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The health care debate begins and Florida has its say

A feisty debate over what's being billed as historic health care legislation has begun and Florida lawmakers are in the fray.

First up was Lincoln Diaz-Balart who warned of a "decisive step in the weakening of the United States.

"We could have avoided the social convulsion and profound pain that prolonged fiscal irresponsibility inevitably brings to nations, but this President and this Congressional Majority went with dogma instead," the Miami Republican said.

Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor was the first Floridian to speak up for the bill: "Yes, we're going to side with American families today."

Outside the Capitol, a large crowd of protestors gathered, shouting "Kill the Bill" and applauding a group of Republican lawmakers who ventured out of the Capitol to rally them on. The crowd shouted approval as several lawmakers unfurled a "Don't Tread on Me" flag. A crowd on Saturday shouted racial taunts at black and gay lawmakers, and GOP lawmakers sought Sunday to distance themselves.

The Florida Democratic party called on Senate candidate Marco Rubio to rebuke the protestors, with spokesman Eric Jotkoff pointing out an MSNBC report that some protestors were wearing Rubio pins.

"Since Miami Lobbyist Marco Rubio refuses to denounced the racist and anti-gay slurs from his extremist Tea Party supporters, Rubio’s silence shows he must condone these despicable actions by the extreme right-wing, including some wearing Speaker Rubio’s campaign pins," Jotkoff said.

On a conference call with reporters, Democrat Ron Klein suggested those not in Washington were missing what he called a "lively atmosphere."

Asked about whether he's worried about facing the voters in November -- with opponents warning of health care warning about defeat -- Klein said he listened to his constituents carefully before endorsing the proposal. "Ultimately I think it's the right thing to do. I'm very comfortable that I'm using my best judgement."

David Rivera, who is running for the House seat being vacated by Mario Diaz-Balart, put out a press release saying that he -- like Mario -- would vote against the bill.

"Democrats would put their time to better use by creating a new bill that creates real health insurance reform, instead of spending time arm twisting and making sweetheart deals that only benefit a few states and districts," Rivera said.