On the campaign trail withKatherine Harris.
It’s a hot Saturday afternoon in the Tampa suburbs and U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris is late.
By the time the Longboat Key congresswoman shows up at the Hillsborough County GOP picnic, all the other candidates are gone.
Only her faithful remain, huddled under a tent, “Harris for U.S. Senate” stickers pasted to their shirts. They greet her with applause and a gaggle of teenage girls even clamors for her autograph.
“If you turn out, I win,” Harris says, standing in the center of mostly empty tables. “I’m going to stand by you guys. And God willing, I’m going to be your next U.S. senator.”
Not even 20 minutes later, Harris is gone, off to the next stop.
With just three weeks left in a campaign to oust Democrat Bill Nelson, Harris is not stumping at malls. Low on cash, she isn’t running state-wide advertisements touting her message.
Instead, she has insulated herself with supporters, paying homage to those who have stuck by her through the low poll numbers and campaign donation scandals.
Campaigning only to loyalists is unusual for a candidate running for statewide office in Florida, where registered Democrats and independents outnumber Republican voters.
But Harris says she can win as long as she brings out her base. And she is willing to speak to even the smallest groups to do that.
Last week, Harris stopped at a private Fort Pierce church luncheon, met with a small West Palm Beach Republican group and ended her Friday night as the keynote speaker for the Miami-based Christian Family Coalition conference in Fort Lauderdale.
At the coalition meeting, fewer than 30 people filed into the small, dimly lit meeting room to hear Harris tell the story of how she handed her life to God after seeing a Billy Graham film.
As she gestured emphatically and urged the crowd to bring back America as “one nation under God,” followers peppered her pauses with “Amen.”
At the Farm Bureau meeting in Daytona Beach, Harris called citizenship “sacred” and said traditional marriage should be protected.
[R]ecent financial reports show Harris has less than $1 million cash for the last three weeks of her campaign. Nelson has $6.8 million. She has raised less than $7,000 from political action committees in the last few months, a sign the party has all but abandoned her.
But after winning the Republican primary in September with 49 percent of the vote, Harris predicts victory.
And, by the way, there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that Katherine Harris comapred the current spike in violence in Iraq to the Tit Offensive.