With President Barack Obama almost certainly needing to carry Florida in 2012 to stay in the White House, Vice President Joe Biden tried to rally Democrats in a speech Friday night at Walt Disney World, insisting that the presidential election came down to the Sunshine State.
Speaking at the 2011 Florida Democratic convention, Biden emphasized how high the stakes are in Florida. Biden was introduced by Democrat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson who is running for a third term in 2012.
Youre going to see an awful lot of me, said Biden, promising to focus on the Sunshine State and other swing states -- Iowa, New Hampshire, Ohio and Pennsylvania. We plan on winning Florida. We cant win without Florida.
Ignoring the fact that the national unemployment rate went from 7.6 in January 2009, when Obama took office, to 9.1 percent in September 2011, Biden claimed the administration inherited an economic mess from President George W. Bush. Biden said, in January 2009, the nation was on the verge of a depression.
Biden took aim at Republicans for attacking the Obama administration on increasing the federal deficit, calling them hypocrites for not having controlled it under Bush. They gave us a bubble and called it an economy, Biden said.
The vice president praised the Obama administration for bailing out financial institutions and the auto industry. Biden claimed federal bailouts of the auto industry led to 1 million jobs being saved. Ignoring the national unemployment rate rising under Obamas watch, Biden maintained that the White House had presided over 19 months of job growth in the private sector.
Insisting the nation had been ready to turn the corner on the economy, Biden slammed Republicans controlling the U.S. House for playing roulette on the debt. Biden bashed the GOP for blocking the Obama economic agenda. Theyre standing in the way of progress, said Biden.
Biden signaled that the White House was ready to attack Republicans in Congress. Quoting Franklin Roosevelts attacks on Republican congressional leaders in Martin, Barton and Fish from the 1940 election, Biden took aim at Boehner, Cantor and Mitch -- a shot at U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The vice president also brought in the Republican presidential candidates, insisting that former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Gov. Rick Perry of Texas are following the same game plan. Theyre singing out of the same hymn book, he said.
Biden also took shots at Gov. Rick Scott, slamming him for turning down federal funds for high-speed rail, backing an Arizona-style immigration law and cutting education funds.
Besides kicking over the economy, Biden also weighed in on foreign policy, pointing to Obamas announcement earlier in the month that American forces were pulling out of Iraq by the end of the year. Calling it perhaps the most important task Obama had performed, Biden told a cheering crowd that the administration had targeted terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, leading to his death at the hands of American servicemen. While acknowledging the 2012 election would not be fought over foreign policy, Biden said the current field of Republican presidential candidates had a long way to go to be qualified on international issues.
This is not your fathers Republican Party, said Biden, kicking the GOP presidential field and Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for not praising Obama after the death of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
The vice president closed with a shot at Bush.
The choice is stark and clear, said Biden. Name me one major initiative on taxes, on jobs, on Wall Street, on foreclosures ... the Republicans offer that is any different at all from the eight years they controlled the presidency.
With their party reeling after the 2010 election cycle, other Florida Democrats spoke, stressing how important the Sunshine State would be in 2012.
While Obama carried Florida in 2008, Republicans crushed Democrats in the Sunshine State in 2010.
Gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink came close to defeating Republican nominee Scott, who was bloodied in a brutal primary with Bill McCollum, but the rest of the Democratic ticket went down in flames in 2010. Republicans buried the three Democrats in the state Cabinet races. Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek finished a distant third in the U.S. Senate race. Four Florida Democrats -- Allen Boyd, Alan Grayson, Ron Klein and Suzanne Kosmas -- were thrown out of Congress.
Republicans continued to build their majority in the Florida Legislature and won enough seats to override vetoes in both the House and Senate. After the 2010 elections, Democrats held only 39 of the 120 seats in the Florida House and 12 of the 40 seats in the Florida Senate.
We need to send President Obama and Vice President Biden back to the White House in 2012, said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.
Wasserman Schultz spoke on behalf of Obamas jobs plan and attacked Republican presidential hopeful Romney for wanting to cut taxes for businesses and higher earning Americans.
President Obama has done so much, Wasserman Schultz said. He prevented the economy from going over a cliff.
Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith, a former state senator who unsuccessfully ran for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2006 and was the partys lieutenant governor nominee on the defeated 2010 ticket, stressed Democrats need Nelson to win if they want to keep control of the Senate in 2012, insisting that the upper chamber was hanging in the balance.
Smith maintained that Democrats would vote in full force in 2012 to help Obama win Florida and keep Nelson in the Senate. The Democrats are going to bring voters back to the polls, said Smith.
Lenny Curry, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) slammed the Florida Democrats and Obama in a statement released on Friday.
Tonight while Florida Democrats gather in Orlando, I am reminded that at a fundraiser in San Francisco this week, President Obama said, We have lost our ambition, our imagination, and our willingness to do the things that built the Golden Gate Bridge ...," Curry said. A month earlier in Orlando, Obama told a local TV interviewer: 'I mean, there are a lot of things we can do. The way I think about it is, you know, this is a great, great country that had gotten a little soft and, you know, we didn't have that same competitive edge that we needed over the last couple of decades. We need to get back on track.'
Well, while Democrats meet in one of the nations most innovative and creative entertainment/attraction centers, I hope they find a way to stop blaming the American people for their own failure of vision, Curry added. Here in Florida, we Republicans know that the blame lies with failed Washington policies that take too much of our money and infringe on our freedoms. We offer a positive alternative to the Democrats pessimism. We offer a vision that unleashes the power of the small-business entrepreneur. We will get government out of the way and let the next wave of American prosperity start right here in the Sunshine State. In one year and just a few days, we will give the American people a president who believes that the people -- not omnipotent government -- are not soft or lacking imagination. The American people are ready, all we need is a true leader.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.