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(crossposted from Buffalo Ridge Blog )

Yup, this is Florida's week in the sun(?), as the four survivors of the seven dwarfs AKA the republican presidential candidates are making the rounds. The other day we were underwhelmed with Newt, today it was Mitt's turn to enable noontime napping...Too bad there wasn't anyplace to lay down at the event.

Let's set the scene: Downtown Naples, home to twenty odd thousand seniors, who reported to the census a per capita mean income of upwards of $70,000 a year. Given that the local retailers report sales of around the same $70,000 per resident, one gets the feeling that either a lot of income is going unreported, or the unlikely possibility that "trickle-down" is actually working. That number may be inflated a bit by Naples being a shopping center, but given that every luxury car maker has at least one dealer in Naples, that number doesn't seem out of line. So this should be a very friendly town for a business type republican with a low tax bracket like Mitt. Given that demographic, one can make a pretty good guess why Mitt's first public event today wasn't 'til noon and I didn't see Mitt arrive... can you say "big dollar fundraising brunch"?

Probably hoping to avoid a crowd size comparison with the site that Newt used the other day, Matt's advance team made a questionable pick- the 50 foot wide and maybe hundred foot long plaza in front of a local theater, hemmed in by multi story buildings on both sides. To make matters worse, they set up the risers for the media barely thirty feet from the stage, with "VIP" seating for Mitt supporters between the stage and risers. That meant that everyone else was lucky to see Mitt's head pop up once in a while. That left the crowd with the 50 foot square space behind the media on the risers and a few more that spilled onto the street behind that Naple's police had closed off to traffic. So 5000 square feet of crowd divided by the usual 10 square feet per older white republican gives us a crowd estimate of 500, barely half what Newt drew.

And a politicly casual crowd they pretty much were, many of them snowbirds from out of state- I talked to a family from downstate Illinois and a gentleman from Vermont (Hi Harry!), but eligible to vote Floridians were scarce. Much the same hangers on- vendors, Santorum supporters, and Occupy activists that made the Newt event were back, save for the Ron Paul protesters... Does that mean Romney is their second choice?   And like Newt's event, the enthusiasm gap was real- a paucity of signs, T-shirts, etc. that belies commitment to a candidate. The most popular political wearable was a "Fire Obama" sticker, the guy handing them out started with a big wad of them and at the end of the event still had almost as big a wad of them.

It's a good thing Mitt started on time, because he had not even a poor excuse for a band and few endorsers to kill time for him. And it was all downhill from there... No new pronouncements, no firey rhetoric, just fifteen minutes of canned stump speech. Then he actually shook hands... but only the hands of the hundred or so VIP solid supporters that rated seating with actual sight lines to Mitt. I finally left, who knows, Mitt may still be there shaking the same hundred followers hands.

For a town that was made for Mitt... Think elderly "stock coupon clipper" republicans, this was a poor showing. Then again, Newt didn't, for all his growling, produce any more enthusiam. And for all the money Mitt's campaign spent (they needed a semi trailer to haul all their stage and sound gear),  Mitt's campaign team blew it on the basics... Kinda hard to win over voters when they can't see you over the media!

Two more days and the misery will be over... For Florida. But I'm heading back to the Buffalo Ridge next weekend, and looks like the surviving three or four of the seven dwarfs will be following me back. Fortunately we've got no rich republicans nor abundance of republican base on the Buffalo Ridge...

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    luckylizard, elwior

    I wish we had more reports like this.  I'm in Missouri and we are not going to see any of the clown show(s).

    Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.

    by MoDem on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 01:48:23 PM PST

  •  Why do I suspect that he won't find time ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    to go 42 miles up the road to Immokalee, FL, where there have been several successful prosecutions in recent years for holding agricultural workers in modern-day slavery?

    PROUD to be a Democrat!

    by leevank on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 03:40:36 PM PST

    •  Heck, they hardly got a place to vote... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leevank, kurt

      In Immokolee- Really. In bedrock republican Naples they've darn near got a polling place on every corner. In hispanic, poor, and democratic leaning Imokolee they've only got a polling place or two for the whole town.

      •  It's sort of like that in Miami, too! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt

        Only in Miami, it's the Cuban-American polling places that have plenty of voting machines and poll workers, and the Haitian-American ones that don't.  But one thing's the same:  The ones that have them are the more affluent, Republican-leaning ones, and the ones that don't are the poor, Democratic-leaning ones.

        My wife and I worked during for John Kerry in Miami during the early voting period and on election day in 2004.  For the first several days, we had been assigned to early voting locations in predominantly Haitian-American areas, and there were LONG, LONG lines -- at one of them, people were waiting 5-6 hours to vote because of an inadequate number of voting machines and poll workers.  Then we were assigned to a predominantly Cuban-American early voting location, where the wait was 15-20 minutes.

        I will never forget getting on the cell phone and saying that we needed to do one of several things -- either persuade the local election officials to get more machines and officials to the Haitian-American locations, or get into federal court and seek an injunction ordering them to do so, or rent some buses and start transporting people from the early voting locations in the areas where people were waiting hours to vote to the ones where the waits were much shorter.  There were lots of excuses about why that couldn't be done, but the main one was that it might anger the local election officials who looked like they would be on our side when the Republicans started massive challenges on election day -- challenges that, as it turned out, never happened.  I still remember telling my wife that if our side wasn't willing to make some people angry to go to bat for people who were waiting for hours in the Miami heat to vote for our candidate (and the Haitian-Americans were overwhelmingly for Kerry), perhaps we didn't really deserve to win.

        When we first got to Miami, I felt like some of the local Haitian-American community activists had an unwarranted chip on their shoulders about being treated unfairly.  By the end of two weeks there, I think the one on my shoulder about how the Haitian-American community was treated was every bit as big as any of theirs.

        One of the many things I so admired about the Obama campaign in 2008 was that in Virginia (where we worked on election day and during the early voting period), the contrast couldn't have been more striking.  Virginia has a procedure whereby a poll worker will take the ballot out to the car for voters who are disabled.  Since it was pouring down rain for most of election day, four of the ballots got too wet to be machine-readable, and the local poll workers and county board of elections head said they were spoiled ballots, even if they could be manually read.  The Obama campaign immediately went to the state board of elections, and got an order that if they could be read either by the machine or manually, they were valid ballots and had to be counted.

        After our experience in Miami in 2004, I worked as a poll judge in my local (suburban middle-class) precinct in 2006.  Some woman blew in during the afternoon, took one look at the very modest line, and said "I don't have time to wait in this line."  We (both Republican and Democratic election judges) told her that it was moving fast and was only about 10 minute wait.  Her reply:  "I don't have 10 minutes to waste waiting to vote."

        I have thought often about the contrast between that woman and the Haitian-Americans in Miami, who were willing to wait for hours in the Miami heat (and it was HOT there in early November 2004) to exercise their rights as American citizens.  As one of the local Haitian-American community activists told me when I expressed surprise and admiration that so few people were giving up and leaving, "Most of these people grew up in Haiti, where you're taking your life in your hands to vote.  After that experience, waiting in line for a few hours doesn't seem to be such a sacrifice."  If only more people who were born and raised in this country appreciated that right as much as they did!

        PROUD to be a Democrat!

        by leevank on Sun Jan 29, 2012 at 05:02:15 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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