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Graham Is Able, Effective
Published in The Orlando Sentinel, October 3, 1998
(c)The Orlando Sentinel
Bob Graham's influence looms large, and his performance is
impressive in the U.S. Senate. Florida would be well-served to return him
for a third term.
In the race for U.S. Senate, one candidate -- Democrat Bob Graham approaches
legendary status in Florida politics. A two-term senator and former two-term
governor of the state, Mr. Graham has served with distinction and good sense
through the years -- particularly in dealing with the federal budget, trade
and international affairs.
He faces Republican Charlie Crist, by all accounts a decent and hardworking
lawyer with a couple of stints in the Florida Senate.
In other words, solid candidates present themselves to the voters in
this contest. But the gap between Mr. Graham and Mr. Crist in terms of experience,
talent and sheer breadth of knowledge spreads far. For all his pluses, Mr.
Crist remains a diminutive figure compared with Mr. Graham.
It's not that Mr. Graham lacks faults -- far from it. At times he has
let his usual cautious guard down, opting for political expediency rather
than for what his instincts urged. That was the case, for example, in the
push for expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Mr. Graham
supported that effort, despite some personal reservations, because it had
developed political momentum in the United States and in Europe.
Although Mr. Graham has been a strong environmental advocate in the past,
he has failed to pursue aggressively the mustering of congressional support
for restoration of one of the nation's most precious natural resources,
Florida's own Everglades.
Overall, however, Mr. Graham delivers an impressive performance. He played
a strong and incisive role in helping to balance the federal budget, pushing
for consensus with a flair for building bipartisan alliances. He has proposed
creative solutions for nettlesome national problems such as Medicare's growth,
welfare and tax reform.
Mr. Graham's voice has loomed large in U.S. relations with Latin America.
He knows that region well and understands the fundamental benefits that
accrue from expanding U.S. political and economic ties there. Florida holds
a particular stake in those relationships. Mr. Graham also advocates self-determination
for Puerto Rico, which is only fair.
Further, he led efforts to make sure that Florida and other states would
get a fairer share of transportation dollars.
That range of issues underscores Mr. Graham's considerable scope.
Beyond that, his reputation for constituent work precedes him. He regularlyreaches
out to Florida communities and takes time to understand them better through
work days in various industries.
Mr. Graham has been an able and effective leader. Florida would be well-served
by returning him for a third term.
The Orlando Sentinel strongly endorses Bob Graham for U.S. Senate.