Saturday, September 11, 2004

Politics in the Tropics: "A weary Eva Stines is troubled these days. Her house was demolished by the double punch of two successive hurricanes that hit this central Florida town in the last month—and a third monster Atlantic storm may be headed her way next week.

"With all that, she isn't thinking about: the 2004 presidential campaign, saying 'politics is the last thing on everybody's mind right now.'"

"For Bush, it's essential to deliver much-needed relief services, so as not to repeat 1992, when his father lost the state after being slow to respond to Hurricane Andrew."

"Bush made a highly visible sweep through Florida on Wednesday, pledging at least $2 billion in aid and immediate attention from both the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Small Business Administration."

"Kerry has not campaigned in Florida since accepting the Democratic presidential nomination in late July."

"Lois Frankel, the Democratic mayor of West Palm Beach, one of the communities hardest hit by Hurricane Frances, said she is setting partisan politics aside and pulling for Bush.

"'As partisan as I am, I don't have the luxury for analysis of this storm in political terms—I'm just trying to get whatever I can from whomever I can,' she said. 'If President Bush shines because he delivers for the state of Florida, that's what I want for this city.'"

"No matter how Bush fares in the eyes of Floridians in the coming weeks, experts say any political bounce or deflation from the storms will be short-lived. 'Once people get their power back, they tend to forget about these kinds of things,' said Brad Coker, a Florida pollster."

"In late August, within days after Hurricane Charley hit, he said, 26% of Polk County residents voted in a statewide primary—a far better average than the 20% turnout that pollsters predicted.

"'Absolutely, when election day comes, people will go to the polls—unless, of course, another hurricane hits that day.'"

Election Day is November 2. Hurricane Season ends November 30.

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