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Opening Ceremonies at the International Builders' Show

?This thing is a long, long way from over.? ?This is a . . . cycle like no other.? ?This is an incomprehensible series of events . . . ? Those are just a few of the compelling comments from keynote speakers Mary Matalin and James Carville during this morning?s opening ceremonies for International Builders? Show in the South Hall at the Orange County Convention Center. While the husband-and-wife political analysts?she?s the Republican representative, he?s the Democratic delegate?were talking about the 2008 presidential election, they could have just as easily been talking about the state of the crisis-riddled U.S. housing market. Despite the metaphorical clouds hovering over the housing industry?and the actual ones that have been darkening the skies here in Orlando the last two days?the National Association of Home Builders tried its best to enliven spirits during the show opening. Florence Henderson, known more as Carol Brady than for her earlier roles on Broadway, provided a perky presence during a variety of song-and-dance numbers during the ?Viva Orlando? festivities. This is the fourth year Orlando has hosted the IBS; for the next two years the show will move to Las Vegas, a city that seems to be bucking the building slowdown: 40,000 new hotel rooms are being built, part of $30 billion in building and infrastructure improvements there. More interested in politics than building? Carville?s best line of the his discourse hinted at a Democratic victory: ?We will have to literally talk our way out of winning [the 2008 presidential] election,? he said. Not wanting to make too bold a prediction, he added, ?We [Democrats} are perfectly capable of doing that.??Steven H. Saltzman
 
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