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Alcee Hastings takes on the Tea Party and Ronald Reagan

Rep. Alcee Hastings is declining the Fort Lauderdale Tea Party's invite to debate -- but says it's not out of fear.

"Your reaction to my refusal to attend your debate will probably be that I am afraid to debate," he says in a letter he sent to Tea Partiers -- and the press. "Nothing could be further from the truth. 

"The simple reason that I refuse is that I do not think that any of your 41 members or your intended audience are going to vote for me in this election. Instead, I choose to spend my time and efforts trying to turn out the people that I have been privileged and honored to represent over the past 18 years. 

"Tea Party Fort Lauderdale, we have very different ideas. Your basic premise is to take your country back. I want our country to move forward. You represent the “party of me” while Democrats and I represent the 'party of we.'  Two great Americans proved this:  John F. Kennedy said, 'Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,' and Ronald Reagan said, 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?' "

The Broward Democrat has a Republican challenger, Bernard Sansaricq, a Haiti native who was president of the Haitian Senate in 1994.