August 28, 2012

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.”

Continue reading "Bondi: RNC speech Wednesday night will be a 'entertaining' bash on Obama" »

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.

Florida delegates arrive -- at the Republican equivalent of Siberia

Florida's convention delegates and party faithful streamed into the Innisbrook Golf and Spa resort on Sunday, right on schedule, as the hurry-up and wait for convention activities began. They were handed white bags with blue trim, loaded with RNC swag from water bottles to a beach towels.

But if the gray clouds, persistent drizzle and tropical storm warnings weren't enough to dampen the mood in the swank, sprawling resort, the lack of convention buzz certainly was.

The conventioneers face an hour long drive, each way, to get to the Tampa Bay Times Forum and convention headquarters. Buses have been reserved for the trips but travelers were urged to be vigilent about departure times.

This is the Republican equivalent of Siberia. Comfortable and lovely, the resort features a golf course, spa, swimming pools and restaurants. It is owned by Sheila Johnson, co-founder of the BET network and a major Democratic contributor.

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Women’s suffrage, stirred not shaken, at YG Network

Sure, conservatives are playing defense these days over abortions thanks to the widely condemned remarks of Missouri Rep. Todd Akin.

That’s where the YG Network comes in during the Republican National Convention.

Though technically not part of the RNC, the network is sponsoring a “Woman Up” pavilion dedicated to showcasing conservative women and women’s issues. While the press talks abortion, abortion and abortion, the YG Network wants to talk about the economy, economy, economy.

“More and more, women are the breadwinners in the household. They care about the economy,” said Mary Anne Carter, an event organizer and former chief policy advisor to Republican Gov. Rick Scott. “Women make almost all of the healthcare decisions for the family. We’re going to have substantive policy discussions on these issues.”

And they can have a few drinks doing it. In addition to having a large lounge and women’s suffrage exhibit, the pavilions sprts the Kahwa Café & Grey Goose Bar, which serves drinks like the “Woman Up-Tini.”

“It’s a place where women can come relax, chill out, learn a little suffrage and do a little work,” Carter said.

Scott cancels Tuesday events for RNC week

Gov. Rick Scott, who has cancelled his RNC events for Sunday and Monday said his RNC black-out will continue through Tuesday, when Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to continue to be pummeling Florida.

Scott has been operating out of Tampa at an RNC emergency operations center where he is receivng storm briefings. Although he appears to be keeping his distance from the party faithful, he did conduct one interview with CNN's Candy Crowley this morning in which he offered up his political observations.

Scott's decision was commended by Republican Party of Florida chairman Lenny Curry, as state party officials gathered for their quarterly meeting at Innisbrook resort on Sunday afternoon.

"He did that because it's about the safety of Floridians and people traveling,'' Curry said. While some of the party faithful were unhappy about the abbreviated schedule because of the storm, Curry said he's not hearing too many complaints.

"People get it,'' Curry said. "In fact, people are craving leadership. People are so used to people making poltiical decisions, when Gov. Scott stood up and said 'Here's what I'm going to do and here's why' people said 'That's what I'm looking for."

Here's the statement from the governor's office:

Today, Governor Scott announced that we would cancel his Tuesday activities related to the Republican National Convention in order to monitor and respond to issues related to Tropical Storm Isaac. Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to continue to impact Southwest Florida today before continuing into the Gulf of Mexico. Florida’s Emergency Officials encourage all Floridians to stay informed and finalize emergency preparations. 

At 11am EDT Sunday, Tropical Storm Isaac was approximately 80 miles southeast of Key West, Florida. The official forecast takes Tropical Storm Isaac near or over the lower Florida Keys today and tonight and into the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Monday. Tropical storm force winds are already impacting the Keys and South Florida with hurricane conditions possibly arriving this afternoon. Additionally, there is a threat for severe weather including isolated tornadoes over much of Central and South Florida.

All Floridians should be closely monitoring this storm, and be prepared to act if necessary. Families and businesses can visit  to build their emergency plan and learn about what to stock in the disaster supply kits, including water, food, medication, important papers and other essential items. Supplies should be able to sustain your family for up to 72 hours after a disaster.