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I-4 heavy with traffic … of presidential candidates

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Motorists nearly always complain about the traffic on Interstate 4, but in the last two days with the Democratic and Republican primaries Tuesday, many on the crowded highway have been presidential candidates.

On the Democratic side, both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders worked Orlando, Kissimmee and Tampa Wednesday and Thursday. Sanders had planned a stop at Fat Jack’s Deli in Lakeland Thursday — “need family oriented eatery and don’t contact the press.” But his afternoon stop in Kissimmee ran long, and the campaign had to get to a scheduled rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa and ran out of time.

Most of the Florida appearances have been catch-as-catch-can in the final days leading to Tuesday’s Florida primaries.

Sen. Ted Cruz was in the Central Florida area today. Campaign workers scrambled with an 18-hour notice Thursday to find three vehicles for the I-4 Cruz cruise today.

All they could find were foreign brands and campaign workers didn’t want him photographed in a foreign SUV.

At last, Kelley Buick of Bartow came up with three GMCs.

Word went out Friday morning that the “Trump Train” was due in at an undisclosed location in Polk County between trips to Orlando and Tampa. And 25 volunteers were urgently needed to greet it.

Former Ledger of Lakeland columnist Bill Rufty is Central Florida political correspondent for SaintPetersBlog and Florida Politics. Rufty had been with the Ledger from 1985-2015, where, as political editor, he covered a wide range of beats, including local and state politics, the Lakeland City Commission, and the Florida Legislature. Ledger editor Lenore Devore said about Rufty’s 30-year career: “[He is] a man full of knowledge, a polling expert and a war history buff … who has a steel trap in his brain, remembering details most of us have long since forgotten.”

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