything he can to convince Americans that Dean has the best chance to win and to lead the nation. "It is about all of us, and all of us need to get behind the strongest candidate," Gore said.
After the major announcement in Harlem, Gore and Dean were planning to make more stops and more speeches in Iowa and New Hampshire on Tuesday.