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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Democrats boo Jeb at Nelson-Obama fundraiser, but Obama defends him



bushobama.jpgFrom the pool reporter covering the Democratic fundraiser for Sen. Bill Nelson featuring President Barack Obama. THE FONTAINBLEAU HOTEL, MIAMI

Several hundred people were in a brightly-lit ballroom room awaiting POTUS; ticket prices were $100, according to one attendee. Sen. Patty Murray introduced Sen. Nelson. “Coming through a race like I came through I know that every person counts, every dollar counts and every minute counts leading up to this election,’’ she told the crowd.

She introduced Nelson, who quickly introduced POTUS. “Fired up!” he shouted, as he took the stage. The crowd cheered. “Yes we can,’’ Mr. Obama said.

Obama said he had just been with Jeb Bush (Getty Images photo from earlier event at Miami high school). The crowd booed and hissed. He said he knew that the name Bush was not one people might ordinarily hear at a Democratic fundraiser. “Even though Gov Bush and I disagree on a range of issues we agree on the importance of education to America.’’

Obama then recounted the uplifting story of the revamping of Miami Central, how students, parents and teachers, business people, community leaders came together to remake the school, how math scores are up by more than 60 percent, graduation rates went from 30 percent to 63 percent.

“I tell this story because making this kind of progress isn’t easy but its proof that its possible. It’s still possible for us to tackle tough problems in a constructive way. We don’t have to be calling each other names, it doesn’t have to be an ideological battle.’’

“Now part of the reason we’re all here is because we intend to win the next election. We believe in our vision for the future. There’s nothing wrong with winning. We wouldn’t be involved if we didn’t think we had better ideas. But each of us that wants to serve the public also has a responsibility beyond winning elections.’’

He said, “The biggest contest we face is not between Democrats and Republicans ,’’ adding that it is between the US and competitors in the rest of the world.

Mr. Obama then went into a defense of his budget proposal, and his plan to out-educate, out-innovate – you know the riff – the rest of the world, all the while cutting spending where he can. He said he didn’t want to face Malia and Sasha in 20 years without tackling the deficit and have them say, “My gosh, Dad you really didn’t take care of business.”

He said “I am willing to cut whatever spending we can afford, what I am not willing to do is to cut back on the basic investments that are going to allow us to win the future’’ And here, Mr. Obama’s voice grew bolder and louder, as if giving an actual stump speech.

He wrapped up: “I believe we can find common ground. I believe we can have government that lives within its means without sacrificing the future for our kids and to do that we’re going to have to compromise.’’ He added, “each side is not going to get everything they want, and I have to say that to Democrats sometimes.’’

Mr. Obama told his audience that in the coming months they would have a choice. “We can allow gridlock and stalemate to prevail, we can focus on what the other side is saying about the other, or we can focus on what they’re saying about me.’’ And here, someone interrupted, shouting out, “We love you!” “I know YOU do,’’ the president replied, before picking up: “Or we can focus on what it takes to win the future.’’

[Last modified: Friday, March 4, 2011 7:10pm]


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