"The anticipation over unofficial presidential candidate Fred Thompson's Florida debut lasted nearly 48 hours. His actual appearance at the Young Republican National Convention in Hollywood: about 26 minutes." Thompson then gave the deep thinkers - who are always ready to lay down
their lives someone else's lives for God, Country and the elimination of inheritance taxes - exactly what they wanted to hear:
In his speech to about 350 activists at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, Thompson defended the former White House aide whose 30-month sentence for perjury and obstruction of justice was recently commuted by President Bush. ..."Thompson addresses GOP in Hollywood".
Most of Thompson's remarks focused on portraying America's strength as a military power, economic engine and beacon of democracy. Apparently referring to international criticism of the American invasion of Iraq, Thompson said to applause: "I'm getting tired of having to apologize for the U.S. in the world.''
The trust fund babies apparently went wild as the television president "branded Democrats as 'the party of despair.'" Indeed, "the crowd interrupted his nine-minute speech with wild applause and mobbed him when he left." "Thompson Wows Crowd".
Thompson hit the jackpot with this sober observation: "Many of the 350 Young Republicans who heard Thompson leapt to their feet and cheered when he called the United States 'the greatest country in the history of the world'". "Republicans Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney look for votes in South Florida".
After Mitt, Fred may be their man; after all, "Nixon and his top aides viewed the fellow Republican as a willing, if not too bright, ally, according to White House tapes."
And then there was Good-Time Charlie, who "flanked by a mob of adoring fans ... acknowledged that he has had 'indirect conversations through other people, through other campaigns' about the potential VP nod." "Crist explores VP nod".
More on the GOPer fun-fest here: "Party Spirit Alive With Young Republicans" (noting that the kids were "well-dressed ") and "Clinton's name evokes applause at GOP convention". Finally, if you can stomach it, some poor soul at Fox News in Tampa actually blogged the sordid affair (via The Buzz).
Jax Vote Caging
"Internal city memos show the issue of Republican 'vote caging' efforts in Jacksonville's African-American neighborhoods was discussed in the weeks before the 2004 election, contradicting recent claims by former Duval County Republican leader Mike Hightower - the Bush-Cheney campaign's local chairman at the time." "Files show talks on 'vote caging'".
Where the Wingnuts Are
Two (of several) surefire barometers as to which candidate has cornered the wingnut vote in Florida are: (1) who the "young Republicans" support, and (2) the preferences of Jax GOPers. By those tests, at least, Rudy Giuliani is in big trouble.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney, who spoke moments before the balloting, won* with 46 percent followed by former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson with 28 percent and then former mayor Rudy Giuliani with 10 percent. The other seven candidates took a combined 22 percent."Young GOP straw poll results tallied*". Then we have this:
Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani ran into a buzz saw of opposition Saturday when he explained his opposition to the so-called fair federal income tax [which would abolish federal income taxes and other federal taxes and replace them with a national sales tax]."Giuliani's 'fair tax' rejection draws jeers in Jacksonville". See also "Giuliani Gets Heckled" and "Giuliani's stumping gets flat tax stomping".
The Empty Suit
The Tampa Tribune editorial board gushes over Charlie (and Jebbie), and urges Charlie to shed the "perception" that he is an empty suit:
Charlie is enormously gifted at communicating his heartfelt love for Florida and its people."Governor Rich In Political Capital Can Invest More In Tough Issues".
He exudes a warmth and informality unseen in the political world today. He talks about having two ears and one mouth and a desire to use them in proportion. And when he enters a banquet room, he's likely to have his photo taken with the waiters before visiting just about every table on his way to the podium.
He fills the room like a rock star. But when he leaves, people find themselves searching for something meaningful in his message.
It's said that great communication skills set leaders apart from managers. Great leaders don't just define the mission - take that hill, boys! - they talk with certainty about how to make it happen.
Jeb Bush was such a leader. His mastery of the details grew people's confidence that his judgment was considered. If there were one lesson Charlie could learn from his predecessor, it would be to speak with greater mastery on the most critical issues facing Florida.
It's not that he doesn't know his stuff. Anyone who's been around the governor knows he's a smart and thoughtful man. But to reach his maximum potential, he must better manage the perception that he lacks depth.
Businesses Shirk Taxes, Legislature Yawns
"As much as $280-million in local taxes go uncollected each year in Florida because many businesses duck their obligations and government looks the other way. ... And a lot of county property appraisers let them get away with it -- with a wink and a nod from both the Florida Legislature and the state Department of Revenue." "$280M in untapped tax beckons".
Running Government Like a Business
"Property tax cuts will definitely take a bite out of one of the most visible manifestations of government -- your local public bus." "Bus systems roll with cuts".
"Howdy Doody-looking nimrod" Update
This puff piece on Florida's "Howdy Doody-looking nimrod", notes that Tom "Feeney believes Putnam could one day be the state's governor or U.S. senator. " "Polk congressman's duty: GOP pit bull, with a smile".
"Lake Okeechobee's polluted muck creates disposal concerns".
The CW May Be Wrong
"As social conservatives gear up to put an antigay marriage constitutional amendment on the 2008 state ballot, opponents are gearing up a campaign to defeat it."
Their task may not be hopeless, as it has been thought."State Ban On Gay Marriage Is No 'Slam-Dunk'".
Gay marriage bans long have been considered virtually unbeatable at polls nationwide, particularly in conservative states such as Florida. From 1998 through 2006, voters approved the bans in 28 states.
Recently, however, there have been indications that this conventional wisdom may not always hold true.
What's Wrong With The Y?
Yesterday, we took a look at the YMCA's incompetence as a DCF subcontractor; today we get this: "Orange County officials are upset with area YMCAs for not expanding a program for low- and moderate-income children to the nonprofit's facilities in more affluent communities such as Winter Park, Dr. Phillips and Lake Nona, saying it smacks of elitism." "YMCA is ousted from kids' program".
Not a very nice way to "to put Christian principles in to practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all".
"There is good and bad news in the Government Accountability Office's status report on the massive Everglades cleanup program. The good news is that 43 of the 222 projects involved in the cleanup have been completed. The bad news? Only 43 of the 222 projects have been completed -- and at escalating costs." "Everglades restoration slow and costly".
"A busy campaign day"
"A busy campaign day could be a sign that the state is gaining status in the presidential race." "Spotlight on Florida: GOP visits converge". See also "Romney Meets With Voters In West Palm Beach - Calls For Closer Ties With Moderate Muslim Countries", "Mitt Romney in town" and "Giuliani swings through Orlando".
Watch Out For Yellow Elephants
This poor fellow (see below) has picked an inopportune time to say "enough is enough"; all those Yellow Elephants at the Young Republicans National Convention in Hollywood might stage a "bourgeois riot" in his front yard or, more likely, at the local Starbucks.
"After serving in Afghanistan and three times in Iraq, an Army Reserve sergeant from Port St. Lucie recoiled at still another deployment. ... Erik Botta believes he's done right by his country. Days after 9/11, as a young Army reservist, he volunteered to go to war. He was soon in Afghanistan. The next year, he was sent out again, this time to Iraq, part of a Special Operations team. In the next two years, he was sent to Iraq again. And again." "Reservist fighting his fifth war call-up".
"A fault line is clearly emerging"
"When the Florida Republican Party fired off mailers recently accusing House Democrats of voting against property-tax relief, it was no surprise that Democrats cried foul."
But what is surprising is that Florida Republican Chairman Jim Greer is joining them. Greer said he was willing to take responsibility for the mailers, sent last month to voters in the districts of at least four first-term Democrats. But he acknowledged he wasn't pleased they went out, apparently on behalf of the House Republican campaign team. ..."Mailers about taxes spark rift in GOP".
House Republican leaders professed surprise at Greer's reaction -- and by extension, that of Crist. They see nothing wrong with pointing out that Democrats, in a party-line vote, opposed the Jan. 29 constitutional amendment to create a "supersized" homestead exemption of up to $195,000. ...
"I think it's important to hold Democrats accountable when they vote against tax relief," said Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, a key ally of House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami. "I saw the mail pieces. They pointed out their position. That's all they did."
The Democrats targeted included Reps. Marty Kiar of Davie, Debbie Boyd of Newberry, Keith Fitzgerald of Sarasota and Janet Long of Seminole. They all were elected last fall in districts formerly held by Republicans.
All this suggests a fault line is clearly emerging between Crist's more moderate wing and conservatives led by Rubio and his House lieutenants. Watch for more skirmishing as we get closer to next year's elections.
Mark Lane notes that Giuliani is the only GOPer who has made a play for the Interstate 4 corridor.
"Giuliani starts race for I-4 vote".
For Republicans, North Florida is full of social/religious conservatives. And South Florida is full of economic and national-defense conservatives. The balance of power lies from Daytona Beach to St. Petersburg. With the Florida primary six months away, Giuliani is the only Republican presidential candidate to show up here.
Charlie and the Christian Coalition
"Crist has named former two-term Winter Park Rep. Jim Kallinger as his office's new chief child advocate. Kallinger, a Republican, had been serving as director of the governor's Office of Adoption and Child Protection. By creating the new title, Crist said he is seeking to 'increase the number of adoptions in Florida.' Crist, who has had a distant relationship with social conservatives, reached into the Christian Coalition to pluck out Kallinger, who before joining the governor's office served as the Orlando-based organization's development director." "Kallinger is back".
The Poor Things
"Having warned state agencies to freeze their hiring and prepare for budget cuts, the Florida Legislature's presiding officers are being uncommonly tight-fisted with bonuses and staff promotions." "Very few bonuses, raises this year".
"In criticizing a land deal as rotten as the one the St. Johns River Water Management District is concocting in Indian River County, it's hard to know where to begin -- except to first step aside and warn district commissioners preparing to review it on Tuesday of its toxicity." "A rotten deal".
"Florida supporters of Republican presidential hopeful John McCain say his campaign here remains alive despite the candidate's money shortage and the defeat of an immigration bill bearing his name."
By homing in on South Carolina, McCain seems to be all but abandoning Florida, which shares that state's Jan. 29 primary date. Still, he remains popular in most Florida polls, trailing Rudy Giuliani and possible candidate Fred Thompson but well ahead of Mitt Romney."No sign of McCain mutiny".
[Jacksonville lobbyist Marty] Fiorentino is getting fundraising help from such Florida notables as Tallahassee lobbyist Brian Ballard and Winter Park financier Phil Handy. "We have 30 counties well-organized in Florida, and I'd put our grass-roots organization up against anybody's right now," Handy said.