The eyes of the political world will be on the Greater Brandon area tonight, Sept. 12, when eight Republic presidential candidates debate the issues at the Florida State Fairgrounds.
Local Democrats are hoping your ears also are tuned in as they plan a rally near the fairgrounds for the debate, which is sponsored by CNN and the Tea Party Express.
Organizers say they want the “Rally of Conscience” to bring attention to issues like jobs and voting rights; with the nationally televised debate expected to draw millions of viewers they believe they have a chance to get their message out to the entire nation.
“This is not an anti-Tea Party or anti-anyone rally,” said Rev. Charles McKenzie, a Brandon resident, who is organizing the rally with the aid of . “We want to highlight the issues we believe are of critical importance for the American people right now. Issues like jobs and voter suppression.
"We want the candidates to hear us and maintain the focus on those critical issues instead of the wedge issues that have been used to divide us in the past.”
McKenzie said he hopes to draw more than 100 people to the rally.
“We are drawing from a cross-section of progressive groups and young people and it would be great if we could get more than 100,” he said.
Rally organizers will be using Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 8119 Dr. Martin Lurther King Blvd., as a staging area. The rally is planned for 6 p.m. at the fairground entrances on U.S. Highway 301 and Dr. Martin Lurther King Boulevard.
Florida, a key swing state in recent presidential elections, is viewed as critical for any Republican or Democrat who wants to take the White House.
The Interstate 4 corridor, stretching from Tampa to Daytona, is viewed as particularly important. With South Florida viewed as a Democratic stronghold and North Florida a Republican bastion, the I-4 corridor is usually where a presidential election is won and lost.
Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman went so far as to tell CNN he believes Florida will decide the Republican nominee for president.