A surprise visitor walked into the Miami-Dade legislative delegation's meeting Wednesday: presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman.
Huntsman showed up at the meeting in historic Miami City Hall with a small entourage that included his wife, Mary Kaye; one of his daughters, Gracie; Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado and Republican fundraiser Ana Navarro. Navarro endorsed Huntsman earlier Wednesday, along with Jeb Bush Jr. Both will appear with Huntsman at a press event in Scotty's Landing -- conveniently next to City Hall.
When he arrived at the meeting -- packed with representatives from nonprofits looking for help from lawmakers -- Huntsman took a seat on the first row. He listened to speakers ranging Lavern Elie from Curly's House of Style, a Liberty City food bank, and to Jackson Health System CEO Carlos Migoya.
When he took the podium, Huntsman said he was "inspired" by the meeting and urged lawmakers to remain optimistic in the face of economic hardships.
"It's been a delight the last few moments just to watch the people's business being transacted," Huntsman said. Before walking into the chamber, he added, he met with Regalado and spoke to a former political prisoner from Cuba.
"The bottom line [from that conversation] was freedom," Huntsman said. "This country is about freedom. It's about preserving freedom."
He also pointed to the fact that his wife hails from Orlando:"We love Florida," Huntsman said. "Not for political reasons."