NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Jill Biden, wife of vice presidential candidate Joe Biden, urged nearly 300 Democratic supporters at the Woman's Club of New Smyrna Beach this afternoon to take advantage of early voting before the expected Nov. 4 election-day crush.
"It's not going to be easy -- this is a closer race she said from the podium to a packed audience, many of whom wore Obama-Biden 'Change We Need' campaign shirts handed out by local party volunteers.
"And if anybody knows about close elections, it's the people of Florida. In 2000, it came to -- it came down to 500 votes? So we need you to vote and vote early."
Biden predicted Florida would have a record voter turnout in what she described as "the most important" of our generations, referring to young and old in the crowd.
"This is too big a moment to stand on the sidelines," Biden said, drawing loud cheers and claps. Her 5 p.m. appearance at the Woman's Club of New Smyrna Beach, 403 Magnolia Ave., was part of a day-long trek down the Florida Atlantic coastline that started with a visits in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Palm Coast, here in New Smyrna Beach and then on to Cocoa Beach to support the Obama-Biden ticket's "Early Vote For Change" campaign.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain was in Ormond Beach yesterday and earlier this month Obama was in Daytona Beach. Tomorrow, Cindy McCain and Rudy Giuliani will make appearances in Orlando as will Jill Biden and actress Alicia Silverstone, the latter two for Obama-Biden.
With polls showing Florida in a virtual dead heat between McCain and Obama, Jill Biden wasted no time acknowledging that fact the minute she hit the podium to an excited crowd that waited an hour for her arrival with tight security.
"In just 11 short days, I know Florida will elect Barack Obama and my husband," she said, adding early voting will be better for voters than the expected long lines come Nov. 4.
Early voting started Monday with 821 Southeast Volusia residents casting votes that very first day at the New Smyrna Beach Regional Public Library, 1001 S. Dixie Freeway. Early voting concludes Nov. 1 before that following Tuesday's election day.
One audience member tried to correct Biden that the address was different from the correct one she had read, but was shouted down by others, who assured the Delaware senator's wife that she had good information.
Jill Biden drew her loudest applause and a standing ovation during her 15-minute appearance when she said the vote for change would allow Barack Obama and Joe Biden to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq, reminding the crowd that her son is in harm's way as well serving his country.
"Barack Obama will bring our troops home and make sure our veterans have the care and educational opportunities that they have earned and they deserve," she said. "Joe calls it our sacred opportunity and he's right... Barack Obama will responsibly end this war in Iraq."
As for domestic issues, Jill Biden spoke passionately about the looming recession and why getting the Obama-Biden ticket elected is so critical: "We can keep ignoring the middle class or we can vote for change."
As she left the podium, the crowd stood up and chanted repeatedly the Obama refrain, "Yes we can! Yes we can!"
NSBNEWS.net photo and video by Sera King. Cutline: Jill Biden embraces the Democratic faithful at a 5 p.m. rally today in New Smyrna Beach.