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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Barack Obama stops in on House Dems, briefly



Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama, who says he "cut my teeth" in the Illinois Legislature, stopped in Friday for a quick meet-and-greet with Florida's House and Senate Democrats.

There were so many lawmakers, citizens and reporters waiting to catch a glimpse of the Illinois senator, in Tallahassee for a private fundraiser, that he had trouble getting through the hallway of the Capitol and into the conference room of the House minority office.

Once inside, he shook lots of hands and smiled for lots of pictures. Rep. Dorothy Bendross-Mindingall kept finding him in the crowd and asking for a picture. At one point, he chuckled, "How many pictures is this?" She replied, as she posed once again, "Three!" A beaming Rep. Bill Heller, D-St. Petersburg, told Obama about his roots in Freeport, Ill.

ObamaHere he is with (from left) Reps. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach; Luis Garcia, D-Miami Beach; and Keith Fitzgerald, D-Sarasota.

Obama gave only brief remarks, promising that his run for president will be "a 50-state campaign. We want to make sure we're coming to states like Florida, and not just to fundraise."

The ex-state senator recalled successes in the Illinois Legislature, including "reforming the death penalty and making sure all children have health insurance"  -- issues being debated in Florida. He got a huge round of applause when he closed by saying he looks forward to serving Florida "not only as a visitor, but as a president."

At least one woman did not get to hear those remarks. As she tried to get in to see Obama, a tall man in a suit told her she had to leave because she wasn't a member of the press or a public official.

"I'm a guest," she said, before the man told her to leave.

- Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler and Jennifer Liberto

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 1:40pm]


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