Barack Obama whipped up parts of Miami's Cuban-American community and the Democratic bastion of Broward County on the last leg of a three-day tour Friday that kickstarted his presidential campaign in a potentially elusive state.
It was a splashy debut for a candidate who came in a distant second behind rival Hillary Clinton in the state's Jan. 29 primary. Obama sought to smooth over his nine-month absence not with apologies, not with assurances about Everglades funding or hurricane insurance, but with record-breaking crowds and groundbreaking speeches.
Though national politicians have paid homage to the prominent Cuban American National Foundation for decades, Obama was the first to demand radical change in U.S. policy, including face-to-face talks with the repressive regime. The 16,000-strong crowd at the Florida Panthers hockey arena in Sunrise proved he can draw the throngs that have swarmed to see him across the country.
Obama also socked away $1 million in campaign money before leaving to stump in Puerto Rico, which hosts the next presidential contest. He promised frequent visits to Florida, saying, "This is just hello, this is not goodbye."
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