Bill Nelson speaks at Tiger Bay
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02/22/08 Seán Kinane
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Florida’s Democratic senator, Bill Nelson, spoke at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg this afternoon.

Nelson said that because the race for the Democratic nomination for president is so close, there are two potential train wrecks because of the way the party selects its nominee. One involves superdelegates, also known as unpledged delegates, people who can vote at the convention for any candidate, regardless of who the people of their state supported in the primary or caucus.

The Democratic National Committee has taken away the delegates of Michigan and Florida for violating the party’s rules by moving up the date of their primary elections ahead of Feb. 5. Nelson is also worried about the possibility that the party will not seat the delegations of these two large states if the race is so close going into the convention that those states could decide who is nominated. But Nelson said he doesn’t think that either of those two events will occur.

Sen. Barack Obama could be that clear frontrunner. Obama has won the last 11 nominating contests. Many people are saying that unless Sen. Hillary Clinton wins the Texas and Ohio primaries on March fourth, it will be nearly impossible for her to catch Obama in pledged delegates.

Nelson was asked whether Obama was trying to lobby Florida’s superdelegates, such as Rep. Kathy Castor, who endorsed Obama this week.

“Well, if I were Hillary or Barack, and I were running for president, I would be trying to recruit every vote I could get.”

On Thursday, a New York Times article alleged that Sen. John McCain used his influence on the Senate Commerce Committee to help a lobbyist friend. Nelson was asked whether McCain, who is likely to be the Republican nominee for president, was a hypocrite or had political integrity.

Earlier this week, Pakistanis went to the polls and the party of President Pervez Musharraf came in third place. The opposition parties that finished first and second have agreed to form a coalition government, which could mean that the U.S. ally Musharraf will lose power.

Nelson, who voted to give President Bush the authority to invade Iraq, said that if he were president, he would begin a gradual withdrawal of American troops.

The next Suncoast Tiger Bay Club meeting on March 12 will feature all three candidates vying for the State House District 55 seat in the special election to replace Frank Peterman Jr.

Photo credit: Seán Kinane

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Sen. Bill Nelson

Suncoast Tiger Bay Club

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