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1 Hero on Sun Oct 11, 2009 9:44 pm



Die quickly' congressman new hero for Fla. Dems

By BRENDAN FARRINGTON, Associated Press Writer Brendan Farrington, Associated Press Writer Sat Oct 10, 5:52 pm ET

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. Weeks after his harsh remarks toward the GOP, a Florida congressman's popularity with Democrats isn't dying quickly.

U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who said late last month that Republicans' health care plans amount to wanting sick people to "die quickly," told a wildly enthusiastic crowd of about 2,000 Democrats Saturday that the GOP should change its name to "The Selfish Party."

The first-term congressman from Orlando was given a standing ovation for his remarks at the Florida Democratic Party's annual convention. People stood in line to take pictures with him and gush over him, and a room where he was later part of a panel discussion had to be doubled in size because turnout was twice what was expected. Grayson ate up the attention. He was introduced at the panel discussion as "the rock star" and Grayson stood up and jokingly said, "I'm Barack Obama."

And as if he was an actor with a catch phrase, when Grayson began talking about health care, people in the panel discussion audience began shouting, "Say it! Say it!"

Grayson complied, "Don't get sick. And if you do get sick, die quickly." The crowd cheered.

Grayson would have been just another politician if the state's Democrats held the convention last month. But Grayson gained national attention for his "die quickly" remarks, and then later for apologizing to the dead and calling the inability to fix the health care system the "holocaust in America."

It's pretty clear Republicans are getting sick of the name calling. Kevin Madden, a Washington-based GOP strategist, sent a message on Twitter when he heard about Grayson's suggestion for a new name for the Republican Party.

Madden tweeted, "won't be long before Grayson sticks his tongue at us (and) calls us 'doodie heads.'"

The Republican Party of Florida called Grayson outrageous and said he has created a circus.

"Alan Grayson calling anyone else selfish is laughable," said state GOP spokeswoman Katie Betta.

While Grayson's criticisms may play well with a room filled with Democratic activists, University of South Florida political science professor Susan MacManus said most people want civility in politics.

"To these people he obviously reflects reality, to others he reflects incivility," said MacManus, who was at the convention.

Kevin Baker, 38, of Palm Beach Gardens knew nothing about Grayson two weeks ago. He's now a fan. He doesn't live in Grayson's district, but waited in line to get a picture with him, saying afterward that Grayson says aloud what most Democrats think.

"It's finally good to have someone up there with the bravery to tell the truth and know that it will actually help him and not hurt him," Baker said. "You've got to break a few eggs to get noticed by the media, and if there's a little bit of controversy because one or two words are wrong, I can live with that."

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