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Obama: ‘Reckless and wrong or steady and strong”

Thursday, October 25th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Two days before early voting begins in Florida, President Obama wooed an overflow crowd in Ybor City, echoing his recent campaign themes of GOP presidential foe Mitt Romney as “reckless and wrong” for the country.

Obama hammered Romney on women’s issues, accusing the former Massachusetts governor of wanting to “turn back the clock 50 years” on women’s reproductive rights and stressing his administration’s support for women’s health care in the federal health care policy.

“Women should be making their own health care decisions,” Obama said to a cheering crowd of more than 8,500 attendees. “That’s where it belongs and that’s where it will stay as long as I’m president.”

Under pressure from Romney’s campaign for a lack of details regarding his plan for a second term, Obama urged supporters to visit his website to check out his five-point plan.

But the president made a slight gaffe when reaching for a copy of the plan that had slipped off the podium.

“Where’s my plan?” he joked.

Brandon resident Sharon Troupe said she plans to cast her ballot for Obama on Saturday, the first day of early voting.

“He’s doing the best and we are improving. Mitt Romney just wants to take us back and we can’t have that,” she said.

Crossroads GPS launches $6.5 million anti-Obama ads in Florida

Friday, July 6th, 2012 by Dara Kam

A political group founded by Karl Rove is spending $6.5 million to flood Florida airwaves with a TV ad blasting President Obama over the national debt.

Crossroads GPS, started by Rove and other former advisors to President George W. Bush, will launch the commercial, titled “Excuses,” in Florida on July 10, the group announced today. The ads will also run in Colorado, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia, and are part of a $25 million national blitz between now and August.

Spokeswoman for group pushing ‘parent trigger’ going to work for Obama campaign in California

Friday, April 20th, 2012 by Dara Kam

The spokeswoman of the California-based Parent Revolution group that pushed a controversial “parent trigger” bill in Florida is going to work for President Obama’s reelection campaign as the state spokeswoman.

Linda Serrato sent an e-mail saying she’ll start for Obama’s California campaign next week.

Serrato’s going to work for the Democratic incumbent after Florida Democrats – and some moderate Senate Republicans – excoriated the measure, also backed by former Gov. Jeb Bush. The parent trigger measure quickly evolved into a contentious battle over letting parents take over failing schools, with Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich taking the lead in fighting against it.

The measure died on a tie vote on the final day of the legislative session in March (not a single Senate Democrat voted in favor of the measure and just two Dems gave it a thumbs up in the House) but not before fiery messaging from Parent Revolution and opponents of the bill, including a coalition of Florida parent groups, the PTA among them.

“I feel honored to have worked with this dedicated, energetic and scrappy team. I have been proud to be a part of Parent Revolution’s work empowering parents to organize their communities,” Serrato wrote in an e-mail message announcing her departure.

Obama raising money in Miami later this month

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Supporters of President Barack Obama can rub elbows with the candidate at two fundraisers in Coral Gables later this month.

Obama will be at a luncheon at 1 p.m. at the swank Biltmore Hotel on Feb. 23, and Democratic money-man Chris Korge will host a dinner reception at 4 p.m. at his home later that night. Korge, a prominent lawyer and real estate developer, was an early Obama supporter four years ago.

“There are a limited number of tickets available. Please do not wait to purchase these tickets as they are expected to sell out quickly,” the e-mailed invitation reads.

FOX’s Cavuto: ‘Sorry state’ for Florida primary losers

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 by Dara Kam

Florida GOP leaders desire to elevate the Sunshine State’s prominence in selecting the presidential nominee has paid off, according to some political insiders including FOX Business Network personality Neil Cavuto.

“Bottom line, they fail at pitching it in the Sunshine State, it will be a sorry state for their campaigns in the end,”
Cavuto told postonpolitics.

Florida Republicans made a “good compromise” by sacrificing half their 100 convention delegates in today’s winner-takes-all election, Cavuto said.

More than states like New Hampshire and South Carolina that have already held contests, Florida represents a microcosm of the nation, Cavuto said in an e-mail.

“Despite all the criticism party wonks are getting for moving up the primary, I think they made a good compromise. If we’ve learned anything over the years it’s how crucial a state it remains and how diverse its populace is. How successful candidates are at wooing Hispanics, and young people, to say nothing of seniors, and young families increasingly drawn to your beautiful beaches and resorts and vacation destinations – it’s all a crucial litmus tests for candidates pitching a national message. Bottom line, they fail at pitching it in the Sunshine State, it will be a sorry state for their campaigns in the end,” he said.

Cavuto will be hosting a post-primary show tonight featuring Florida politicos Attorney General Pam Bondi – a Mitt Romney supporter- and U.S. Reps. John Mica and Connie Mack.

Senate prez Haridopolos – Romney backer – ‘low-keying it’ on election night

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 by Dara Kam

After helping secure the state’s national prominence in selecting the GOP presidential candidate by moving up the primary, Senate President Mike Haridopolos said he’ll be watching the election returns at home with his roommate, Senate budget chief JD Alexander, tonight.

“I’m low-keying it. I’ve been high-key enough in getting this early election,” Haridopolos, a Mitt Romney supporter, said during his weekly Q-and-A with reporters this afternoon. “Despite a lot of anger from some folks even in my own party…I think it clearly has come up aces for us.”

Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney and political groups supporting the candidates have spent about $25 million on campaign ads, Haridopolos said, and the early date has helped fire up Republican voters, more than 600,000 of whom had already cast their ballots before today’s election. Florida Republicans gave up half their delegates in the winner-take-all election by moving the date up and breaking national GOP rules.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the returns tonight, and I expect Mitt Romney to win,” Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said.

Rick Scott: Gingrich has to win Florida to stay in the game

Monday, January 30th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott told FOX Business Network today that tomorrow’s Sunshine State GOP primary could be make-or-break for Newt Gingrich, trailing Mitt Romney in recent Florida polls by double digits.

“It looks like Florida is going to choose. It’s going to be tough, I think it will be hard on Newt, if he doesn’t win Florida, to go forward, because Governor Romney has a good campaign going from the standpoint of good organization and he’s raised a lot of money,” Scott told FOX Business Network’s Follow the Money host Eric Bolling in a show to be aired at 10 p.m. tonight.

Scott hasn’t endorsed any of the candidates in the primary, but he’s talked up Romney in recent interviews, praising the former Massachusetts governor’s business acumen and opining that Latino voters prefer Romney to the twice-divorced and admitted former lady’s man Gingrich because Romney is a family man committed to his wife.

Tomorrow’s election defining the GOP nominee is exactly what Republican lawmakers hoped for when the moved Florida’s primary up from its previously scheduled date, incurring the wrath of national GOP leaders. State Republicans are being punished by losing half their delegates to the GOP convention, and because of the early date, Florida is now a winner-take-all-delegates match.

Scott also told FBN that the winner needs to sell his jobs plan – as Scott himself did (with the help of his own $73 million) in his gubernatorial campaign – to Floridians.

Romney, who with Gingrich and “Super-PACs” on both sides have traded nasty ads, has done a better job of getting his message out, Scott told Bolling.

“I hope it has nothing to do with the negative ads. But somebody, one of these two, is going to go out there and really sell that they’ve got a better jobs plan than the other one. That’s who I think is going to win tomorrow,” Scott, who will vote in Leon County tomorrow morning at 8 a.m., said. Unlike most of his predecessors, Scott has registered to vote with his new address at the governor’s mansion.

Asked if he was leaning toward endorsing Romney, Scott remained coy.

“I’m not leaning,” he said.

Gov. Scott: Latinos like Romney family values

Sunday, January 29th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Once the anti-establishment candidate, Gov. Rick Scott is full of praise – without officially endorsing – Mitt Romney, who’s garnered the support of some of the Sunshine State’s top GOP insiders.

Scott has defended Romney’s business background and today told CNN‘s Candy Crowley that Hispanic voters prefer the former Massachusetts governor because of his family values.

Scott’s comments come as Romney and Newt Gingrich sweep the state hoping to nail down the all-or-nothing convention delegate prize on Tuesday’s primary, with a lot of the focus on the state’s Latino voters crucial to the GOP primary.

This morning on CNN’s State of the Union, Crowley asked Scott about a recent poll show Romney outstripping Newt Gingrich among Hispanic voters by 49-23 percent.

“Look, the Latino vote cares about family. I mean, if you look at Gov. Romney’s family, he’s been very successful. He’s built a great family, very committed to his wife,” Scott said. “He’s somebody that’s been successful in life. So I think if they look at his background, it’s what they want. They care about their families. They care about, you know, somebody that’s been successful in business. That’s what they care about. So I think that’s part of what his attraction to the Latino vote.”

Gingrich’s campaign recently yanked a Spanish-language ad accusing Romney of being “anti-immigrant” after U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio blasted scolded the former speaker of the House over the ad.

And Romney scored one of his best lines on the thorny immigration issue during Thursday night’s debate in Jacksonville after Gingrich said Romney’s immigration stance would result in rounding up grandmothers who’ve lived for years in the country illegally.

“Our problem isn’t 11 million grandmothers,” Romney said. “Our problem is 11 million people getting jobs that many Americans, legal immigrants, would like to have.”

With recent polls showing Romney surging in the polls on Florida, Scott told Crowley “it sure looks like Gov. Romney’s going to win” and again said the candidates should be discussing their jobs plans instead of trading barbs.

Scott lauded Romney’s business background but did not say whose jobs plan he prefers.

“They all have plans,” he said.

Bachmann says no to Trump/Newsmax debate

Friday, December 9th, 2011 by Dara Kam

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann won’t participate in a GOP presidential candidate debate hosted by West Palm Beach’s Newsmax and moderated by part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump.

Bachmann’s spokeswoman Alice Stewart confirmed late last night that Bachmann will not take part in the Dec. 27 debate – the last before the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses meet on Jan. 3 – but did not give a reason. Bachmann has met at least four times with Trump since she entered the race, most recently in New York on Nov. 21.

Thus far, only Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum have agreed to field questions from “The Donald,” although Newsmax executives have said three candidates have confirmed but would not identify them. Mitt Romney, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry and Ron Paul have also refused to join the debate.

As recently as two weeks ago, Trump, who once flirted with running in the GOP primary, said he hasn’t ruled out running as an independent.

The possibility of the real estate mogul and reality TV show host entering the race prompted some GOP leaders, including Karl Rove and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, to condemn the debate.

“We appreciate what Mr. Trump has done, but if you’re still talking about potentially running as an independent candidate, I think that’s a problem,” Priebus said on Fox News last night. “I think that would be malpractice for me as an RNC chairman to not believe that that is an issue.”

The debate is slated to air on another Palm Beach institution – Ion Television, the former PAX TV, which is based in West Palm Beach and reaches more than 99 million households nationwide.

You’re hired! Trump to host Newsmax GOP prez debate later this month

Friday, December 2nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

Palm Beach County political powerhouses Donald Trump and Newsmax Media are pairing up for a GOP presidential candidate debate later this month in Des Moines.

Trump will moderate the Dec. 27 forum hosted by West Palm Beach-based Newsmax, the conservative magazine and online news site, a week before the Iowa presidential caucuses take place on Jan. 3.

The brash real estate mogul and reality TV host is a favorite among conservative voters, Newsmax chief executive Christopher Ruddy told The New York Times in a story posted today.

“Our readers and the grass roots really love Trump,” Ruddy said. “They may not agree with him on everything, but they don’t see him as owned by the Washington establishment, the media establishment.”

Voters may love him, but the candidates may bristle at being grilled by the bombastic Trump, who has flirted with running for president himself and who’s still harboring White House aspirations.

Just last week, Trump told FOX News he’s considering running as a third-party candidate but won’t make a decision until next year – until after the GOP primaries are over and his reality TV show “The Apprentice” ends.

“Would I like to do something sooner? Perhaps I would. But the laws preclude me from doing anything until May,” he said on Fox and Friends.

Trump’s office referred calls about the debate to Newsmax.

Bondi to co-host GOP presidential debate

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Bondi with Fox News correspondent John Roberts

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi will co-host the GOP presidential debate on Fox News this weekend, according to a press release distributed by the Republican Party of Florida this morning.

Bondi, a Fox fave who often appeared on the news channel as a legal analyst before her election in January and a frequent guest star since, will join fellow Republican attorneys general Ken Kuccinelli of Virginia and E. Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma on former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s show Saturday night at 8 p.m.

Bondi is leading the charge in the multi-state federal health care lawsuit, launched by her predecessor Bill McCollum, now before the U.S. Supreme Court. Undoing the health care law is among the GOP presidential wannabes’ top campaign pledges.

“This forum is an excellent opportunity to engage each of the candidates in a candid conversation about issues that are important to voters in our state and across the nation,” Bondi said in the press release. “This will be a historic election, and I am excited to play a part in helping voters gain a better understanding of candidates’ beliefs on fundamental issues such as constitutionalism and the role of government.”

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum have all agreed to participate in the forum, according to the release.

Gingrich – on the rise and on the defensive – in Jax today

Thursday, November 17th, 2011 by Dara Kam

With his popularity on the rise, conservative iconoclast Newt Gingrich will address a tea party crowd at The Landing in Jacksonville this afternoon.

The event takes place as Gingrich is on the defensive for his relationship with Freddie Mac. Bloomberg News reported this week that the former U.S. House Speaker earned at least $1.6 million over nearly a decade as a consultant for the beleaguered government-backed mortgage company. His GOP opponents in the presidential primary have hammered Freddie Mac for its role in the mortgage meltdown and the mortgage giant has symbolized for conservatives government overreach.

Gingrich himself has blamed Freddie Mac for the housing collapse.

Meanwhile, Gingrich’s star is on the rise among GOP voters, according to two recent national polls. One poll found that Gingrich has the best chance among GOP voters to defeat President Barack Obama next year. And another showed Gingrich’s popularity jumped 8 points from last month, trailing Mitt Romney by just two percentage points and making the race a statistical dead heat.

The First Coast Tea Party event in Jacksonville begins at 2 p.m. and was moved to riverfront site because of “the size of the event,” according to the Zamar Conference Center, where the gathering was originally scheduled, website.

Latest pension overhaul shows how political wind has turned against unions

Sunday, April 10th, 2011 by John Kennedy

The municipal pension rewrite now advancing in the House — and headed to the Senate Budget Committee next week — has a history rooted in Republican politics, having emerged as a payback to unions that supported Gov. Jeb Bush in 1998.

But the political wind in Tallahassee has shifted sharply this spring.

And for Florida’s police and fire unions, one-time allies are now enemies, with the pension overhaul the latest in a series of what labor sees as union-busting moves by the GOP leadership.

“Did we go too far? Yeah, maybe we did,” said Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, who as House Speaker in 1999 led the legislation sought by Bush. “But we were pretty flush back then. We can’t afford this now.”

As for Bush, he’s apparently changed, too. In January he and presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich co-authored an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times. In it, the pair urge that states consider declaring bankruptcy to reorganize their troubled finances.

Why do they need to take such a drastic step?

To get out from under sweetheart pension deals for greedy unions, the former deal-maker turned reformer now writes.

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