Live Blogging Dan Rather in St. Petersburg: Early Call for Clinton and McCain Looking Good
Former CBS anchor Dan Rather brought a stripped down show to Eckerd College tonight for reporting on the Florida primaries -- but he seems to like it just fine.
In a converted classroom staffers jokingly call their "war room," Rather whiled away the minutes before his broadcast joking about longtime pal and Texas Tech baskeball coach Bobby Knight, along with plans for his own Web site, as a way of helping out with HD Net's lagging, bare bones online platform.
Despite his hope of playing down polling in coverage, Rather opened his broadcast here at 8 p.m. noting that early projections give Clinton a big win in Florida and exit polls show Giuliani placing third with about 18 percent of the vote. McCain seems to be doing well with Hispanics, senior citizens and -- though not as much as you would expect -- military veterans.
Rather told me before the broadcast his figures showed more absentee ballots cast by Democrats than Republicans and more absentee votes cast now than for the 2006 election.
Democratic strategist Donnie Fowler just compared Clinton to Peanuts' Lucy Van Pelt, lifting the football from Charlie "Obama" Brown every time he tries to kick the nomination into the goal posts (would that have anything to do with his past as a Clinton strategist?)
Republican Mike Murphy points out Clintons presence in the state allows her to mount a victory party, despite the fact that no Democratic candidate has campaigned here. Obama will "have 100 press secretaries calling reporters and saying 'come on, it's just a beauty contest.'
Murphy says Romney seems to be losing Brevard County, Pasco County and Sarasota. He also gives romney credit for flying in big donors to Florida, so they can either "have a big party with champaign, or have a serious meeting."
The crowd here seems earnest. engaged and a little star struck. Every joke gets a healthy laugh, especially Fowler's comment that "Democratics are loking forward to running against any Republican."
And we can now note the first Rather-ism: He just said "this race is loser than hairs on a frog." Soon after he asked whether is was time "for their fingernails to start sweating." I can die happy now.