Sunday, July 21, 2002
Miami Beach, Fla. Her campaign for governor has taken her across Florida in her red pickup truck. And now former Atty. Gen. Janet Reno has revved up her supporters with a dance party at a trendy South Beach club.
A raucous mix of young adults and older hardcore Democrats crowded the dance floor at Level.
"It's an example that people can come together ï¿½ young and old," Reno told cheering supporters under flashing strobe lights and a disco ball at Friday night's fund-raiser.
"Janet Reno's Dance Party" mimicked the "Saturday Night Live" skit on NBC that parodied her days as attorney general. As comedian Will Ferrell portrayed her in drag in January 2001, Reno broke through a fake brick wall, told Ferrell "I like your dress, Janet," and commanded the band to "hit it" as she danced the twist.
Reno often mentions the SNL skit in speeches, and campaign supporters say it shows that she is a down-to-earth person who doesn't take herself too seriously.
The party was billed as a way to attract young people to her campaign to unseat Republican Gov. Jeb Bush. Polls show Reno leading Tampa lawyer Bill McBride in the Democratic primary but trailing the president's brother by double digits.
Tickets were $25 a person and officials said 1,500 advance tickets were sold, just shy of a capacity crowd. Organizers did not say how many walk-in tickets or VIP tickets were sold.
Across the street, four protesters held white placards. One displayed a picture of Elian Gonzalez, the boy Reno ordered returned to his Cuban father, next to the words "Reno es communista."
Reno's main primary opponent dismissed the dance party.
"We have a weekly Friday night dance here at the headquarters," said McBride spokesman Alan Stonecipher. "That's good enough for us."
Bush campaign spokesman Todd Harris had another take on the festivities.
"Most candidates have to hustle to raise money," Harris said. "But this is the first time I have ever heard of someone actually doing the Hustle to raise money."