We’re obviously in the home stretch here, and Flordia, while giving Obama a slight slight lead, is still very close and will likely be decided by a few points in either direction.
Given the tight race there, it’s great to see that he is bringing out all of the big guns:
Former Vice President Al Gore, the Democratic presidential contender in 2000, will be joined by his wife, Tipper Gore, at a rally for Barack Obama on Friday afternoon at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach.
Convention center officials announced the event today. It will be held in the Center’s Grand Ballroom, and is expected to be limited to about 2,000 attendees.
Why isn’t Obama barnstorming through Florida? As many, including Nate at 538 have noted, that’s one state that isn’t getting a Palin bounce and perhaps even the opposite. He can capitalize on the wariness over Palin and really start to run up some margins and lock down votes in South Florida. I understand the importance of the Rust Belt, but isn’t a couple days in Florida worth the investment?
Barack Obama is speaking in front of the VFW right now in Orlando, and is hitting McCain very hard on his Achilles heel – the fundamental decision to go to war, and for the first time, brings up the fact that McCain pushed for war with Iraq right after 9/11:
Six years ago, I stood up at a time when it was politically difficult to oppose going to war in Iraq, and argued that our first priority had to be finishing the fight against Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Senator McCain was already turning his sights to Iraq just days after 9/11, and he became a leading supporter of an invasion and occupation of a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks, and that – as despicable as Saddam Hussein was – posed no imminent threat to the American people.
And he then pivots to the original decision to launch the war in Iraq:
This quote sums it up in a nutshell, the election so far. The media has bought into the meme that Obama is just an empty celebrity, but the truth is, he’s the most substantive candidate in a generation. So says Michael James, 33, an active military officer assigned at Patrick Air Force Base, who saw Obama in a town-hall today at Titusville, FL:
Michael James, 33, an active military officer assigned at Patrick Air Force Base, said he was “definitely inspired” by Obama’s speech. “The media says you don’t get substance, but he answered everyone’s questions with substance,” James said.
In terms of the economy, one of the last questions an audience member posed to Obama was when will the change happen? When will the economy get back on its feet? “I think he gave a real respopnse,” James said. “It’s not going to change overnight but the things we do now, policies put in place now, can bring about change.”
This is the first part of a new semi-regular series I will be doing called Focus on Florida. The purpose of this series is to give people insight into the politics of Florida and how Obama will make a play for Florida’s 27 electoral votes. Despite Obama’s poor showing in the delegate-less Florida primary, Florida is definitely a state than can go blue this year with enough effort from the Obama campaign. So far, the Obama campaign has risen to the challenge, and shown that they intend to make Florida a top priority this year.
The first diary in this series will be about winning in the I-4 corridor. For those of you unfamiliar with Florida geography, the I-4 corridor refers to the area in Florida that borders the 132 mile stretch of the I-4 highway, which runs spans central Florida from Tampa in the West to Daytona Beach in the East. For those of you familiar with Florida politics, you already know that the I-4 corridor is considered the holy grail of Florida politics. Win the I-4 corridor, and you’re almost guaranteed to win the state. With North Florida and South Florida usually cancelling each other out (North Florida going Republican, South Florida going Democratic), Central Florida is the key battleground area up for grabs in the state.
The Washington Times profiled the I-4 corridor in January in the run up to the primary election.
“We kind of laughingly call it the highway of heaven for the candidates, because if they win I-4, they win Florida,” said Susan MacManus, a political science professor at the University of South Florida in Tampa. “The I-4 corridor is the new growth part of the state, and the most politically competitive part of the state.”
More than 40 percent of Florida’s registered voters live in counties straddling the interstate, which includes the burgeoning Orlando area and popular retirement centers like Lakeland and Winter Haven, while in between are millions of acres of citrus groves and scrub pine woods.
Competing in the I-4 corridor is no easy feat. The corridor is diverse racially and geographically, with a mix of white, African American, and Hispanic voters, and mix of cities such as Orlando, Tampa, and Daytona, and the wide areas of rural land that connect those cities. It is home to two major media markets, the Orlando and Tampa media market, the latter of which is the most expensive in the state (it is also the 2nd largest in the state, and 13th largest in the nation). Read more »