Florida Will Again Be Presidential Battleground

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Maverick74, Jan 5, 2004.

  1. Maverick74



    Florida Will Again Be Presidential Battleground

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla -- President Bush's re-election campaign trained more than 2,000 volunteers to work in Florida to avoid a photo finish like the one in 2000.

    The grass roots campaign, perhaps unprecedented in Florida, eventually is expected to include about 7,000 paid and volunteer organizers to get out the Republican vote in the state this fall, the St. Petersburg Times reported Sunday.

    The Bush campaign is already setting up phone banks to try and reach thousands of swing voters to win Florida's 27 electoral votes in November, and expects to register more than 75,000 new Republican voters in Florida before Election Day.

    "You're going to see the greatest grass roots undertaking by the Republican Party in modern political history," said Ralph Reed, chief of the Bush-Cheney campaign in the Southeast.

    Republicans say they learned in 2000 that Republican domination of state politics and having the president's brother as governor isn't enough. Nor is the fund-raising advantage the party enjoys if Republicans and swing voters don't vote for the GOP candidate.

    "The election of 2000 was kind of an eye-opener for us," said Al Austin, a Tampa developer and the Republican state finance chairman. "We were a little complacent and now we're re-emphasizing grass roots organizing. You're going to see a major, major difference in the voter turnout we're going to have."

    Republicans are able to concentrate on Florida and other battleground states while Democrats battle for important - but relatively small - states that will vote first, New Hampshire and Iowa.

    "It gives us the opportunity to start organizing now for the full-on general effort without having to worry about how the campaign is doing in early primary states," said Brett Doster, chief of the Bush-Cheney campaign in Florida.

    Florida Democratic Party Chairman Scott Maddox acknowledged the Republican advantage in early organization, but said the Democratic nominee likely will be decided by early March.

    "We're talking just 60 days, and then you'll see us start to mobilize," said Maddox.

    President Bush will likely visit the state often. He is expected to be in Florida this week for a fund-raiser on Thursday in Palm Beach.

    In 2000, with Gov. Jeb Bush leading his brother's campaign effort, Bush was expected to win more easily in Florida. But voter turnout efforts by Democrats made it razor-close, with Al Gore losing Florida by just 537 votes in a contested election.