Hillary Clinton Greeted by Protestors in Tampa by Mitch E. Perry

02/27/06

A new poll published over the weekend says that John McCain would defeat any of the top 4 Democrats for President if the election were held today.

The poll, by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion , shows the Arizona Republican holding a 17 point lead over the last 2 nominees, John Kerry and Al Gore, a 10 point lead over Hillary Clinton, and a 6 point lead over John Edwards.

The election for President won’t take place for 2 /2 years, but that hasn’t stopped the rampant speculation that Mrs. Clinton is running for President – even though she’s running for re-election in the New York Senate this year.

She did nothing over the weekend to impede on those Presidential rumors, as the former First Lady came to Tampa to hold a couple of fundraisers, one a private lunch that citizens doled out $10,000 for.

But before that, the Senator spoke at an event for the Florida Democratic Party for just $100 a head. (roll tape#1 o.q.�to be successful�)

By force of her political skills, but also her celebrity, the freshman Senator from New York is considered the leading candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination…..She is villified by Republicans, beloved by many Democrats – but always in the headlines.

And she is considered the top member of her party in raising money ..So her appearance on Saturday for the Party – and Friday in Palm Beach for Senator Bill Nelson – was a win-win for state Democrats – and for the Senator herself.

State Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman began the festivites at the Wyndam (roll tape#2 o.q.� right side�)

Though Thurman said that Democrats wouldn’t resort to fear mongering, that’s exactly what some political analysts say they are doing with the reaction to of a company owned by the United Arab Emirates attempting to purchase terminals at 6 U.S. Seaports.

Senator Clinton – along with New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez – has introduced legislation that would ban foreign ownership or control of Port operations in the U.S. But she only mentioned the Ports controversy one time, late in her 35 minute speech (roll tape#3 o.q.�and our interests�)

The Senator spent much of her speech blasting who she called the “Washington Republicans� on a host of issues, like the Budget, the environment, Social Security, and Katrina relief. And she mixed in some humor as well (roll tape#4 o.q.�Republicans�)

Another theme of her speech is comparing the country in “The 90’s� vs. what’s happened in the 5 years plus of the Bush Administration – which could signal one way she will run as a Presidential candidate in 2 years (roll tape#5 o.q.�and incompetence�)

Outside the Wyndham Westshore Hotel, dozens of activists perhaps 40 in all stood scattered alongside Kennedy Boulevard adjacent to the front entrace of the hotel.(roll tape#6 o.q.�into Bosnia�)

Demonstrators – most of them from groups like Veterans for Peace and St. Pete for Peace held aloft signs expressing their displeasure at Clinton for her support for the nearly 3 year old U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

One protestor held a sign with a collage of photos of maimed Iraqi children, with an 8 by 10 of the Senator in the middle, with bloodied fingerprints adjoining her photos.

Another protestor stood atop a milk crate and wore a constume that was a replica of the iconic photo of the Abu Grhaib prison scandal, complete with fake electrons hung from their hands.

Richard DeBerry from Gulfport is with St. Pete For Peace …He dismisses criticism that if US troops were to withdrawn, a civil war would break out in Iraq (roll tape7 o.q.�is just nuts�)

WMNF asked another protestor, Carol Shifler, what she thinks it will take to end the U.S. involvement in Iraq (roll tape#8 o.q.�as we are�)

There was one small moment of drama as those who came to hear Senator speak passed the gauntlet of demonstrators of front of the Wyndham Westshore.

Clearwater Beach resident Marty Altner stood up for Clinton, and said although he supported public dissent, he thought it was unfair to criticize Hilary (roll tape#9 o.q.�a confused world�)

Big national Democrats will continue to come into Florida ……Former Vice President Al Gore is scheduled to campaign with Senator Bill Nelson this Friday.

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