"It’s Mitt Romney vs. John McCain in the final stretch of Florida’s crucial Republican primary."
A new St. Petersburg Times poll shows the former Massachusetts governor and Arizona senator neck and neck among Florida Republicans, while Rudy Giuliani’s Florida-or-bust strategy has been a bust."St. Pete Times Poll: Bye-bye Rudy".
Among Florida voters likely to vote in Tuesday’s primary, 25 percent are backing McCain and 23 percent Romney, a statistical tie, while Giuliani and Mike Huckabee were tied for third place with 15 percent each.
In Florida’s odd candidate-free, campaign-free Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton is trouncing Barack Obama by 19 percentage points in a race with stark racial divisions. The poll found 42 percent backing Clinton, 23 percent supporting Obama and 12 percent former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards.
"John McCain made a pitch to military voters, Mitt Romney bragged about his economic credentials and Rudy Giuliani talked up hurricane insurance Tuesday, as the Republican presidential candidates entered their final week before Florida's crucial primary. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who surged to a brief lead in Florida following his win in Iowa only to fade as his money has dried up, again spent much of Tuesday in Georgia before returning to Gainesville for a news conference and a fund-raiser." "GOP candidates hone themes in Fla. push". See also "Cash crunch hits Florida campaigns" and "Rocky Florida economy is altering GOP landscape".
The Dems: "The Democratic Party's top state official and several lawmakers attempted Wednesday to release Democratic presidential candidates from a pledge that has kept them from campaigning in Florida. The hope is that once polls close in South Carolina on Saturday, candidates would be in a guilt-free position to campaign here Sunday and Monday, as well as participate in a Sunday night debate." "Fla. Democrats make last attempt to get candidates to visit". See also "Legislators invite Democrats to drop state boycott". More: "Clinton camp says Obama's Florida ads break pledge" and "SC Dem Official Appears To Suggest Voting Republican If Pledge Broken". Meanwhile, "Women give Clinton commanding lead in Florida"; see also "Women over 40 see more to Clinton's run".
McCain: "Republican presidential hopeful John McCain served up plenty of red meat for GOP primary voters at a business roundtable here this morning with repeated calls for lower taxes and less government spending, business incentives, curbs on lawsuits and a tough stance against Islamic terrorism." "McCain meets with Orlando business leaders". See also "McCain touts military roots and his fiscal conservatism" and "McCain To Visit Sun City Center On Saturday".
Rudy: "Tempers flare at Giuliani event". The Tampa Trib editors write that "even though a national CAT fund would greatly benefit Florida and its residents, that alone isn't sufficient reason for Sunshine State Republicans to give Giuliani the nod." "Giuliani's Property Insurance Claim". More Rudy: "In Orlando, 9-11 firefighters' families say don't vote for Rudy Giuliani".
Mitt: "'You really don't want socialized medicine,' Romney told the crowd of about 150 at the university. 'You don't want Hillary-care you don't want the guys that managed the Katrina clean-up managing health at the hospital. Instead, you want the dynamics of the free enterprise system, the free market system working for health care as it has in the past.'" "Romney says free market will improve health care". See also "Romney gets Fla. to himself, for 1 day", "During economic woes, Romney counts on business resume" and "Mitt Romney campaigns in Florida, focuses on economy".
Huck: "Plagued by an empty bank account, GOP presidential contender Mike Huckabee has cut back his Florida schedule to a bare minimum and may be aiming his campaign at Super Tuesday on Feb. 5 rather than the Sunshine State on Jan. 29." "Huckabee Eyes Bank Account, Cuts Florida Schedule".
"Fredheads": "Fred Thompson's exit from the Republican presidential race could boost the fortunes of Mike Huckabee and John McCain." "Where will 'Fredheads' turn?".
Hispanic Vote: "Hispanics' share of the electorate in Florida is growing, but you wouldn't know it from the behavior of the presidential candidates." "Candidates pay little attention to Florida Hispanics".
Should be fun
"The race for the congressional seat of South Florida Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart quickly turned nasty Tuesday after former Hialeah Mayor Raul Martinez, a Democrat, formally announced he was challenging the 15-year Republican incumbent." Díaz-Balart's response was less than sophisticated:
Díaz-Balart's camp questioned Martinez's ''integrity'' and accused him of being willing to make ``unilateral concessions to the Cuban dictatorship.''"Much more here: "Candidates Martinez, Díaz-Balart start swinging".
"Floridians next will have to help change what is in water now sent to the sea in runoff and wastewater. That means using different fertilizers, re-using wastewater to irrigate lawns, mandating low-impact design standards for new construction and retrofitting existing homes - and embracing other 'fixes' that research may bring to light." "Turn tide on Florida pollution".
One man's absurdity ...
"Supporters and opponents are exchanging ideas on how to loosen class size-reduction requirements to avoid 'absurd' results." "Debate centers on ways to alter Florida's law limiting class size".
500,000 uninsured children
"The 2007 Children's Health Insurance Study, released earlier this month, shows a slight backslide in the rate of uninsured children -- from 12.1 to 12.6 percent, representing more than 500,000 children. More than half of those uninsured children identified in the survey had been without coverage for more than one year. Meanwhile, 13 percent of the children who did have health insurance went without sometime in the year prior to the survey date." "Better care for kids".
Charlie's "Delusional Budgeting"
The Tampa Trib editorial board: "Crist unveiled an ambitious education budget proposal last week to help win support for the property tax amendment that is on the Jan. 29 ballot. But this deceptive spending plan should make Floridians even more skeptical that Tallahassee can pump up education spending while approving tax cuts and struggling with tight economic times." "Governor's Education Proposal Exercise In Delusional Budgeting".
Florida no "hellhole"
"A nationally known consumer advocate told state senators Tuesday that Florida is far from being the money-losing 'hellhole' that he said insurance companies like to complain about when raising their rates for homeowners." "Official: Fla. doing well for insurance companies".
Stop the presses!
The Sun-Sentinel editors: "Folks, the WGA's members have proven their value and their worth to the industry. It's clear that Hollywood and television producers can't live without them."
And if they can't, then they ought to give the WGA a larger cut of the profits. That's not pandering to unions. That's capitalism."Strike proves writers' worth, case for larger cut of profits".
I look forward to reading the same during, say ... the next newspaper strike.
"Brevard County Commissioner Chuck Nelson and local economic development officials are representing the county's space interests in Washington, D.C., today and Thursday." "Nelson pushes space in D.C.".
"Voters are confused about the proposed property tax amendment, elections officials and property appraisers say." "Property tax initiative trips voters, officials say".
"Both sides have taken liberties with what was billed as a plan so simple it would be a cinch to explain to voters." "Backers, foes fudge facts". More: "For renters, proposed property-tax changes hold little hope of savings". See also "State police chiefs urge 'no vote' on Amendment 1".
On a related subject, the SUn-Sentinel editors write that "it is ridiculous for cities to even think about spending a nickel to send out information on the controversial item to voters. Any effort expended by cities to put this information in the mail to voters is a waste." "Talk about a waste of taxpayer money".
The Tampa Trib editorial board say that "too many Republicans on the national stage forget the party's past environmental commitment and fail to realize that there is nothing liberal about protecting the public, preserving natural resources and holding polluters accountable." "Crist Leads Party To Conservation Path".
Out here in the fields
"Six members of an Immokalee clan have been charged with harboring undocumented farmworkers and falsifying Social Security documents, and at least two of those suspects have also been indicted on slavery charges." And it ain't as if the feds broke the case with CSI-like detective work. Rather,
The case came to light in November when three workers broke out of a truck in which they had been locked and told their story to Collier County deputies.These are the folks who supposedly do the jobs Americans refuse to do; well, who can blame them; they were
charged $30 per week for accommodations. ... [and] paid $50 weekly for food - eggs, rice, beans and tortillas; twice a week they had some sort of meat."Workers tell tale of captivity in truck".
And this is a regular laff riot - The Miami Herald editors today: "Now is a good time for labor and democracy activists to press for worker rights and reform in Cuba." "Where denouncing labor abuses is illegal".