September 04, 2012

Pro-Cuba travel sentiment at the Democratic National Convention

Image002Here's something you don't see at the Republican National Convention: An activist holding up a sign calling for more travel to Cuba. President Obama loosened travel and monetary-remittance restrictions to Cuba. But under Helms-Burton, travel to Cuba isn't free and easy (and, of course, once you're in Cuba you're subject to the whims of the dictatorship).

Public opinion surveys indicate that support for Cuba restrictions is thawing. But the Republican base in Miami-Dade County, where 72 percent of the GOP is Hispanic and overwhelmingly Cuban, still favors a hardline stance.

Sorry, Charlie? Kendrick Meek (gov. candidate in 14?) won't tamp down talk of a rematch.

Former Congressman Kendrick Meek is no Charlie Crist fan.

When the former governor decided to run for Senate, he ultimately left the Republican Party but stayed in the race, all but ensuring a win for Marco Rubio in 2010. That helped syphon votes from the Democrat in the race, Miami Congressman Kendrick Meek.

Crist allies leaked word that Meek was being pressured by top Democrats like Bill Clinton to leave the race. That hurt even more.

Now Crist is on the precipice of running for governor again, in 2014, as a Democrat. And Meek might want a little payback.

Sure, President Obama's campaign is giddy over Crist because he's scheduled to speak at the Democratic National Convention to drive home the idea that the GOP is too extreme. But Florida Democrats aren't pleased. Among them: Meek.

When asked what he thought of Crist at the convention, Meek smiled and essentially refused to comment.

"I'm not in charge," he said. "I'm going to go get my credentials (for the convention)."

When asked if he'd run for governor against Crist, he smiled: "I'm going to get my credentials."

That would be bad news for Crist, who has goodwill among African-American voters and the teachers union. So does Meek. He's the son of black-community icon and former Congresswoman Carrie Meek. And he repeatedly took on former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush over education initiatives that Crist backed and that the union opposed.

Charlie Crist’s DNC role disappoints some FL Democrats

To President Obama’s reelection team, former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist’s high-profile speaking role at the Democratic National Convention is a coup.

But to many longtime Florida Democrats, it’s revolting.

"If he gets up to speak at the convention, it'll be a good time to go to the bathroom," said Palm Beach County’s tax collector, Anne Gannon, a Florida Democratic delegate.

“He’s a born-again Democrat,” Gannon said. “He’s a nice man, but he doesn’t have a clue about his value-system.’

Crist is widely expected to run for governor again in two years as a Democrat. He left the Republican Party in 2010, saying it became too “extreme.”

His conversion, to an independent, came only after he was all but assured a GOP-primary loss to fellow Republican Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race. Crist went on to lose the general election to Rubio in a three-way Senate race involving former Miami Congressman Kendrick Meek, who wouldn't comment.

"I'm not in charge," he said when he ran into a reporter at the convention. "I'm going to go get my credentials (for the convention)."

Crist has slowly tilted toward the Democratic Party ever since, endorsing Sen. Bill Nelson and then Obama just before the Republican National Convention kicked off the Sunday before last. He was awarded a DNC speaking slot, perhaps on Thursday night when Obama is nominated.

The speaking role of a not-quite-Democrat at the Democrats’ convention speaks volumes about the state of the party.

Except for national party chairwoman and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, no other Florida official will play a high-profile convention role. Nelson isn’t scheduled to speak. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 5 percentage points in Florida yet only hold one state-wide elected office, Nelson’s, and comprise less than a third of the Legislature.

As a must-win state for Republicans that Obama won in 2008, Florida is nonetheless playing a much-downsized role at the Democrats’ convention relative to its outsized importance.

Republicans have reveled in Crist’s flip-floppery, disseminating Tweets from the time Crist was still a Republican who bashed Obama’s healthcare plan.

Democrats aren’t so happy to point out the inconsistencies, but they’re noting them nonetheless in a bipartisan act of marveling at Crist’s appetite for political reinvention. They expect Crist, a trial lawyer at the Morgan & Morgan firm, to become a Democrat at an opportune moment and then run for governor.

“Less than two years ago, he was against the Affordable Care Act and he thought Sarah Palin was an excellent choice for vice-president. How does he explain that?” said state Sen. Nan Rich, a Weston Democrat who’s running for governor in 2014.

Continue reading "Charlie Crist’s DNC role disappoints some FL Democrats" »

August 27, 2012

No surprise news of the day: Charlie Crist secures DNC speaking spot

Charlie Crist, who yesterday endorsed Barack Obama, will speak at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte next week.

"The Democratic convention will be about bringing people together to continue the progress we've made in rebuilding our economy from the middle out, not the top down," a Democratic official said. "Gov. Crist can personally speak to this, and contrast the president's vision with Mitt Romney's, which caters to the most extreme elements of the Republican Party and undermines the middle class." See more here.

Florida  Agriculture Commmissioner Adam Putnam told Florida delegates about it this morning, and the news drew groans from the audience.

“Unbelievable,” Putnam said. “What does he stand for except for himself. He’ll wear any costume just to get in the parade.”

-- Alex Leary and Michael Van Sickler

August 29, 2008

A lucky sign for Obama from South Florida?

Homemade signs are generally among the banned items at tightly orchestrated political conventions -- no off point messages, please. But a small band of self-proclaimed Cuban American Democrats managed to evade the sign police Thursday night at Barack Obama's speech and made their allegiance clear.

The four snuck in a sign reading, "Cuban American Democrats for Change," and waved it proudly. It caught the cameras several times and got up on the giant screens at Invesco Field at Mile High.

On the way to the event, "people were telling us, 'You know, they don't allow signs,' " said Arthur Costa, 49, of Miami. "But we figured we'd take a chance."

They saw several signs get confiscated, but walked out on the field with the goods.

"We just witnessed history tonight," Costa said as he rode the bus back to the Florida delegate's hotel. All four signed the sign for posterity. It'll go next to the sign Costa snuck into the convention in 2000.

August 28, 2008

Wasserman Schultz gives the South Florida 3 a giant shout-out

DENVER - Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who earned the ire of the netroots for saying earlier this year she wouldn't get involved in the three South Florida congressional races, just gave the 3 candidates an enthusiastic go-get-em from the stage.

Rallying the faithful from the stage at the Florida delegation's breakfast, Wasserman Schultz proclaimed big wins for the Democrats. "Raul Martinez is going to beat Lincoln Diaz-Balart," she said to cheers. "Joe Garcia is going to beat Mario Diaz-Balart and Annette Taddeo is going to beat Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

"We have 66 days left," Wasserman Schultz said. "Let's work our butts off."

New poll: Martinez besting Diaz-Balart

DENVER - Talk about a convention bump! A new poll done by Survey USA for Capitol Hill's Roll Call finds Raul Martinez leading Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart by 2 points.

"In a head-to-head matchup with Raul Martinez, the colorful and controversial mayor of Hialeah, Diaz-Balart received 46 percent while the Democrat garnered 48 percent," Roll Call reported.

The poll of 632 likely voters was taken Aug. 24 to 26 for Roll Call by Survey USA, an automated opinion research firm. Voters were allowed to respond in English or Spanish. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Diaz-Balart's campaign said its internal polls "consistently" show Diaz-Balart maintaining a "substantial lead among all significant sectors of the electorate."

"Our own polling, using live bilingual interviewers provides us with the confidence that Congressman Diaz-Balart holds a solid lead over his challenger," said David Hill of Hill Research Service.

But Roll Call says the "poll suggests that the Democrats’ hunch that the South Florida electorate is changing might be true. Not only was Diaz-Balart locked in a tight race with Martinez, but Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) were tied in the poll, with each getting 48 percent of the vote."

Continue reading "New poll: Martinez besting Diaz-Balart" »

August 27, 2008

Meek introduces his "good friend" Bill (Clinton)

Kendrick Meek introduced his presidential primary trail buddy, Bill Clinton, calling him "my good friend" and saying his two terms as president is proof of "what this country can accomplish when a Democrat is in the White House .. a wonderful thing.

"President Clinton presided over the longest economic expansion in American history," Meek said. "That meant more than 22 million new jobs; higher incomes at every income level; the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years; the lowest poverty rate in 20 years; the lowest crime rate in 26 years; the smallest welfare rolls in 32 years and the highest homeownership in history."

"And let's remember: he did all this while inheriting a record deficit from the previous President and leaving a record surplus for the President we've got today."

As Commander-in-Chief, President Clinton prepared our military to win wars, at the same time working everywhere in the world to make peace in Africa, in Europe, in Asia, in the Middle East, " Meek said.  He left a legacy of national strength and common national purpose on which President Barack Obama is going to build."

"My fellow Democrats, my fellow Americans," Meek said, "I give you one of the greatest presidents in the history of our country, William Jefferson Clinton."

And to the sounds of his signature Fleetwood Mac's Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow, it's Bill. His first (audible words) after a long ovation, "I'm here first, to support Barack Obama." And he joked, "to warm up the crowd for Joe Biden."

Florida: "We don't abstain"

DENVER - The Florida Democratic Party says the earlier report about 1 delegate abstaining from voting was wrong.

Not all the delegates could make it to the floor to vote on time and the vote still could change, but the tally as of now is 135 for Barack Obama, 59 for Hillary Clinton.

The results differ widely from how the delegates were divvied up according to the Jan. 29 Democratic primary, in which Clinton won 105 delegates, Obama won 67 delegates and Edwards won 13 delegates. But Edwards' admission earlier this month that he had an affair, and Clinton's announcement today that she was releasing her delegates prompted some to switch their allegiances at the convention.

Meek to introduce Clinton

Kendrick Meek, who campaigned across the country with former President Bill Clinton on Hillary Clinton's behalf, will introduce the former President when he takes the stage tonight.

Meek, along with 11-year-old Kendrick Jr., sat in the catbird seat Tuesday night -- Bill Clinton's skybox at the Pepsi Center -- to watch Hillary Clinton give her "rally round Barack Obama speech."

Viewers at home should tune in around 9 p.m. EST