August 26, 2012

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):

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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



July 24, 2012

Tampa strip clubs getting webcams, 'Nailin' Paylin' Sarah Palin lookalike stripper for RNC


Strip clubs may not be the most politically correct venue for those attending the Republican National Convention, but that doesn't mean Tampa's well-known adult hot spots won't be ready for the influx of visitors.

One place is bringing in a stripper who looks like former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.** There are major renovations taking place. And some nude clubs have already been giving potential customers a taste of the talent online.

"Not only can you see the dancers on the stage and in the dressing room, you can also talk to them in an online chat room," said Don Kleinhans, owner of the 2001 Odyssey on North Dale Mabry Highway.

More here

**The Twitters informs us the Palinesque stripper is Lisa Ann of the 'Who's Naylin Palin' pornographic movie.

July 05, 2011

Will Weatherford on redistricting, 2012 and more

UPDATE: Weatherford endorsed former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

State Rep. Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, sat down for a wide-ranging, one-hour conversation with the St. Petersburg Times editorial board this morning. The future House speaker has a busy summer going as he chairs the House redistricting committee and attends public hearings across the state. He covered a number of hot topics. Here are the highlights:

The redisctricting process: "It's putting a very complicated pie together that involves a lot of testimony, it involves a lot of law, federal law, state law, constitutional state provisions, case law, I mean, it’s a lot. And I had no idea what this was going to entail when I asked to be chairman of this committee."

Where will FL's new congressional seats be? "The two new seats … that’s probably further down the road in fall. I can tell you the greatest population increases have been I-4-based, really pretty much from Tampa to Orlando, the southwest Florida corridor, down there in Collier, Lee county … and then in northeast Florida, kind of between Jacksonville and Orlando, along that Palm Coast, I-95 corridor. Those are the three that have had the most. So we have two congressional seats, obviously, not three. I don’t know for sure, but my guess would be those are the areas with the most population, they could potentially be where a seat goes."

Getting lobbied by current members of Congress? "Yeah, I’ve had them call, 'Hey, how’s it going Mr. Chairman, what’s happening?’ All the sudden I’m a pretty popular guy to people who didn’t know who I was. I give them the same speech I give our members, which is, ‘Do me a favor, have your people come to hearings, we’d love to hear from you if you want to give us your opinion. But don’t talk to me about where you live, don’t talk to me about what your political agenda is. Talk about the communities of interest in your district, talk about how it can be more compact, talk about how it can follow geographic boundaries better. If your comments are tailored toward the district and not you, it’s okay. But anything you say to me can and will be used.' "

Gov. Rick Scott's low approval rating a concern for 2012? "I’m not concerned about it. I think it’s early. Just like when Gov. (Charlie) Crist in … 2008 his numbers were through the roof, I mean, absolutely through the roof and he got walloped in the polls. To me, if my election hinges upon the popularity of the governor, then I’m probably not a very good legislator for my district."

Endorsing for Republican presidential primary? "I'm flirting. I’d be jumping the gun if I told you. I have narrowed it down and there’s a couple that I really like and one in particular that I’m leaning toward. I’m not going to share it today because I’ll probably be coming out with something pretty soon. We’ll see." (Could it be Jon Huntsman? The former Utah governor is making several Tampa Bay area stops this weekend, perfect for an endorsement.)

What about FL's primary? “I think the goal is to be as close as we possibly can, hopefully like the fifth slot, without penalty. So we’re negotiating with the RNC as to how we get that done. There may be a penalty anyway, no matter what we do. ... but playing devil’s advocate, as Florida, if we were to go into it and say, okay, we’ll take the penalty, we’re going to go the Thursday before Super Tuesday  … Let’s say they take away half of our delegates, they’re worth more than Iowa’s, New Hampshire’s and almost South Carolina’s combined.”

FL Senate race: Won't endorse before the Republican primary. Says all of the candidates are friends.

Asked if PSC was wronged: “Gov. (Charlie) Crist politicized the PSC. The PSC is supposed to be a quasi-judicial branch that is supposed to look at facts and figures and make a determination based on what is in front of them and what they know, not based on political pressure. Gov. Crist, who I still consider a friend of mine, he’s a nice guy, but he went out there and campaigned on lowering people’s rates, he was very consumer-friendly, he wanted to make sure that the PSC was always fighting back and not approving anything that he thought could potentially increase rates for consumers. Well that goes against what the whole PSC was supposed to be. The reason we created the PSC was to take politics out of the decision-making process and make it a judicial decision on facts. Gov. Crist was calling PSC commissioners and telling them how to vote, minutes before the vote, a couple years ago. And so he politicized it first and I think the reaction of the Legislature was to depoliticize it."

Open FL waters to oil exploration? "Not interested. We’ve had the debate. Not interested.”

March 31, 2011

Mike Haridopolos dismisses 'idle threats' of S.C., Iowa over convention

Florida Senate President and U.S. Senate candidate Mike Haridopolos wants South Carolina and Iowa Republicans to chill out about punishing Florida for having an early primary:

"It continues to amaze me that Republican leaders in other states feel threatened by Florida in next year’s presidential preference primary.  I have said all along that Florida does not want to jump the traditional early states of New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina or Nevada.  We simply want to go fifth.

As the ultimate swing state with a population reflective of the country’s demographics, Florida should have a significant role as early in the nominating process as possible. Vice President Biden said last week that the President Obama’s fortunes for reelection rest on Florida. That should be our total focus.

 Idle threats by other states are not productive.  Unified Republicans will gather in Tampa in August 2012 to select the person who will replace Barrack Obama as President of the United States."

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