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Rahm hits Florida  to boost Obama

Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks earlier this month with an Obamvolunteer campaign office Temple Terrace suburb Tampa.  |  Lynn

Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks earlier this month with an Obama volunteer at a campaign office in Temple Terrace, a suburb of Tampa. | Lynn sweet~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 22, 2012 6:46AM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Mayor Rahm Emanuel invoked the Democrats’ worst nightmare Saturday — the 2000 Florida recount that lost the White House for Al Gore — during campaign stops for President Barack Obama intended to energize his base vote. He also is in Florida to help shore up Obama’s Jewish support.

In an Obama campaign office in Temple Terrace, a Tampa suburb, he said, “We all know what happened in 2000. . . . Each one of you is responsible for 500 votes. Now is the time to get them.”

Gore lost Florida to George W. Bush by about 500 votes out of 6 million ballots cast in 2000.

Emanuel made the same point at a storefront Obama campaign office here.

Terrie Weeks, 50, a paralegal who lives in St. Petersburg — and is a former Chicago resident — said Emanuel “really fired people up. . . . It was great to see somebody of his stature come out here and realize that we are important.”

Emanuel started a three-day Florida swing in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area — with some of the most hotly contested turf in this battleground state, where 29 electoral votes are up for grabs, according to the latest polls.

Obama and Mitt Romney, their spouses and running mates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan are making frequent visits to Florida as the campaign intensifies. Early voting starts here Oct. 27.

The mayor, Obama’s former chief of staff, visited three campaign offices Saturday, attracting a lot of press coverage including local TV; a quick interview for a “Today” show Florida piece, and interviews with the Tampa Bay Times, Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post.

He was scheduled to attend a Saturday night event aimed at solidifying Obama Jewish support at the Tampa home of Mark Sena, a business executive and his wife, Linda Saul Sena, a former Tampa City Council member.

On Sunday, Emanuel is a headliner — along with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) — on ABC’s “This Week.” After the show, Emanuel flies to south Florida to work the Jewish vote in several appearances, including two condo complexes near Boca Raton with lots of Jewish voters.

Obama and Romney meet for their third and final debate Monday night at Lynn University in Boca Raton.

Emanuel is stumping in Florida as an Obama campaign surrogate; he told me he is not doing any fund-raising on this trip for the main SuperPAC supporting Obama, Priorities USA Action, in order keep the two activities separate. In September, Emanuel stepped down as an Obama campaign co-chair to help the SuperPAC raise money.

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