By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
By Frank Owen
It was quite a show as South Florida Democrats invited the party faithful and would-be converts to rally for the first day of early voting at Huizenga Plaza in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Guest of honor: Hillary Clinton.
Seemed like every Democratic politician in town — nay, the universe — lined up to speak or get a shoutout in front of a crowd of more than a thousand civic-minded Americans.
First up was Rep. Bob "I Luv Hil" Wexler. He called Floridians "the most important people in our nation" because "we have the power to take our country back."
Next they got to the nuts and bolts: Local organizers told the crowd — which was herded into roped-off areas to make the audience look as packed as possible for the cameras — to tell their neighbors to ignore the rumors: Yes, you can wear your Obama gear to the polls. No, your voter registration doesn't have to match your license. Yes, the early votes will be counted with the regular votes.
Then former guv and Sen. Bob "Tweedle" Graham called Clinton "the most important woman on Earth."
Clinton was next, doing what she does best: speaking to the little guy. But after barely clearing her throat, the heavens rebutted... with some rain. Less than five minutes into her speech (she hadn't even said the word Obama yet), the rain came and at least half the crowd scattered.
"Oh no!!!" she said, protecting her 'do with a notebook. "I'll assume all the people leaving are on the way over to vote early."
Finally, somebody passed a red umbrella up to her, and she continued addressing the dwindling crowd.
If the Hillary sighting weren't proof that South Florida is the center of the universe, Barack Obama himself showed up Tuesday on Sistrunk Boulevard for a lightning hand-shaking session (including Tailpipe's) before hopping a plane to Hawaii.
Women ran down the street in Sunday dresses, carrying babies and shouting, "This is history, baby!"
The man himself jumped out of a bus, and the crowd clustered around him, overwhelming Secret Service dudes and a platoon of motorcycle cops.
"Save this country!" a few shouted. Others urged Obama to "go take care of your grandmama."
Then he was gone.