August 29, 2012

Pam Bondi's 'ready for the moment' in Prime Time

Attorney General Pam Bondi will take center stage tonight at 8:30 p.m., as one of Florida’s Republican all-stars chosen for a prime time speech to the party faithful.

The nine-minute appearance – between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. tonight – will be a try-out of sorts for Bondi. While it’s not her first foray on the national stage – she debuted there in her role before the U.S. Supreme Court when she led Florida’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act -- it is her first national presence before the estimated 30 million viewers.

“It’s an incredible honor that Pam has been asked to be one of the Prime Time speakers of the convention,’’ said Adam Goodman, a longtime political consultant and advisor to Bondi. “She’s ready for the moment.”

Bondi won’t deliver a traditional speech but instead will engage in what she called an entertaining “give and take” with Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. They are expected to highlight why the GOP wants to continue to work to repeal President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush will also get a prime time speaking slot Thursday night and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has the top spot, offering up the GOP introduction to Mitt Romney.

Bondi, a regular guest of various Fox News shows, will cap the evening Wednesday on a special 11:30 p.m. edition of Greta Van Susteren’s show, On the Record.


Rubio previews his speech: America's choice

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio took some time out Wednesday to talk to reporters after he did a brief walk-through of his speech scheduled for the final night of the convention to introduce Republican Mitt Romney.  

Speaking from the convention floor, a gaggle of about three dozen reporters swarmed the Republican rock-star, nearly knocking each other over as they scrambled to hear him.

“This election is about the choice the country has about the role government should play in this election,’’ he said. “It’s not a choice between a Republican or Democrat. It’s about much more than that. My job is to introduce the next president of the United States, and to do so in a way that makes it clear to people the choices.”

When asked what makes this different from the many other speeches he has given over his career, he said, “I don’t know, 39 million people probably.”

“It’s a tremendous honor to be able to give this speech in my home state in front of a lot of family and friends who have been involved with me on a personal level. I hope for my mom, who’s watching from home, and my dad, wherever he’s watching from, it will be affirmation that their lives mattered.”

He said that each night of the convention will “have a purpose” and while Tuesday night was about “Mitt Romney the person” and about leadership. “Tonight that will be reinforced when America gets to meet Paul Ryan, someone who’s in politics to do something, to make a difference.”

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August 28, 2012

Jeb Bush appeals to GOP grassroots and tells party: 'stop acting stupid' courting Hispanics

With Mitt Romney trailing Barack Obama badly among Hispanic voters in the polls, Republicans paraded out their top Hispanic political celebrities Tuesday and tapped the financial and influential heft of former Gov. Jeb Bush to help suture the gap. \

Speaking at a panel discussion at the Republican National Convention, Bush repeated his frequent warning that the party must change its tone, an admonition he has frequently raised about the party’s hardline position on immigration.

“The future of our party is to reach out consistently to have a tone that is open and hospitable to people who share values,’’ he said, adding “the conservative cause would be the governing philosophy as far as the eye could see … and that’s doable if we just stop acting stupid.”

Bush was joined by two Latino governors in an event organized by the Hispanic Leadership Network, a newly formed advocacy group associated with the American Action Network. The group will finance issue ads and promote what it calls a “center-right” agenda.

Bush’s youngest son, Jeb Bush Jr, announced the emergence of SunPac, a Coral Gables–based organization that targets young Hispanics in Florida to support their issues and get involved in politics.

And the prime time television schedule included two of the convention’s five Hispanics headliners: Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz. The others, Gov. Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico and Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico, will follow Wednesday. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will introduce Mitt Romney on Thursday.

The top draw for Republicans showcasing their Hispanic bonafides: Rubio. More 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.

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

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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GOP strategist Karl Rove shares elections insight

TAMPA -- Karl Rove has made the trasition from Republican operative to political analyst, but his biting humor and sharp elbows style haven’t gone anywhere. Weighing in on the 2012 presidential race Monday morning, he had high praise for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney and criticized President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.

Rove said Obama’s approach leaves him “completely mystified” and the president has allowed the campaign to dominate too much of his time.

“This has not been a campaign in which it has been, 'Look at my record, I’m proud of my record and here is my vision for a second term,’ “ Rove told a capacity crowd at the launch of the POLITICO Convention Playbook Breakfast series.

But Rove has also been “mystified” by Romney’s response to questions about whether he pays his fair share of taxes. Romney can choose not to release additional tax returns, Rove said, but he should paint Obama’s attacks as about politics and not transparency.

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August 26, 2012

Isaac could be Gov. Rick Scott's moment

Photo(8)TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott expected to get just a few minutes in the Republican National Convention spotlight. A seven-minute speech during Monday's opening session, maybe a few appearances at a fundraiser or a reception.

Then Tropical Storm Isaac began churning in the Caribbean and made a turn toward the Florida peninsula.

Almost overnight, the unpopular governor kept somewhat on the fringes of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign was thrust front and center.

While no one will say it, the storm offers Scott an opening to many still skeptical Floridians to prove his mettle in a crisis. It's Scott, not Romney, the state is seeing on TV twice a day. And it's Scott's voice that is trying to reassure Florida and its thousands of convention guests as Isaac impacts the coastline.

"We do hurricanes well and we do hospitality well," he told CNN's Candy Crowley Sunday morning. "And this week, we've got to show both sides."

Read more here.