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Scott campaign abuzz about Sink’s phone gaffe

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott campaign staff were buzzing all day following news reports, tweets and Internet blog posts about Democratic opponent Alex Sink’s cell phone gaffe during last night’s debate.

Scott supporters used Sink’s flub to rev up the crowds at campaign appearances from New Port Richey to Okeechobee on Tuesday.

“Did you watch the debate last night?” Dick Windle, Citrus County Republican Executive Committee Chairman, asked a crowd of about 100 supporters at a barbecue in Inverness. “We caught her playing a little hanky-panky there.”

About an hour later, The Villages public relations executive Gary Lester again asked a gathering of about the same size about the debate.

“Rick’s opponent got caught cheating in the debate last night. Did you hear?” he said.

Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform who traveled with Scott throughout the day, got the biggest laugh.

“I’ve watched western movies so I knew, I knew that you could cheat at cards. But until last night I didn’t know you could cheat in a debate. But evidently Alex Sink has figured out how to do that,” Norquist quipped.

Scott campaign welcomes Sink snooper

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Rick Scott’s campaign took a far different tack with a videographer on GOP gubernatorial candidate’s trail than Republican Congressional hopeful Allen West.

West, who’s challenging incumbent Rep. Ron Klein, supporters were videotaped pressuring a Democratic operative to leave a rally.

But Scott and running-mate Jennifer Carroll were unfazed by the young man with a video camera who shadowed the candidates throughout the first day of a week-long bus tour and apparently has been a constant presence on the campaign trail.

Carroll pointed out the man in the crowd at a barbecue lunch stop in Inverness where she and Scott handed out pulled pork sandwiches to dozens of supporters.

Carroll identified him to the crowd as a campaign worker for Scott’s Democratic opponent Alex Sink and invited him to join in the festivities. One of the GOP candidates’ staffers even offered him a bottle of water and a sandwich.

“Hopefully, you’ll be able to take some information back so she can run a government,” Carroll quipped.

At the next stop in The Villages, Carroll recognized him again and asked him to raise his hand. The videographer obliged.

“Show Alex Sink how government should be run,” Carroll advised.

Sink’s campaign referred questions about Scott’s tracker to the Florida Democratic Party.

“We as a policy don’t release his name – but I can tell you he works for the Florida Democratic Party not the Sink Campaign,” FDP spokesman Eric Jotkoff said in an e-mail.

Confident Scott: ‘I was shocked!’ over Sink iCheat

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

SPRING HILL – A beaming Rick Scott kicked off a seven-day sweep of Florida leading up to Election Day assuring supporters in Pasco and Hernando counties of the Republican’s victory over Democratic gubernatorial opponent Alex Sink and taking the high road over Sink’s cell phone faux pas during last night’s debate.

Scott’s bus tour began with an unexpected boost – the “iCheat” scandal that cast a cloud over Sink’s campaign. Sink broke the rules by taking an electronic message on a cell phone during a commercial break during the last of two live televised debates. Sink later fired the aide who sent her the message.

“I was shocked. I mean, I was shocked. You know the rules. You follow the rules,” Scott said with a look of disbelief when questioned by reporters early Tuesday morning. “She knew the rules. If somebody came in and tried to show me an e-mail I’d have said look, those aren’t the rules.”

Sink took the message after hammering Scott for a lack of integrity evidenced by his former hospital chain’s $1.7 billion fine for Medicare and Medicaid fraud.

Scott quickly used Sink’s cell phone incident to strike back at his opponent for ducking questions about her own business transgressions, including a $1.65 million fine paid by her former bank for selling risky securities to investors, many of whom were seniors.

“It’s pretty consistent. She knew the rules. She didn’t have to read the e-mail. She did. That’s what she does. She never takes responsibility personally for what she does…She just fires people,” he said.

When asked if he would have fired his aide as Sink did, Scott didn’t miss a beat.

“I wouldn’t have read the e-mail,” he said. (more…)

Bondi scooping up DC cash from Tim Kaine loser

Monday, October 25th, 2010 by Dara Kam

With barely more than a week until Election Day, GOP attorney general candidate Pam Bondi took time out from campaigning in the Sunshine State for quick trip to Washington DC to rake in some dough for ad time.

Bondi flew into DC briefly for a fundraiser hosted by former Virginia attorney general Jerry Kilgore, Bondi spokeswoman Sandi Copes said in an e-mail.

Bondi surely hopes she fares better than Kilgore did in his last election.

The Republican resigned as Virginia’s attorney general in 2005 to run for governor of the then-red state.

But Kilgore lost to Democrat Tim Kaine, now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

The Gelber camp blasted Bondi, who’s never run for office before, for the fundraising trip, setting off a typical finger-pointing volley in the contentious race to succeed Attorney General Bill McCollum.

Sierra Club funds ad attacking West over drilling and choosing Klein

Monday, October 25th, 2010 by John Lantigua

The Sierra Club has pumped $800, 000 into last minute television ads for three Democratic Party Congressional campaigns around the country and one of them is the District 22 race in South Florida.

“With ‘Big Oil’ doing everything they can to try to buy back Congress, today the Sierra Club launched three new television ads in key congressional races – Michigan’s 7th District, Arizona’s 8th District, and Florida’s 22nd District,” said a press release by the environmental group.

In District 22, U.S. Rep. Ron Klein,D-BocaRaton, is locked in a tight race with GOP contender Allen West.

The ad being screened in South Florida pictures smoke spewing from British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded April 20 and was finally plugged Sept. 9, not before dumping millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The ad also shows a pelican covered in oil and then superimposes West next to an offshore oil rig.

“For five months BP spewed oil into the gulf – polluting Florida beaches and devastating our economy,” says the narrator. “ But Allen West still supports drilling for oil off the Florida coast. And West says he ‘sees nothing about the situation in the Gulf that will change his mind’”

“No wonder West received thousands in contributions from oil companies,” continues the ad. “Ron Klein has a better way – protect our beaches and develop alternative energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Ron Klein for Congress.”

The Klein/West race is believed to be the most heavily financed Congressional contest in the nation.

Nelson: Sink will win by a wide margin

Friday, October 22nd, 2010 by Dara Kam

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, on the stump with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink this afternoon, exuded confidence over the chief financial officer’s chances of defeating GOP opponent Rick Scott next month.

Although recent polls have showed the candidates neck-and-neck, Nelson insisted Sink would win.

“I think she is ahead now. She is ahead in the polls. And I think by the time all these ballots that have been counted on election night…She’ll win by seven points or more,” Nelson said.

McCollum endorses Scott for governor…finally

Friday, October 22nd, 2010 by Dara Kam

After more than two months since GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott defeated him in a brutal primary election, Attorney General Bill McCollum finally came out in support of his one-time foe.

“Florida is facing a critical time. Our state needs conservative leaders who will grow our economy and create jobs. We need merit pay and an end to teacher tenure in our public schools, major litigation reform, smaller government, low taxes and a repeal of Obamacare. With this in mind, I will cast my vote for Rick Scott for Governor. It’s the better choice for Florida,” McCollum’s less-than-enthusiastic statement, released by the Republican Party of Sarasota, read.

McCollum, at one point a shoe-in for the nomination, lost the GOP primary after Scott spent $50 million of his own fortune on campaign ads attacking the former Congressman for being a Washington insider.

McCollum said recently he would not endorse Scott’s Democratic opponent Alex Sink, in part because she supports the federal health care law over which McCollum has sued the federal government.

A federal judge recently allowed McCollum’s lawsuit to proceed.

McCollum was the final holdout among state GOP leaders who at one point pilloried Scott, who was forced out of the hospital chain he founded shortly before Columbia/HCA was forced to pay $1.7 billion in fines to the federal government for Medicare fraud.

Sink courts rural cross-over vote

Friday, October 22nd, 2010 by Dara Kam

Alex Sink with supporters in Perry on Friday, Oct. 22

PERRY – Gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink will spend the day wooing small-town Floridians in an effort to get crossover voters to cast their ballot for the Democrat with early voting already underway for a race considered a toss-up.

Sink began her day in the Big Bend by appealing to a few dozen supporters at downtown Joyce’s Main Street Cafe.

There, she pleaded with Taylor County voters to give her the same 56 percent win she earned there four years ago in her bid to become the state’s chief financial officer.

“I expect and hope that we’ll get about that much again,” Sink said.

Sink spoke broadly about her plans to jumpstart the state’s economy on the same day Florida’s latest unemployment figures showed a slight increase – 11.9 percent – from the previous month.

Sink said she supports giving tax credits to businesses that hire Floridians and wants to defer business taxes for start-up companies for up to three years.

Accompanied by her son Bert McBride, Sink boasted that she would be the only governor in 12 years whose two children graduated from Florida public schools.

Sink said it is her dream that her children, who both attend out-of-state universities, will one day, “They call me up and say, ”Mom, I’m coming back to Florida because I’ve got a great job lined up.”


Scott campaign pre-debate stunt: Sink ‘Rolodex’

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Rick Scott’s campaign staff quietly passed out black index card boxes labeled “Sink” to reporters biding their time until tonight’s gubernatorial debate kicks off at Nova University at 7 p.m.

“Sink has long been one of those behind-the-scenes players whose money and Rolodex help get people elected,” reads a quote from the St. Petersburg Times from 2002 taped to the top of the box.

Inside, Alex Sink’s fake files include a variety of familiar names and their pseudo-associations to Scott’s Democratic opponent.

“Barack Obama” is listed as Sink’s “chief policy advisor.” Bill Clinton? Her “finance and policy advisor.” Sink’s husband Bill McBride is included as “hubby and chair, Trial Lawyers for Sink.”

The candidates will go mano-a-mano live for the first time this evening at the debate hosted by Leadership Florida and the Florida Press Association.

At their only previous debate, a taped Univision event earlier this month, Scott’s campaign staff handed out whoopee cushions before the match began.

Scott and Sink will go at it again for their second live debate on Oct. 25.

New Scott ad fries felon-friendly Sink

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 by Dara Kam

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott released a new ad attacking Democratic opponent Alex Sink for licensing felons as insurance agents although a recent court ruling found Sink, the state’s chief financial officer, is too harsh on the ex-criminals.

Scott’s campaign released the ad the day of the duo’s first live televised debate set to begin at 7 p.m tonight. His campaign staff first handed out information about Sink licensing felons at their first match-up in Miami at a taped Univision debate on Oct. 8.

The ad claims that Sink “had broad discretion to withhold a license…but after 3 days of searching could not name one case in which she used that authority.”

But civil rights experts and Sink’s staff insist that she has limited authority to withhold the licenses and a judge decided that Sink’s waiting periods before felons are eligible to get licenses is too long. Her office has appealed that ruling.

Read The Palm Beach Post story about the licenses here.

What’s the definition of ‘is?’ Sink camp releases Scott deposition video

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink’s campaign released a Clinton-esque video of her GOP opponent Rick Scott’s deposition in a 1995 lawsuit, one of several against his former hospital chain Columbia/HCA.

In the two-minute clip of the two-hour video of the deposition, Scott repeatedly answers the interrogator’s questions with questions, including this response when asked about a deal he allegedly struck with an El Paso doctor.

“I don’t know what the def — your definition or anybody’s definition of an ‘agreement’ is, or an ‘offer’ is, or ‘promise’ is,” Scott answered.

The video first surfaced in a report by The St. Petersburg Times and Miami Herald.

Scott’s campaign folks contend the health care executive was trying to stave off money-grubbing lawyers.

PBS/League of Women voters scraps debates because GOP candidates are no-shows

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 by Dara Kam

The League of Women Voters and PBS canceled debates between the U.S. Senate and gubernatorial candidates because GOP candidates Marco Rubio and Rick Scott refused to participate.

The League’s president Deidre MacNab said the debate, scheduled for Oct. 14, would have been the only one to reach all television viewers throughout the state.

The League could not get Gov. Charlie Crist, the independent U.S. Senate candidate, to confirm to appear either, MacNab said, meaning only U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, the Democrat in the three-way U.S. Senate race, had agreed to show up.


Ausley debuts new ad

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 by John Lantigua

Democratic candidate for chief financial officer Loranne Ausley introduced a new television ad Tuesday that rips her opponent, Republican Jeff Atwater, for what it calls “pay to play contracts” issued under his watch as Senate president.

The ad depicts an actor playing Atwater in the office of the Senate president welcoming a series of visitors who each hand him an envelope and shake hands enthusiastically. A voice over enumerates instances of what the Ausley campaign considers questionable spending decisions in which Atwater participated.

Those instances include $48 million spent on a new 1st District Court of Appeals courthouse in Tallahassee, which has been attacked for its luxurious details and is derisively called “the Taj Mahal.”


Crist scores Robert F. Kennedy endorsement

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 by Dara Kam

In the midst of chatter about whether U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek should drop out of the U.S. Senate race, Gov. Charlie Crist nailed down the endorsement of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Crist, a lifelong Republican who turned independent to avoid running against Marco Rubio in the GOP primary, will appear with Kennedy in Deerfield Beach this morning to make the endorsement announcement.

Crist first hooked up with fellow environmentalist Kennedy at Crist’s climate change summit three years ago.

Bill Clinton headlines debate after-party for Sink

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Bill Clinton will guest star at a $5,000-a-head fundraiserfundraiser for the Florida Democratic Party after next week’s gubernatorial debate.

According to a recent poll, the former president is the most popular politician in the country, and he’s been touring the country as a “surrogate” to pump up Democrat voters and prop up Democrat candidates, including U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, who’s trailing in the three-way U.S. Senate race against Republican Marco Rubio and independent Gov. Charlie Crist. Clinton’s made several trips to the Sunshine State for Meek already and will stump for him as well as Sink next week.

Clinton will headline Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink’s Miami Beach after-party next Wednesday after she and her GOP opponent Rick Scott debate in Davie.

Argenziano quits utility reg panel, endorses Sink

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Nancy Argenziano resigned from the Florida Public Service Commission to endorse Alex Sink for governor, she told reporters this afternoon.

The life-long Republican and former lawmaker said today would be her final day on the utility regulatory panel, where she was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist nearly four years ago.

A fired-up Argenziano, an outspoken critic of GOP leaders of the Florida Legislature, said she was quitting so she could speak out in favor of Sink, a Democrat.

“I cannot imagine a more noxious mix of government than that which the legislative leaders and Rick Scott concoction would produce,” Argenziano said. “I’m terrified if Rick Scott became governor…With Alex Sink, I do believe she has integrity.

Argenziano was passed over for reappointment by a panel of lawmakers that give a list of candidates to the governor for appointment. Her term would have ended in three months.

McCollum likely to vote for Scott, still no endorsement

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Attorney General Bill McCollum said he is likely to vote for GOP governor candidate Rick Scott but still won’t endorse him.

Scott, who had never run for office before, defeated McCollum after a brutal primary in which Scott spent $50 million of his own money, much of it on negative campaign ads targeting McCollum, who spent decades in Congress and as a lobbyist, as a career politician.

McCollum said he has “big differences” with Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, the Democrat gubernatorial candidate, primarily about her opposition to his lawsuit against the federal government over health care reforms.

“I cannot vote for her for governor,” McCollum told reporters after a Cabinet meeting this morning.

Although McCollum has refused to endorse Scott, McCollum said he will “probably” vote in the governor’s race.

“And if I do I’m leaning towards voting for Scott. But I haven’t made that decision formally yet. Haven’t decided. I’m weighing it right now,” he said.

He said he hasn’t decided either whether he will formally endorse his former opponent but that he’s offered to meet with Scott “more than once and no meetings occurred to this point.”

Crist: A vote for Meek is a vote for Rubio

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist believes he’s the only candidate who can “stop the Tea Party mess” and defeat Marco Rubio in the three-way U.S. Senate race and that a vote for the Democrat – U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek – equates to a vote for Rubio.

“It sure looks like it. Yeah. I mean, you know, regrettably, that would be the case. I think Democrats are reaching that conclusion all across Florida. They tell me that,” the Republican-turned-independent told reporters when asked if a vote for Meek would be the same as a vote for Tea Party favorite Rubio.

Crist denied that his campaign has been pressuring Meek, lagging in the polls behind frontrunner Rubio and Crist, to drop out of the race.

“Number one, there’s no pressure. People should do what they feel is right. But I’m clear about this. I’m the only candidate who can win in November and stop the Tea Party and the mess that Mr. Rubio would bring to Washington,” Crist said.

Crist said it’s up to Meek whether to drop out.

Fair Districts ad: politicians like bank robbers and foxes in the hen house

Monday, October 11th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Politicians are foxes guarding the hen house or bank robbers protecting the banks when it comes to drawing their own districts, a new ad by the backers of Amendments 5 and 6 accuses.

The amendments would change the way Congressional and legislative districts are drawn by prohibiting them from favoring incumbents or political parties.

Opponents of the measures are fighting back – they’ve enlisted the help of former NAACP president and civil rights icon Benjamin Chavis to boost their argument that the proposals would make it harder for minorities to get elected.

Supporters of Fair Districts, the group that collected the petitions to put the amendments on the ballot and is running the ad, include the NAACP, the League of Women Voters and national groups – including ACORN – that traditionally back Democrats who’ve pumped millions of dollars into Fair Districts’ campaign fund.

But the amendments are pitting minority leaders against one another and Democrats.

Sink two-minute ad goes after Scott on fraud

Monday, October 11th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Florida Democrats are running an unusual, two-minute campaign ad slamming GOP governor candidate Rick Scott for fraud charges and fines against his health care companies.

The ad, “Fraud Files,” mimics TV crime shows and is styled as an investigative piece on the $1.7 billion in Medicare fraud fines paid by HCA/Columbia, the company Scott founded, and questions about a federal investigation into another Scott health care company, Solantic.

The ad makes much of Scott’s use 77 times of the Fifth Amendment in a deposition he made six days before announcing he was running for governor. Scott has refused to release a videotape of the deposition.

Scott’s opponent Alex Sink, the state’s chief financial officer, held a press conference in Tampa announcing the release of the ad, which will run in the Tampa Bay area during nightly news programs.

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