Gingrich Makes Stop In Brandon On Campaign Trail

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich stands with Brandon business owner Sam Rashid during an private fundraising breakfast at Sumatra Cafe in Brandon in January.

Just days before the Republican primary, presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich made a point to stop at Sumatra Bistro Cafe in Brandon for a fundraising breakfast.

Upon invitation of the cafe’s owner, Sam Rashid, a long-time Republican and political grassroots supporter and also the Hillsborough County Chair for Newt 2012, wanted to show the candidate some of the support from the South East Hillsborough community and also hold a fundraiser for the campaign at the same time.

Attendees paid a donation to the campaign of $500 to $2500 per person for the opportunity to have an intimate breakfast with the candidate.

“I’ve known Gingrich for 20 plus years,” said Rashid. “I believe that he is the only representative of the conservative free-market small business owners in this country and as I happen to be of that particular demographic since I was 19 years old, we have a great affinity for like-minded individuals.”

Rashid also mentioned that he rallied behind Gingrich early on in 2011 and started supporting the campaign financially even when he wasn’t the frontrunner in the polls.

“Just as Marco Rubio came here during his campaign,” said Rashid. “Newt recognizes the power of the vote in suburban Hillsborough County.  East and South Hillsborough will be pivotal on primary day, as will North and North-West Hillsborough under the direction of Senator John Grant.  This is the reason why Newt came here first.”

For the intimate setting, guests arrived at 8 a.m. at Sumatra, on Oakfield Dr. in Brandon. A continental breakfast was served and more than 45 guests and supporters had a first-hand opportunity to meet the candidate.

Among those in attendance were former Attorney General Bill McCollum and his wife, Plant City Mayor Dan Raulerson and his daughter Jackie, currently Ms. Florida, Senator (retired) John Grant, Tampa Airport Authority Chairman, Steve Burton, Plant City restaurateur Fred Johnson,  the President of the New Tampa Republican Club, Matt Fleming and one of the original founders of the Florida Tea Party movement, Sharon Calvert, all of whom espoused their support for Gingrich and contributed financially to attend the fundraiser.

Rashid added, “We are facing incredible challenges ahead and we need a leader who will articulate and fight for a common sense vision for our country. This race will be won by people like you and me – citizens willing to dig deep and make financial and personal sacrifices driven by the knowledge that our success or failure will impact generations to come.”

Gingrich, who arrived in his campaign bus, introduced his daughter Kathy Gingrich Lubbers who lives in Key Biscayne and is a senior campaign advisor and took a few minutes to speak to the crowd and thanked them all for their support, “I promise to run an American campaign and to invite everyone to be engaged. I want to run as a paycheck president and not a food stamp president,” he described, saying that he wants to put Americans back to work and reduce dependence on government assistance.

Rashid, the CEO of HOLTEC USA Corporation, a lumber manufacturing equipment supplier also owns Divine Designs Salon & Spa, Sumatra Bistro Cafe and multiple commercial properties in Brandon.  He is also the Chairman of the NEWT 2012 campaign for Hillsborough County and a father of two.

“This guy will be the next president of the United States,” said Rashid. “One grassroots volunteer can deliver more votes than a room full of establishment donors and each one of the people in this room today will have a major impact on the campaign. I have been with Newt since 1994, when I was 32 years old and I campaigned for his Contract with America. This is the same small business – grassroots campaign.”

FishHawk resident Georgia Carney was thrilled to be invited to the event, “I’ve been a supporter since the 80s because Newt says what he believes. He is telling people what he thinks, not what they want to hear.” Carney volunteers to hold signs, campaign and rally with the former FishHawk Republican Club, now expanded and renamed the Alafia Republican Club.