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Past Florida inaugurations offer insight

TALLAHASSEE — At its core, a governor's inauguration is a hand on a Bible, an oath and the first speech. Yet the festivities surrounding this simple ritual offer insights into the outlook and personality of the individual taking power. A look back:

Charlie Crist (2007)

He abruptly canceled the inaugural ball after newspapers criticized the high cost — reflecting a temperament highly attuned to public sentiment and media image. Pledging more openness and less partisanship, Crist walked to the podium to Aaron Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man. His 18-minute speech included the word "people'' 22 times.

Lawton Chiles (1991 and 1995)

Chiles' 1991 inaugural had the feel of a giant family reunion. With the oath and speech done, he changed into his trademark plaid shirt and worked the crowd at the "Florida Jubilee." Four years later, an exultant Chiles played off a debate line that has become part of political lore — "the old he-coon walks just before the light of the day." Wearing a thrift-store coon-skin vest, Chiles took the stage at the street festival and began shooting potatoes from a homemade bazooka, aiming at one point at the Governor's Mansion.

Bob Graham (1979)

A light snow fell as a crowd of about 2,500 huddled under blankets to watch the new governor be sworn in. Chief Justice Arthur England, tired of shivering, began the ceremony 15 minutes early, declaring it noon by judicial fiat. Among the honored guests, Graham invited the 100 people he had shared his trademark "workdays'' with during the campaign.

Claude Kirk


The first Republican governor since Reconstruction, Kirk had a flare for the dramatic. He added to the intrigue considerably when he appeared at the inaugural ball with a tall, blond woman who spoke with a slight foreign accent, introduced only as "Madam X.'' German-born Brazilian Erika Mattfeld, 32, became Kirk's bride and the state's first lady a month later.

Past Florida inaugurations offer insight 01/03/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 3, 2011 8:48pm]
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