CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made a stop in South Florida Wednesday.
Pelosi was here campaigning two hotly contested Republican seats, but her stop drew about as many protesters as it did supporters.
Protesters lined the front and the back of the campaign stop in Coral Gables while inside, Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell stood with Pelosi as she rallied Democrats to hit the next 20 days hard.
“The fate of the nation is what is at stake in this election. Florida is very important to it,” Pelosi said.
As Pelosi spoke the shouts of protesters outside could be heard. Everyone outside upset over an invitation that was made to Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California.
Frank De Varona, a veteran from the Bay of Pigs Veteran’s Association, was one of those shouting.
“I think it’s an insult to our community to bring a Marxist woman to our community with so many victims, Cuban, Venezuelan, and other countries. It’s a disgrace to have invited her here,” De Varona said.
Congresswoman Lee was nowhere to be found though.
Nelson Diaz, President of the Republican Party of Miami-Dade believed they made a last minute change.
“When they found out it was a bad idea they disinvited her,” he said. “She’s probably hiding at the Burger King over there until they pick her up.”
When asked why she Lee did not come Pelosi could not say.
“You are asking me a question I cannot answer. I know that Barbara Lee is campaigning in Georgia now. I said you are not coming? And she said no, she was in Georgia,” Pelosi replied.
Shalala, seeming aggravated by the persistent questions about Lee echoed Pelosi.
“She did not come here to stand by our side,” Shalala said.
Shalala, who’s neck and neck according to some polls, was defending herself yet again.
“Let me make it clear, not every member of congress that comes down here do we agree with on every issue. But particularly on the Cuban issue or Nicaraguan issue, or the Venezuelan issue, this time we want to make our positions clear. We are not socialists, we are not communist, and we want nothing to do with those people,” Shalala said.
Pelosi made an attempt to steer back to campaign issues such as Medicare and checks and balances on the President.
However Spanish media held on to the issue of Lee’s invite.
“The participation of one member of congress or another at an event, to me just doesn’t rise to that level. From where we are now we have 20 days. We have 20 days to determine the fate of the nation,” Pelosi said.
The House Minority leader left amid shouts and jeers.
Some argued the visit may have done more harm than good.
“It was a race that they were supposed to win and now they are going to lose,” said Diaz.
Shalala has broad name recognition and an impressive resume, but to win she needs to make inroads with the large Hispanic community in her.
She’s been doing Spanish media debates… but it hasn’t been easy.