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Dara Kam’

Scott stumps in WPB one day before election

Monday, November 1st, 2010 by Dara Kam

Just one day before the crucial vote that will decide whether his $75 million investment paid off, Rick Scott included West Palm Beach in a last-minute appeal to Republicans.

U.S. Sen. George LeMieux climbed on the stage with Scott, also joined by Palm Beach County homeboys U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, outgoing Senate president and chief financial officer candidate Jeff Atwater, and a host of other local officials.

Mark Foley, who once held Rooney’s Congressional seat, also showed up in the crowd at Park Avenue BBQ Grille.

PBC businessman and longtime GOP donor Llywd Ecclestone, who escaped the restaurant parking lot heat under an awning, said he supports Scott’s plan to get the state’s economy back on track.

“He will create jobs and that’s what we need,” Ecclestone said.

But Scott’s pledge of 700,000 jobs is an ambitious goal, the developer acknowledged.

“It’s going to be difficult. It’s not going to be easy,” Ecclestone said.

(more…)

Classic campaign stop for political newbie Scott

Thursday, October 28th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Rick Scott frequently says “I’ve never done this before” when asked to weigh in about voting, polls and other political goings-on.

But Scott’s staff made a quintessential campaign stop to get a haircut at the Bent Pole barber shop in Titusville with a busload of reporters – and their cameras – in tow Thursday morning.

Dee Moreland, who’s been cutting hair for 42 years, gave Scott a “1/2-all-over” cut he maintains with a weekly visit to the barber at home in Naples.

Moreland said she was voting for Scott “and not just because I’m cutting your hair today.”

The buzz set Scott back $10.

“That’s fair,” Scott, a multi-millionaire who’s spent more than $60 million of his own fortune on his campaign so far, said.

Moreland wouldn’t say how much he gave her but that “he tipped very well.”

The Tallahassee barber who cuts Gov. Charlie Crist’s hair might welcome a Scott win.

The notoriously tight-fisted Crist always tipped $1 on a $10 haircut. Even with reporters watching.

Scott celebrity star power – his mom

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Esther Scott with a Rick Scott supporter in Okeechobee

Folks throughout the small towns GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott is visiting on a week-long sweep of the state before election day are lining up to have their picture taken with the celebrity.

Not Scott. His mother, Esther, who’s visage has become familiar to Floridians on a television ad in which she assures voters that her son is a good boy.

Scott’s usual introduction of his mother runs along the lines of what he told a crowd at a pancake breakfast at his first stop this morning in Okeechobee.

“On those commercials she seems really nice,” Scott said. “She wasn’t. There was a reason I joined the military so young.”

“I’m just really glad my mom didn’t get on the ballot. I don’t think I’d win. I think she’d win,” Scott joked with the crowd at his next stop in Lake Placid.

Esther Scott is greeted wherever she goes, including at a pit stop on the turnpike where travelers posed for pictures with the 82-year-old great-grandmother.

Scott’s schedule today includes visits to Lakeland and Daytona Beach, where he’ll be joined by U.S. Sen. John Thune, the Republican who defeated former Sen. Tom Daschle and who’s rumored to be a possible presidential candidate in 2012. Scott will also be fundraising in Miami this evening.

Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Alex Sink will attend early vote rallies in Ft. Myers, Ft. Pierce, Port St. Lucie and Orlando.

New Scott radio ad: ‘Cheating. Hilarious.’

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

It didn’t take long for Republican Rick Scott’s campaign to make political hay out of Democrat Alex Sink’s “Debate-gate” gaffe at Monday night’s debate.

His campaign released a new radio ad poking fun at Sink, the state’s chief financial officer, for breaking the rules by taking a message from campaign aide Brian May, an insurance industry lobbyist who left his business to work for Sink.

Listen to Scott’s “She Cheated” ad.

Here’s part of the transcript:

“Did you see Alex Sink get caught cheating?”

“You mean when CNN caught her breaking the debate rules and getting a note from her coach?”

“Cheating. Hilarious.”

“Here’s what’s not funny. Alex Sink’s debate coach…is a lobbyist.”

“The same guy who gave her the note in the debate?”

“Yep. He’s a lobbyist for the insurance industry that Sink is supposed to be regulating.”

Sink defends herself on MSNBC, gives conflicting explanation of ‘Debate-gate’

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Alex Sink appeared on MSNBC’s Hardball today to defend herself about breaking the rules during last night’s CNN debate by reading a cell phone message during a break.

But Sink’s explanation conflicts with an audio analysis of what transpired between the Democratic candidate for governor and the makeup artist who handed her a cell phone with a text message. Sink read the message, violating the debate rules she and opponent Rick Scott agreed to barring any contact with staff during the hour-long debate.

“Well, what happened was, Chris, last night that the makeup artist held up her phone and said I just got this message, I don’t know who it’s from. I looked at it because, you know, I’m a mom. My instinct is my daughter’s in Europe. I don’t know who this mefor governor’s message is from. I glanced at it. I didn’t understand even what it was, and I just ignored it,” Sink told the news show host Chris Matthews.

But CNN’s John King, who moderated Monday’s debate in Tampa, gave a different account of what happened.

On CNN on Tuesday, King said that the network analyzed the video of what Scott’s camp is calling “iCheat.”
“We listened to the audio very carefully and the makeup artist when she approached Alex Sink said she had a message from the staff, and it was two sentences and advice saying that if that question comes up, say this, and be more aggressive when Rick Scott questions you and it is clear she looked down to read it and candidate Scott called her out, and it is clear that she cheated in the final exam,” King said.

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 bus tour emergency stop – for ‘gator poop’

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

GOP gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott made an unplanned quickie stop at a fruit stand in Floral City between campaign aof ppearances Tuesday morning.

Scott bought a bag amber sweet oranges and a treat he shared with reporters as he paid for his purchases with cash.

A young saleswoman convinced Scott to buy a small bag of the Ferris Grove’s delicacies – “Gator Poop.”

The chocolate confection resembles malted milk balls.

“They’re great,” Scott said.

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.

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.

Speaker-to-be tells Crist to back off on federal health care reforms

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010 by Dara Kam

House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon essentially gave Gov. Charlie Crist a cease and desist order telling the governor to quit enabling the federal government regarding health care reforms.

Cannon, R-Orlando, accused Crist of “commandeering of state insurance regulatory resources” by allowing executive agencies to begin implementing the federal health care reforms even as the state is suing White House agencies over them.

Read Cannon’s letter to Crist here.

Cannon’s demands could set up a possible showdown between the executive and legislative branches of government over the health care reforms, which Crist, the independent candidate in the U.S. Senate race, says he supports in part.

Cannon gave Crist until Nov. 15 to tell him how much the state is spending on workers and other resources to comply with the reforms and told him that Crist will need the legislature’s approval before taking any further action.

Cannon complains in the letter to Crist that the Office of Insurance Regulation is jumpstarting new insurance regulations by developing data systems. But that office is overseen by not just Crist. He and the Florida Cabinet – including Attorney General Bill McCollum, who filed the lawsuit over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care act – make up the Financial Services Commission that’s in charge of OIR.

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