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I decided to run to represent the 25th District of Florida because I believe the people of this district deserve real leadership in Washington. My opponent, Mario Diaz-Balart, promised to run a campaign based on the issues and his record in Congress. That was a debate I was excited to have.

It has taken my opponent only weeks to break that promise. He is back to his old bag of tricks --name-calling, red-baiting, and McCarthyism. And, while he spends his time throwing mud, the 25th District remains the worst federally funded district in the state of Florida.

Next week I'll be attending an event in New York with Congressman Charlie Rangel, who as the Miami Herald reported, my opponent calls a "radical left-wing extremist."  

I've know Congressman Rangel for many years. We disagree on certain issues, including US policy towards Cuba.  But his willingness to meet with me presents my community with a unique opportunity to find new allies in Congress and move South Florida forward.  It allows us to meet the challenges of an economy that is leaving middle-class families behind and over 14,000 children without health care.

Real leaders don’t compromise principles for petty politics. I stood up and challenged the Clinton administration when they wrongly held Cuban refugees in Guantanamo; and I stood up to the Bush administration because of its policy of dividing Cuban families. This is the kind of leadership I will bring to Washington.

We need to get to work on revitalizing our economy, lowering taxes for Florida's families, making health care more affordable, and tackling global climate change.  It's work that needs to be done, work that will result in more jobs for the people of this district, more affordable health care, and a better quality of life for so many hard working families in South Florida.

But Mario Diaz-Balart doesn't want to work with other members of Congress to find solutions; he'd rather distract from the issues and muddy the waters. He's made a whole career of intimidating opponents and accusing them of being Castro-sympathizers, but he can't pull that stunt with me.  I've spent my entire life working for human rights and freedom in Cuba and I can debate, point-for-point with him on this or any other issue.

The thing is, this isn't a debate he really wants to have. What Mario Diaz-Balart won't tell you is that he and his brother, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, have taken more than $80,000 in campaign contributions from companies with ties to the Cuban government.

It's hypocrisy at its worst. I'm disappointed, but not surprised. I knew that the better this campaign does--the more supporters we attract, the more events we hold, and the more small-donors who give--the more negative Mario Diaz-Balart would get. I just didn't think he would sink so low so fast.

I've already strongly rejected Mario Diaz-Balart's claims, but I am comforted in knowing that I'm not alone in this fight. Supporters just like you are standing up and demanding change.  They know South Floridians, like all Americans, want to revitalize our economy, make quality health care affordable and finally bring an end to the Iraq War. It’s about time we have leadership that understands the full spectrum of issues we face.

Last week over 500 people donated to our campaign to show they won't be dissuaded or intimidated by these ridiculous charges. We want to continue to send a strong message.  Stand with me by becoming a virtual co-host of my event next week.  Show Mario Diaz-Balart that his attacks just won't work by adding your name to our growing list of supporters.

I know that together, we can demonstrate that this kind of politics-as-usual won't work. Mario Diaz-Balart won't be able to get away with the same tired attacks when good people like you take a stand.

Thank you for fighting beside us. Together, we will give the people of Florida, and Americans all across the country, a new voice in Washington.

- Joe

Originally posted to JoeGarcia08 on Wed Apr 16, 2008 at 08:25 AM PDT.

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