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Through thick and thin with McCain

MINNEAPOLIS -- Remember one year ago when John McCain seemed as likely to be the Republican nominee as Sarah Palin was likely to be a contender for vice president?

For a small circle of Floridians who stood by the Arizona senator even when everybody counted him out, the Republican National Convention is sweet vindication.

Fundraiser Ana Navarro remembers when McCain would fly in to Miami and no one from the media would show up at the airport. Or when she had to "beg, borrow and plead'' for $250 checks.

"When I think about where we were, and where we are now, it's surreal,'' said Navarro, who is staying at a hotel reserved for McCain's family and close friends. "It struck me last night when he came into the hall for the first time. I can't believe we are actually here."

Political consultant Carlos Curbelo worked for McCain in South Florida until his cash-poor campaign was forced to fire a slew of people last summer.

"This has to be one of the greatest comebacks in the history of politics,'' he said. "The campaign didn't just bottom out last year. It disappeared."