JOHN KERRY IN TAMPA - Mitch Perry

03/09/04

Last night a crowd estimated to be near 1,000 people packed into the entertainment complex known as Centro Ybor in Tampa's Ybor City last night........They were there to see the now presumptive Democratic frontrunner in his first public appearance before a Tampa Bay Area crowd since being a candidate.....The Senator has made previous trips to Tampa, but they were strictly fund raising events .

The evening began with Local Congressman Jim Davis trying to fire up the partisan Crowd (roll tape#1 o.q....applause")

Both of Florida's U.S. Senators, Bob Graham and Bill Nelson, are being invoked as possible Vice Presidential candidates, such is the importance of Kerry capturing Florida this November.........Senator Graham accompanied Kerry in his 2 earlier visits in South Florida on Monday, while Senator Nelson was with the candidate in Tampa as well......

But the Florida Congressman who fired up the crowd the most was Miami Representative Kendrick Meek, who is also John Kerry's Campaign Chairman in Florida........He invoked the 200 Election controversies in Florida, a card that state Democrats will continue to do throughout the year (roll tape#2 o.q."that are out there"...")

Senator Kerry was then introduced by one of his Band of Brothers, in this case, Del Sandusky. Sandusky was the pilot of a Navy Petrol Boat skippered by Kerry in Vietnam's dangerous Mekong Delta (roll tape#3 o.q."for the President")

And after a few more remarks, Sandusky introduced Kerry, who gave a nice plug to a local Ybor City eatery (roll tape#4 o.q" when I get back in there")

Senator Kerry's signature sound bite for the day was one that he invoked earlier in Miami and West Palm beach (roll tape#5 o.q."and that's exactly what they've done")

One of the more controversial votes on Kerry's resume has been his vote in support of giving President Bush authorization to go to war in Iraq back in October of 2002....Critics point to his response to that vote, but he insists that he would NEVER have gone to war in Iraq in the fashion that President Bush did a y ear ago (roll tape#6 o.q."that's the standard in this country")

Although a new poll shows that Kerry is better positioned than Bush on domestic issues, the Senator has consistently harped on Bush's vulnerabilities on national security, and he did so again last night in no uncertain terms (roll tape#7 o.q." proceed forward")

Last night's event was scheduled to begin at 7pm, but didn't start until after 7:30......Kerry's speech itself lasted nearly 40 minutes, and with the cold air starting to filter thru Ybor, the Senator began having a playful exchange with members of the audience (roll tape#6 o.q. "whattaya think?")

Much has been made of Kerry's adoration of former Massachusetts Senator turned President John F. Kennedy, but it was Bobby Kennedy and his assassination in 1968 who Kerry referred to last night in trying to inspire Americans to reach for something bigger than themselves (roll tape#7 o.q. " that's our task")

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