Sunday, November 03, 2002

clinton rally in florida

we got this email from our florida correspondent kathie k, who attended one of the bill clinton get-out-the-vote rallies in florida. here is her report:

Imagine a more perfect evening: 70° and balmy, on the white sand in South Miami Beach across from the world’s most beautiful examples of Art Deco architecture on Ocean Drive. [ed. note: we've been there on such a night, and yes, it is incredibly beautiful!] There’s a Jamaican steel drum band playing and the crowds are filing in: blacks, whites, hispanics, union members, elderly Jews, children, gays, disabled folks, college students, and lots of bikini clad women. From what I can see no one is being searched or interrogated, there are just a couple people at the entrance who are asking that you leave your McBride signs outside because you’ll be given new ones once you get in the stage area. By 6 o’clock, the setting sun has left pink and purple stripes in the sky.

Speaking to the exuberant crowd of about 1,000 were Florida Congressman Dan Gelber, Florida state Senator (and former gubernatorial candidate) Darryl Jones, U.S. congressional candidate Kendrick Meek, Democratic candidates for Florida Agriculture Secretary and Attorney General, David Nelson and Buddy Dyer. Janet Reno was also in attendance, showing her graceful support of the Democratic candidate who beat her in a devilishly close race. Each spoke of the need to get out the vote and end the destructive four years of Jeb Bush. Then came President Bill Clinton. No pomp, no circumstance, no invitation-only supporters, no First Amendment zones, but cheers befitting a rock star. And of course he spoke without notes, with his sleeves rolled up and got the crowd fired up for the guest of honor, Bill McBride. Clinton criticized the Bush administration for dismantling his class size initiative (remember his 100,000 additional teachers to reduce class size?). Well, Republicans think that’s too expensive and that tax cuts are a priority. The Florida public has been bombarded with lies from the Jeb Bush campaign that the only way we can afford to cut class size is with massive tax increases. My simple mind says if Jeb Bush and the Florida Republican legislature hadn’t given away $1.5 billion in annual tax cuts to the top 2% of Floridians, we could have easily afforded it. But they still lie about McBride’s plan to fund it with no other taxes than a 50¢ tax on cigarettes, showing their true colors about where they stand on public education and who they really care about (their wealthy good-ol’-boy contributors). President Clinton wondered aloud whether the citizens whose votes weren’t counted in the 2000 election would stay home this time because “what’s the point?” But he reminded us that the first time your vote was stolen from you, but if you stay home this time, you will be giving your vote away.

Clinton said he had worked with many governors as President and governor of Arkansas, and had never seen someone from the private sector more qualified to lead than Bill McBride. Clinton then introduced the next governor of the state of Florida. McBride stressed public education and how we can’t afford not to make Florida schools among the best in the nation (we are currently 49th, only ahead of Louisiana). McBride gave a short but impassioned stump speech. I will be proud to cast my vote for him Tuesday.

As usual at these rallies, Clinton went into the crowd and shook people’s hands (his Secret Service people earn every penny they make!). I got about 4 feet from him, but couldn’t reach him. The man has rock star status everywhere he goes, no matter how much the right tries to sully his image. President Dubya can’t talk to anyone who’s not a preapproved Republican supporter, but Clinton will fearlessly go into any crowd and let people touch him and answer their questions and humbly accept their thanks fort the job he’s done for all of us. Seeing the contrast makes you miss him even more.

But enough sentimentality – we have to get out the vote for Bill McBride and kick the first of two Bushes out of office. As the sign on my car says, Regime Change Begins at Home!



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