The mariachis had the ladies at the Little Havana senior center up on their feet -- one swinging her cane in the air -- as they danced Thursday to the tunes of their youth, courtesy of the three Democratic Hispanics running for Congress. The theme: retirement security.
Among the visitors stumping for Democrats on Thursday: the third in line to be president if death were to strike both the president and vice president. La Pelosi, as a group of abuelitas referred to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, called on her ''brothers and sisters'' of retirement age to vote Democrat and protect Social Security.
This was the same predominantly Republican crowd that excitedly welcomed Sen. Mel Martinez and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen, whose district includes Little Havana, on Wednesday.
As La Pelosi stumped in South Florida for the three Hispanic Democrats who want to topple the three Cuban-American Republican incumbents in Congress, she used the predictable ''Republicans want to privatize Social Security'' scare tactic in the midst of the current Wall Street meltdown. McCain was working on his own scare script in Central Florida on Thursday with his Joe-the-Plumber theme, accusing Barack Obama of having a socialist plot to ``spread the wealth.''
Facing a statistical tie in this battleground state, both sides exaggerate at shameful levels.
Acting as Truth Patrol, I asked former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez after the event why he and Democrats Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo were holding up Social Security as a Wall Street giveaway when the Bush administration's proposal of a few years ago only applied to younger workers and gave them the option -- not a mandate -- to invest a small percentage of their Social Security contribution in stocks or bonds.
''Social Security should be an entitlement,'' he said. ``You don't want to risk it by gambling it on the stock market.''
Even if it's only 2 or 3 percent as was proposed in 2002? Even if it's only an option?
''It would be a disaster,'' he said.
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