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Taking health care reform to the streets

The ragtag group of about 50 people who gathered outside Sen. Bill Nelson's office in Coral Gables today were at a loss when one organizer tried to get a chant going as a television camera approached: "What do we want?'' demanded Dave Patlak.

The crowd wasn't sure. Health care?

"Public option!'' he coached them awkwardly, referring to a proposed government-backed health care plan.

The crowd drew a few honks of approval from passing drivers but a man in a black Cadillac Escalade rolled down his window and shook his fist, a gold watch visible. "You're bankrupting America. You're going to regret it!'' he shouted.

Wearing a red hat and peace sign around her neck, Erika Brigham, a 71-year-old retiree from Miami Beach, said she attended the rally because of a friend who died of heart problems while waiting for Medicaid coverage. Her sign said, "Reform to provide public health. Not private profit." A green dollar sign was handrawn with drips of blood.

"If he's opposed to it, I want to know why?'' she asked of Nelson. "All I can think of is that he's worried about campaign contributions. It's just such an overriding principle that everyone should have health insurance."

-- BRITTANY LEVINE AND BETH REINHARD

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