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    Critical TV ads run as president visits


    © St. Petersburg Times, published March 13, 2001

    TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Democratic Party welcomed President Bush to the state on Monday with critical television ads recalling the state's troubled election recount.

    "Jeb Bush delivered Florida to his brother, George," say the ads, bought to run for a few days in Tallahassee and Panama City. "And now we're paying the price. The George Bush tax cut undermines our prosperity. It spends money we don't have."

    State Democratic Party Chairman Bob Poe said he has no proof that Gov. Bush did anything to sway the election recount "but we believe he acted behind the scenes by supporting roadblocks to the recount.

    "We base the belief on things he didn't do," Poe said. "His inaction was, in itself, an action."

    The governor recused himself from playing an official role in the recount because his brother was on the disputed ballot.

    But the governor "could have sent a message during the recount that it was appropriate to count every vote," Poe insisted.

    Katie Baur, the governor's communications director, denounced the ads, saying the state's Democrats should be concentrating on solving the state's many problems instead of "peddling a message of negativity."

    "This is the typical irresponsible rhetoric we've gotten used to from the Democratic Party," Baur said. "It does next to nothing to establish their credibility with people who are fed up with politics as usual.

    Al Cardenas, chairman of the state's Republican Party, called the ad "a ridiculous claim" and said Democrats should instead be helping to enact election reforms.

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