Round-up of stories about Florida and the 2012 presidential campaign (8/7)

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Jon Huntsman has placed his campaign headquarters in Orlando, Florida, where the Florida straw poll will be held on September 23, a campaign move that has intrigued political observers and strategists.
“Logistics matter,” says Rick Wilson, owner of Intrepid Media, a Florida consulting firm. “The biggest prize in going outside traditional bubble of Iowa and New Hampshire is Florida.”
Huntsman’s plan to operate from Florida “makes eminently good sense” and is a “unique campaign decision,” according to Wilson. Florida’s size is often underestimated by candidates, making travel expensive and time-consuming. “Driving from Miami to Pensacola is like driving from Miami to DC,” says Wilson.
SCOTT’S POLITICAL ADVISERS say they expected the backlash—that the governor intentionally front-loaded his first-year agenda with controversial policy objectives that could alienate voters, giving him three more years to make a recovery. “The strategic decision was made to try to bite off as much as we can in the first session,” says Fabrizio. “Then, in the subsequent sessions, it allows you to not take as much heat and as many arrows from interest groups. And that allows you to focus on the other things that help you.”
This strategy might work for Scott, since he isn’t up for re-election until 2014, but it could have devastating effects for Republicans in the 2012 presidential race: The same PPP poll from June found that 40 percent of Florida voters considered themselves less likely to vote for a Republican for president next year thanks specifically to Scott. This won’t be helped when the GOP contenders for the White House participate in a CNN/Tea Party Express debate in Tampa in September, or when the “Presidency 5” debate and straw poll take place in Orlando two weeks later, or when Florida hosts the first Republican presidential debate after the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary. After all, the media will be focused on the state, giving ample opportunity for attention to be drawn to Scott’s faltering administration, yet the candidates will need to embrace the governor, with his conservative bona fides, in a show of party unity. To top it all off, Florida will assume the national spotlight by hosting Republican National Convention in Tampa in August 2012. “He’s the gift that keeps on giving,” Scott Arceneaux, executive director of the Florida Democratic Party, says of the governor. “You get to see with Rick Scott the type of government you’re going to get with these presidential candidates. Is this the kind of president you want? Rick Scott?”
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has raised the most in Florida — and nationally — of any Republican presidential candidates so far. Some candidates, such as former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, declared their candidacy late enough that they did not have to file a fundraising statement for the quarter ended June 30.
As Republican presidential candidates prepare to buzz into Central Florida for high-profile debates, speeches and a straw poll, PresidentBarack Obama‘s re-election campaign is quietly working under the radar here.

All the major GOP contenders nine of them and counting will come through Tampa and Orlando in the next seven weeks for two televised debates and several major political rallies, culminating with the Republican Party of Florida’s Presidential 5 straw poll at the Orange County Convention Center on Sept. 24.

Meanwhile, Obama’s campaign will continue a low-key grass-roots organizing effort that is 2 years old and counting.

Have you listened to the conservative commentators after Marco Rubio waxes poetic about the American dream, and the threat that President Barack Obama poses to it?

They practically swoon.

They are like Bruno and Carrie Ann shouting 10! after a Hines Ward fox trot.

Except they shout: Vice president!

Two senior advisers to Mitt Romney gave an hour-long campaign briefing at the Republican National Committee meeting here Friday, but most of the 50 GOP leaders who showed up remain uncommitted.
Deputy campaign manager Katie Gage and political director Rich Beeson delivered a PowerPoint presentation outlining campaign activity and highlighting the former Massachusetts governor’s strengths as a candidate, then answered questions including how they’ll deal with their candidate being a Mormon and about the depth of his organization, according to a source in the room.
As the national GOP struggles to keep states from leapfrogging over one another and blowing up the party’s carefully laid presidential nominating calendar, don’t expect Mitt Romney to be wringing his hands over calendar scofflaws.
Just look at some of the states talking about busting the national party’s directive not to schedule a contest before March 6: Florida, Arizona, Colorado and Michigan. They’re all states where Romney should do well, either because of his ties to the west and to Michigan, or his resources to organize Colorado caucuses and expensive TV ad buys in Florida, where he already has support.
It’s 3:01 a.m. and the woman in the TV ad wakes, her face a portrait of worry. She rolls over in bed as thunder crashes outside. The screen flashes to her family photograph, then President Barack Obama.
Debo estar preocupada acerca de nuestros trabajos, nuestro hogar,” she narrates in Spanish. “I’m worried, I guess,” goes the English version of the same ad. “About our jobs, our home.”
The woman tells how she voted for Obama “because he spoke beautifully. But since then, things have gone from bad to much worse.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said he is watching other states, especially Florida, while trying to decide when to set Georgia’s 2012 presidential preference primary.
This spring, the Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 454, which empowers Kemp to set the date for the 2012 and future presidential preference primaries. Under previous state law, the primary was scheduled the first Tuesday in February.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.