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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Friday | November 01, 2002

McBride goes to Little Haiti looking for votes

A couple of days ago, posters on this site wondered about the political repercussions of the plight of hundreds of Haitian refugees who swarmed ashore earlier in the week.

The Haitians are being detained, and should be expelled soon. However, this has brought out a great deal of anger amongst Florida Haitians who resent the special treatment Cubans receive (automatic asylum if they reach shore).

Well, for two days now Jeb has been hammered on the issue, with McBride rushing to Little Haiti to garner support and votes. The immigration question is so hot, in fact, that the press all but ignored a visit by Rudy Giuliani, focusing on the plight of the Haitians.

Bush continues to lead in most polls, but McBride strategists view the crisis as a timely weapon to mobilize Haitian voters and possibly hundreds of thousands of additional black voters across the state.


''The governor should have been out in front on this, using his power and the bully pulpit,'' McBride told a packed room of Haitian-American leaders at a community center in the heart of Little Haiti. ``The voters legitimately can ask why he hasn't been talking prior to this.''

Later, McBride made a more direct criticism of his opponent, accusing the governor of waiting for a crisis to occur before speaking out -- ever so lightly -- against his brother's policy.

''He's only saying it now, just before the election,'' McBride said. ``If he disagreed in his heart with his brother, he would have gotten it changed.''


Republican strategists say that the Haitian migrant issue is hot in Miami but does not resonate in other parts of the state, where voters are more consumed by schools, taxes and prescription drugs.

In a bit of Keystone Kops maneuvering, Jeb decided the blunt the beating he was taking by announcing new tax breaks for Little Haiti business -- only to discover at the last minute that the state hadn't completed all the necessary paperwork.
Bryan Finnie, who oversees the enterprise-zone program for Miami-Dade County, said he was surprised to get phone calls from the governor's office Thursday saying that Bush would be announcing today that the county's enterprise zone would be expanded to include Little Haiti.

The designation was already in the works, but Finnie said he wasn't expecting approval for another two or three weeks.


State Sen. Kendrick Meek, a Miami Democrat and son of Rep. Meek who sponsored a bill passed by the Legislature this year permitting Miami-Dade to ask the state to expand the existing enterprise zone to Little Haiti, was outraged.

''It's a diversion tactic, and it's insulting,'' he said.

The governor's office denied that politics was involved in the effort to make the announcement today.

''It was more of a coincidence than anything else,'' said Bush spokesman David Bishop.

Coincidence? Must be another one of Jeb's "devious" plans to cover up the utter failure of the Bush brothers' immigration policies.

Posted November 01, 2002 07:59 AM | Comments (14)


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