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Clinton pounds L.A. pulpit in defense of Gray Davis

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Former President Clinton railed against the gubernatorial recall campaign Sunday in an effort to energize California Democrats increasingly hopeful they can defeat the attempt to oust Gov. Gray Davis.

Clinton, still a highly popular and polarizing figure nearly three years after leaving office, mixed Scripture with politics in his 40-minute address during a midmorning service at the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles, the city's oldest black congregation.

He repeated Democrats' theme that the Oct. 7 recall election is part of a right-wing power grab, and said removing Davis could scare future officeholders away from making difficult choices.

"Gray Davis and I have been friends for a long time, and I don't want this happening to him," Clinton said.