It was one of those public appearances that members of Congress gamely endure back home.
Rep. Charles Canady was listening to fifth-graders in Lakeland read their compositions.
And there she was _ the teacher, 23-year-old Jennifer Houghton _ the woman he'd been waiting for.
That was May 3. They are to be married Oct. 12.
Canady, 42, is a lifelong bachelor. "I waited for the best," he said.
It turned out Canady, a Republican, and Houghton attend the same church in Lakeland, Covenant Presbyterian, so he prodded mutual friends to set them up.
They were engaged by the end of the summer, and Houghton decided not to resume teaching. She will be splitting her time between Washington and Lakeland.
"She's spent a great deal of time with me on the circuit. She's gone to most of my town hall meetings during August, various campaign events."
So, Canady said, Houghton knows what she's getting into as a political spouse.
Democrats: Dole plan
Bob Dole's proposed tax cut would eliminate a significant source of funding for Medicare, cutting revenues by $55-billion during the next decade, according to Democratic estimates.
Dole's tax plan would get rid of some Social Security tax revenues among wealthy seniors. These tax revenues go into the Medicare Part A trust fund _ the portion of the health-insurance program that funds hospital coverage, which is going broke.
"Once again, Medicare is being brought out to the stake to be the whipping program for a massive tax-cut proposal," said Bob Graham, D-Fla.
Specifically, the Dole plan would repeal a 1993 law that requires the wealthiest senior citizens to report more of their Social Security income in their tax calculations.
Before the change, the richest 13 percent of seniors had to include 50 percent of the Social Security income. The 1993 law, which applies to individuals making more than $34,000 and couples making more than $44,000, raised the amount to 85 percent of the income.
During the next ten years, the repeal of the tax would cut at least $4-billion in Medicare revenue each year, the estimates show.
It's in the mail
Every time Dole visits Florida he mentions a letter the late Rep. Claude Pepper sent him after their work on the 1983 Social Security bailout. In Dole's mind, the letter from the Democratic patron saint of the elderly proves his worth on seniors issues such as Medicare.
"We took it out of politics and saved Social Security," he says. "Now 37-million people get their checks."
In his brief visit to St. Petersburg Monday, Dole hinted he may go one better:
"I've got a nice letter from Claude Pepper that's probably going to be mailed to everybody in Florida between now and Nov. 5."
Hip to be heavy
Although he may be at the top of the GOP ticket, Dole is no match for Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster and former drug czar William Bennett when it comes to eating.
The hulking pair joined Dole one night last week for a supper of seafood casserole.
"I don't think you want to get between me and him and a stuffed crab," Bennett said in reference to Foster.
Bennett puts himself, Foster and other conservative heavyweights such as Rush Limbaugh and House Speaker Newt Gingrich in a category he's dubbed "bulky chic."
_ Information from Times staff writers Ceci Connolly, Ellen Debenport and Katherine Gazella was used in this report.