ADMIRAL LEROY COLLINS AT THE SUNCOAST TIGER BAY CLUB TUESDAY, 22 AUGUST 2006, Stan Davis
Admiral LeRoy Collins is running against Katherine Harris in the Republican Primary to get a crack at Senator Bill Nelson in the General Election. He was at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club Tuesday, speaking to the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club.
WMNFÃ¢â¬â¢s Stan Davis was there and filed this report.
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To hear Moderator, Greg Wilson tell it, Katherine Harris was the first to be invited. When she stipulated that certain questions werenÃ¢â¬â¢t to be asked, certain issues not to be touched, the invitation was rescinded.
That left the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club with the three remaining Republicans contesting Harris for a shot at Bill Nelson: Will McBride, Pete Monroe, and Leroy Collins.
No one at the jammed lunchtime meeting was more surprised than Collins when he found out that his two other opponents had both decidedÃ¢â¬âat the last moment --to skip the event.
Then again, with HarrisÃ¢â¬â¢ campaign in disarray, and Republican officials givingÃ¢â¬âthen taking away Ã¢â¬âendorsements, perhaps nothing surprises Collins anymore.
He began by telling the crowd that he wasnÃ¢â¬â¢t always a ConservativeÃ¢â¬Â¦
[Actuality 1- Collins- Ã¢â¬ÅI was a Democrat for 30 yearsÃ¢â¬Â¦ and so I changed.Ã¢â¬?]
So, things change. Collins, a retired Two-Star Admiral whoÃ¢â¬â¢s spent most of his career in or around submarines, went on to years of service at the Pentagon in Naval Intelligence. And he thinks he knows just a bit about spying and national security. He also says he knows a thing or two about budgets and fiscal responsibility.
And, although he supports President Bush on most issues, including the war in Iraq, and the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, he also feels obligated to make his disagreements public for the good of allÃ¢â¬Â¦
[Actuality 2- Collins- Ã¢â¬ÅÃ¢â¬Â¦ when youÃ¢â¬â¢re in an organizationÃ¢â¬Â¦exercise the leadership to change itÃ¢â¬Â¦ amenÃ¢â¬? ]
His real hot-button issue, though, is IMMIGRATIONÃ¢â¬Â¦ that is, illegal immigrantsÃ¢â¬Â¦
[Actuality 3- Collins- Ã¢â¬ÅÃ¢â¬Â¦ you ask yourselfÃ¢â¬Â¦ and/or go to jail.Ã¢â¬?]
National Security is right up there, tooÃ¢â¬Â¦
[Actuality 4- Collins- Ã¢â¬ÅÃ¢â¬Â¦ weÃ¢â¬â¢ve gotten to the point that there are a 100,000,000 out there who want us deadÃ¢â¬Â¦ and furthermore, they have the money to do it.Ã¢â¬?]
How heÃ¢â¬â¢d solve or put an end to this spectre of hate and destruction, he did not say. And, according to media reports of the other candidates views on Ã¢â¬Åthe terrorist threat,Ã¢â¬? he isnÃ¢â¬â¢t alone in this.
But Admiral Collins has distinguished himself from all his other competitors on issue in particularÃ¢â¬Â¦
[Actuality 5- Collins- Ã¢â¬ÅÃ¢â¬Â¦ A new view of CubaÃ¢â¬Â¦ we trade with corrupt governments everyday.Ã¢â¬?]
So, at least on this one issue, Collins has established himself as the least Hawkish of the Hawks, and, quite frankly, the most pro-business.
And then the floor was opened to questions.
[Actuality 6- Daryll- Ã¢â¬ÅÃ¢â¬Â¦ your statement about the 100s of millions of people around the world that hate usÃ¢â¬Â¦ is to kill us, thatÃ¢â¬â¢s a fact.Ã¢â¬?]
And then, the audience-member who won the award for best question, Admiral George BurkeÃ¢â¬Â¦
[Actuality 7- Adm George Burke-- Ã¢â¬ÅÃ¢â¬Â¦ Iraq, what do you think?Ã¢â¬Â¦ nor do we forecast when weÃ¢â¬â¢ll be out.Ã¢â¬?]
For Admiral Collins, who by July had only raised 90 thousand dollars in contributions to Katherine HarrisÃ¢â¬â¢ 8 million, having the Tiger Bay Club to himself may just have been what his stagnating campaign needs right now.
For WMNF, IÃ¢â¬â¢m Stan Davis