Two-term Florida Democratic Rep. Bill Grant delivered a political gift to President Bush at the White House today by joining the Republican Party.
"I just wanted to bring Congressman Grant in here to say how pleased I am that he is switching over to become a Republican," Bush said in opening a White House news conference with Grant at his side.
Republicans, despite Bush's landslide win over Michael S. Dukakis on Nov. 8, lost congressional seats to Democrats, who maintain large majorities in the House and Senate. With the change, Democrats will hold a 258-to-175 majority in the House. There are two vacancies.
A lifelong Democrat, Grant, 45, had no opposition in the November election.
Grant, who is rated a moderate Democrat by the American Conservative Union, said he was switching because he can better serve his district "in a working partnership, with this President, with this Administration and with this party."
House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.), asked about Grant's defection from the majority party, said: "It took me by surprise, but that's everyone's choice. I hope he's happy."
His conversion reverses the division of Florida's delegation to Congress, giving the state 10 Republicans and nine Democrats.