Q: Florida Politics


Eggs with a side of presidential politics

The menu at the Florida Republican delegation breakfast was French toast and sausages Wednesday, but South Florida legislators served up side orders of politics.

"Barack Obama is a compelling candidate," conceded Mario Rubio of West Miami, the outgoing speaker of the Florida House. "I just fear what his presidency would do for America."

"I want you to remember what an historic day that today is," said Adam Hasner of Delray Beach, majority leader of the Florida House. "The Republican Party is going to nominate a woman as the next vice president. Not just any woman. A woman who shares the values of reform, the values of standing up and doing the right thing that John McCain stands for."

With Florida and other Gulf States threatened by Hurricane Gustav, the delegation's daily 8:30 a.m. session at the Marriott Hotel in Bloomington, Minn., was converted into a prayer breakfast on Monday, and Fox News pollster Frank Luntz gave election analysis on Tuesday. On the third morning of the convention, the delegation honored Florida's Republican legislators and several spoke.

On the convention floor on Tuesday night, "we were holding up cards that on one side said 'Service' and on the other side said 'Country First'," said Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach, president designate of the Florida Senate. "It is not just a slogan. It is what our candidate believes and how he has lived his life."

Atwater said that in the Florida legislature, about 3,000 votes are taken each session. There are buttons for "yes" or "no" but none for "present," he said. Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, voted "present" about 130 times as an Illinois state legislator.

In times of crisis in American history, Atwater said, "Where were the leaders when we needed them. They were more than 'present'."

Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, charged that Obama is "an advocate of European-style socialism."

"Our children can't inherit the type of country that my parents came here to get away from," said Rubio. "You cannot have a successful society where 50 percent of the people pay taxes and 50 percent don't."

Jean-Louis Kayitenkore
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