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.

WMNF’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 When she stipulated that certain questions weren’t to be asked, certain issues not to be touched, the invitation was rescinded.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 decided—at the last moment --to skip the event.

Then again, with Harris’ campaign in disarray, and Republican officials giving—then taking away –endorsements, perhaps nothing surprises Collins anymore.

He began by telling the crowd that he wasn’t always a Conservative…

[roll tape]

[Actuality 1- Collins- “I was a Democrat for 30 years… and so I changed.�]

So, things change. Collins, a retired Two-Star Admiral who’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 all…

[roll tape]

[Actuality 2- Collins- “… when you’re in an organization…exercise the leadership to change it… amen� ]

His real hot-button issue, though, is IMMIGRATION… that is, illegal immigrants…

[roll tape]

[Actuality 3- Collins- “… you ask yourself… and/or go to jail.�]

National Security is right up there, too…

[roll tape]

[Actuality 4- Collins- “… we’ve gotten to the point that there are a 100,000,000 out there who want us dead… and furthermore, they have the money to do it.�]

How he’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 “the terrorist threat,� he isn’t alone in this.

But Admiral Collins has distinguished himself from all his other competitors on issue in particular…

[roll tape]

[Actuality 5- Collins- “… A new view of Cuba… we trade with corrupt governments everyday.�]

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.

Daryll Fields…

[roll tape]

[Actuality 6- Daryll- “… your statement about the 100s of millions of people around the world that hate us… is to kill us, that’s a fact.�]

And then, the audience-member who won the award for best question, Admiral George Burke…

[roll tape]

[Actuality 7- Adm George Burke-- “… Iraq, what do you think?… nor do we forecast when we’ll be out.�]

For Admiral Collins, who by July had only raised 90 thousand dollars in contributions to Katherine Harris’ 8 million, having the Tiger Bay Club to himself may just have been what his stagnating campaign needs right now.

For WMNF, I’m Stan Davis

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