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Robbie Mook says Hillary Clinton is taking the primary campaign season seriously

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Hillary Clinton will give a speech within the next three weeks giving her take on how she would deal with Wall Street bankers and the financial industry.

That was the one major nugget of news to emanate from Robbie Mook’s appearance at Mise en Place in Tampa on Monday night.

Mook is the 35-year-old campaign manager for the Clinton campaign. He was the featured player at the low-dough fundraiser at the downtown eatery, where people could contribute as little as $25 to nibble on ravioli, purchase drinks at the bar, and maybe mingle with like-minded Democrats, already in the mood to work toward electing Mrs. Clinton.

“We take nothing for granted,” Mook vowed to the crowd that appeared to be at least 150 or so in number. (Organizer Alan Clendenin now tells us more than 200 were in attendance).Though he never mentioned the words “Bernie” or “Sanders,” he said that the Clinton campaign was taking the primary campaign extremely seriously, and would work hard in every part of the country for it, especially in the first four states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

Although some Democrats in attendance could be heard talking down Sanders’ chances before Mook spoke, the fact of the matter is the 73-year-old Vermont senator is playing to large audiences in Iowa and New Hampshire, and in a CNN/WMUR poll in New Hampshire taken last week, trailed the front-runner by only eight percentage points — 43 percent said they preferred Clinton, and 35 percent Sanders.

Also, The Wall Street Journal reported today that there is still a chance that Joe Biden may get into the race. The paper reported that his late son Beau urged that his father do so.

But Mook didn’t spend too much time on the competition. He celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions last week on the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage. “This has been a fantastic week for our country!” he exclaimed. He also said he looked forward to Florida having two Democratic senators next year, though he never alluded to a specific candidate.

He repeated what has become a mantra in the early weeks of the 2016 Clinton campaign – that the former New York senator, first lady and secretary of state will fight for everyday Americans. And Mook repeated the four essential “fights” that Clinton will be fighting about:

1) “Creating the economy of tomorrow.”

2) Fighting for America’s families — which then provided a segue into immigration reform. Mook said Clinton was all about fighting for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and keeping families together, and vowed she wouldn’t do half-measures like those espoused “by your former governor,” alluding to Jeb Bush.

3) Fighting to protect America’s security, and

4) Fighting to reform campaign finance laws. “We’re going to end the Super PAC!” he said excitedly, which sounded a bit weird, considering that Clinton has her own Super PAC, Priorities USA Action, that her camp certainly hopes can be as competitive as any that the Republicans like Scott Walker and Bush are using.

And Mook seemed to slightly startle the crowd when he said he hoped they would contribute every month to the campaign, as well as volunteer.

Although hosting a fundraiser for a Democrat is virtually de rigeur at Mise en Place, such events are usually held in the Lafayette Room in the back. Not tonight. Although that room was used as a VIP greeting place for Mook to muck it up with select Democrats, he actually addressed the packed crowd in the main dining room, where former Tampa Mayor Sandy Freedman sat below Mook, fanning herself furiously in the increasingly warm room.

Seemingly everybody who is anybody in Democratic politics in the Tampa Bay area was in attendance: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn (who introduced Mook), former CFO Alex Sink, former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, state Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, Tampa City Council members Harry Cohen and Frank Reddick, St. Pete City Councilman Karl Nurse, School Board members Cindy Stuart and Susan Valdes, among others.

Mook repeated Mayor Buckhorn’s declaration that Tampa and Hillsborough County was “Ground Zero” in deciding the election next year, though he was less forthcoming when it came to responding to a question about when the candidate herself, Hillary Clinton, would be coming to the Tampa Bay area for a campaign appearance.

“Soon,” Mook promised. And then it was all over.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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