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308 posts from October 2010

October 29, 2010

Q and A with Rick Scott -- staying on message, deflecting the hard stuff

Rick Scott's campaign bus stopped Thursday somewhere between Ocala and Newberry so that the campaign could drop off two political reporters after a round of pointed questions from the Herald/Times. The campaign says the stop was planned. The reporters didn't expect it.

Miami Herald Tallahassee Bureau Chief Mary Ellen Klas and Palm Beach Post reporter Dara Kam were invited to interview the candidate on Scott's campaign bus, a luxury touring van that he has used to criss-cross the state in his campaign for governor.

Scott, affable and friendly, has made himself readily available to reporters throughout the week but, in this case, Scott campaign aide Lanny Wiles, the husband of campaign manager Susie Wiles, cut off the interview after 20 minutes. Wiles told reporters the stop was necessary so Scott could do a call-in interview to a radio program. Chad Colby, Scott's aide, says the bus was scheduled to stop before Scott made the 5:45 call. Maybe it was just a bit of miscommunication.

The reporters were asking questions that, if answered, may have required Scott to move off some of his talking points and campaign message. Here's the transcript: 

Continue reading "Q and A with Rick Scott -- staying on message, deflecting the hard stuff" »

Clinton: 'I didn't ask Kendrick to leave the race.'

President Bill Clinton appears to contradict his own spokesman, who had confirmed reports that he had asked Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek to get out of the race.

"Kendrick Meek is my close friend. I have supported his campaign from the beginning, though our relationship extends far beyond politics. We did talk last week following a rally in Orlando about the race and it's challenges. I didn't ask Kendrick to leave the race, nor did Kendrick say that he would. I told him that how he proceeds was his decision to make and that I would support him regardless.

Over the years, I have watched Kendrick become an able, effective public servant with the strength to fight for what he believes and the common sense to work with people of different parties and points of view. I still believe he could be the best Senator to help Florida and America emerge from the current crisis and build a growing middle class economy."

Is Scott's bus tour the largest three-pack in history?

Rachel Burgin and Carlos Lopez-Cantera, come take a ride on the Rick Scott bus tour. We noticed on the back of the Scott tour bus, right under his 7-7-7 plan and famous "Let's Get to Work" logo, there's fine print telling voters they should also support Burgin and Lopez-Cantera in their respective re-election campaigns.

Known as a "three-pack," it's a common practice for TV ads that allows the party to pay for a campaign commercial without triggering limits on the amount the party can spend on a particular candidate. For example, if you look closely at the bottom of an Alex Sink commercial paid for by the Democrats, it might also urge you to vote for Dan Gelber and Loranne Ausley.

But a three-pack bus tour? That's something we hadn't seen before. Check it out for yourself:

Continue reading "Is Scott's bus tour the largest three-pack in history?" »

Scott bus tour is heavy on doughnuts

Rick Scott's first campaign stop of the day was at a Dunkin' Donuts in Panama City Beach, where about 200 people braved blustery mid-50s temperatures to see the Republican candidate for governor. ScottBusTour

Then Scott's huge blue tour bus pulled into Mike's Diner in Panama City, where he shook hands with everybody, even the two  guys serving up bacon eggs and French toast. "I used to be a fry cook. I made 85 cents an hour. You guys make more than that," Scott told them. Then came a visit (obligatory by now) at The Donut Hole in Destin. The stops all feed the Scott narrative of a guy who began his business career by investing in two doughnut shops in Kansas City.

At a roundtable with members of the Walton County Chamber of Commerce, Scott heard calls for less regulation (especially on septic tanks), lower taxes and fewer unfunded mandates from Tallahassee. He agreed with the idea that state workers should make a contribution to their own retirement plans (an idea proposed but killed in the 2010 legislative session). 

Bob Hudson, a local Republican activist, told Scott that the Walton GOP has plans to make more than 6,000 calls this weekend to Republicans who have not yet been to the polls. A woman tried to put Scott on the spot: "Noles or Gators?" "I like all of them," Scott replied.

-- Steve Bousquet

Crist camp on Mason-Dixon: Not so fast

The Crist campaign is refuting the latest poll to declare the Senate race over, circulating a pre-primary story that showed Bill McCollum with a 45 percent lead over Rick Scott in a Mason-Dixon poll.

We know how that race turned out. 

"The article below details the last time (Mason-Dixon pollster Brad) Mr. Coker spoke in the past tense about a major Florida race right before an election (wasn't quite that long ago when 'Scott's support evaporated'," Crist spokesman Danny Kanner writes. "Quinnipiac, Zogby, and common sense tell us this race is closing. Charlie Crist continues to unite the 60 percent of Democrats, independents, and Republicans who are rejecting the Tea Party extremism of Marco Rubio and want honest, independent leadership in the United States Senate. That's why he will win on Tuesday."



Mason Dixon: Rubio has an insurmountable lead

Marco Rubio has built a "commanding and insurmountable'' lead in Florida's three-way Senate race, a new poll has found -- even without the latest political machinations in the race.

The poll -- which comes on the heels of revelations that former President Bill Clinton last week reportedly urged Democrat Kendrick Meek to get out of the race -- shows the Republican Rubio leading the field with 45 percent, followed by Gov. Charlie Crist at 28 percent and Meek at 21 percent. Only 6 percent of voters in the Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. poll said they were undecided.

"There is simply no mathematical formula by which Crist or Meek can approach Rubio's 45 percent support level," said Mason-Dixon managing director Brad Coker.

   Even if Meek were to bow out now, Coker said, the math isn't there. Early votes have already been cast and Meek's name would remain on the ballot.

   "It was a pipe dream to begin with and if they were doing it, it should have been done a month ago," Coker said. "In three days how do you convince every Democrat who was going to vote for Meek that Crist is the guy?"

   He warned that the biggest loser in the "ham-handed move'' could be Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, who needs a robust turnout among Democrats, including African-Americans.


Alex Sink faces Kendrick Meek flap questions in Little Havana

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink -- who could be the biggest loser amid the rumors that former President Bill Clinton asked Senate hopeful Kendrick Meek to drop out of that race -- brushed off questions about the flap at Little Havana's Versailles restaurant Friday morning.

"I haven't been involved with that," she said.

When asked if she was worried that the rumors would hurt African-American Democratic turnout on Tuesday, Sink added: "Not at all."

"I met with a number of African-American pastors last night," she said. "They understand what's at stake. They're all supporting Meek very enthusiastically...I am really focused on the Alex Sink campaign for governor right now."

Questions about the Senate race persisted after Sink drank Cuban coffee, ate a guava-and-cheese pastry ("Delicioso!" she declared) and sat with Hispanic supporters, including several Republicans, who touted her economic and education plans.

"What I know is this: I'm a very strong supporter of Kendrick Meek," Sink said. "I'm going to vote for Kendrick Meek...He has strong grassroots support."

Continue reading "Alex Sink faces Kendrick Meek flap questions in Little Havana" »

Video: Kendrick Meek staying put, blames Charlie Crist for dropout flap

Rep. Kendrick Meek says he's staying in the U.S. Senate race

October 28, 2010

Republicans: Imagine the response if we tried to push a black candidate out

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on the Meek/Clinton conversation:

"If we have learned anything this election cycle, it’s that voters demand the right to choose candidates for themselves, not by a political establishment seeking to make those decisions from on high. President Clinton’s actions to have Kendrick Meek withdraw from the campaign sends a chilling signal to all voters, but especially African Americans. One can only imagine the response if Republican leadership tried to force out of the race – in the 11th hour – a qualified black candidate like Kendrick Meek."

Charlie Crist on Clinton/Meek conversations: It's true

Charlie Crist said on MSNBC that he doesn't expect Kendrick Meek to drop out of the race: "I think that all three of us will be on the ballot.''

But he said he knew about the Clinton conversations. "How would I know?," he said, answering a question host Keith Olbermann said had been asked by the Meek campaign. "Because I had numerous phone calls with people very close to President Clinton. It's true.''