NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Al Gore introduced and celebrated his Jewish running mate, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, on Tuesday, likening their White House quest to Catholic groundbreaker John F. Kennedy's and declaring, ''We will make history again.''
Lieberman, in turn, credited Gore with barrier-busting ''chutzpah'' and said they would work to ''renew the moral center of this nation.''
With repeated emphasis on faith and values, the new Democratic duo made clear they aim to replace the eight-year Clinton-Gore partnership with a fresh start.
Gore, soggy with sweat on an outdoor stage at noontime, recalled that the last time the Democrats had their national convention in Los Angeles - as they will again next week - they nominated Kennedy who went on to be elected the first Roman Catholic president.
With a Jew on a major party's national ticket for the first time, Gore said, ''We will tear down an old wall of division again.''
The crowd cheered ''Joe! Joe!'' From the stage, Tipper Gore snapped pictures with her camera. The 91-degree heat and high humidity wore down the crowd, though most remained enthusiastic. More than 100 people were treated for heat exhaustion - five were hospitalized as a precaution.
Tuesday's talk of diversity, values and faith reflected the Democrats' determination to undercut Bush's inroads with minority voters and the Republicans' attempt - obvious at their national convention last week - to shackle Gore to President Clinton and talk of scandal.
Lieberman, the two-term senator from Connecticut, was the first senator of either party to speak out on the Senate floor against President Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, branding it ''immoral.''
On Tuesday, he acted as character witness for Gore. ''He has never never wavered in his responsibilities as a father, as a husband, and, yes, as a servant of God,'' Lieberman said.
The two men and their wives, hands linked, took the stage to a charging musical beat.
''We must work, and we will work - Al and Tipper, Hadassah and I - to help renew the moral center of this nation so that families can be stronger, children safer and parents empowered to pass to their children their faith and their moral values,'' Lieberman said.
His words echoed those of his September 1998 speech accusing Clinton of making it harder for parents to instruct children on values and acceptable behavior.
Dawn Varner of Etowah, who brought her daughter and grandson to the rally, said, ''I wasn't sold before. But honey, I am sold 100 percent now. It was worth the five-hour drive.'' She said of Lieberman, ''We needed him a long time ago.''
Shedding his suit coat, the slightly built senator asked the crowd's permission ''to let the spirit move me.'' He quoted from the Book of Chronicles and thanked God and Gore for ''making this miracle possible for me in breaking this barrier for the rest of America forever.''
Watching from behind a fence, Republican tourist Giovanni Santarsiere, 58, from Houston, grudgingly credited Gore for ''breaking new ground'' with the Lieberman pick but added, ''I hope it doesn't help him.''
Gore aides, though, reveled in some evidence that Lieberman already had helped. A CNN-USA Today-Gallup survey Monday night, after Lieberman's selection was publicized, showed Bush's lead cut to 2 points from 19 over the weekend.
A CNN pollster said it was much too soon to know how closely that change reflected longer-term reality. Gore campaign spokesman Chris Lehane acknowledged, ''There's so much elasticity in these polls, but the fact that it bounced this way can only be interepreted as an affirmation and a positive response.''
In Austin, Texas, Bush released a statement that referred to Lieberman's record supporting missile defense, tuition vouchers for private schools and privatization of Social Security reforms - positions more in line with Bush than Gore.
Tipping his hat to Lieberman's ''convictions'' and strong faith, Bush continued:
''I hope he will run a positive campaign and that the vice president will use this opportunity to change his tone to that of Senator Lieberman's level.''
But it was Lieberman, not Gore, who went after Bush on the Nashville stage in a speech that was twice as long as Gore's.
''Our opponents have done all they can to blur the differences. Yesterday, they even responded to news that Al Gore picked me by saying that George Bush and I think alike,'' Lieberman said, adding one of Gore's favorite zingers:
''With all due respect, I think that's like saying that the veterinarian and the taxidermist are in the same business because either way, you get your dog back.''
Local police estimated that a total of 8,000 people packed the plaza and steps of the adjacent state Capitol for the rally, which opened with pop singer Jewel strumming a guitar and singing, ''Who will save your soul from the lies that you told, boy?''
Mrs. Lieberman, who immigrated from Czechoslovakia as a little girl, marveled that they stood in a place honoring the World War II soldiers who liberated her mother from the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps.
Speaking to fellow immigrants, Mrs. Lieberman said: ''I am standing here for you. This country is our country. ... Anything is possible for us.''
Said her husband, ''There are some people who might actually call Al's selection of me an act of chutzpah.''
In Chicago, the Rev. Jesse Jackson called it a bold and moral choice.
''Let the nation rejoice. The tent is getting bigger and better,'' Jackson said at a news conference at his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition headquarters. ''Another barrier falls and another opportunity arises. A political risk, a moral certainty.''