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DemsLink On the Issues

As Tip O'Neill famously said, "All politics is local." We passionately believe that the path to success for Democrats runs through the grassroots and getting Democratic candidates elected at all levels. Every vote in every county, big or small, counts. Th

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My Initial Reactions to the Univision Spanish-Language Democratic Presidential Forum in Miami

Tue, 11 Sep 2007 02:48:00 +0000

I was invited to attend the Democratic Presidential Forum in Miami this past Sunday evening. The forum was sponsored by Univision, the most popular TV station among Spanish speakers in the United States, and was broadcast live nationwide. The moderators asked the questions in Spanish, the candidates received translations in their ear pieces, the candidates responded in English, and their responses were in turn translated into Spanish for the broadcast. Because I watched it live in the auditorium, thankfully I was able to hear the candidates directly since I don't speak Spanish.Governor Bill Richardson expressed his disappointment during his first response at the forum that he would not be able to speak Spanish but would have to answer in English even though he is Hispanic and fluent in Spanish. Even though it was an awkward moment at the time, I understand where he was coming from. Why have a translator potentially miss the meaning or not convey the appropriate emotion when he speaks Spanish? Although this would be deemed unfair to the other candidates who don't speak Spanish, why should Richardson (and Sen. Chris Dodd who also speaks fluent Spanish) be penalized? Now, I'm not a Richardson supporter. I had high hopes for him initially but I have been very disappointed with his poor debate performances. But, I do see his point. I actually had a chance to meet him at a post-debate gathering and he was genuinely warm, friendly, and funny. I think he needs to either study and practice more for the debates so his performance is better or he needs to stick with diplomacy and negotiation, not run for president.I have a number of reactions to the forum and I will expand on some of them more this week:1. This was the first time in the history of presidential elections that there has been a Spanish-language forum for the major candidates. I am pleased that the Democratic candidates embraced Univision's idea for this forum and had a great opportunity to reach millions of Hispanic voters. I am even more pleased that the Republican candidates have chosen not to agree to a similar forum. The Republican candidates know that they will be hit hard on the immigration issues and they know their positions smack of xenophobia and scape-goating. (Note: John McCain is the only Republican who agreed to attend; obviously because of his more centrist stance on immigration reform compared to his rivals.)2. I was surprised when the moderators announced that Senator Joe Biden did not attend because, to paraphrase their words, he did not feel like it was worth his time. I knew that Senator Biden had just been in Iraq late last week, and so I had assumed that was why he was unable to be there. So, I called Senator Biden's campaign manager, Luis Navarro, and asked him about it. Luis said that it was indeed a scheduling issue (coming back from Iraq and then Biden was on Meet the Press that Sunday morning), but that Univision was upset so spun it another way. I was glad to hear from Luis that that was indeed the case because I like Senator Biden and would not expect him to be dismissive of the forum, as indeed it turns out he was not.3. All of the candidates looked fatigued and seemed to lack the energy and enthusiasm that they had during the first couple of debates/forums. I feel the same way. After watching every debate thus far this season, I think I can recite by now every candidate's response to every major issue they are asked about. These forums are good for bringing awareness to Americans who may not have seen the other ones, but for those of us who have watched several of them, it's like the movie Groundhog Day where the same day keeps repeating itself over and over. Is there something that can be done to liven them up? I found the debate that Keith Olbermann moderated in Chicago to be the most interesting thus far because the candidates were allowed to talk to each other and Olbermann asked follow-up questions and allowed rebuttals. We need more of those types of debates.What do you think about having all of these forums/debates? What format wo[...]

Florida Democratic Party Official Response: “We’re still deciding what to do.”

Thu, 06 Sep 2007 16:07:00 +0000

Is that an answer acceptable to you as a Democratic voter in Florida? It’s not to me. After no word from the state party all weekend long, after the major Democratic Presidential candidates announced on Saturday that they were pulling their campaigns out of Florida, I’m not surprised that that is their response. It is apparent that they have gotten themselves into a real mess because of their lack of leadership and their slow response to these developing events.

During a segment I filmed Tuesday afternoon for Fox 35 News (click here to view video clip), the reporter asked me why there had been no response from the state party. He had been repeatedly trying to get a hold of someone all day Monday and Tuesday and no one had returned his call. I answered: “Their lack of response tells me that they don’t know what to do.” Then during the 10 pm news that evening, after my segment ran, Fox 35 reported that the press secretary of the Florida Democratic Party had finally called them back and his comment was, “We’re still deciding what to do.”

The state party has known for months that there was a real possibility that (1) the Democratic National Committee (DNC) would sanction Florida and not count its delegates because the state legislature had moved the primary to January 29, 2008 (earlier than the February 5 date that is allowed for states other than Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada); and (2) that if the DNC did sanction Florida, the Presidential candidates would withdraw their campaigns so that they in turn would not be punished by the DNC. After having months to prepare a plan and a response to these potential outcomes, the Florida Democratic Party STILL does not know what to do?

Unfortunately, now that 10 days have gone by since the DNC handed down the decision on August 25, the FDP has lost any leverage it may have had. As I stated in my appearance on Fox 35 news this past Saturday (click here to watch it), if I were chair of the Florida Democratic Party, I would have immediately, as soon as the decision was announced by the DNC, said that (1) I was not going to let Florida Democratic voters be disenfranchised by the DNC; (2) that the Democratic Presidential candidates owed it to the voters in Florida to campaign here and learn our issues, not just use Florida as an ATM; and (3) that if the eventual Democratic Presidential nominee wanted to have any chance of winning Florida in November 2008, he or she better make sure their campaign continues to have a presence in Florida.

Appearance on Fox 35 News about DNC Punishing Florida Democrats

Mon, 03 Sep 2007 19:47:00 +0000

On Saturday, I was asked by Fox 35 News (Orlando) to comment on the announcement by the leading Democratic Presidential Candidates that they are pulling their campaigns out of Florida, in response to the Democratic National Committee's decision to not count our delegates if our primary remains on January 29, 2008.

Back in the June DemsLink newsletter, I wrote: "Can you believe 2007 is almost half-way over? And, that the Florida Democratic Primary, set for January 29, 2008, is only 7 months away?!?"

Well, with the recent decision by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to punish Florida Democratic voters by refusing to count our delegates because of our primary date, it remains to be seen whether or not our votes will count on January 29 or whether we will even have a primary at all.

The announcement by the leading Democratic Presidential Candidates that they are pulling their campaigns out of Florida as a result of the DNC's decision is unfortunate for not only the voters in Florida but also for all of you who work so hard at building strong grassroots volunteer organizations, whether you are a DEC, club or candidate. This decision will ripple down to impact our local and state races and our ability to build a real party infrastructure statewide.

I am also disappointed that the Florida Democratic Party's response to this has been "no comment", as was reported in Sunday's Orlando Sentinel.

I am very interested in hearing what your thoughts are on this decision by the DNC and the Democratic Presidential candidates and by the lack of a quick, definitive response from the Florida Democratic Party. Please post your comments here so others can read them.

Also, contact the DNC and Florida Democratic Party to let them know that you want your vote to count!

You can watch the video at or on YouTube:

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