Deutsch makes stop at UF as part of tour
Published: Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 15, 2004 at 12:30 a.m.
Recognizing that North Florida voters could be key to winning the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Bob Graham, U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch of Fort Lauderdale stopped in Gainesville Wednesday to speak to union members, elected officials, Democratic Party members and University of Florida students.
"You can't win the election unless you are competitive north of the Interstate 4 corridor (between Orlando and Tampa)," said Deutsch, who is among the three Democratic candidates seeking a spot in the Senate.
All three - Deutsch, former University of South Florida President Betty Castor and Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas - are from South Florida. Six Republicans, all living in Orlando or south of Orlando, are also vying for the seat.
Former Secretary of State Katherine Harris, a Republican U.S. representative from Sarasota, is also said to be eyeing the seat.
During a noon talk at UF's Reitz Union sponsored by the Law School Democrats, Deutsch, who was in his second day of what he calls his "Listening Tour," was quizzed on his position on Iraq, health care, education and a number of other national issues. About 60 students turned out.
Deutsch, 46, said he believes the occupation of Iraq should be an international effort, sharing costs and administration with other countries.
He favors universal health care, resulting in the overhaul of America's existing health care system, which he considers totally "broken."
"I'm a radical on health care," said Deutsch, who after graduating from the Yale University Law School in 1982 established a nonprofit health care advocacy organization, the Medicare Information Program of Broward County.
Later that year - a reapportionment year - Deutsch, who was born in Bronx, N.Y., was elected to the state House of Representatives, where he served for 10 years until being elected to the U.S. House.
Placing sufficient resources into the nation's educational system is also foremost on Deutsch's priorities - something he said President Bush had not adequately funded.
"Public education is a fundamental pillar of this country," Deutsch said.
Wednesday's stopover was Deutsch's third visit to Gainesville.
First-year UF law student Ryan Koslosky arranged Deutsch's meeting on campus.
"The main idea was getting Peter Deutsch some exposure with the students," Koslosky said.
But in order to really engage students in the Senate election, Koslosky said he has his work cut out for him.
"We hope to get them all here," Koslosky said.
Janine Young Sikes can be reached at 337-0327 or email@example.com.
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