By Ted Manna
AR Chief Political Correspondent
Merritt Island, Fla.
December 2, 2015
CHEERING THEIR FIRST CHOICE
ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 2, 2015 -- The banners waved, the signs were up, the chants wafted across the filled-to-capacity parking lot today at the Meadow Woods Recreation Center here as the former Secretary of State and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton brought her "fighting for us" campaign to this largely Republican bastion in the swing state of Florida.
She picked the right location, according to Maria Padilla, founder and editor of Florida Latino, a weekly newspaper. Ms. Padilla told The American Reporter the area boasts a large Hispanic population tied to the booming Orlando economy, which has seen some of Florida's highest increases in home sales and value. Immigration is a huge issue here, and candidates from both parties are courting the Hispanic vote.
On her fourth trip to Florida, Mrs. Clinton sought to dispel the 'untrustworthy' banner draped around her shoulders by Republicans. Most people in the crowd agreed that the label was foisted on the American public by "untrustworthy" media outlets.
Confidant, poised, looking like she was having the time of her life, casually coiffed and beautifully blonde, the former First Lady, U.S. Senator from New York and U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton looked every bit ready to be President.
And many of her her supporters seemed eager to watch her "roll over' any Republican nominee.
This is not a campaign of insults, accusations and thinly veiled innuendo. Hillary talked about her plans for "bringing back the basic bargain of America, an America where if you work hard you can expect to get ahead. We will make it real again."
"She revealed her plan for buying America back," said Jorge Silva, director of Hispanic media in the Hillary for America campaign.
"America is standing strong, but it is not yet running as well as it should," Clinton said. "We are fighting for an America where wages rise, not taxes."
Tragically, while Secretary Clinton reminded her enthusiastic and energetic supporters that "33,000 Americans die every year from gun violence," a shooting rampage blasted a disability center in San Bernadino County, California..
"Everything I've outlined is supported by 92% of Americans, Clinton claimed. "We are standing up to the gun lobby. We have one word for this - basta! (enough!). The words drew huge applause, but as she spoke, no one in the audience yet knew that gun violence had again taken center stage in America as two suspected terrorists shot and killed 14 people and injured 21 more in San Bernadino, Calif.
Not baring any fangs but showing the crowd how tough she is, Mrs. Clinton reminded supporters, "We are fighting to keep us safe. We are fighting to defeat terrorism. We are lifting each other up and we have our neighbors' backs."
The biggest applause came when Mrs. Clinton put "protecting women's rights" in her list of battles.
"Republicans have insulted everybody," she laughed. "They are all trying to out-Trump Trump," she quipped, one of the only times she even mentioned the opposition.
The packed auditorium had the look and feel of a presidential campaign, with the nomination all but a foregone conclusion. These were not hesitant supporters, people immediately ready to defend their candidate and her achievements.
"Tested," "most experienced candidate in 100 years," "will get the job done," were among the qualifications often repeated by her supporters. Jeannie from Sebastian, Fla., smiled and added this to Hillary Clinton's accolades: "I think her husband Bill will lend some good support."
Mrs. Clinton has yet to trot out Bill, Chelsea and granddaughter Charlotte, perhaps saving them for the real race against the eventual Republican nominee. But she doesn't need them yet.
Comfortably ahead in most polls, and going into Iowa next month where in 2008 she suffered an unexpected loss, Mrs. Clinton appears to have clear sailing ahead.
"If you're ready for me, I'm ready for you," she said Monday at a Capitol Hill fundraiser attended by 13 Democratic women Senators, missing only Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D-MA) , who has yet to endorse any presidential candidate.
"It would take something extraordinary to get all 13 of us here at one time," said California Senator Barbara Boxer. "That 'something extraordinary' is Hillary Clinton."
It was the first time the Clinton campaign has opened a fundraiser to all members of the press, a decision that reflected the historic nature of her candidacy, after a more reluctant handling of Mrs. Clinton's gender during her 2008 campaign.
Mrs. Clinton has yet to trot out Bill, Chelsea and granddaughter Charlotte, perhaps saving them for the real race against the eventual Republican nominee. But she doesn't need them yet, judging from the enthusiasm that greeted her in Orlando.
The women's vote is not an absolute lock, however. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders's presidential campaign claimed to have drawn over 300,000 female donors in a report released last week in the Washington Post.
AR's Chief Political Correspondent, Ted Manna, has reported on political campaigns for AR since 2007. He is based in Merritt Island, Fla. Reach him at email@example.com