Democrat consultant James Carville stirred an audience of about 1,000 at the Lowry Park band shell Saturday. Carville was at the event to praise gubernatorial candidate Bill McBride and humorously referred to incumbent Jeb Bush as “Governor Traffic Light.”
“You have a governor in this state whose singular achievement in office is that he installed a traffic light,” Carville said. “In all my years in politics, I have never seen any governor running for re-election take credit for a traffic light.”
The reference was a mock of a Bush commercial in which he boasted of having a traffic light installed in a small North Florida town, allowing school children more safety.
“I’ll give him credit for the traffic light,” Carville said. “Hell, we’ve got those in Louisiana.”
Before handing the microphone over to Bill McBride, Carville, a longtime Democrat strategist and former President Bill Clinton’s campaign manager, got one last hit on Bush that got the crowd screaming and chanting.
“Put your traffic light in, and get the hell out of here,” he said.McBride pressed his case against Bush to the rowdy crowd, as well.
“We’ve had him for four years as a governor who hasn’t helped kids, who hasn’t helped seniors, who hasn’t helped veterans,” McBride said. “If I’m elected, we’ll have a governor who works for everyone.”
The rally, which was open to the public, was not only meant to help support McBride but also encourage voter participation.
“Don’t (vote) for James Carville, because I don’t even live here. You don’t have to do it for Bill McBride because he is an enormously successful man. You have do it for the people who are counting on you,” Carville said. “For the people that are not here today.”
Carville added that the race is for the children, the hard workers, the people who are sick and the people who do not have representation in the governor’s office.
Carville said that Republicans are powerhungry, and that Democrats are for the people.
“What is the greater motivating fact here? Them serving power or you helping people?” he said. “Your motivation, they can’t pay for it.”
McBride said his campaign is on the last push to get out the vote.
“We have to tell the people of Florida that this is the opportunity to set the state back on the right course,” he said. “I am proud to be your candidate, and I will win.”
McBride said the governor has nothing to sell about his program, and that is why the campaign has been a negative one.
“He does not have a program that he can brag about. He can’t say the last four years have been great,” he said. “If you like your status quo and like the way things have been, vote to re-elect this governor. If you think we can do better in public schools, if you think our seniors really deserve prescription drug benefits, if you think health care is important, if you think this state should be better, join with me.”
McBride said the reason President George W. Bush came to Florida Saturday was because it is a very close race and the president wants to help get out the vote in favor of Republicans.
“I think family should support each other, and it is very understandable,” he said. “If he didn’t come, it would be odd, and if my brother was president, he would come down here, too.”
But, McBride’s wife, Alex Sink,had a different reason for the president’s visit.
“He is spending $43 million of the taxpayers’ money to travel around the country and campaign,” Sink said.
The Tampa lawyer is planning to campaign for the next couple of days up until Tuesday, Election Day.
“I am going to be in South Florida the next couple of days mostly and traveling all of Florida Monday,” he said. “So, basically, it is a get-out-the-vote effort and we want a big turnout.”
Saturday night and Sunday, McBride was in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale and Miami to rally for the state. Joining him were Clinton and Democratic primary challengers Janet Reno and Daryl Jones. Former vice president and presidential candidate Al Gore will also be in the state to help McBride.
Buddy Dyer, who is running for attorney general, and several Hillsborough representatives from the Florida House and the Senate also attended Saturday’s rally at Lowry Park. All of them encouraged people to get out to the polls and vote, vote early.