Meek-Greene debate shows the candidates to be similar in beliefs, radically different on style

Interestingly, on the question posed by Bay News 9's Al Reuschel about whether it was time to "bring our men and women home from Afghanistan by denying funding for the troops, Meek said it was "not a yes or no question," which maybe one reason that he didn't vote on that exact question last week, when 102 Democrats who previously had supported funding (including Tampa's Kathy Castor and Alcee Hastings of South Florida) reversed themselves and rejected supporting $33 billion to the troops.  Meek was absent for the vote.

On the issue of Dennis Stackhouse, the developer facing criminal charges related to a failed Miami project that Meek steered earmarks for and who paid his mother thousands of dollars for consulting, Meek again defended himself, but Greene retorted that editorial boards like the Times have called for an investigation.

Anyway, back to the Times story on Jeff Greene on Sunday, in which several former employees said he was a nightmare to work, such as these money quotes from Harlan Hoffman, who saw help wanted ad for Greene's yacht Summerwind in 2007:

The deckhand was shocked while buffing Greene's yacht and wound up hospitalized.

A boat's owner is supposed to take care of on-the-job medical costs, but Hoffman said Greene — whom he never met — told the insurance company he had never heard of Hoffman and that he didn't work on Summerwind. It took eight months and legal action that included affidavits from other crew members vouching for Hoffman and trashing Greene to get his bills paid.

"This guy Jeff Greene threw tons of money into new diving gear, but the crew's basic equipment — food and supplies — he didn't want to spend any money on. Summerwind has a terrible reputation,'' Hoffman said. "Mr. Greene's yacht is known to be a party yacht. When it went to Cuba, everybody talked about the vomit caked all over the sides from all the partying going on."

Hoffman couldn't believe it a few weeks back he saw Greene's campaign ads on TV.

"He has this act on TV talking about what a good guy he is, and he's anything but. He treats his own employees like s---,'' he said. "If he can't even treat his employees good, I don't see how he's going to do good for the American people.

That story came out the same day we learned there was yet more upheaval in the Greene campaign, which is now rivaling Katherine Harris' 2006 Senate run against Bill Nelson for the number of campaign personnel it's flipping through.

Lead consultant Joe Trippi is gone, replaced by John Kerry's former campaign manager in 2004, Tad Devine.

And campaign Jessica Vanden Berg, who we wrote about here a few weeks ago is also out.  She's not  being replaced by Vincent Rongione.

Greene campaign spokesman Luis  Vizcaino told the Tribune's William March that this didn't mean anything bad, saying:

"When you’re 10 points ahead with a candidate that was unknown three months ago, it dispels any idea that the campaign is in anything other than a position to win."

Viewers in the Tampa Bay and Orlando television markets were treated Monday night to a tape delayed broadcast of a spirited hour-long debate between Senate Democrats Jeff Greene and Kendrick Meek recorded Sunday afternoon.

There were several moments during the forum when the two looked like they wanted to tear each others heads off.  And I  must confess to enjoying (on at least two occasions) when Kendrick Meek, in the traditional political debate chatter told Greene that, "I listened to you speak, now listen to me talk," added references to Adam Smith's explosive story in Sunday's St. Petersburg Times about Greene's bullying ways as a leader (according to former employees), saying, "I know you don't like to listen to other people, but..."

Actually when Meek employed the phrase of which he no doubt rehearsed, he added that "he (Greene) didn't speak well to his employees,'s important to talk and listen to seniors," and others as an elected official, he said, questioning his opponents capacity for empathy.

LIke Bill McCollum, Meek is acting a bit entitled, however, refusing to acknowledge that he would endorse his fellow Democrat  if the Palm Beach billionaire, currently leading in most polls, beats him in three weeks.  When Greene challenged him on the non-endorsement, asking him if that meant he would be endorsing Charlie Crist or Marco Rubio, Meek said no, it didn't mean that, because in fact he would be the nominee of the Democratic Party come August 25.

Meek blasted Greene as being negative, "Because he's light on ideas, " after Greene blamed Meek in some fashion for the BP oil spill, saying it was "a failure of Kendrick to regulate oil companies."  Meek responded that he's received a 100% rankng from the League of Conservation Voters and Environment Florida.

Although aggressive, Meek seemed to be worn down by Greene's attacks via his television ads and direct mail pieces, the last essentially accusing the Miami Congressman of being a crook.  Defending his vote for TARP, the $700 billion bailout in September of 2008, Meek insisted he had no choice but to vote for the onerous legislation, before adding, "Nothing is good in Jeff Greene's world.  The President is a 'career politician'.  The Vice President is a 'career politician.'"

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