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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Foot-in-mouth disease



TAMPA -- Jim Piccillo swears he was not a spy planted by the John McCain campaign to sabotage Barack Obama. Yes, he's a registered Republican, but all that phone banking and get-out-the-vote grunt work done on behalf of Mr. "Yes We Can" is for real.

So what made Piccillo, in front of thousands at the USF Sun Dome on Wednesday, introduce Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, as "John McCain"?

"A brain fart," he said.

"To be honest, I think it was just an everyman kind of moment," said the 34-year-old Land O'Lakes resident, who was watching a Rays playoff game at home Monday night when a party operative called and asked him to warm up the crowd for Biden. (see jump for the rest of the story)


Piccillo, who had been quoted briefly in a New York Times article about his abandoning the GOP, heartily accepted and immediately began working on a speech. The draft was traded back and forth between him and the Obama campaign and was revised "seven or eight times."

On top of page three is a reference to McCain, and Piccillo thinks he must have glanced down at it when it came time to say the senator's name. However, he didn't realize he had named the wrong senator. The crowd cheered, and Biden stepped on stage without missing a beat. It wasn't until he was driving home that they learned about the flub, played on WFUS-FM 103.5. "We thought it was a joke, that they'd spliced it in," said Piccillo's fiancee, Sandi Keeble.

Then the reporters started calling. No, Piccillo told them, he didn't get paid by the McCain campaign. He just messed up. "This is the biggest foot I've ever had in my mouth," he said.


[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 8:54am]


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