Jeff Greene’s Gipper-nesia persists during Century Village of Boca appearanceby George Bennett | July 13th, 2010
Palm Beach billionaire Greene campaigned at Century Village of Boca Raton, where Democratic club president Marvin Manning — speaking personally and not in his official role — told the crowd of about 150 that Greene is the “strongest candidate to represent our party in November.”
Greene’s main primary rival, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, released an Internet video today calling himself the only “real Democrat” in the race. Meek has repeatedly noted that Greene ran for Congress in California as a Republican in 1982 and, after years of being registered with no party affiliation, didn’t register as a Democrat until 2008.
When MSNBC host Chris Matthews probed the early-1980s phase of Greene’s life on Hardball last month, Greene said couldn’t remember whether he, as a 25-year-old, voted for Reagan or Democratic President Jimmy Carter in the epochal 1980 election.
A woman at Century Village pressed Greene on the issue again today.
“I heard the Chris Matthews program with you on it a couple weeks ago I think. And he asked you a question you couldn’t answer. Could you answer it now? Did you vote for Ronald Reagan?” the woman asked.
“In 1980, I’d just gotten out of Harvard Business School…The country was in a mess,” Greene responded, reminding the crowd of high inflation and unemployment rates, long gas lines and the Iranian hostage crisis.
“You know what? I strayed away for a couple years. I did become a Republican. I don’t remember who I voted for that year because I can tell you, you asked me the question, I know that I was troubled in 1980 and I wasn’t sure where this country was going. I was upset…..
“I became a Republican for a couple of years. You know what I learned? I learned during that period that I’m a Democrat…Look, Ronald Reagan didn’t get elected just by Republicans. People were upset at that point. I was upset, I was frustrated. I’m not embarrassed about that. And you know I think the time was a troubling time.”
Heavily Democratic Palm Beach County, and particularly Democrat-dominated retiree condos like Century Village, will be key battlegrounds in the Aug. 24 Democratic primary. Meek scored a key endorsement last week from United South County Democratic Club founder Murray Kalish, while Greene picked up the endorsement of the Voters Coalition of Palm Beach County, a nonpartisan group that is influential in south-county Democratic politics.
Kings Point Democratic Club President Lawrence Victoria and former Democratic state Rep. Irving Slosberg attended today’s Greene event, but both said they aren’t making endorsements in the primary.