Sunburn for 8/30: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

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A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.

***Today’s Sunburn brought to you by Florida Poly Vision, Inc.  To learn the facts about Florida’s new university, Florida Polytechnic University, and the growing group of supporters that make up Poly Vision, visit www.floridapolyvision.com, like us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FLPolyVision) and follow us on Twitter @FLPolyVision.***

REUTERS POLL: CONVENTION HELPS ROMNEY PULL EVEN WITH OBAMA

Reuters/Ipsos poll tracking poll finds Mitt Romney getting a boost from his party’s nominating convention in Tampa this week.

Romney and President Obama are deadlocked among likely voters at 43% each. That was an improvement for Romney from Obama’s two-point lead on Tuesday and four-point lead on Monday.

“There is movement toward Romney, which is traditional for a convention,” said pollster Julia Clark: It’s small and the change is incremental, but it’s been moving the last couple of days.”

ROMNEY READIES BLITZ FOR FLA. HISPANICS

McKay Coppins: “The effort will include a dramatic increase in Spanish-language ad spending, an aggressive bilingual mail program geared toward early voter turnout, and an ambitious ground game led by 13 full-time field staffers dedicated solely to courting Hispanics — more, the aide claimed, than ‘any other Republican presidential campaign in history.’ The stakes are high: Swings of a few percentage points among Hispanic voters in Florida, as in other crucial states, could easily swing the election.”

STAT OF THE DAY: The Obama campaign has opened 73 field offices in Florida compared with the Romney campaign’s 28.

20% OF VOTERS SAY THEY ARE TUNING OUT ELECTION ALMOST ENTIRELY

A new CBS News poll finds that 45% of voters are paying a lot of attention to the campaign, 34% say they are at least paying some attention, but 20% say they are tuning out the election almost entirely.

ANN ROMNEY, CHRIS CHRISTIE DRAWs 22.3 MILLION TV VIEWERS

Ann Romney and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie proved to be an attractive TV draw at the Republican National Convention —  an estimated 22.3 million people tuned in to watch the first full night of the GOP convention Tuesday night, according to Nielsen, the ratings company.

GOP SEES U.S . HOUSE GAINS OF UP TO 7 SEATS

Rep. Pete Sessions, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, said he expects Republicans will pick up a net of five to seven House seats in November.

Speaking at a National Journal/Atlantic/CBS News event at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Sessions said Republicans put the necessary work in last year to defend new members who were swept into office in 2010 and have built an aggressive plan to maintain those gains. “I believe we will win a net of five to seven new seats across this country because we are playing offense not trying to protect what we have,” Sessions said.

With regards to the Senate, which is currently held in Democratic control with a 53 to 47 split, Rob Jesmer, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said “we have a real great shot” of winning control of the chamber. But Jesmer acknowledged Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., is unlikely to win Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s seat after making comments about “legitimate” rape.

Jesmer added, “We just hit a bump in the road in Missouri, but we feel that is offset, by Connecticut, moving in the right direction, Ohio, moving in the right direction, Michigan moving in the right direction, and so we feel we have a really good shot of winning.”

***On 3 Public Relations welcomes delegates, alternates, their guests, media and volunteers to the 2012 Republican National Convention. “Every four year gathering brings its own unique opportunity to hear from rising stars and political veterans while conneting with like-minded activists across the country,” said On3PR’s Christina Johnson, a former RNC staffer, volunteer, alternate delegate and consultant to five GOP conventions. “To be part of an historic process to officially nominate Mitt Romney as our candidate to serve as the 45th President of the United States here in my homestate is incredible.”***

GOP BASES CONVENTION ON A GRAMMATICAL ERROR

With the Republican convention seemingly crafted around President Obama’s infamous “you didn’t build that,” the Washington Post fact-checkers reevaluated their take on the line which they say was merely a grammatical error by the president.

“We originally gave Romney’s use of the phrase Three Pinocchios… However, in light of the GOP’s repeated misuse of this Obama quote in speech after speech, we feel compelled to increase the Pinocchio rating to Four. (Warning to Democrats: You will get the same scrutiny of out-of-context Romney quotes next week. It’s really a silly thing on which to base a campaign.)”

IS CLINT EASTWOOD THE MYSTERY SPEAKER?

A well-placed Republican source tells Townhall that Oscar-winning director and actor Clint Eastwood will travel to Tampa, Florida to attend Mitt Romney’s nominating convention this week… Our source — who spoke on the condition of anonymity — could not confirm if Eastwood is, in fact, the intriguing ‘to-be-announced’ speaker, but stated unequivocally that the Dirty Harry star will arrive in Florida late on Wednesday or early on Thursday, and will return to southern California on Friday.

ANN ROMNEY HELPS DEDICATE NEW PLAYGROUND AT ALL CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

Ann Romney attended a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new therapeutic playground at All Children’s Hospital on August 28. The $300,000 playground is a charitable “leave behind” project in honor of the 2012 Republican National Convention being held in Tampa this week.

The project was sponsored by CUNA, National Journal, the League of Southeast Credit Unions, CUNA Mutual and CO-OP Financial Services. The dedication ceremony was the culmination of a year-long project that also included a “Volunteer Day” for staff from local credit unions to assist with the construction of the playground by helping plant sensory gardens, lay pavers and assembled small equipment.

ROMNEY BROTHERS MAKE THEIR FATHER’S CASE TO FLA. DELEGATION

Ann and Mitt Romney, who will formally accept the Republican nomination Thursday night, have five sons. Ben Romney told delegates that the candidate taught values such as the importance of family, respect for his wife and hard work.

Craig Romney also touched on his father’s business career, tenure as Massachusetts governor and work running the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

“Successes seem to follow my father everywhere he has gone, and I don’t think that is a coincidence,” said Craig Romney, who works in real estate in California. ”

>>>Along with the Romney brothers, Washington Congresswoman. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking Republican woman in the House, addressed the Florida delegates Wednesday. She said Republicans won the women’s vote in 2010 and that Democrats have gone on the attack to try to avoid a repeat this fall.

PAM BONDI USES CONVENTION SPEECH TO HAMMER OBAMACARE by Matt Dixon of the Florida Times-Union

Playing off the issue that helped increase her national name recognition, Pam Bondi crafted her speech at the Republican National Convention around so-called “Obamacare.”

President Barack Obama “talks about giving us more control over health-care decisions, but instead grants that power to government bureaucrats,” she said.

She shared the stage with Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. Both added their states to a federal lawsuit challenging the bill shortly after taking office in 2010.

CAMP FREDDY DRAWS POLITICOS 

The Camp Freddy Wounded Warrior Family Benefit Concert at 1 Oak drew several notables, including House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy and California Reps. Duncan Hunter, Jeff Denham, Ed Royce, and MPAA head Chris Dodd.

NRCC FUNDRAISING PITCH JUMPS THE GUN via POLITICO Influence

It seemed like a typical national party committee fundraising pitch. “Did you just watch Chris Christie fire up that crowd at the GOP Convention in Tampa? It’s clear our side has the excitement and the energy this year,” National Republican Congressional Committee Deputy Director Jeff Burton wrote in an email Tuesday, before asking, “Can you throw in $10, $15 or $20 so that we can reach every voter we possibly can? Every dollar, every minute counts.”

Apparently, every minute does count: At least some of these emails blasted off around 9 p.m., a solid hour and a half before Christie spoke.

MOST LAWMAKERS NOT AT DELEGATE BREAKFASTS via The News Service of Florida

Florida ’s delegates to the Republican National Convention have gathered every day this week at 8 a.m. to hear a parade of speakers. But noticeably absent from the gatherings have been Republican lawmakers. A few have showed up — incoming House Speaker Will Weatherford and Reps. Bill Hager, Ronald “Doc” Renuart, for example — but most lawmakers have been nowhere to be seen. Statewide Republican officials have attended. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is emceeing the breakfasts, and Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater have each made appearances. Also, showing up at least once have been Congressmen Steve Southerland and John Mica and congressional candidates Karen Harrington, Adam Hasner and Ted Yoho.

SPOTTED: Brendan Farrington with CNN’s Candy Crowley, likely showing her his collection of the ‘Little Candys’ …  St. Pete’s Tony Duda with Arianna Huffington … Ryan Duffy with NBC News’ Chuck Todd. … Howard Fineman and Chris Matthews at Mise en Place.

TAKING STOCK SO FAR by Michael Kruse of the Tampa Bay Times

The optimistic and the otherwise obligated said this was going to be an economic windfall and bring to Tampa and the Tampa Bay area transformative exposure. They’re still saying some of that. The pessimistic or just a little more realistic said … come onNo way. So here we are. It’s Wednesday of RNC week. The reactions ofdowntown merchants range from underwhelmed to kind of livid. The travel woes of Florida’s own delegates have highlighted the area’s inexcusable lack of acceptable public transportation. Tropical weather canceled a day and now it’s just hot. At least there hasn’t been a dreaded pepper spray moment. There actually hasn’t been much of anything. It was true yesterday and it’s true today. So much is going on and nothing is happening.

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BIG NAMES TO SPEAK TO FLA. DELEGATES THURSDAY

When Florida Republican delegates gather for breakfast Thursday, they could get a jolt.

The expected roster of speakers: U.S. Rep. Allen West, U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack, former Ambassador John Bolton, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who has been serving as emcee for daily breakfasts during the Republican National Convention, said delegates should be ready to hear the outspoken West first thing in the morning. “He’s kind of a sleepy-type speaker,” Putnam said, drawing laughter. And as for Bolton: “That guy will tell it like it is. He is not afraid,” Putnam said. He also noted its swing state status. “Everybody knows how important Florida is,” Putnam said. “The Florida delegation is a desirable audience.”

MEGA-DONORS LAVISHED WITH ATTENTION

The most senior bundlers — none of whom have been officially identified by the Romney campaign — will get a two-hour private luncheon on Thursday with Romney and Ryan, according to an event schedule. Lower levels, including “Founding Partners” couples who have contributed $100,000, get a special “Green Room” retreat buzzing with GOP luminaries.

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FLA. INSTITUTE OF NEUROLOGICAL REHABILITATION FILES CHALLENGE TO AHCA RULING

A Hardee County rehabilitation facility has filed a legal challenge against the state, after being directed to discharge 50 residents amid scrutiny about quality of care, reports the News Service of Florida.

The Florida Institute for Neurologic Rehabilitation asked an administrative law judge this week to invalidate a rule that state officials have used in ordering the discharge of residents with head injuries. The case was filed in the Division of Administrative Hearings against the Florida Department of Health, though it also indicates it could apply to the Agency for Health Care Administration. Inspectors from those agencies and the Department of Children and Families went to the institute early this month because of what AHCA Secretary Liz Dudek said were concerns about the “care, safety and well being of the residents.” The state followed up last week by directing the institute to discharge 50 residents with non-traumatic head injuries. 

NEARLY 1.6 MILLION MORE FLORIDIANS WOULD BE ELIGIBLE FOR MEDICAID UNDER OBAMACARE

Nearly 1.6 million Floridians making under $15,372 a year were not covered by health insurance in 2010 and would be eligible for Medicaid if the state went along with a controversial expansion of the program under the “Obamacare” health law, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.

Some of those people would be newly eligible for coverage under the law, while others already qualify for Medicaid but have not signed up. Gov. Rick Scott has said the state will not go along with an optional expansion of Medicaid eligibility, at least in part because of potential costs.

In addition, one in three Floridians making less than $44,556 a year in 2010 would at least be eligible for tax credits to pay for health care, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In all, nearly 3.4 million Floridians would be eligible for some type of health care subsidy or Medicaid coverage under the federal health law, the data show.

JUDGE ENDS VOTER REGISTRATION FIGHT; PERMANENTLY REMOVES GOP’S 2011 GATHERING RESTRICTIONS

The battle between voting rights groups and state election officials over get-out-the vote restrictions is officially over after a federal judge entered a final order that has been signed off on by both sides, reports the News Service of Florida.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a permanent injunction preventing the state from adopting voter registration gathering restrictions that were put in place by lawmakers in 2011 as part of a larger elections bill. Hinkle’s ruling, which was agreed to by all parties, solidifies a preliminary opinion rendered in May in which the federal judge said major provisions of the law were unworkable and therefore unconstitutional. The lawsuit was brought by a group of voting rights organizations that challenged restrictions, which included reducing the time limit for turning in voter registration from 10 days to 48 hours, which Hinkle said would unduly burden a voter’s right to cast a ballot.

RUBIO WARNS NELSON: ATTACKS ON MACK COULD BACKFIRE

Marco Rubio isn’t happy with Bill Nelson’s attacks on Connie Mack’s youthful indiscretions, including bar fights and unpaid debts. Rubio said Nelson’s strategy of maligning Mack’s personal life is not only unfair; it ultimately “could backfire” on Nelson and wind up helping his GOP opponent.

“Floridians don’t like that kind of stuff,” Rubio told Hotline On Call in an interview. “People understand those things have nothing to do with who he is today and the qualifications he brings to the United States Senate.”

Rubio criticized Nelson’s negative attacks as ineffective because they don’t speak to the issues driving the election. “I just don’t think it’s going to be relevant,” Rubio said. “I mean, he’s been a member of Congress for a number of years now. He has a distinguished record serving there on the issues he’s taken up. So that’s what he’s going to be judged on.”

THRASHER: ‘CRIST IS A JOKE’ by Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times

“He’s a joke. He’s a cartoon character at best,” Thrasher said. “I think Jeb (Bush) said it best: the guy’s organizing principle is about himself and nothing else. I think people understand that now. My only hope would be that he would be the Democratic nominee for governor. I hope he does run. Bring him on.”

>>>In an email Wednesday night Jim Greer praised Crist for refusing to “blindly follow the Republican party line.”

>>>Suzy Khimm examines the party-switching penalty: Political parties have good reason to embrace party-switchers: Aside from the PR boost, party-switchers fairly reliably change their votes to reflect their new parties’ views, as political scientists Nolan McCarty, Keith  Poole and Howard Rosenthal have found. But the general public is more suspicious. “Voters punish members who switch parties,” Yoshinaka writes in a 2011 paper he co-authored with Christian Grose. “On average, switchers lose about seven percentage points in all elections after they switch.”

>>>Sean Sullivan recalls famous political defections.

MACK BERNARD TO CHALLENGE 17-VOTE LOSS IN COURT via Andrew Abramson of the Palm Beach Post

Mack Bernard, coming off an oh-so-close 17-vote loss to Jeff Clemens in this month’s State Senate 27 race, will likely challenge the result in court.

Juan-Carlos Planas, a former Republican state legislator and an attorney representing Bernard, said a challenge will likely be filed today or Thursday.

“You want to get it right, especially when people’s votes are on the line,” Planas said.

Planas said he could “neither confirm nor deny” sources who said Bernard has been getting affidavits from absentee ballot voters whose ballots were challenged. It could be enough to overcome Clemens’ 17 vote advantage. Planas said it will all be included in the challenge.

By state law, a campaign only has two grounds for challenge — either votes that should have been counted were not counted, or votes that shouldn’t have been counted were counted.

MY ESSAY: WILL WEATHERFORD REMINDS THE WORLD HE’S A RED-BLOODED REPUBLICAN

For a moment, amidst his fierce, but not vociferous, defense of some of Tampa Bay’s most important institutions, such as All Children’s Hospital and USF, there was some concern that Speaker Designate Will Weatherford was something less than a red-blooded Republican.

For a moment, as the praise from centrists, moderates, and the media began to pile up, there was some concern that Weatherford was something less than a full-throated conservative.

Republicans and conservatives need not worry.

“Here’s the problem with the president,” said Rep. Will Weatherford of Pasco County at a Faith and Freedom Coalition luncheon. “The president does not believe in the American idea. He does not believe in the foundation, the very pillars that this country was founded upon. He does not share that world view.”

Is that full-throated enough? Red-blooded enough? More here.

***I’ve  called Kevin Cate one of the smartest guys in any room, but that was last year. His firm continues to change the way public relations works in Florida. Believe me, you want www.CateComm.com on your side.***

98 PLAYERS matched all five winning numbers in Tuesday’s Fantasy 5 drawing, setting a new record for the most winners in a single draw since the game matrix changed to 5 of 36 in July 2001.

AN ANATOMY LESSON FOR REPUBLICANSStephen Colbert teaches Republicans about the female body.

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.