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Florida is "Ground Zero" for 2004


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Posted on Wed, Mar. 03, 2004






Will George W. Bush win Florida?


He has plenty of reasons to worry about November


By Mark Logan





President Bush made his 19th visit to Florida at the Daytona 500, sporting his best "Bubba attire." Not wanting to leave out the wine and cheese set, the president later stopped by one of the state's ritziest restaurants - Bern's Steak House in Tampa. If Bush keeps up this pace, you can expect to see him soon walking down Florida's beaches every weekend in presidential surf shorts offering tanning butter for votes.


Why all this interest in Florida? The president's own political czar, Karl Rove, had already declared Florida "Ground Zero" in 2004. The president's baby brother, Jeb, was re-elected to an unprecedented second term as a Republican governor and now leads his party and the state with an iron fist.


The Bush Brothers Inc. also regularly harvest millions of dollars from Florida's wealthy. Every time President Bush visits the sunshine state, he not only takes back a tan and, no doubt, some Indian River grapefruit, but also a couple million bucks. They even have names for the guys who raise a hundred grand (Pioneers) or two hundred (Rangers). Florida is swarming with these guys.


Why the concern about Ground Zero?


One simple reason: If W doesn't win Florida, he doesn't win the election. If the Democratic nominee wins Florida, the Democrats win the presidency.


There are at least six reasons Rove is legitimately worried about Florida: polarized voters, veterans, jobs, the deficit, Hispanics, and the Graham factor.


? Polarized voters elections: There is always a battle for the undecided voter. Conventional wisdom is that, armed with $200 million in campaign funds and Saddam Hussein in prison, Bush can easily move the middle to his corner. Don't bet on it.


In 2000, Bush ran as a morally righteous candidate ready to restore decency to the White House and on a foreign policy of no more nation-building. The economy was not even a major consideration.


Four years later, that middle ground will not be so easily swayed. Lost jobs, burgeoning deficits, a questionable war. These voters are going to be harder to move to the right.


In Florida, the middle may be even smaller than the rest of the country. Jeb is equally - if not more - polarizing than his brother. Plus, many still remember the election debacle of 2000. ? Veterans: Assuming John Kerry captures the Democratic nomination, haircut considerations aside, he is no Mike Dukakis. A bonafide war hero with a conscience, Kerry has marshaled veterans in his campaign like no other. These veterans have seen a systematic dismantling of the benefits promised them when they served our country.


These veterans also know the peril of going to war for the wrong reasons. They have witnessed this administration cutting benefits to those actually serving today. In Florida, there are 1.8 million veterans. They are fiercely patriotic, but also grateful to those who have fought for their rights. These men and women will vote their consciences. Expect Kerry to get similar consideration from Florida's military families.


? Jobs: Rove and Co. can point all they want to the rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but the Democrats are going to hang paltry job numbers around W's neck. Expect to hear a lot about the administration's published statements that outsourcing jobs to other countries is good for the economy. While Florida isn't a Rust Belt state, it has lost 70,000 jobs, by recent count. The state's unemployment rate is up from 3.9 percent in January 2001 to 4.7 percent in November 2003, a 20.5-percent increase. ? Deficits: The deficit issue represents a cataclysmic shift in politics over the last 20 years. What was once a bread-and-butter Republican issue is now squarely within the province of the Democrats.


The president's tax cuts come at the expense of future generations, as does the cost of the war in Iraq ($68 billion a year with no end in sight). These are the inescapable cornerstones of the Bush record. Most voters in Florida have kids or grandkids. It is a compelling argument to insist that this generation shouldn't be the first in history to pass along less, rather than more.


? Hispanics: Traditionally the notion in Florida is that Hispanics vote Republican. Back when the first generation of Cuban Americans dominated Florida's Hispanic population, that may have been the case. Today, Hispanic Americans hail from all of Latin America. They aren't single-issue (anti-Castro) voters. While it is unlikely a Democratic nominee will capture a majority of the Cuban vote, the rest of the Hispanics voters are up for grabs.


? The Bob Graham factor: Graham remains Florida's most popular politician. While unsuccessful in his presidential bid, Graham still garners wide support. And he will prove to be a giant counterweight to whatever popularity Jeb lends to his big brother in Florida.


Graham has demonstrated a passion for speaking up about this administration's failed foreign policy and the administration's shortcomings, whether domestic or foreign. Graham slammed the president on the loss of 70,000 jobs in Florida on the very day Bush was trying to promote his economic policies in Tampa.


So, yes, Karl Rove is right. Florida is Ground Zero. The Democrats are ready. Better pack that zinc oxide. And some cheap sunglasses. It gets hot down here.


Im starting to think that if Graham is given the VP slot Kerry just might win...Bush having the largest war chest EVER still keeps me realistic though.

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Everything is 100 % true. Bush may not commit Adultery but he garners his support on people who have KKK or KKK-like beliefs. He also is a criminal and we can't forget that. Plus, he has screwed Israel many times over, has seemingly forgotten about Osama, has screwed every friggin' country in Europe, and made this country at the top of everyone's hitlist.



What a joke and Colin Powell may be a good general but he is a horrible Sec. of State because he should've been able to prevent the President from going to war since Colin was his "Daddy's helper." We need to get ths joke out of Washington D.C. and his even funnier VP, the Heart Attack.

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... and Colin Powell may be a good general but he is a horrible Sec. of State because he should've been able to prevent the President from going to war since Colin was his "Daddy's helper."

The thing is B4P that Colin and Condoleeza did try to persuade this guy from going to Iraq, but there were two other powerful hawks spilling poison into his ears, Donald and Dick. Then, Colin and Condoleeza had no choice but to support his "decision" and then we saw the disgrace and humilation Colin Powell subjected himself by trying to gather support for this liar in the UN... :banghead


I don't feel sorry for Colin or Condoleeza, but to say that they had a say into what the President did or does is unjust. They are the "tokens" in Bush's cabinet. Colin Powell has a little more knowledge in Iraqi matters and how did Condelezza Rice come up? Whatever, they are both tools of GWB. Colin Powell is ruining what he leaves behind in the world instead of being a military genius, he is a ruinous Sec. of State garnering support for a President who would be impeached for lying if not for all the rigging of Senate elections and HOR elections he has done...

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Powell I like still.


Condoleeza I don't like, shes to smart to do this, but she still tows the party line.


Rumsfeld I used to like but no longer do.


Dick Cheney never liked.


W's so stupid I almost feel sorry for him.


Ashcrofts almost as bad as Cheney.


Thommy Thompson I like, he was a fabulous Governor here in Wisconsin, and is the only one who continually walks to the beat of his OWN drum. Good guy.

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i'm not confident that Kerry can win Florida though.


Even if he picked Graham/Nelson, Jeb Bush being governor has a big influence as well...


Latest opinion polls I've seen from Florida show Bush having a slight edge over Kerry. Hopefully a Graham/Nelson VP would tip the scales, but who knows...

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