Clinton Joins Obama on Stump in Florida

For the first time since their Unity, N.H., event in June, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama was joined this evening by his formal rival, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, at a campaign event in Florida.

Clinton was the first to speak, and immediately reminded voters of the election's proximity. The former first lady urged the crowd to hit the streets and make the calls needed to convince Florida's undecideds to vote for Obama.

"Tell them Hillary sent you to vote for Barack Obama," she exclaimed, then asked how many audience members had already voted.

Clinton again reminded supporters of the importance of the election and the impending deadline, encouraging them to keep on moving.

Jake Tapper
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After Clinton concluded her remarks, Obama greeted the crowd with a "Hello, Orlando," then quickly launched into a slightly updated version of his standard stump speech.

Obama asked supporters to believe in themselves, and promised that if they stood with him and voted tomorrow, "We will take the country and change the world."

Both senators ended their day together just as they had started it: apart, rallying supporters to head to the polls on Florida's first day of early voting. The Sunshine State was hit harder by the housing crisis than almost any other state, which has helped make Florida more competitive in the presidential election.

Earlier in the day, Clinton appeared at an Obama rally in Broward County, one of the four counties at the center of the ballot recount debacle in the 2000 presidential election. Clinton urged voters to head to the polls immediately and vote under the state's early voting program.

While shielding herself from an unexpected drizzle, the former presidential candidate pressed supporters to "close the book" on the Bush administration's policies.

"Let's get as many votes banked as possible so we don't have any problems come Nov. 4," she shouted to the crowd from beneath her portfolio.

Clinton advised the audience not to take Obama's recent lead in the polls for granted.

"Even though the polls look good, do not get lulled into any false sense of security," she cautioned.

"We have to do everything we can," Clinton insisted. "You can skip the lines if you vote early."

According to experts, an estimated 30 percent of the electorate can vote early in this year's election, and in Florida, the number of early voters could be even higher.

In 2004, President Bush won Florida by 380,000 votes. According to the Obama campaign there are 800,000 likely Democratic voters -- African Americans, and white and Latino independents under the age of 30 -- who were registered four years ago but didn't get to the polls.

Referring to the campaign's push for early voting, University of Southern Florida Professor Darryl Paulson claims, "Part of their game plan is to make sure that these new voters who, often in times past, didn't show up on Election Day, in fact, do count."

In 2004, early voters in Jacksonville faced snags at the polls when polling machines wouldn't scan some ballots. Some voters waited more than 40 minutes to cast their votes.

"Obviously it's frustrating when we bought new equipment for this and we are having some problems that didn't show up at all during the testing," Duval County Supervisor of Elections Jerry Holland said.

For Florida voter Joseph Henry, early voting still "conjures up some concerns," but he said he feels that at this time, the problems voters faced in 2004 have been resolved.

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