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McCain, McConnell in Miami to talk healthcare, raise money

Union leaders are planning a protest Tuesday of a Republican-led healthcare forum at a Hialeah hospital that has not yet been publicly announced.

An e-mail from Fred Frost, president of the South Florida AFL-CIO, to union members urged them to go Tuesday afternoon to Palmetto General to protest an event that Frost said will be led by Senators John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, and Mitch McConnell, the party's leader in the Senate. A hospital spokeswoman said she would have no comment before Monday afternoon.

The union e-mail, however, claimed to know details: ``Both senators will be talking about healthcare reform with a hand-picked audience of doctors and health insurance executives. We need a huge turnout for this event!''

McConnell's office did not immediately respond Monday morning to a Herald request for comment, but he and McCain are scheduled to appear Tuesday evening at a fundraiser at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral  Gables.Called a "Summer Senate Salute" and sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the event has a ``suggested contribution'' of $2,500 a person or $5,000 a couple.Download 9.1.09 Miami Invite

Earlier this month, The Miami Herald learned that a McCain-McConnell forum was being organized by Sen. Mel Martinez's office for South Miami Hospital. That event was not to be open to the public, but journalists were going to be invited to join an audience of 75 to 100 elected officials and leaders of the healthcare industry. The South Miami event was canceled.