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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

The abortion debate fallout: a non-apology and a departure

The four-hour vitriolic abortion debate in the Florida House left scars.

Much of the dismay focused on Rep. Alan Hays, who made incendiary baby-killer remarks comparing abortion to the Holocaust. Rep. Richard Steinberg, a Jewish Democrat from Miami Beach, took great offense and asked for an apology.

The Umatilla Republican never publicly apologized, though GOP leaders said he did so privately to Steinberg. But those on the House floor who overheard the conversation between the two men said Hays, a Baptist, didn’t understand why his remarks were so offensive and continued to rationalize his statements.

Hays, a committee chairman, went even further, saying that he didn’t understand why African Americans get upset about the Confederate battle flag because it’s a part of their heritage, said those who heard the conversation.

Hays couldn’t be reached for comment and Steinberg didn’t want to talk about it. Asked if he apologized, Steinberg said “sort of.”

Another major player in the legislation, Rep. Scott Randolph, an Orlando Democrat, said after the debate he is not likely to return to the Florida House.

He said the abortion debate, in which he gave a sobbing account of his wife’s miscarriage that brought his male colleagues to tears, was not the direct reason. But he acknowledged next year, with the conservative “new Senate,” it’s only going to be more of the same right-wing agenda.

Randolph said he would seek Gov. Charlie Crist’s appointment to the Orange County Commission after the governor removed a commissioner who was arrested for grand theft, bribery and illegal campaign contributions. And he suggested his wife might run for his legislative seat.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:33pm]

    

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