Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Katherine Harris makes surprise appearance at a gun show.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The roughly 100 people packed into a fairgrounds building for a concealed carry handgun class looked up blankly Saturday as U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris entered.

Hands blackened by fingerprinting ink, they listened, many with seeming half-interest, as Harris talked about her political record, gun rights, making President Bush's tax cuts permanent and helping small businesses.

They erupted into applause when weapons instructor and Pasco County Republican Chairman Bill Bunting told them of Harris' A+ rating with the National Rifle Association.

"I'd vote for her in a heartbeat. I didn't think that before seeing what she's about," said Jim Myers, a 57-year-old disabled military veteran.

A week and a half after reaffirming her candidacy on national television and pledging $10 million of her own money to run it, Harris continued trying to shore up the GOP base in Florida on Saturday. Her "grassfire campaign" for Senate stretched from breakfast in Kissimmee to an Orlando gun show, where Myers took the concealed carry class, and a barbecue later in Daytona Beach.

Harris faces an uphill campaign against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, with weak support from national Republicans who tried unsuccessfully to field a candidate against her and the departure of high-level staffers who urged her to drop out of an unwinnable race.

Besides low approval from Democrats and independents from her role in certifying the 2000 presidential election for President Bush, Harris faces double-digit poll deficits and ties to a bribery scandal that sent another U.S. House representative to prison.

Still, she remains optimistic about the campaign, and told each constituent offering a "hang in there" that she planned to win.

"I think there's a lot of stake for the future," Harris told supporters gathered for a lunch event. "I think how Florida goes, the rest of the nation goes."

At the gun show, Bunting led Harris between tables of assault rifles, knives, bullets and pistols to meet with patrons and dealers.

"Everybody she reaches out to here, they'll be reaching out to their customers," Bunting said.


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Damn I hope she wins. Not only would she make a good Senator but it's time Bill Nelson got the F*%# out of the Senate.