August 26, 2008

Michigan and Florida agree: Obama's got some courting to do

Two bigtime Hillary Clinton supporters who now back Barack Obama say he's got ground to make up in their renegade states -- which didn't get a chance to kick the tires on the Democratic presidential nominee during the primaries.

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Broward Democrat Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, say their voters don't yet know Obama -- though he's spending millions in the states.

"We didn't have the campaigning in Michigan that other states had," Stabenow said. "Barack very quickly came to Michigan and has come a number of times. But I feel like we still have a building process to do in Michigan because we didn't have that robust primary campaign with everyone there. But it will happen. They are laser-focused. He has come numerous times...I"m not worried about getting there, but at the moment..."

Wasserman Schultz noted Clinton remains popular in Florida -- "we had to turn away 1,000 people" at a recent Clinton event, she said -- and that her presence in the state will help Obama. And Wasserman Schultz noted veep pick Joe Biden is "incredibly popular" in Florida. "He's a fixture on our campaign circuit," she said.

Still, she said, the "deficit" from the primary snub is "that (Obama) needs to spend time in both of our states...He's got some makeup work to do to get to know our voters and for our voters, who just don't know enough about him and his policies and his vision for the country."

Wasserman Schultz and the Jimmy Choos

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a self-proclaimed "fairly staunch Hillary Clinton supporter" predicts Clinton backers will enthusiastically support Barack Obama after they get a chance to give Clinton her due at a roll call vote expected Wednesday night.

"The vast majority of Hillary supporters that are here are excited about the message on this button," she said, pointing to her lapel pin, "Hillary Clinton supporter for Obama."

"They've been saying we all need to come together," she said, adding, "They want to be able to celebrate her success and how far women have come and the history making candidacy she has had...It's a way for us to bring Hillary supporters behind Barack Obama and lock elbows and march forward together and celebrate two history making candidacies at one convention."

Wasserman Schultz joined several colleagues at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor at a downtown hotel. Asked by one reporter whether women would flock to John McCain if he selected a female running mate, Wasserman Schultz and Rep. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., cast baffled looks at each other.

"Who?" Stabenow said, noting that names that have been floated such as McCain's economic adviser Carly Fiorina, "is not walking in the shoes of the women in Michigan, economically."

Quipped Wasserman Schultz of the former Hewlett-Packard chairman and chief executive, "She's walking in Jimmy Choos."

Scrambled eggs and condoms

Florida delegates arrived to breakfast this morning to find a special treat on the table: condoms, courtesy of Planned Parenthood's political arm.

The pink-packaged prophylactic bears the legend: "Protect Yourself from John McCain (In this election)."


"What's happened is that he's pulled a giant masquerade by positioning himself as a maverick and a moderate when he's been anything but when it comes to womens' issues," said Lillian Tamayo, a board member of the Florida Alliance of Planned Parenthood Affiliates, which distributed the condoms. "He's got a 100 percent anti-women, anti-family voting rights record."

Delegates scooped up the packages with delight: "We need something to protect us from McCain," said John Lindstrom of Palm City. But he's not bringing them home for his kids, ages 17, 21 and 24. "I'm going to keep them for myself."

The group is targeting infrequent voters, new voters and disappointed Hillary Clinton backers who they say might think McCain has a moderate stance on family planning.

"But he's voted against family planning and birth control," Tamayo said. Each package bears one of 10 reasons Planned Parenthood says rates McCain a zero.

Lincoln on the attack! Amid the Dems

DENVER - Lincoln Diaz-Balart is here for a second day of enemy incursion, camped out in the Republican war room on the outskirts of town to provide the GOP spin.

Lincoln_3_3 But he couldn't escape his Dem rival, Hialeah mayor Raul Martinez, who held a few ad hoc interviews of his own, asking interviewers why Diaz-Balart won't participate in a live debate with him. Martinez said he's accepted 7 debates -- 3 of them to be televised -- and that Diaz-Balart has only agreed to one, non-televised debate.

Diaz-Balart says he'll debate Martinez live at some point and his campaign says he's already agreed to an October debate sponsored by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. (That one, Martinez's camp notes, won't be televised.)

You can catch a glimpse of Martinez tonight at the Dem convention when he and Joe Garcia, who is challenging Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, will be spotlighted as among 5 of the party's top promising congressional aspirants. They're expected to be up sometime after 4 p.m. (MST)

You can read more about Lincoln's effort here. And watch him live at a 1:15 p.m. (MST) press conference from the GOP warroom here.

August 25, 2008

Garcia and Martinez score national exposure

Lincoln Diaz-Balart will be a player at the GOP's rapid response office for a second day Tuesday -- but his challenger has scored a coveted spot on the podium aimed at raising his national profile.

Raul Martinez's campaign says he and Joe Garcia, who is challenging Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, will be among 5 promising congressional aspirants to be given some valuable face time during the Democratic National Convention.

The two, along with Christine Jennings, who is in a rematch with Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, will appear on stage Tuesday afternoon with Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the Maryland Democrat who heads the national Democratic committee charged with increasing the number of Democrats in Congress.

The three are to be featured sometime after 4 p.m. (MST)

Continue reading "Garcia and Martinez score national exposure" »

Barack, John and Bob?

Libertarian Party presidential nominee Bob Barr says while Barack Obama and John McCain are sparring over their houses and their vice presidential picks, he's picking up steam in battleground states -- including Florida.

"It's hard to ignore the numbers," Barr said, referring a Zogby poll from last week. According to the poll results for 10 battleground states, Barr was polling 11 percent in New Hampshire and 10 percent in Nevada. He's at 5 percent in Florida, though that's well ahead of Ralph Nader, the man Florida Democrats will never forget -- or forgive. Nader, whom Dems blame for Al Gore's loss in 2000, polled just 1 percent.

Debbie shoots back at Debra

Here's Broward Dem Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's response to the John McCain ad featuring, Debra Bartoshevich, a onetime Hillary Clinton backer who is now supporting McCain.

"This ad does not reflect the sentiment of the thousands of former Clinton supporters from my congressional district who have embraced Barack Obama’s message of uniting Americans and getting the country back on track," said Wasserman Schultz, who also backed Clinton but switched allegiances after the primaries.

"The Democrats I talk to are supporting Barack Obama and Joe Biden because they’ll end the political games of Washington and provide real tax relief for working families, address the energy crisis and restore America’s respect abroad," she said.

Opponents of amendment to ban gay marriage launch TV ad

Florida Red and Blue, an organization opposing Amendment 2 which would write the existing ban on gay marriage into the Florida Constitution, will be running a 30-second ad during cable television coverage of the Democratic National Convention.

The ad lists the Democrats who opposed the amendment, from Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Kendrick Meek, Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Alex Sink. "Keep government out of our private lives,'' the ad concludes. "Vote No on 2." Florida Red and Blue argues that the amendment will not only write the marriage ban into the constitution but will add new prohibitions not already in law.

Giving goofy hats a new spin -- thanks to our corporate sponsors

For Florida delegates, the new goofy hat (a must on every convention floor) has morphed into a pair of pink flamingo sunglasses -- courtesy of pharmaceutical giant Lilly, one of the dozens of corporate sponsors handing out goodie bags, hosting parties and feeding delegates.

Indeed, the scrambled eggs, fruit and danish at today's breakfast were courtesy of CSX Corp, Universal Studios and Walt Disney World. Wednesday's breakfast hosts include Florida Power & Light, Feld Entertainment and Reed Elsevier Inc.

Signs at the podium note "Our Florida delegation thanks you!"

The rapture over Florida's return to the Democratic fold has yet to subside: "Today we celebrate the fact that we are whole," said Florida Democratic Party chief Karen Thurman.

August 24, 2008

Meek's cousin: I picked the right candidate

DENVER - Kendrick Meek's cousin is here in Denver -- as an Ohio delegate -- and among his hopes for the week, meeting up with the Miami congressman.

The Dayton Daily News quotes state Rep. Clayton Luckie, D-Dayton, as saying the week-long party will give Ohio's delegates a chance to "make sure our voices are heard."

He told the newspaper he also hopes to see Meek at the convention. Meek supported Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination, while Luckie, the newspaper says, backed Obama.

"I picked the right one," said Luckie, 45.