Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Spontaneous' Enthusiasm Launches Democrats' Convention

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Spontaneous' Enthusiasm Launches Democrats' Convention

Article excerpt

President Clinton's re-election hopes, and it showed yesterday

at the state's first caucus and later on the convention floor.

The caucus meeting was more like a pep rally than

organizational meeting.

Delegates heard from that "Bushwacker" -- Gov. Lawton Chiles --

as he was described in his introduction, Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay,

U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, Democratic National Committee Chairman

Christopher Dodd, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services

Donna Shalala and others during a raucous meeting.

Chiles outlined Florida's case for re-electing Clinton, saying

he has been good for the state during the past four years.

Chiles said Clinton kept his campaign commitment to help the

state recover from Hurricane Andrew, prevented another

Mariel-type boat lift from Cuba, stopped an influx of illegal

immigrants from Haiti, located the Southern Command in Florida

and helped reduce crime through legislation to increase the

number of police officers on the streets.

Those and other Clinton accomplishments in Florida are among

the reasons Democrats are confident that the president will

finish on top in the state in the November election. If so, he

would be the first Democrat to do so since Jimmy Carter won

there in 1976.

"It's wonderful to know that Florida will be the state that

will bring it home," Chiles said.

Graham reminded delegates that in the past Democrats have

written the state off early in the election season, conceding it

to Republicans.

"That isn't going to happen in 1996," Graham said.

This year, Graham said, Florida is going to make a difference

in the election.

"The president said he and Vice President [Al] Gore will make a

major commitment to Florida," Graham said.

Clinton is scheduled to visit Florida Sept. 6.

committed to battle for the state's 25 electoral votes, since it

was Florida that gave Clinton the boost he needed to win the

nomination in 1992 when he won the state's straw poll. …

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