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285 posts from August 2012

August 28, 2012

George LeMieux pens his own Crist column: 'not the Charlie Crist I knew'

In a column in Wednesday's Tampa Bay Times, George LeMieux keeps his distance from his old boss:

"This isn't the Charlie Crist I knew.

"In recent days, the former Florida governor has publicly lambasted the Republican Party, his former party of more than 30 years, and given his support to one of the worst presidential administrations in recent history. He has characterized the Republican agenda as extreme and a failure in leadership. What's extreme is not the Republican Party, but Crist's attempt to transform himself from Reagan Republican into an Obama liberal.

"The Charlie Crist I knew and worked closely with for five years was Florida's attorney general and a tough, no-nonsense, crime fighter who earned the moniker "Chain Gang Charlie" for his support of prison chain gangs as a state senator. He never met a tax increase he liked. While not an ideologue on issues such as the environment, renewable energy and immigration, Crist's particular brand of Republicanism was conservative enough to convincingly win Republican primaries in his statewide races for attorney general and governor....More from George LeMieux here.

Paul Ryan: energizing activists but can he attract everyone else?

He’s just the running mate. But Americans could be more eager to see Paul Ryan when he takes the stage Wednesday at the Republican National Convention than the man at the top of the ticket, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

Ryan is the newest thing in politics right now, the still largely unknown subject of wild enthusiasm among conservatives, the target of unrelenting scorn from Democrats. In a prime-time speech Wednesday, he gets to tell his own story unfiltered by the news media. It will be a critical test, as he works to drive his party to a march-to-the-polls frenzy while not doing anything that could turn off independents and suburban moderates who could decide a close election.

Young, attractive and upbeat, the Republican vice presidential nominee easily energizes Republican activists — some of whom question Romney’s conservative credentials —largely for his blueprint to slash the federal government.

“I adore him,” gushed Kathy Hildebrand, a former math teacher and a convention delegate from Georgia. “He offers real solutions.”

But it’s precisely those solutions —policy proposals that include overhauling Medicare — that make him less popular with Democrats and moderates needed to win in November.

“His back is to the wall, frankly,” said John Zogby, an independent pollster. “He’s going to have a rough time going to the middle.” More from Anita Kumar here.

More headaches for Florida: bus doesn't come, delegates arrive late

After a day spent waiting, the Republican National Convention started for real at 2 p.m. Tuesday with Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus launching the first of many attacks against President Barack Obama.

Finally, Florida’s moment in the political sun — forever captured in these words and stories.
Which, for Florida’s delegates, is a good thing.

They missed it. The delay was not of their making.

Delegates were to board buses at noon to head from the Innisbrook Golf and Spa Resort in Palm Harbor to the Tampa Bay Times Forum 30 miles away. More here.

Rubio's speech interrupted by hecklers

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's speech to the Florida delegation was interrupted several times Tuesday by a well-placed band of protestors.

Rubio handled it with humor, joking initially that one protestor "is not happy with the hotel assignment"  assignment" and later asked "Did he eat the food?"

About six protestors from Stand Up Florida, a group affiliated with the service employees union, and their lawyer were given a trespass warning and were escorted by Pinellas County Sheriff deputies off the property. Most of them were from Palm Beach County, including self-described anarchist and former Lake Worth City Commissioner Cara Jennings. They appeared to have found their way into the convention hall without credentials.

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Bondi: RNC speech Wednesday night will be a 'entertaining' bash on Obama

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi told members of the Florida delegation Tuesday that she and Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens will be speaking at the Republican National Convention in a "give and take" style for eight minutes Wednesday night -- between 8:30 - 9 p.m.

As Florida's top headliner that night, Bondi said she'll focus on "the administration," and has been practicing for days. "We're doing a back and forth,'' she said. "We're hoping to be very entertaining."

Bondi's focus is likely to be on President Obama's Affordable Care Act, as one of the lead plaintiffs against the administration. She told the conventioneers that the health care lawsuit “won on two very important issues,” naming the provision that required to state to comply with the Medicaid provisions and rejected the notion that the act applied to states because of the U.S. Commerce Clause. 

She suggested that if Obama had sold the measure as a tax, "it would have never passed Congress. Now we know it is one of the largest taxes in our history…Now that we know it is a tax, we only need 51 votes in the Senate.”

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Curry touts Scott's handling of his unexpected job as storm-watcher in chief

When Tropical Storm Isaac churned through the Caribbean and took aim at the Florida peninsula, it carried with it new risk and opportunity for Gov. Rick Scott. 

The unpopular governor was thrust into the national spotlight – not for hosting the Republican National Convention but for managing the storm. He followed the pattern of other governors before him, holding televised briefings at the emergency operations center to update the public and deliver early storm warnings and advice.

But with both the storm and thousands of delegates heading to Tampa Bay, Scott stepped it up another notch. He cancelled his meet and greet with fundraisers Sunday evening, pulled out of the economic development events he planned to host on Monday, cancelled all his activities through Tuesday and withdrew plans to give a seven-minute prime time scheduled for Monday’s opening session. 

“Floridians are getting to see Rick Scott at his best right now,’’ said Lenny Curry, chairman of the Florida Republican Party on Monday afternoon. “Rick Scott as the leader, the problem solver.’’ Story here.


August 27, 2012

Boehner on RNC platform: never mind

House Speaker John Boehner met with reporters Monday, trying hard to remind everyone that the economy matters most.

He was asked about the convention, and whether 4 day conventions were a thing of the past. Republicans postponed major business scheduled for Monday because Tropical Storm Isaac threatened the region.

"Four day conventions for the future make a lot of sense," Boehner, R-Ohio,said.

He defended the party's positions on women's issues, saying, "there never was a war on women,'' and women, like men, care most about the economy.

He had praised for vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, recalling how Ryan worked for him 22 years ago when Ryan was a college student and worked in the campaign.

But Boehner's message, over and over, was that the convention and the election are about the economy. Don't even worry about what's in the platform, he said.

"Have you ever met anybody who's read the party platform?" Boehner asked. "I haven't meet anybody."

-- David Lightman

Defeated Miami-Dade commission chairman, property appraiser sue to contest election results

Citing an ongoing absentee-ballot fraud investigation in Hialeah, two Miami-Dade politicians who lost their election contests two weeks ago say they have sued to challenge the results.

County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, who ran for Miami-Dade mayor, and Property Appraiser Pedro J. Garcia, defeated in his reelection bid, filed parallel lawsuits Friday asking the courts to throw out the absentee votes in their countywide races, according to a lawyer representing both men.

Without the absentees, the results would rely only on ballots cast during early voting and on Election Day. In that case, Martinez would have narrowly made it to a runoff against Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Garcia would have defeated state Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Prosecutors have charged two suspected Hialeah ballot brokers known as boleteros, Deisy Cabrera and Sergio Robaina, with voter fraud. Cabrera allegedly forged the ballot signature of a terminally ill woman in a nursing home; Robaina allegedly filled out two absentee ballots with his own candidate choices, not those of the voters involved.

As part of the investigation, authorities have identified 195 absentee ballots collected by Cabrera, Robaina or other brokers. Six of those ballots were seized by investigators and not counted in the Aug. 14 election. The county’s three-person canvassing board rejected four other ballots collectedby the brokers because the signatures on the ballot envelopes did not match voter signatures on file. In an interview Monday, Martinez cited the Hialeah arrests as enough evidence to contest the election.

More here.

A Charlie Crist challenge to Rick Scott in 2014: Democratic nightmare or gift?

If former Gov. Charlie Crist's endorsement of Barack Obama did anything, it fired the first official salvo in the ever-present fight for the independent voter in Florida between Mitt Romney and the president in 2012.

(Independent voters traditionally determine elections in the nation's largest swing state and, as Florida Republican Party chairman Lenny Curry confirmed on Monday, “Mitt Romney cannot win the presidency without Florida.")

But the chatter among Republicans at the RNC today is that Crist's endorsement is a sign of a more interesting fight to come -- from their vantage point -- in 2014.

That would be the fight between the potential candidacy of Alex Sink, the Democrat and former CFO who lost to Republican Rick Scott in 2010 by a narrow 62,000 votes, and Charlie Crist for the Democratic nomination in 2014. Or between Crist and whichever other Democratic alternative may be named. (Among them: Fort Lauerdale Mayor Jack Seiler, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former state Sen. Rod Smith and state Sen. Nan Rich.)

The mere suggestion that Crist would switch from no-party affiliation to the Democratic Party already is stirring up trouble in Democratic circles. "Some party leaders who are encouraging him and others who are very much against it,'' one party insider told us.

Former state Sen. Dan Gelber believes Crist may help Obama with Republicans and independent voters who believe "the GOP has become simply too extreme." But he's not ready to embrace the idea of Crist as a candidate.

"I think party insiders are over thinking the prospect of Crist embracing Democrats and vice versa,'' Gelber said. "The Republican reaction was obviously an over reaction as they acted like Crist had committed a savage crime with his endorsement.  It's a long way to 2014, but Scott should be worried because lots of right-thinking Republicans and Independents feel totally at sea with his party and policies. Crist's endorsement is simply another proof point of that sentiment."

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Down with women, Hispanics, RNC’s Priebus talks ground game, ‘bragging’ strategy

The latest CNN/Time Florida poll shows President Obama leading Republican Mitt Romney 50-46%, a Democrat lead bolstered by a 54-42% edge among women and a big lead among minorities. That’s on top of a Quinnipiac Florida poll that showed Obama leading Romney 49-46%, in which Hispanics favor the Democrat over the Republican 61-31%.

Yet the Republican National Committee’s big speakers, by and large, are Hispanics and women. What gives?

“We’ve had a lot of success with Hispanic candidates,” said Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. “We’ve done a lousy job of bragging on it. And we need to do a better job of bragging on the successes that we’ve had….”

“You have to at least give us that right now in 2012, our topline messaging, we’re in a much better place today than we were four years ago. We know that… We know that we’re in a much better place. We know that we’ve got better messengers in our party today than in 2008 – whether it be (Florida Sen.) Marco (Rubio), (New Mexico Gov.) Susana Martinez, (Nevada Gov.) Sandoval. One of the guys we don’t brag up enough: (Gov.) Luis Fortuño in Puerto Rico. So we’ve got better message,  better messengers…”

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