August 28, 2008

Wasserman Schultz gives the South Florida 3 a giant shout-out

DENVER - Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who earned the ire of the netroots for saying earlier this year she wouldn't get involved in the three South Florida congressional races, just gave the 3 candidates an enthusiastic go-get-em from the stage.

Rallying the faithful from the stage at the Florida delegation's breakfast, Wasserman Schultz proclaimed big wins for the Democrats. "Raul Martinez is going to beat Lincoln Diaz-Balart," she said to cheers. "Joe Garcia is going to beat Mario Diaz-Balart and Annette Taddeo is going to beat Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

"We have 66 days left," Wasserman Schultz said. "Let's work our butts off."

New poll: Martinez besting Diaz-Balart

DENVER - Talk about a convention bump! A new poll done by Survey USA for Capitol Hill's Roll Call finds Raul Martinez leading Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart by 2 points.

"In a head-to-head matchup with Raul Martinez, the colorful and controversial mayor of Hialeah, Diaz-Balart received 46 percent while the Democrat garnered 48 percent," Roll Call reported.

The poll of 632 likely voters was taken Aug. 24 to 26 for Roll Call by Survey USA, an automated opinion research firm. Voters were allowed to respond in English or Spanish. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Diaz-Balart's campaign said its internal polls "consistently" show Diaz-Balart maintaining a "substantial lead among all significant sectors of the electorate."

"Our own polling, using live bilingual interviewers provides us with the confidence that Congressman Diaz-Balart holds a solid lead over his challenger," said David Hill of Hill Research Service.

But Roll Call says the "poll suggests that the Democrats’ hunch that the South Florida electorate is changing might be true. Not only was Diaz-Balart locked in a tight race with Martinez, but Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) were tied in the poll, with each getting 48 percent of the vote."

Continue reading "New poll: Martinez besting Diaz-Balart" »

August 27, 2008

Meek introduces his "good friend" Bill (Clinton)

Kendrick Meek introduced his presidential primary trail buddy, Bill Clinton, calling him "my good friend" and saying his two terms as president is proof of "what this country can accomplish when a Democrat is in the White House .. a wonderful thing.

"President Clinton presided over the longest economic expansion in American history," Meek said. "That meant more than 22 million new jobs; higher incomes at every income level; the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years; the lowest poverty rate in 20 years; the lowest crime rate in 26 years; the smallest welfare rolls in 32 years and the highest homeownership in history."

"And let's remember: he did all this while inheriting a record deficit from the previous President and leaving a record surplus for the President we've got today."

As Commander-in-Chief, President Clinton prepared our military to win wars, at the same time working everywhere in the world to make peace in Africa, in Europe, in Asia, in the Middle East, " Meek said.  He left a legacy of national strength and common national purpose on which President Barack Obama is going to build."

"My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans," Meek said, "I give you one of the greatest presidents in the history of our country, William Jefferson Clinton."

And to the sounds of his signature Fleetwood Mac's Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow, it's Bill. His first (audible words) after a long ovation, "I'm here first, to support Barack Obama." And he joked, "to warm up the crowd for Joe Biden."

Florida: "We don't abstain"

DENVER - The Florida Democratic Party says the earlier report about 1 delegate abstaining from voting was wrong.

Not all the delegates could make it to the floor to vote on time and the vote still could change, but the tally as of now is 135 for Barack Obama, 59 for Hillary Clinton.

The results differ widely from how the delegates were divvied up according to the Jan. 29 Democratic primary, in which Clinton won 105 delegates, Obama won 67 delegates and Edwards won 13 delegates. But Edwards' admission earlier this month that he had an affair, and Clinton's announcement today that she was releasing her delegates prompted some to switch their allegiances at the convention.

Meek to introduce Clinton

Kendrick Meek, who campaigned across the country with former President Bill Clinton on Hillary Clinton's behalf, will introduce the former President when he takes the stage tonight.

Meek, along with 11-year-old Kendrick Jr., sat in the catbird seat Tuesday night -- Bill Clinton's skybox at the Pepsi Center -- to watch Hillary Clinton give her "rally round Barack Obama speech."

Viewers at home should tune in around 9 p.m. EST

Dick Durbin, Carrie Meek and the Electric Slide

DENVER - Barack Obama's first Senate supporter appealed to a crowd of Florida delegates to enthusiastically back his man, acknowledging there were those in the room "loyal" to Hillary Clinton.

"I hope you'll feel as she did, that you'll support Barack Obama with gusto," Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., told a group of Florida elected officials lunching at a local hotel.  "Your state is again and again, critical. We need Florida to win the White House."

Durbin provided his Florida credentials: he noted that former Rep. Carrie Meek, D-Miami, taught him to dance the Electric Slide, adding that once anyone saw him move, they'd know anything was possible.

Another "rural" vote for Obama

DENVER - North Florida Democrat Rep. Allen Boyd says he doesn't endorse presidential candidates, but he offered a plug for Barack Obama, saying "Republicans have screwed up this country about as bad as it can get messed up."

"Do not back up from any Republican when they start to criticize your candidate," Boyd said. "When I go to these little rural cafes and they start in on me about Democrats, I look them in the eye and I say, 'Mister, are you proud of your president? And that pretty much ends the conversation."

Boyd, though didn't sugarcoat his estimation of how Obama will fare in rural -- and conservative -- North Florida.

"I represent an area where Democrats haven't done very well in the last presidential races," Boyd said. "Barack Obama doesn't need to win all of those rural areas, he just needs to do better than in the past. He can and will and I'll be working with him to see that it happens."

August 26, 2008

Tears for Hillary

As Hillary Clinton put a bookend on her 2008 presidential campaign, her fans in Florida looked on almost in disbelief. Cindy Lerner wiped away tears. Diane Glasser sat almost impassively, clutching a trio of signs the organizers handed out: Unity, Obama and Hillary.

They roared at some her lines, when she suggested there was an inherent irony in the Republican convention site -- the Twin Cities -- for President Bush and John McCain -- and they smiled when she thanked the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pant Suit" -- a reference to the rainbow of jacket and pants combination she supported on the campaign trail.

Lori Glasser wiped away tears, even as she clutched an Obama sign. But when Clinton closed with a cry to rally around Barack Obama, she stood and cheered.

"She's a true American heroine and I think she just won the presidential race for Obama," the Clinton delegate said, tears streaming down her face. "It was the way she said it, her inflection and her poise. This came from her heart and I think a lot of us were listening."

They may have one more chance to say good-bye: Clinton was expected to attend a delegate party sponsored by the Democratic governors of New York (Clinton's home state), New Jersey and Pennsylvania -- along with Florida's Bill Nelson and Alex Sink. Note: These are all large states that voted for Clinton.

Dems: Look at our candidates!

The two Miami Democrats looking to oust Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart just got major face time on the podium at the Democratic National Convention, prompting a sustained eruption from a boisterous Florida delegation.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland Democrat who is in charge of boosting the number of Democrats in the House, called out Joe Garcia, the former chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic party, saying he was "leading an incredible grassroots campaign across Florida’s 25th District."

And he introduced Raul Martinez as "a proven leader and the beloved mayor of Hialeah running in Florida's 21st."

The Florida contingent from its front row perch was so excited by the Floridians on the stage, a laughing Van Hollen twice tried to quiet them.

They shared the stage with 6 other congressional aspirants the party considers promising, including Christine Jennings, who is challenging Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan, whom she lost to in 2006 by fewer than 400 votes. Van Hollen introduced her as a "bank teller who worked her way up to president, a pioneering businesswoman and community leader."