Fired Up in Florida
A young reporter covers the presidential campaign in a key state.
For presidential candidates, victory in Florida is often crucial to winning the White House. “Florida is so important,” Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton told supporters last month in Orlando. “We see that time and time again.”
Florida (my home state) is the third-most-populous state in the country and also one of the most diverse. Every major candidate has been campaigning here for months.
Last June, I watched as Republican Jeb Bush, the former governor of Florida, announced his candidacy at Miami Dade College. “I intend to let everyone hear my message,” Bush said, “including the many who can express their love of country in a different language.” An estimated 20 percent of Florida’s residents have roots in Cuba, Mexico, and other Latin American countries.
COVERING THE CANDIDATES
Since most voters get their campaign information from newspaper articles, TV news reports, and debates, candidates are eager for media attention. “My goal is to always deliver unbiased, factual coverage of the candidates running for the presidency or any political office,” says Jason Guy, a local news anchor in Orlando.
To cover the candidates, reporters have to wait in long lines, go through security checks, and be persistent. At the Clinton event in Orlando, for example, the former Secretary of State did not take questions. However, she did take a selfie with me, accidentally dropping my iPad. I was able to wiggle my way to the front of the room only because a group of women helped push me through the crowd.
In November, the Republican Party of Florida held a summit in Orlando. Fourteen candidates shared their views with more than 2,500 party activists. Security was especially tight because of the Secret Service detail for businessman Donald Trump and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson—or, as the Secret Service calls them, Mogul and Eli, their code names.
I wasn’t able to ask a question of the candidates. But I did get to talk to enthusiastic voters. As Mary Krupa, a retired Army nurse from Orlando, said, “Everyone is very excited about this election and wants to get involved.”
With the Florida primary elections slated for March 15, I’m looking forward to seeing more of the candidates.