TAMPA -- Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton frequently bashed the entirety of the Republican presidential candidates and even Florida Gov. Rick Scott at Thursday's campaign rally in Ybor City, but barely mentioned her opponent in the Democratic primary.
When she did mention Sen. Bernie Sanders to the crowd of about 1,500, which maxed out capacity at the Ritz Ybor, it was only to compliment the Democratic race.
"Despite my differences with my opponent, I am proud of the campaign we've run, because we have focused on issues. And I'm running a campaign on results I can produce for you," Clinton said. "And the other side is running a campaign based on insults. And it is doing a great disservice to our country."
Clinton's lack of concern for Sanders in Florida isn't unfounded. The most re
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cent Florida poll conducted by Quinnipiac has Clinton 30 percentage points above Sanders, 62 to 32. Her lead has stayed in that general range, or even higher, in Florida since October.
Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn introduced her, asking if anyone had watched the Democratic debate the night before.
"Somehow, I think the Bern got extinguished," Buckhorn said to cheers.
Sanders took a three-day swing through Florida, including a rally in Tampa on Thursday night just seven miles from Clinton's rally, looking to raise those numbers. But beating Clinton's lead, and therefore taking all of Florida's 246 Democratic delegates, would be difficult since about 650,000 Florida Democrats have already mailed in ballots or voted early.
Clinton and other speakers focused Thursday on painting the Republican presidential ticket candidates as a "circus" whose campaigns focused on insulting each other rather than substantive policy. Clinton also spent a few minutes criticizing the Florida governor over his refusal to build the planned high-speed rail between Tampa, Orlando and Miami, and for a controversy last year when state employees said they had been instructed not to use the term "climate change."
"I found this hard to believe. ... I mean, you've just gotta shake your head at that," Clinton said. "It is the height of irresponsibility and neglect for anybody in a position of authority not to recognize that Florida will be the most at-risk for climate change of any of our states."
In addition to climate change, Clinton hit on nearly every major campaign point for Democrats. She promised to keep Obamacare, develop a legal path to citizenship for immigrants, make higher education more affordable, stand up to the gun lobby, support women's right to choose and Planned Parenthood, and prevent price gouging by pharmaceutical companies.
Many of Clinton's supporters said they expect Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee, but expressed faith Clinton could do what other Republicans couldn't and beat him.
"Unfortunately, I think that Trump is going to end up getting the Republican nomination, and that Hillary is going to end up facing him," said Maya Patel, 18, of Tampa. "But she's going to crush him."
Andrea Braboy, a 65-year-old retired U.S. Air Force colonel, said the Republican nominee would "obviously" be Trump.
"I can't figure that out. I don't know why the Republican party has sunk so low, but it is what it is," Braboy said. "I expect Hillary to win the general election."
Clinton said it didn't matter to her which Republican candidate she would face in the general election.
"People always ask who I want to run against, and that's not for me to decide," Clinton said. "But given what they've all said, I'll take any one of them."
Kate Irby, Herald online/political reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7055. You can follow her on Twitter @KateIrby