Page 2 of 5   <       >

Jeff Greene touts business savvy, outsider status in run for U.S. Senate seat

'He came out of nowhere'

On a Thursday morning at the Wynmoor Democratic Club breakfast in Coconut Creek, Fla., more than a hundred senior citizens sat around tables loaded with plates of scrambled eggs and Greene's sleek campaign literature.

"Without all this advertising, we would have never heard of him," said Sara Feinstein, 81. "He came out of nowhere."

Greene walked in and received kisses on the cheek from the bubbes in the room. Wearing a dark suit and striped blue tie, he stepped behind a lectern bearing a green "Jeff Greene: Jobs, Results, Florida" sign and unfolded a white paper to "share with you some jokes I got off the Internet." The gag posited things Jewish mothers might have said about famous people ("Christopher Columbus: You didn't call, you didn't write"; "Bill Clinton: Well at least she was a nice Jewish girl"), and the point was to identify him as Member of the Tribe. Greene then launched into a meandering stump speech.

He insisted that he had the real business experience of creating jobs, a word that is crammed seven times into a 30-second spot flooding the state's airwaves. He brazenly blamed Washington politicians and Crist for Florida having "the third-worst foreclosure rate in the country." He called for a moratorium on donations from oil companies.

"I'm jumping all over the place," Greene said.

A woman wearing a T-shirt with an eagle flying in front of an American flag asked Greene about the threat posed by radical Muslims.

"I'm not an expert on Muslims," Greene said. But he added that anyone who knows anything about the Koran knows that it contains "all kinds of this crazy stuff. And unfortunately that's motivating a lot of these extremists."

"If everyone hates me in Washington," he added in response to another question, "that's the way it is."

After the formal question-and-answer session, Greene showed some admiring seniors pictures of his 8-month-old son ("Malcolm Chandler Greene, nice Jewish name!" Greene said).

Bill Bromberg, 87, approached to chastise him for criticizing career politicians. Bromberg said he and his wife used to push their child in a stroller next to the parents of Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). "He's a career politician," Bromberg said.

"I like lots of career politicians; I'm not against all career politicians," Greene said. "I am against the career politicians I'm running against."

At moments like this, enthusiastic voters firmly correct his stumbling ways.

<       2              >

© 2010 The Washington Post Company