FORT LAUDERDALE -- A last-minute flurry of misleading e-mails -- along with seven pieces of mailed literature -- bombarded vote-rich areas of South Florida over the weekend and Monday in a blatant attempt to discredit Sen. Barrack Obama and urge balloting for the Republican ticket. Meantime, more than 4.2 million Floridians stood in lines up to five hours to cast early votes.
"It is the most hateful kind of messages," says one recipient of the Republican mailings. He had already voted absentee.
On Sunday evening and Monday morning, an onslaught of vicious messages-- in opposition to the Democratic campaign -- charged not only that Obama is insincere but said all the polls being reported by the media were in error and actually had an 80% "refuse to respond" result.
The Republican National Committee also used absentee ballot request lists and flooded the post office with seven separate anti-Obama messages, one decrying his "liberal friends" in Hollywood.
Another email blast Monday claimed that "Obama was the Manchurian candidate," referring to the 1959 thriller novel written by Richard C ondon in which an American politician is brainwashed into becoming an unwilling assassin for the communists. The original movie was condemned by several veteran's organizations, including the American Legion.
"This kind of campaigning is pathetic and inappropriate," said Broward County Democratic Chairman and Democratic National Committee member Mitch Ceasar in Fort Lauderdale. "It stoops to a new low."
Despite the onslaught, state reports indicate more than 4.2 million (out of 11.4 million registered voters) have already cast their ballots, either by absentee or in early voting, amounting to one- third of the total Sunshine State electorate.
Of these, some 46 percent had identified themselves as Democrats while 38 percent said they were Republicans; the balance, identified themselves as Independents. Early voters were predominately Democrats while those voting by Absentee Ballots are primarily registered for the GOP by a 2 to 1 margin.
Insiders say the hate literature and discredited emails were primarily being aimed at South Florida, which has the largest Democratic population in the State. The votes out of South Florida -- especially vote-rich Broward County with its 989,000 voters ( 80 percent Democratic) -- usually have a counter-effect on more conservative voters in the northern part of the State. The Central Florida I- 4 corridor -- from the Space Coast through Orlando to the Tampa Bay area -- in past elections, has been split between the two parties.
"This last minute surge in hate literature shows the desperation of the Republicans," said Democratic State Committteewoman and Democratic National Committee member Dianne Glasser of Tamarac, a Broward suburban city.
Writer Dave Goodwin of Miami- Dade, took aim at both parties for running misleading or negative campaigns.
"This campaign has been more hate-filled and lie-filled... and one in which the GOP is
probably more guilty (in volume and in dirtiness) than the Dems. Both are far below an acceptable level of politics.
"As to the issues, they've been largely lost in the dust. Most voters, I feel, don't have a clear or honestly-presented picture of where each candidate truly stands or what his true background is. The press has not done its job of digging. We should have learned from Bush II to demand more clarity. We didn't. We're paying a very heavy price, and it will get worse no matter who wins. Both parties have let us down. We're in deep trouble," Goodwin said.
Florida voters are being courted vigorously in the last hours of the campaign. Sen. McCain was in Miami at a huge Cuban-American rally (denouncing Fidel Castro) before heading to the Tampa Bay area, yesterday. Gov, Sarah Palin was in North Florida in two of the more conservative of the Sunshine State's 67 counties. And former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani and Florida's GOP Sen. Mel Martinez criss-crossed the peninsula for the Republican ticket.
Meanwhile, Vice Presidential candidate Sen, Joe Biden drew huge crowds on college campuses in Gainesville, Orlando and Daytona Beach, and Obama surrogates -- including entertainment celebrities and politicians -- were in dozens of cities, working on get-out-the-vote campaigns, encouraging Tuesday's remaining voters. Sen. Obama also stopped in Florida in the final 48 hours of the campaign, touching down for a rally in Jacksonville.
Many Floridians still believe the State (with its 27 electoral votes) will be critical in the final tally of States in the Electoral College. They are reminded that no Republican has been elected without winning the Sunshine State since 1924 and recall the nightmare finale of 2000 when a disputed tally gave the presidency to George Bush by some 500 votes.
"But, it ain't gonna happen this year," an Obama supporter emphasized,
On everyone's mind in the final hours of the campaign are the 184,000 new voters on the rolls since 2004 in Florida, 55 percent registered as Democrats. 'Will they show up at the polls and will they make the difference?"