Clinton Brings Campaign to Florida

SARASOTA, Fla. (AP) -- Stung by her lopsided loss to Barack Obama in South Carolina, Hillary Rodham Clinton is trying to shift her momentum in Florida - even though its Democratic primary won't count for much.

Like her rivals, Clinton has agreed to a pledge imposed by national party leaders not to publicly campaign in the state. But after South Carolina, Clinton was skating up against the edge of that agreement and trying to lend some credibility to the outcome Tuesday.

She arrived in Florida on Sunday for two events - both closed fundraisers, in keeping with the pledge not to campaign. She clearly winked at that pledge with her arrival, joking about the warm weather and positioning herself so photographers had a palm tree for a backdrop.

"It is absolutely glorious," said Clinton. "It is a perfect day here in Florida."

Earlier, Clinton said there's intense interest in the campaign in Florida, where early voting is heavy.

"Hundreds of thousands of people have already voted in Florida and I want them to know I will be there to be part of what they have tried to do to make sure their voices are heard," Clinton said. She will campaign in the state on Tuesday, but only after the polls have closed.

No Democratic delegates will be allocated as a result of the Florida voting, and none of the candidates has made an effort in the state. While there has been heavy activity in early voting, it's largely driven by state issues.

After Florida moved its primary up to Tuesday in an attempt to play a bigger role in choosing the presidential nominees, the Democratic National Committee said it would refuse to seat the state's delegation at the national convention in late August. But it is expected that the eventual nominee will try to reverse that decision because of Florida's crucial role in the general election.

Clinton already is on record favoring that step.

"I will try to persuade my delegates to seat the delegates from Michigan and Florida," said Clinton. "Democrats have to win Michigan and have to try to win Florida and I intend to do that. The people of Florida deserve to be represented in the process of picking a candidate for president of the United States."

Michigan also violated party rules by moving its primary to Jan. 15, and party leaders voted to strip the state of its 156 delegates as punishment.

Campaign aides defended Clinton's new focus on Florida.

"I think it's a mistake for any party, for any candidate to tell the voters in Florida they don't matter," said spokesman Jay Carson. "It's wrong for any Democrat to send a message that the voters of any state don't matter."

Carson argued that all the candidates will be on the Florida ballot Tuesday, and the number of voters will be large.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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