August 27, 2008

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."

Michigan and Florida agree: Obama's got some courting to do

Two bigtime Hillary Clinton supporters who now back Barack Obama say he's got ground to make up in their renegade states -- which didn't get a chance to kick the tires on the Democratic presidential nominee during the primaries.

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Broward Democrat Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, say their voters don't yet know Obama -- though he's spending millions in the states.

"We didn't have the campaigning in Michigan that other states had," Stabenow said. "Barack very quickly came to Michigan and has come a number of times. But I feel like we still have a building process to do in Michigan because we didn't have that robust primary campaign with everyone there. But it will happen. They are laser-focused. He has come numerous times...I"m not worried about getting there, but at the moment..."

Wasserman Schultz noted Clinton remains popular in Florida -- "we had to turn away 1,000 people" at a recent Clinton event, she said -- and that her presence in the state will help Obama. And Wasserman Schultz noted veep pick Joe Biden is "incredibly popular" in Florida. "He's a fixture on our campaign circuit," she said.

Still, she said, the "deficit" from the primary snub is "that (Obama) needs to spend time in both of our states...He's got some makeup work to do to get to know our voters and for our voters, who just don't know enough about him and his policies and his vision for the country."

Wasserman Schultz and the Jimmy Choos

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a self-proclaimed "fairly staunch Hillary Clinton supporter" predicts Clinton backers will enthusiastically support Barack Obama after they get a chance to give Clinton her due at a roll call vote expected Wednesday night.

"The vast majority of Hillary supporters that are here are excited about the message on this button," she said, pointing to her lapel pin, "Hillary Clinton supporter for Obama."

"They've been saying we all need to come together," she said, adding, "They want to be able to celebrate her success and how far women have come and the history making candidacy she has had...It's a way for us to bring Hillary supporters behind Barack Obama and lock elbows and march forward together and celebrate two history making candidacies at one convention."

Wasserman Schultz joined several colleagues at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor at a downtown hotel. Asked by one reporter whether women would flock to John McCain if he selected a female running mate, Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., cast baffled looks at each other.

"Who?" Stabenow said, noting that names that have been floated such as McCain's economic adviser Carly Fiorina, "is not walking in the shoes of the women in Michigan, economically."

Quipped Wasserman Schultz of the former Hewlett-Packard chairman and chief executive, "She's walking in Jimmy Choos."

Scrambled eggs and condoms

Florida delegates arrived to breakfast this morning to find a special treat on the table: condoms, courtesy of Planned Parenthood's political arm.

The pink-packaged prophylactic bears the legend: "Protect Yourself from John McCain (In this election)."


"What's happened is that he's pulled a giant masquerade by positioning himself as a maverick and a moderate when he's been anything but when it comes to womens' issues," said Lillian Tamayo, a board member of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, which distributed the condoms. "He's got a 100 percent anti-women, anti-family voting rights record."

Delegates scooped up the packages with delight: "We need something to protect us from McCain," said John Lindstrom of Palm City. But he's not bringing them home for his kids, ages 17, 21 and 24. "I'm going to keep them for myself."

The group is targeting infrequent voters, new voters and disappointed Hillary Clinton backers who they say might think McCain has a moderate stance on family planning.

"But he's voted against family planning and birth control," Tamayo said. Each package bears one of 10 reasons Planned Parenthood says rates McCain a zero.

Lincoln on the attack! Amid the Dems

DENVER - Lincoln Diaz-Balart is here for a second day of enemy incursion, camped out in the Republican war room on the outskirts of town to provide the GOP spin.

Lincoln_3_3 But he couldn't escape his Dem rival, Hialeah mayor Raul Martinez, who held a few ad hoc interviews of his own, asking interviewers why Diaz-Balart won't participate in a live debate with him. Martinez said he's accepted 7 debates -- 3 of them to be televised -- and that Diaz-Balart has only agreed to one, non-televised debate.

Diaz-Balart says he'll debate Martinez live at some point and his campaign says he's already agreed to an October debate sponsored by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. (That one, Martinez's camp notes, won't be televised.)

You can catch a glimpse of Martinez tonight at the Dem convention when he and Joe Garcia, who is challenging Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, will be spotlighted as among 5 of the party's top promising congressional aspirants. They're expected to be up sometime after 4 p.m. (MST)

You can read more about Lincoln's effort here. And watch him live at a 1:15 p.m. (MST) press conference from the GOP warroom here.

August 25, 2008

Garcia and Martinez score national exposure

Lincoln Diaz-Balart will be a player at the GOP's rapid response office for a second day Tuesday -- but his challenger has scored a coveted spot on the podium aimed at raising his national profile.

Raul Martinez's campaign says he and Joe Garcia, who is challenging Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, will be among 5 promising congressional aspirants to be given some valuable face time during the Democratic National Convention.

The two, along with Christine Jennings, who is in a rematch with Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, will appear on stage Tuesday afternoon with Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland Democrat who heads the national Democratic committee charged with increasing the number of Democrats in Congress.

The three are to be featured sometime after 4 p.m. (MST)

Continue reading "Garcia and Martinez score national exposure" »

Barack, John and Bob?

Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr says while Barack Obama and John McCain are sparring over their houses and their vice presidential picks, he's picking up steam in battleground states -- including Florida.

"It's hard to ignore the numbers," Barr said, referring a Zogby poll from last week. According to the poll results for 10 battleground states, Barr was polling 11 percent in New Hampshire and 10 percent in Nevada. He's at 5 percent in Florida, though that's well ahead of Ralph Nader, the man Florida Democrats will never forget -- or forgive. Nader, whom Dems blame for Al Gore's loss in 2000, polled just 1 percent.