Proud Republican for Obama Celebrates South Florida Headquarters Opening
On his extended-cab truck's bumper is a sticker you don't often see in these parts: Republicans for Obama. But Dan Moss, who lives in Lake Worth, came to the opening celebration of Barack Obama's South Florida office here in Delray Beach on Sept. 10 and happily mingled with more than 450 other supporters. He said he felt welcomed and was hopeful Obama would be the next president of the United States.
Moss' personal epiphany wasn't based on disappointment over the Bush administration's handling of the war in Iraq, outrage over Guantanamo torture, threatened civil liberties or job losses, although he freely acknowledges all those failures. His transformation came literally by seeing in Obama the qualities he cherished in his dear friend, Greg, a lifer Marine who died on April 11, 2006 from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident. He was only 44 years old.
Greg and Dan loved George Bush and Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly. "I voted for Bush twice. As long-standing conservative Republicans, we would take no ills from the likes of the left," he said. So what happened?
Moss, who takes no stock in soft-touch spiritualism, said that he heard the voice (and saw the face) of his friend Greg in Barack Obama. "I heard your voice coming from the television, Greg," he recalled. "Your welcoming smile, your truthful and sincere eyes. Greg, this guy could be your twin, a little on the skinny side, but I'm not just talking about looks, although he is a mutt like you, half-black and half-white."
Moss thought it was ridiculous so he looked away and tried to forget all about it, not wanting to identify with a "liberal Democrat." A year later, when Obama announced running for the presidency, Moss listened. Then he checked out Obama's web site. Despite voting for McCain in the Florida primary, Moss was slowly won over.
Finally, he realized that what seemed a spooky experience was just a journey back to the beloved American ideals Greg and he shared, that "Semper Fi" feeling that needs no explanation. "It's not the voice or the smile or because he reminded me of my friend. I began to really listen and like this guy. What is true are the goals we share, the prosperity we desire, the dreams we strive to achieve, the success we wish for our children, the health we bestow on our planet, the peace we crave for our world neighborhood, the health and well being every human deserves, the freedom to express and be heard, and the hope that ignites our souls."
That's why Moss now says, "United we stand and united we heal." He believes Greg is smiling down on him, saying, "Yes we can."
South Florida's Jews Not Fooled by Lieberman
Burt Richards was working the mic, corralling people to have their photos taken with the stand-up photo cut out of Barack Obama. A long time theatre critic for local press in South Florida, Richards is also a long-time Democratic volunteer. Did he think Joe Lieberman's appeal for John McCain, based largely on national security and support for Israel would make Jewish voters in Palm Beach County vote Republican?
"Lieberman's a cheat. He's only done this because he thought he'd get the number two spot on McCain's ticket. First he cheated the Democrats, then he cheated the Independents. Any president we elect will support Israel, an important ally in the Middle East. Even Bush, and it's why Obama went to Israel, to show that he would, too."
Gil Cohen, the head of the Boynton Beach Democratic Club had a swift answer to the same question, "No! We know he's pro-Israel. In our meetings we've spent time debunking a lot of those stupid rumors, like 'he's a Muslim.' It's a political ploy and this sort of thing has been going on for as long as I can remember, and I pre-date Methuselah! Sorry, a little Jewish humor... but Jews in Florida don't believe that anymore, if they ever did. We're convinced he's the right choice for president."
The Pigstick Smear Won't Work and Hillaryites are On Board
Linda Max of Delray Beach is worried about her children's future and none to impressed about the McCain campaign's attempt to smear Obama with trying to teach kindergartners wild sex. "It saddens me to hear these distortions. I want knowledge, so I've decided to get involved in politics again. I consider myself non-partisan and I listen to both sides. I watched both conventions and thought Obama was intelligent and inspirational. Sorry to say I thought McCain came across as snippy, although I did enjoy Sarah Palin's speech, but she brought things up that weren't germane. Although I like John McCain and deeply admire his service, I have a son who might get drafted if there is ever a draft again. So I'm here."
Gina Maniscalco and Kathleen Miller both favored Hillary Clinton. Gina, a lifelong Democrat never got involved in campaigns. But she's upset over the "Lipstick Smear" and the overall lack of substantive discussion coming from the Republican side. "They are making this out to be about personalities rather than issues of importance." And she sees the media as stoking the fires of silly controversy. "They're just another corporation looking for profits from campaign ads and talking heads yammering about gossip. Meanwhile, we've got a badly run war, an economy in real trouble, a loss of civil liberties and a troubled environment." She's certain that Sarah Palin won't drain Hillary votes. "It's just such a new thing for Republicans to have a woman on the ticket. How exciting for them; Democrats already did that. But Palin's anti-choice, anti-environment and knows next to nothing about the economy. Just being a Soccer Mom isn't enough to be vice president. Gender doesn't trump what you stand for."
Miller said it's the "urgency" of this race that captivates her. "This could be our last chance to save our country."
Sign Up Central
Wyatt Rockefeller is Deputy Regional Field Director for Palm Beach County, the Democratic Party's Campaign for Change. He was working hard during the opening celebration, organizing the efforts of phone bankers, voter registration volunteers and canvassers. "A lot of people have signed up to help make our dream a reality. All of us here are very happy to see so many people come out. More than 600 registered online to be here and this is just great."
Palm Beach County (along with Broward County) are Blue counties in a Red State thatso far appears up for grabs this year.
Hillaryite image is of Obama supporters Kathleen Miller and Gina Maniscalco