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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Hillary Clinton supporters see hope in Broward County

11

February

Hillary Clinton’s campaign opened its first office in South Florida in Democratic-rich Broward County Wednesday night.

Former U.S. Rep. Ron Klein, D-Boca Raton, and former state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston spoke on behalf of Clinton at the opening of her Pompano Beach office.

Clinton supporters expressed optimism about her chances in Florida despite the fact that she just barely beat Bernie Sanders in Iowa and lost by a landslide to him in New Hampshire.

“These are two tiny states that reflect only their own little states,” Klein said, noting that New Hampshire is largely white. “Now we are beginning to campaign into the real states.”

Some Clinton volunteers expressed concern.

“I think she got a real scare,” said Peter Lent, a retired criminal defense attorney from Fort Lauderdale. “I am more worried now than I was six months ago. But I take a long view -- and so does she.”

So far, Clinton has invested far more time in South Florida than Sanders. Both candidates gave speeches at the National Urban League conference in Fort Lauderdale in July, but Clinton also gave a speech in Miami in July as well as at Broward College in Davie in October.

Clinton will hold a public event at the Port of Palm Beach in Riviera Beach at 2 p.m. Monday. She also holds fundraisers in Palm Beach and Miami that day.

The Sanders’ campaign has not announced any events in South Florida leading up to the March 15 primary. Broward has 550,000 registered Democrats -- the highest number in the state -- so the county could play a key role in the primary.

Floridians start voting next week when absentee ballots hit mailboxes. The Broward Supervisor of Elections expects to send 102,000 absentee ballots Tuesday -- the number is 157,000 in Miami-Dade.

Clinton led Sanders 64 to 25 percent in Florida, according to a Real Clear Politics average of polls between Oct. 28 and Jan. 18. But those polls were before the first two states voted.

Clinton and Sanders will face off in a debate in Milwaukee Thursday night.

[Last modified: Thursday, February 11, 2016 8:40am]

    

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