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Nancy Smith

FDP's Who-Dat Dinner: Best B-List, Republicrat Speakers Ever

May 11, 2015 - 6:00pm

Tulsi, who?

Look her up, Democrats -- Tulsi Gabbard. If you're going to pay $250 a plate to hear her speak, you ought to know a little bit about what she stands for.

But before I tell you, I have to ask: Aren't you guys a little offended?

I mean, your party poobahs combed the ends of the earth for the best two people they could find to jerk money out of your wallets and fire you up for the 2016 campaign kickoff and look what they came up with.

A pair of B-List speakers who have trouble packing a room in their own states.

Meet your keynoters for the Who-Dat Dinner -- aka 2015 Leadership Blue Dinner -- Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia.

Now I see why the Florida Democratic Party is so mad at DAAWC founder Leslie Wimes. It isn't because she challenged them over Charlie Crist. It's because she gets better speakers.

Last year for this annual party event, the FDP had Bill Clinton, "the big dog," polled as the most-popular living president in 2012. Not only that, they charged $225 a plate -- $25 less than they want in 2015.

What happened this year? Presidential election aside, the Democrats have a great shot at picking up a Senate seat in 2016. And aren't we still the third largest state and probably the most important swing state in the nation?

Were Bill and Hillary otherwise engaged? Michelle Obama couldn't make it? Some other pressing opportunity for Joe Biden? What about Elizabeth Warren or Kirsten Gillibrand? Cory Booker is a riveting speaker and rising star, what about him?

I'm going to give FDP leaders the benefit of the doubt and say they probably tried to do better and got turned down. Otherwise, Democratic National Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz wouldn't have had to lean to the right to whisper an invite in her Vice Chair Tulsi Gabbard's ear.

I probably know more about Tulsi than most Florida Democrats do. That's because I watch FOX News and Tulsi is on all the time. Listen to her sometime. You would swear this beautiful 33-year-old combat veteran, first American Samoan elected to Congress, is a Republican.She publicly criticizes the Obama administration for not talking about "radical Islam." She defends "pro-life" and man-and-woman-only marriage conservatives -- though she no longer holds their views. And, oops, right-wingerAllen West is a big, big fan.

Does any of that make her a bad speaker? Certainly not to me. But I'm not a South Florida Democrat waiting to be supercharged and asked to pay $250 to hear her.

"I am thrilled to join Florida Democrats at the Leadership Blue Dinner as we kick off the 2016 campaign in the Sunshine State," she says in the FDP promo. You have to wonder, is this Tulsi's first trip to Florida? Besides DWS, does she have any connection -- even the remotest, teeny-tiny one -- to the Sunshine State?

Sen. Mark Warner, co-founder of Nextel and wealthiest member of Congress with $257 million, wants to be Hillary's vice president like Charlie Crist wanted to be John McCain's in 2008.

He was the only Democrat in the South last year to win a statewide office.Warner is a self-proclaimed "radical centrist." In his re-election bid, he ignored his own advisers who were urging him to layer direct appeals to unmarried women and African-Americans on top of his usual bipartisan rhetoric and conservative outreach. He never went near them and it very nearly cost him his seat. He only beat Ed Gillespie by some 17,000 votes.

Warner -- sorry, dinner guests, not known for his oratory -- is quoted in FDP's promo with this: "I look forward to celebrating the values we share, from strong schools to an American economy that empowers innovators and entrepreneurs, providing everyone with a fair shot."

Apparently FDP leaders didn't get enough of Charlie. They like Republican lookalikes. You know what I mean. Squint a little and they turn red.

The Leadership Blue Dinner at the Hollywood Diplomat on June 13 is supposed to be where the FDP's study group comes clean on its findings, explains why the state party imploded in 2014 like the FPL smokestacks at Port Everglades. Do you really have to be told? Look closely at this year's speakers, you'll get an inkling.

Never mind. Maybe the food will be really good.

Next year, call Leslie.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

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