August 26, 2012

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.

Obama receives Isaac update from Gov. Scott

UPDATE: President Barack Obama's press office sent out an overview of his conversation today with Gov. Rick Scott, which was preceded by the president's own briefing on Tropical Storm Isaac. From the news release:

Following the briefing, the President spoke with Florida Governor Rick Scott to make clear that the Administration, through FEMA, would continue to make resources available as necessary to support the state as the Governor’s team prepares for and responds to the storm.  The President told the Governor the people of Florida are in his thoughts during this time.  The President also told the governor to let him know if there are any unmet needs or additional resources the Administration could provide, including in support of efforts to ensure the safety of those visiting the state for the Republican National Convention.

ORIGINAL POST: Gov. Rick Scott has been working out of a Tampa business office today, receiving briefings on Tropical Storm Isaac and directing the state's response to the soon-to-be hurricane. Around lunchtime he received a call from President Barack Obama who wanted to ensure that Florida has the resources it needs.

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Why Florida matters in the fall of 2012, and every other season in politics

Welcome to Florida, Republican conventioneers.

(And sorry about the ugly storm system that caused Monday’s events to be canceled. This, too, shall pass.)

Let’s not mince words: You are in the most important state in America.

You already know this is America’s biggest battleground and that if Mitt Romney loses our 29 electoral votes Barack Obama is almost certainly re-elected. But with Florida it’s more than that.

This is a mega state so diverse that it mirrors the nation’s moods, sentiments and demographics. Florida is America — today’s America and tomorrow’s.

“It’s become a nation-state, just as New York and California were at their peak and Ohio was a century ago,” said historian Richard Norton Smith, a venerable chronicler of American politics.

More from Adam C. Smith And Charles Mahtesian Tampa Bay Times/Politico

August 25, 2012

Rick Scott to cancel Monday RNC speech due to TS Isaac. RNC cancels Monday events, too

**Update: RNC cancelled all of Monday's events.

With Tropical Storm Isaac threatening to become a hurricane as it heads for the Florida Keys, the last thing Gov. Rick Scott wants to do is give a political speech at the Republican National Convention. So he cancelled his Monday speech.

But what about the rest of the convention in Tampa? Chances are, Tampa won't get whacked with sustained tropical storm-force winds. But heavy winds and gusts could pose a serious problem. So could a storm surge -- especially if Isaac becomes a hurricane.

In that case, the storm could pose serious transportation problems that would snarl the transportation system and make it tough to move delegates.

And, as with Scott, there's the issue of optics. If Republican donors and delegates are seen whooping and partying it up as Floridians are left in the dark due to downed powerlines, it just might not look good. So don't be surprised if the first day of the convention is canceled Monday as well.

We'll know more at 6:45 p.m. when Mitt Romney consultant Russ Schriefer, who's handling RNC logistics, holds a conference call. Chances are, there are more cancellations coming.

August 24, 2012

Draft RNC platform demands mandatory E-verify, dropping lawsuits against states

A draft version of the Republican National Committee platform was briefly available Friday and, according to this version reposted by Politico, the party is reviving its hardline approach against immigration, demanding a national E-verify program be used by all businesses.

The issue could, however, revive bitter feuds within the agricultural community in Florida and elsewhere. The database compares employment information in the federal Homeland Security and Social Security system to determine the legal status of employees. However, the database is considered incomplete and employers complain it takes too long to determine verification.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who campaigned on a promise to require all businesses in Florida use the internet-based E-verify program, backed down from his promise in June, saying he preferred a national solution instead. Download Draft platform

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August 23, 2012

Rules mavens: Tougher penalties on the way if Florida GOP tries that again

If Florida Republicans think they were treated harshly for moving up their 2012 presidential primary to January, wait until they try something like that in 2016.

Under new rules passed by national party officials Wednesday, Florida Republicans would see their delegates hacked by 90 percent if they leapfrog the GOP’s four kickoff contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

That’s a far stiffer penalty than what Florida is getting this year. Party leaders cut the state’s voting delegates at the Republican National Convention next week in Tampa from 99 to 50 and stripped them of more than 160 guest passes.

During a meeting at the Marriott Waterside, the Republican National Committee Rules Committee voted that future rogue states would have their delegates reduced to nine — the bare minimum required for a state to attend and serve on committees at the national convention.

"Half is not a big enough punishment," said South Carolina delegate Glenn McCall, who made the motion for the more severe penalty. "Obviously it’s not, because there are states that still want to take that penalty and move up. So we need to make it really punitive and stick to it." More from Mike Van Sickler here.

August 22, 2012

VP candidate Ryan, Jeb Bush, McCain and Bondi to speak at RNC on Wednesday night

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced the line up of speakers for the third night of his party's convention on Wednesday, Aug. 29. And the speeches will center on the theme, "We Can Change It."

Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will give the keynote address. Also on the speakers list: Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, former Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuno and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

"We want to remind Americans that we don't have to settle for four more years of high unemployment, low pay and deep debt," Priebus said via a news release.  "We will devote Wednesday night to showing the country that Mitt Romney's 'Plan for a Stronger Middle Class' will restore our country as the best place in the world to find a job, start a business or hire a worker."

Here is the full schedule for the session scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 29 (speakers and times subject to change):

Continue reading "VP candidate Ryan, Jeb Bush, McCain and Bondi to speak at RNC on Wednesday night" »

August 12, 2012

Scott, Romney offering conflicting messages about Florida economy

Numbers may not lie, but Republicans Mitt Romney and Gov. Rick Scott are using them to portray two very conflicting points of view about Florida’s economic picture.In a new television ad, the Romney campaign plays melancholy music as it describes “Obama’s Florida” as a state with “8.6 percent unemployment, record foreclosures, 600,000 more Floridians in poverty.”

Scott greets the same 8.6 percent unemployment number as a sign of rapid improvement, proclaiming on his website that it is “the lowest it’s been since December 2008!”

Unlike Romney, Scott has carefully avoided criticizing the president and instead turned the data into promoting his record of creating jobs.

The governor also tells audiences “the number of unemployed has gone from 568,000 to 320,000,” “median home prices are up,” and Florida’s job growth rate “has been positive for 23 consecutive months.” It’s a dissonance that may become more distinct as Romney and Scott take the stage during the Republican National Convention this month and Romney tours Florida Monday, with a late-day stop in Miami.“What I’m going to talk about is pretty much what I do every day, what I ran on,” Scott said last week when asked what he’ll say during his convention speech. “It’s how do we get our state back to work.”But the numbers he cites don’t jibe with the narrative Romney’s campaign wants Floridians to hear. As the expected Republican nominee for the presidency, Romney’s team is carefully scripting a convention playbook that would persuade voters that the economy is still in the tank after 3 1/2 years under President Obama.

Read more here

It's Scott vs. Romney on the economy. See how the two interpret Florida's economic picture with this chart:

Scott vs. Romney chart

--Mary Ellen Klas and Toluse Olorunnipa