Busanksy tries to confront Bilirakis: "Why won't Gus talk?"
Of all of the restaurants within the 800 square miles that make up District 9, the campaign event for GOP candidate Gus Bilirakis on Tuesday night was held at Michael's Grill - an Italian Bistro practically next door to the HQ of his Democratic rival. So when Bilirakis pulled into the parking lot in Carrollwood around 5:30 p.m., Phyllis Busansky was waiting, flanked by a throng of sign-waving, t-shirt clad supporters.
"Gus Bilirakis has taken 'debate-ducking' to a level that will soon qualify as an Olympic sport," Busansky's campaign manager Robert Becker wrote in a press release. "Bilirakis will be within fifty feet of Phyllis' headquarters this evening – what a perfect opportunity for a debate!"
Bilirakis, who said he had been forewarned about five minute earlier, offered a quick hello as he made a stiff beeline for the restaurant.
"I think it's pretty low class and desperate," said Bilirakis' mother, Evelyn who was there with U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis. The host of the event, Walt Thatcher of Tampa, said he would selected a different restaurant had he known Busansky's headquarters was next door. But the candidate himself said he was not rattled by the crowd. "I'm fine...This is a meet and greet. It's been wonderful," he said. "I'm not hiding"
Busansky and her supporters said they were disappointed-- but not surprised -- that Bilirakis did not stop and talk. Instead they used home video footage of Bilirakis' tense arrival as fodder for a web-only campaign spot, entitled: Why won't Gus talk?