Healthcare overhaul supporters rally at Fla. lawmaker's office

MIAMI _ Looking to shift some of the attention Republicans have generated in recent days with raucous opposition to a national healthcare overhaul, a group of largely Democratic activists rallied Friday in support of the planned changes.

"No Reform is not an option!" shouted a group of roughly 30 protesters gathered in front of the West Miami-Dade office of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican.

While recent anti-healthcare rallies have been described as rowdy and rude, Republican activists have said they reflect grass-roots alarm over what they think is a costly government takeover of the healthcare system.

From twenty-somethings just entering the workforce to elderly workers on the cusp of retirement, the Democratic group of activists on Friday called on the Republican congressman to reconsider his opposition to a national healthcare reform proposal.

"I don't think we should just sit on our hands and wait for the pharmaceutical companies to take us to the cleaners," said David V. Williams, who said he formerly supported Diaz-Balart. "We must do something now."

Holding signs that read, "America no one should go without healthcare,"the mild-mannered crowd was a change from recent Republican demonstrations denouncing the overhaul. At one such gathering in North Florida an effigy of a congressman was tarred and feathered.

"We're being very calm, you're not going to see any of us burning effigies," said Franco Caliz, the president of the Miami-Dade chapter of Democracy for America.

The grass-roots group is led by former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, and has mobilized similar rallies across the country.

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