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Dems will ‘shoot Obama out of a cannon’ at convention next week

Thursday, August 30th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz gave Post on Politics a glimpse into what her party will do next week during their national convention in Charlotte.

Wasserman Schultz, in Tampa to counter the GOP’s national convention, also had a few snarky words for what she’d seen far from the opposition.

“Our convention next week is designed as being the most open, accessible, inclusive, participatory presidential nominating convention in history,” Wasserman Schultz said over a mushroom omelet at the Spain restaurant in downtown Tampa.

“We made a decision that our convention was not going to be the invitation-only, exclusive, only-the-elite-need-apply affair that this one has been,” she said.

“Ours is going to be one that, when we finish on Thursday night, will have shot President Obama out of a cannon into the fall campaign and leave with an enthusiastic, fired-up, broad base of supporters who understand that he’s been fighting for the middle class and working families and that he is someone who hasn’t done things the same old way.”

Here’s DWS’s take on the GOP’s glitzy fete thus far.

“I think that they have bent over backwards to run a fact-free convention,” she said. “Their convention has been a pretty nasty barrage of criticism that if they took a mirror and turned it around would be reflective of many of the policies that they’re criticizing that they themselves have embraced.”

Wasserman Schultz blasted GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who blamed Obama for an auto plant shutting down in Ryan’s hometown, Janesville, Wis. She said the plant was slated for closure before Obama was elected four years ago.

That was “a big jaw-dropper,” Wasserman Schultz said.

“It’s utter malarkey,” she said. “My overall sentiment so far is it’s really disappointing how cynical they obviously are and how willing they are to just say anything to get elected. We should aspire to better things in American politics,” she said.

Gov. Scott: ‘It’s Florida’s day to win the race’

Thursday, August 30th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Gov. Rick Scott made it back to Tampa Bay in time to hear U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney cap off the Republican National Convention Thursday night.

Scott left town earlier this week to attend to Tropical Storm Isaac duties, visiting flood-ravaged Palm Beach County and the Panhandle.

“It’s great,” Scott said of his first GOP convention as he made his way through the mobbed floor of the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

“Marco’s going to give a great talk. Jeb gave a great talk on school choices. It’s a Florida night,” Scott said. “It’s Florida’s day to win the race.”

Clad in his signature dark suit and custom-made cowboy boots, Scott eschewed his VIP governor’s viewing box and instead grabbed a seat on the floor alongside the Florida delegation.

“I want to see,” he said.

after leaving town to attend to Tropical Storm Isaac duties earlier this week.

Rubio on his speech, immigration, Charlie Crist and the joy of being a home state boy

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 by Dara Kam

After a brief sound check onstage at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio was crushed by a media scrum anxious to hear the GOP rising star wax on about everything from Charlie Crist’s endorsement of President Barack Obama to how to address immigration.

Rubio, Florida’s Republican U.S. senator who grew up in Miami, will introduce Mitt Romney tomorrow night at the Republican National Convention, a primo spot second only to the presidential candidate’s acceptance speech itself.

Rubio said his job is to make clear to the millions of television viewers during his prime-time speech the choices between the two candidates and the role of government in people’s lives.

“This election is about the choice the country has about the role government should play in our country. And really that is what this choice is going to be about. It’s not a choice between a Democrat and a Republican simply. It’s a choice about much more than that. So tomorrow, my job is to introduce the next president of the united states and to do so in a way that makes It clear to people what their choice is.
It’s a great honor,” Rubio said.

Rubio will also talk about his experience as the son of Cuban immigrants, something he does with an earnestness that has made him one of the most popular Republican politicians in the country. Rubio was on Romney’s short-list for veep before the former Massachusetts governor settled on U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan.

When asked what’s different about his tomorrow-night speech, Rubio laughed.

“I don’t know. Thirty-nine million people, probably. Look, it’s a tremendous honor to be able to give this speech in my home state in front of a lot of family and friends,” he said, mentioning his mother and late father.
“It will be affirmation that their lives matter. That all the sacrifices and hard work they went through was worth something…It’s just an honor to be able to introduce the next president of the U.S. and to do so in a way that I hope will make clear the choice that we have and the difference between the two men.”

Rubio blamed complaints that the Romney campaign hadn’t done enough to reach out to Hispanic voters on the campaign’s limited resources and said the pace would pick up in the general election cycle .

Read what Rubio said about immigration, Charlie Crist and Paul Ryan after the jump.
(more…)

Lincoln look-alike gets attention at RNC

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012 by Dara Kam

It’s a fashion smorgasbord at the Republican National Convention, where party faithful are bespectacled in red, white and blue sequins, flags and a glittery cornucopia of patriotic accoutrements.

But perhaps the only top hat in the crowd is being sported by Abraham Lincoln look-alike George Engelbach, a delegate from Missouri who is running for the state House of Representatives whose campaign business cards have the words “Lincoln Admirer” beneath his name.

Engelbach caused a sensation in the Tampa Bay Times Forum where he lingered in the hallway during a slow floor session this afternoon. Fellow delegates frequently stopped him to have their picture snapped with the Republican from Hillsboro, Mo., who ran for the state House two years ago and lost.

Scott: Isaac will showcase how Florida handles storms

Sunday, August 26th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Even as Tropical Storm Isaac gains strength and poses a growing threat to Florida’s Gulf Coast, Gov. Rick Scott wouldn’t say whether holding a convention in Tampa during hurricane was a bad idea, repeatedly side-stepping questions about the site selection during an emergency briefing with the media this afternoon.

“Everybody likes to come to Florida. I’m sure they’re going to have a great convention,” Scott said.

Scott tried to turn the looming disaster, expected to bring high winds and gusts into the Tampa Bay region, into a Sunshine State sales pitch.

“The convention was a big opportunity for our state to show what a great place it is to live, work and play. Now what they’ve learned, what they’re going to find out this week, is we know how to deal with hurricanes. We’re prepared. This is a state that knows how to deal with those things,” he said. “On top of that we’re the best hospitality state around. We have 87 million tourists here a year. We know how to have conventions, how to have large events and we’re going to do a great job.”

Florida officials’ job is to keep residents and visitors safe, Scott said.

“We’re going to make sure that happens and we’ll do everything we can to make sure they have a great time,” the governor said at convention emergency operations center in Tampa at noon.

Winds are emergency officials’ greatest worry for the Tampa region, Scott said.

“But around the state we’ve got rain, we’ve got wind, we’ve got storm surge and then we’ve got the risk of tornadoes,” he said.

Scott warned visitors to the area who are staying at neighboring Pinellas County beaches to stay put instead of heading into the water-surrounded downtown convention site.

“If someone’s staying close to the beach, stay close to the beach. Don’t start venturing into the Tampa side because you don’t know what’s going to happen as far as your ability to get home,” Scott cautioned, adding that he planned to be in Tampa today only.

Scott said he spoke with Mitt Romney twice yesterday and “brought him up to speed” about emergency preparations statewide and in the Tampa area.

Late yesterday, GOP officials canceled Monday’s opening day Republican National Convention events and said the convention would resume on Tuesday. They are expected to issue a revised schedule later today.

The “roll call of the states” officially nominating Romney was supposed to take place at 2 p.m. tomorrow. But the nomination is now expected to happen on Tuesday along with other events previously scheduled for Monday.

GOP convention postponed, Scott cancels Sunday and Monday activities

Saturday, August 25th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Republicans have postponed their national convention in Tampa at least a day because of concerns about Tropical Storm Isaac.

The event will kick off Monday morning but the convention will immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement.

“Due to the severe weather reports for the Tampa Bay area, the Republican National Convention will convene on Monday August 27th and immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, August 28th. After consulting with Governor Scott, NOAA and local emergency management officials, we are optimistic that we will begin an exciting, robust convention that will nominate the Romney-Ryan ticket,” Priebus said.

Gov. Rick Scott has canceled all of his convention-related events Sunday and Monday, including his speech, because of the storm.

So far, however, no delegates have canceled their plans to attend the convention, according to GOP officials.

Isaac moved into Cuba on Saturday after causing flooding and several deaths in Haiti. Forecasters say the storm is on a track that would bring it toward Florida Monday and Tuesday. The Tampa Bay region is under a tropical storm watch already.

Here’s an excerpt from Scott’s statement:

“I am continuing to lead multiple daily briefings with local, state and federal decision makers and RNC officials to share information so the best decisions can be made for each region. I also spoke to Governor Romney earlier today and briefed him on the storm and possible impact to the state. I have made Governor Romney and RNC officials aware of the resources our state can provide in the chance Tampa is affected. Like all decision-makers affected by this storm, the convention officials will make the best decisions for delegates and participants.”

And here’s Priebus’ memo effectively canceling day one:

Due to the severe weather reports for the Tampa Bay area, the Republican National Convention will convene on Monday August 27th and immediately recess until Tuesday afternoon, August 28th, exact time to follow.

Our first priority is ensuring the safety of delegates, alternates, guests, members of the media attending the Republican National Convention, and citizens of the Tampa Bay area. RNC Convention officials and the Romney campaign are working closely with state, local and federal officials, as well as the Secret Service, to monitor Tropical Storm Isaac and preserve Florida’s emergency management resources. Officials have predicted participants may encounter severe transportation difficulties due to sustained wind and rain.

The Republican National Convention will take place and officially nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, and the Party has other necessary business it must address. We also are remaining in constant contact with state and federal officials and may make additional schedule alterations as needed.

The Convention staff is working around-the-clock to ensure the delegations housed in storm-impacted areas have alternative housing if needed. The Committee on Arrangements will provide additional information to delegates and alternate delegates who are affected by Isaac by Sunday morning. We will also provide guidance to those delegates and alternate delegates who may encounter travel difficulties due to the storm.

We will begin issuing revised convention programming as early as Sunday.

We have an experienced team that will ensure changes are operationally smooth and create as little disruption as possible. The most important concern is safety, but our Convention program will proceed.

And here’s a memo from Republican National Convention President and CEO Bill Harris:

“Our chief priority is the safety of the residents of Florida, of those visiting the Convention, and all those in Gulf Coast states who may be impacted by Tropical Storm Isaac. We have been working closely with the campaign, the party, and state and local officials for months to ensure a successful, enjoyable convention. Federal, state and local officials assure us that they are prepared to respond, if needed, and the scheduling changes we are announcing today will help ensure the continued safety of all participants – our foremost concern. We are also committed to keeping the delegates and guests of the convention well informed about the situation, and we will continue providing updates in the hours and days ahead.”

GOP moves Romney nomination up to Monday

Friday, August 24th, 2012 by Dara Kam

TAMPA – Mitt Romney will become the GOP’s official presidential nominee at the onset of the Republican National Convention on Monday, a break from tradition to keep the party faithful “on message,” according to Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus.

The decision about the early “roll call of states” wasn’t prompted by worries about Tropical Storm Isaac or to avert a disruption from Ron Paul backers, Priebus told reporters today. Rather, it’s about controlling the message.

“I just think it’s better for us to get all our business done in one shot … do everything on Monday, the nomination, all our rules and resolutions, get that done, so we can get on to telling the Mitt Romney story, how we’re going to help save our country,” he said.

The purpose of the early roll call was not to allow the convention to wind up before the scheduled end on Thursday if Isaac threatens the Tampa Bay region or to thwart Paul supporters from hijacking the nomination from the floor, he said.

“Oh no… It’s to get all the business of the party out of the way and get on with the two things, prosecuting Barack Obama, the promises he made and what he delivered, and telling the Mitt Romney story.”

Priebus also said he’s not worried about Tropical Storm Isaac.

“I’m feeling a lot better today than I was yesterday,” he said. “Right now we don’t have to change anything. Obviously we worry if this thing turns into a hurricane and the safety of people if it hits shore, but as far as the convention is concerned we’re full steam ahead and we’re going to have a great week.”

- Tampa Tribune staff writer William March contributed to this post.

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