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Angry, fed-up D'Amato kicked off delayed flight

NY Daily NewsJASON SILVERSTEIN NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
"SENATOR POTHOLE" had a bumpy plane ride in Florida -- and he never left the ground.
Former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato was kicked off a JetBlue flight Monday night to New York City after complaining about the airline's service.
The onetime New York lawmaker was pulled from the flight in Fort Lauderdale after he issued a call to action, which other customers caught on camera.
Fed up with hours-long delays and the crew's requests for seat changes, D'Amato demanded a response.
"We can still speak in this country!" the 79-year-old yells in a video posted by Facebook user Jacqueline Galante.
"And I want to tell you this, I'm making an appeal to all you people -- stand up for what's right and walk out with me!"
Two passengers appeared to follow D'Amato out as authorities pull him from the flight.
Galante said the senator simply spoke for customers who were "agitated" after hours of delays. The crew had also asked some passengers to switch seats to fix a "weight distribution" problem on the plane, she said.
"They shame-walked him to the front of the plane," Galante, a native New Yorker now living in Florida, told The News.
"He was not ranting and raving. ... If it happened to him, it could happen to anyone."
Another video from a Twitter user shows D'Amato announcing he's being thrown off the flight because he "complained about what they're doing" -- drawing boos from his fellow passengers.
In a statement to the Daily News, D'Amato's reps said he lost his patience after a five-hour flight delay and "a long and demanding trip to Florida to visit an ailing friend."
"Anyone who knows Sen. D'Amato knows he speaks his mind," the statement said.
"JetBlue has apologized to the Senator for overreacting and the Senator apologized for speaking his mind at a time when he clearly had left his patience at the gate."
JetBlue would not comment on D'Amato specifically, but said the choice to kick off a passenger "is not taken lightly."
"If a customer is causing a conflict on the aircraft, it is standard procedure to ask the customer to deplane, especially if the crew feels the situation runs a risk of escalation in-flight," the airline said.
The Broward County Sheriff's Office did not comment.
The Brooklyn-born lawmaker served in the Senate from 1981 until 1999, when he was defeated by Democratic challenger Chuck Schumer, who still holds the post.
D'Amato is the last Republican from New York to get elected to the Senate.
Known as "Senator Pothole" for his focus on smallscale concerns from constituents, he went on to found the lobbying firm Park Strategies.
Still from video (top) shows former Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (also inset, above) in a verbal dispute on JetBlue plane in Fort Lauderdale that led to him being kicked off flight.
AP; JAMES KEIVOM/DAILY NEWS
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