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Rep. Kendrick Meek takes long route to Haiti

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek represents more Haitians than any other politician and has traveled to the country a lot.

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U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek represents more Haitians than any other politician and has traveled to the country a lot.

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek represents more Haitians in the United States than any other politician, so it is no surprise he wanted to see the devastation firsthand.

His way of getting there, however, was unusual.

Saturday night Meek purchased an American Airlines ticket in Miami, which put him in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, at 12:30 a.m. Sunday. From there he hired a local driver, drove overnight to the Haitian-Dominican Republic border and then continued to Port-au-Prince's Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport, where he arrived about 7 a.m., according to his office.

That afternoon, Meek used his iPhone to capture video of a 2-year-old girl being rescued from the rubble. He uploaded it to YouTube, where most major news outlets picked it up.

"The fact that she would come out five days after being buried under all of that rock and gravel is just a blessing," Meek said Monday on Fox News. Since the earthquake last Tuesday, Meek has appeared on TV numerous times.

The attention comes as Meek is the leading Democrat in the race for the U.S. Senate seat vacated last year by Mel Martinez. The attention to Haiti could be seen as a way to boost his campaign.

At the same time, Meek has clear ties to the Haitian community. Since being elected to the House in 2002, he has visited the country about 15 times, according to his office.

"This is not out of character," said spokesman Adam Sharon, adding the campaign has been virtually suspended since last week.

Sharon said Meek hoped to be back in Washington this evening.

Watch Meek's video

See the girl's rescue at links.tampabay.com.

Rep. Kendrick Meek takes long route to Haiti 01/18/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 5:49pm]
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