Candidates Shared Views and News at Forum
By Renee Burrell
Photo by Claudia Thomas & BWRC
BELLEAIR – The Belleair Women’s Republican Club (BWRC) held a Candidate's Forum Friday at the Belleair Country Club. Republican candidates invited were Congressman Bill Young (District 10), Jim Coats, for Pinellas County Sheriff; Deborah Clark, for Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections; Peter Nehr, for Florida House of Representatives (State District 48); Terry Sanchez, for Florida House of Representatives (State District 51); Ross Johnson, for Florida House of Representatives (State District 52); and Jim Frishe, for Florida House of Representatives (State District 54).
Mike Fasano (Florida Senate State District 11) did not attend.
Congressman Bill Young addressed the group first. He had them right after 'hello' when he said that in November his name will be on the ballot under the Republican presidential candidates. "Start with voting for John McCain and Sarah Palin, 'You've heard of her, right?' Young said he has met Palin and said she fits right in with strong women leaders he's met in the past like Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher.
Young also knew Admiral John Sidney McCain Jr. Republican presidential nominee John S. McCain III's father. He described his first meeting with the younger McCain in 1973. He said it was a dramatic time. It was when McCain was heading home after being released from the Viet Nam prison camp he had been in since 1967.
"When John McCain was released three members of Congress were sent to meet the freed POWs...At 2:30 a.m. Hawaii time, with a large number of flags, a military band, flood lights and a red carpet, we waited for their plane. It landed, the door opened, the ramp came down and the POWs came out. One saluted. One kissed the ground. One got an American flag and wrapped it around himself. John McCain came down and because of his broken arms he couldn't salute. He was a little bewildered, to be honest."
Young flew with McCain to the continental US. "I didn't see him again until he was elected in Arizona."
"We had our differences over the years. John McCain put a lot of us on notice when we were doing something wrong. I look forward to his and Sarah Palin's inauguration," said Young.
Jim Frishe said he wanted to start his talk with a quote from Illinois senator, Barack Obama. "Present!" joked Frishe concerning Obama's 130 votes in the legislature of 'present' rather than a firm 'yes' or 'no'.
Frishe read the following letter attributed to have been written by Manuel Alvarez Jr. and printed in the July 7 Richmond Times Dispatch. The letter warns against the nation falling for a dynamic, youthful leader as the press and people of Cuba did for Fidel Castro.
Frishe read, "The election-year rhetoric has made me think a lot about Cuba and what transpired there. In the late 1950s, most Cubans thought Cuba needed a change, and they were right. So when a young leader came along, every Cuban was at least receptive. When the young leader spoke eloquently and passionately and denounced the old system, the press fell in love with him. They never questioned who his friends were or what he really believed in. When he said he would help the farmers and the poor and bring free medical care and education to all, everyone followed. When he said he would bring justice and equality to all, everyone said "Praise the Lord." And when the young leader said, "I will be for change and I'll bring you change," everyone yelled, "Viva Fidel!"
The writer, Alvarez, said that the problem was that nobody asked about the change.
“…so by the time the executioner's guns went silent the people's guns had been taken away. By the time everyone was equal, they were equally poor, hungry, and oppressed. By the time everyone received their free education it was worth nothing. By the time the press noticed, it was too late, because they were now working for him. By the time the change was finally implemented Cuba had been knocked down a couple of notches to Third-World status."
The letter ends with the writer musing, “Luckily, we would never fall in America for a young leader who promised change without asking, 'What change?'
'How will you carry it out?'
'What will it cost America?' "Would we?”
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