Presidential Race Turns to Florida

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While Sen. Barack Obama gets a big boost from South Carolina, Sen. Hillary Clinton stakes a claim in Florida, which at the moment offers Democrats no delegates. On the Republican side, however, Florida is very important indeed.


And let's get some analysis now from NPR's Cokie Roberts.

Cokie, good morning.

ROBERTS: Hi, Steve.

INSKEEP: I want to ask the same question I asked Rahm Emanuel. Are there prospects for Congress getting much done that the president could sign in 2008?

ROBERTS: No, not really. But that's always true in an election year, and there are lots of things that just sort of run out and that they have to redo, re-up, and that's likely to be where they'll be.

INSKEEP: And let's talk about endorsements. We heard Rahm Emanuel say he's still hiding under an ever bigger desk. Ted Kennedy got out from under the desk or is getting out today and is expected to endorse Barack Obama.

ROBERTS: And that's huge. The dean of the Democratic Party really, and he's -it's going to be fraught with symbolism. He's doing it at American University, the place where John Kennedy announced the Peace Corps. He'll have Caroline Kennedy, the president's only survivor, at his side. And that is also a blow to the Clintons who have been his friends. And apparently, Senator Kennedy has said to have been appalled at the behavior of former President Clinton and had some heated conversations with him and - or as has former President Clinton with lots of people in the party over the last couple of weeks. It could also be very big with Hispanic voters, Steve. And Hillary Clinton has done very well there - in Nevada, the only place where Hispanics have voted in large numbers. You've got California, New Jersey, New York coming up, and Senator Kennedy's endorsement could make a difference there.

INSKEEP: Senator Hillary Clinton has decided, apparently, to at least appear in Florida - a state where Democrats had agreed not to campaign because they went too early.

ROBERTS: And she asked Senator Obama to join with her to seat those Florida delegates who have been told by the party that they will not be seated at the convention because of the - breaking the rules. He said no. He'd stick with the rules. But, you know, Florida is a great big state, and now we're into a campaign that's all about delegates. And Democrats are going to be voting in Florida. There's a ballot initiative on the ballot that will make a difference. And, you know, so far, Steve, over half a million people have already voted in Florida, more than Iowa, New Hampshire combined. And we don't know how they're voting in either the Democratic or the Republican contests.

INSKEEP: Of course, Republicans are voting and campaigning openly, and this was considered a big state for Rudy Giuliani. How's he doing?

ROBERTS: Well, in the polls he's coming in fourth, at the moment. But voters have been voting, and who knows how they've been voting. Maybe the people who've started voting in January, when Rudy Giuliani was the only person down there, have already voted for him. That's his only hope at this point, because he really did stake everything there. It looks like, however, it's a two way race between Mitt Romney and John McCain, and they are in a heated race. John McCain has gotten some very key endorsements in Florida - the governor and the senator, and the senator represents the Cuban American community, and that could be huge for John McCain in Florida. He could come out of this a front-runner, but the Republicans are as tight as the Democrats these days.

INSKEEP: How much will this matter heading into February 5th, when so many states will vote?

ROBERTS: It will matter enormously because if John McCain gets a big boost out of Florida it means money, and you need money in all of those states.

INSKEEP: Analysis from NPR's Cokie Roberts, who joins us every Monday morning

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