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Star tracks

Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 17, 2000

NOT TAKING SIDES: Call it the Latin explosion, Democratic style. Latin celebrities turned out in droves Tuesday night for the Hispanic Talent Showcase. Among them: the princess of salsa, La India; Edward James Olmos; comedians Liz Torres and Paul Rodriguez; Baywatch heartthrob Jose Solano; former CHiPs star Erik Estrada; and singer Enrique Iglesias. Iglesias, above, said, "I'm not here because I'm a Democrat. I'm not saying I'm a Republican either. Whether you're Latino or whether you're Asian, whatever you are, you can do whatever you want in this country as long as you work hard. That's what I want to represent."

HIRED GUN: Former Gov. Ann Richards of Texas, who these days splits her time between high-dollar Washington lobbying and making speeches, is contracted to CNN to give the perspective of a former Democratic elected official on the convention. In between appearances in the CNN skybox anchor booth, Richards is interrupted every few seconds by awe-struck, often reverential well-wishers -- most of them wishing to get their pictures taken with her. Richards readily obliges.

SING ALONG: Florida delegates danced and sang along with singer, songwriter and fellow delegate Stephen Stills Tuesday night as he performed some rock classics, including Midnight Rider and Teach Your Children, in the garden of their hotel.

SING ALONG II: Stevie Wonder had a packed convention hall swaying and clapping along when he opened Wednesday evening's session with The Star-Spangled Banner.

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD BODY: Jose Vidal spent the week watching America's political elite coming through his cafeteria. He was unmoved. "Pffftt," is how he put it. But then the wrestler Rock showed up with female wrestler Chyna, and Vidal abandoned his post. The crush around the two grapplers was such they had to retreat to an outdoor veranda where bodyguards could protect them. Vidal looked longingly through the window and spoke in terms even Christie Brinkley couldn't elicit: "She is soooooo hot."

BABS WATCH: Sadness spread through the Florida delegation and, frankly, most residents of the Airport Hilton. Turns out the message they received here Monday promising them tickets for tonight's concert was in error. Only those who had paid the hefty price would be receiving them. That ain't like buttah.

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