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Apr 17, 11:21 PM EDT

Rob Ford acknowledges "rocky moments" at rally

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TORONTO (AP) -- Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford acknowledged "rocky moments over the past year" but vowed to fight harder than ever to win re-election at a rally he dubbed the official launch of his campaign.

Ford, who was the first to register as a candidate in January, invoked the spirit of second chances during a speech in front of supporters on Thursday. Ford is seeking re-election on Oct. 27 despite acknowledging last year that he had smoked crack cocaine "in a drunken stupor."

Volunteers gave out one free drink to everyone at a hall in a Toronto suburb. There were lineups for Rob Ford bobble-head dolls that were being sold to raise money for the campaign.

The mayor made his way through the crowd along a red carpet to the stage, led by bag-pipers and volunteers carrying campaign signs.

City council removed most of Ford's powers after he admitted to having smoked crack.

"There's been some rocky moments over the past year. I have experienced how none of us can go through life without making mistakes," Ford said. "And when they occur, we learn a lot about ourselves. Humility, the kindness of people and the spirit of second chances."

Aisha Schuster, a supporter, said he's not concerned about Ford's personal life.

"You know we all have personal stuff. There's no perfect person and I fully support him," Schuster said.

George Zambrano also said he's not concerned about Ford's personal life.

"He's saving us money," Zambrano said, adding when asked about the drug admissions: "Well you know what, that's his off time. He can do whatever he wants when he's not working."

Ford is popular among a core of voters in his home suburb of Etobicoke. His promises to slash spending, cut taxes and end what he called "the war on the car" gained him a loyal following in the suburbs that came to be known as "Ford Nation."

The mayor faces a strong challenge for re-election from Olivia Chow, a left-leaning politician popular in liberal downtown Toronto, and from John Tory, a one-time Ontario provincial Progressive Conservative leader.

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