A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
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OBAMA TO FLORIDA THIS WEEKEND FOR TWO-DAY SWING
Taking a day off after the Democratic National Convention, President Barack Obama will begin a two-day bus tour of Florida with stops in Seminole and Kissimmee on Saturday and Melbourne and West Palm Beach on Sunday. Obama will start his Florida swing with an 11 a.m. appearance at St. Petersburg College’s Seminole Campus. The Democrat’s second event Saturday will be at the Kissimmee Civic Center at 4 p.m. Details of Sunday’s activities were not immediately available, Obama’s campaign office said Wednesday.
NATE SILVER ON WHY OBAMA IS THE FAVORITE
“On average, between 1968 and 2008, the challenging candidate led by 10 percentage points in polls conducted just after his convention. By comparison, the challenging candidate eventually lost the popular vote by an average of three points in these years. That means the post-convention polls overrated the challenger by an average of 13 points.”
“The good news for Mr. Romney is that this tendency has been growing smaller over time. However, it hasn’t necessarily disappeared. In 1992, Bill Clinton led by more than 20 points after his convention, but his actual winning margin was only about six. In 2000, George W. Bush came out of his convention in Philadelphia with about a 10-point lead in the polls — but he eventually lost the popular vote. John Kerry, in 2004, got very little bounce from his convention. But Mr. Kerry nevertheless came into his convention with a lead, and he maintained it — then he lost the popular vote by about two points instead.”
HOW OBAMA ANNOYED PAUL RYAN
One of the more interesting stories is how President Obama tore apart Paul Ryan’s budget plan in a speech while Ryan himself sat just 25 feet away.
“Although Obama had not personally invited Ryan and said he was unaware of his presence at the event until he saw him just prior, the contents of the speech were not taken lightly by Ryan. When it was over, he hightailed it out. The director of the White House’s National Economic Council, Gene Sperling, ran to catch up to him. When Ryan stopped, he said, ‘I can’t believe you poisoned the well like that,’ and kept walking.”
DEMOCRATS COULD KEEP U.S. SENATE
Charlie Cook: “For Senate Democrats, the 2012 cycle was supposed to be about exposure to the kind of losses that would imperil their majority. Their goal for the cycle was simple: Hang on to control of the chamber by a thread. Just months ago, such an objective seemed like a pipe dream, and for good reason.”
“But looks can be deceiving, especially in politics. A mix of factors has combined to give Democrats a fighting chance of holding their majority. For starters, they got some breaks at the hands of Republicans. The first was the decision by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), to retire… The second break came in August, when Rep. Todd Akin, the GOP’s newly minted Senate nominee in Missouri, uttered the words ‘legitimate rape.’ That one phrase transformed this race against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill… Another factor is recruiting. Democrats managed to recruit strong candidates in races for Republican-leaning seats.”
BILL NELSON BACK ON CAMPAIGN TRAIL AFTER BRIEF VISIT TO CHARLOTTE by Nora McAlvanah of FLDemocracy2012.com
Locked in a competitive race with Rep. Connie Mack, Bill Nelson shrugged off the suggestion he was trying to distance himself from President Obama by leaving the convention early.
Nelson said Obama could use the convention “to set the record straight,” about some distortions coming from Republicans.
During a brief media appearance on the floor Tuesday, Nelson defended the president’s record on healthcare and the economy. Asked if the economy is better than it was four years ago, Nelson said yes.
“If you look back four years ago–that’s September and October 2008– what was happening? Lehman brothers had gone down, the stock market crashed, banks were about to go belly up… we were going into financial death spiral,” Nelson said.
MARCO OVER JEB IN 2016, POLL INDICATES
Public Policy Polling: After his star performance at the convention last week Florida Republicans say they’d slightly prefer Marco Rubio to Jeb Bush as their Presidential candidate in 2016, in the event that Mitt Romney loses this fall. 24% say Rubio would be their top choice to 22% for Bush, with Condoleezza Rice at 12%, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, and Paul Ryan all at 10%, Rand Paul at 4%, Sarah Palin at 3%, and Rick Santorum at 1%.
Rubio leads the way thanks to strong support from Tea Party voters. He stands at 34% with them to 18% for Bush, 15% for Ryan, and 12% for Huckabee. He also has the advantage with evangelicals at 29% to 17% for Bush, 14% for Huckabee, and 11% each for Rice and Ryan. Bush draws his support from more middle of the road Republicans, leading Rubio 24-16 with moderates and 27-21 with ‘somewhat conservative’ voters.
NEW CROSSROADS AD TAKES AIM AT FORWARD via Alexander Burns of POLITICO
American Crossroads “is spending $6.6 million … in eight swing states, including Florida, aggressively undercutting Obama’s campaign slogan: ‘Forward.’ … ‘America’s worst economic recovery ever. Twenty-three million of us without full-time work. Family incomes down. Forty percent living paycheck to paycheck. And Obamacare’s new tax on middle-class families. All while Obama racked up $5 trillion more in debt … Is that really forward – or backward?’ View here.
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BILL CLINTON BLASTS REPUBLICANS, HAILS OBAMA AT DNC
In a Democratic National Convention address that combined withering attacks on Republicans with a full-throated endorsement of President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton delivered a point-by-point repudiation of the GOP case for defeating Obama and said the nation was better off now than when Obama was elected, reports the News Service of Florida.
Clinton acknowledged that many people were still feeling the pain of a grindingly slow economic recovery, but said things were turning around.
“If you will renew the president’s contract, you will feel it,” Clinton promised.
He also flayed the Republican’s attempts to use the economic downturn as a reason to throw Obama out, laying blame for the crash on the GOP. Clinton summed up their case this way: “We left him a total mess, he hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough so fire him, put us back in.”
>>>A USA Today/Gallup poll conducted prior to both political party conventions finds former President Bill Clinton with a 69% favorable rating — a personal best spanning his presidential and post-presidential years.
TWEET, TWEET: @MaryEllenKlas: This Clinton speech like a tutorial on government with teacher holding a switchblade
OBAMA’S PRIME-TIME ADDRESS TONIGHT MOVED INDOORS
The Democratic National Convention Committee announced that convention programming, originally planned for Bank of America Stadium on Thursday would be moved to Time Warner Cable Arena, the site of the first two days of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, due to severe weather forecasts.
The DNCC also announced that President Barack Obama will address community credential holders in a conference call on Thursday. Call information will be emailed directly to community credential-holders.
MICHELLE OBAMA VS. ROMNEY ON TWITTER
The end of the first lady’s prime time speech ‘drove a higher Tweets-per-minute peak’ than did Mitt Romney at the RNC last week. Per the numbers crunched by Twitter’s own Government and Politics team, Michelle peaked at 28,003, while Romney did at 14,289.
TIMES EDITORIAL: PRACTICAL GOVERNING, NOT PARTY IDEOLOGY
Charlie Crist, the man without a party, still manages to find a way to be invited to one and deliver a message. President Barack Obama’s invitation to the former Republican governor to speak at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday was attacked by Republicans in Florida and elsewhere as a desperate act by two self-serving politicians. But the reality is that Crist has a message to deliver about pragmatic governing based on consensus-building rather than ideological purity. When he felt unwelcome in his own political party, he left and changed his voter registration to no party affiliation. And that says more about the modern Republican Party than it does about the former Florida governor.
>>>@ananavarro: Is FL press going to find out if Charlie Crist gets floor fan pointing at his sweaty armpits?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ UP TO THE USUAL
Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has spent her time at the Democratic National Convention here much the same way she has since becoming chair of the party last year: With a spirited defense of President Barack Obama, sharp barbs aimed at Republicans and a splash or two of controversy along the way, reports Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida.
Appearing before the Florida delegation’s breakfast Wednesday, Wasserman Schultz was hailed as a home-state success story. She drew a hearty applause when she took the platform; delegates later stood near the stage to get better pictures of her with mobile devices or posed with her outside the ballroom where the breakfast was held. And for her part, Schultz returned the praise.
“Thank you so much for lifting me up, for having my back, for being there for me every step of the way,” she said. “And it just makes me so proud to have been asked by President Obama to watch his back and help bring him across the finish line and be a Florida girl … representing our state and being the political voice of our president and our party.”
WORST QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I’m Jewish, I’m not a fan of any other religion than Judaism….The Christians just want us to be there so we can all be slaughtered and converted and bring on the second coming of Jesus Christ.” — Palm Beach Democratic chairman Mark Alan Siegel, in an interview with The Blaze.
OPPONENTS LAUNCH CAMPAIGN AGAINST AMENDMENT 8
Opponents of Amendment 8, the so-called “religious freedom” amendment to the Florida Constitution, launched a campaign to inform Floridians about the revision.
Rather than strengthening the separation of church and state, the group said, the amendment will undermine it by allowing tax funding of private religious organizations.
“Amendment 8 is called ‘Religious Freedom’ but it will actually have the opposite effect,” said Deirdre Macnab, President of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “This Amendment could force taxpayers to fund religious views they may oppose.”
BUCHANAN UP 20 POINTS OVER FITZGERALD IN CD 16
A new independent poll shows U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan maintains a commanding lead over Democrat challenger Keith Fitzgerald. The survey conducted by StPetePolls.org in Florida’s 16th Congressional District shows Buchanan with a nearly 20-percentage-point advantage over his opponent. The results are consistent with previous polling that led the Tampa Bay Times to report that Buchanan is “well positioned to trounce Democrat Keith Fitzgerald.”
“The voters of Florida’s 16h District enthusiastically support Vern’s positive message of creating jobs, growing the economy and reducing spending and reject Keith Fitzgerald’s negative campaign,” said Buchanan campaign spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts.
MORE POLLING DATA via St. Pete Polls
Frank Bruno and Dorothy Hukill are in a dead heat in Senate District 8
Ellyn Bogdanoff and Maria Sachs are neck and neck in Senate District 34.
In congressional races, Lois Frankel has a slight lead over Adam Hasner and Allen Grayson has a slight lead over Todd Long, and Allen West leads Patrick Murphy by 6 points.
Close state House races: Frank Farkas v. Dwight Dudley in 68, Ed Hooper v. Ben Farrell in 67, and Larry Ahern v. Mary Louise Ambrose in 66.
EARLY VOTING SCHEDULE HINGES ON COURT CASE
“We want to start advertising what’s going to be taking place on this date and that date, but with early voting in limbo, it does make it tricky,” said Travis Abercrombie, a spokesman for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Office. “We don’t want to put out false information.”
At issue is a court clash over Florida House Bill 1355, a sweeping elections overhaul passed by the Legislature in 2011.
One provision of the legislation, targeting third-party voter registration drives, largely has been overturned. Another, the early voting provision, likely is headed for a settlement, with state and county officials trying to come up with a plan that will appease a federal court.
The bill reduced early voting, in effect, from 12 days to eight, to the dismay of activists who said the reduction hurts black voters who often vote early.
Any change in election procedures in Hillsborough and four other Florida counties must get federal approval because they have been tagged with a history of voter discrimination.
FLORIDA CHAMBER MAKES ADDITIONAL ENDORSEMENTS IN LEGISLATIVE RACES
The Florida Chamber of Commerce today announces its latest round of endorsements for candidates for the Florida Legislature that it believes support free enterprise principles and market solutions.
The Florida Chamber endorses Jeff Brandes, R – SD 22; Tom Lee, R – SD 24; Bill Galvano, R – SD 26; Halsey Beshears, R – HD 7; Ross Spano, R – HD 59; Kathleen Peters, R – HD 69; MaryLynn Magar, R – HD 82; Jared E. Moskowitz, D – HD 97; Richard Stark, D – HD 104; Alex Diaz de la Portilla, R – HD 112.
>>>Candidates backed by the Florida Chamber have prevailed in 63 out of 73 contests (86 percent) including 39 out of 49 competitive primary races on August 14.
HEALTH PLANS READY TO VIE FOR MEDICAID CONTRACTS
With Florida gradually moving toward a statewide Medicaid managed-care system, 14 health plans are ready to compete for contracts to provide long-term care to seniors, reports Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida.
The health plans met a deadline last week for submitting documents that will be used by the state Agency for Health Care Administration as it works to award contracts in 11 different regions of the state.
Six companies, including some major names in the managed-care industry, submitted documents to seek contracts in each region, according to AHCA. Those companies are American Eldercare, Coventry Health Care of Florida, Humana, Sunshine State Health Plan, United Healthcare of Florida and WellCare.
Three firms — Freedom Health, Molina Healthcare and Universal Health Care — are bidding in eight regions, while five others are seeking contracts in three or fewer regions.
MY ESSAY: ENOUGH WITH THE RISING STAR TALK, FOR WILL WEATHERFORD THE TIME IS NOW
No less than the National Review recently identified Weatherford as “Another Rubio.”
This all well and good, but a word of advice to my friend Will Weatherford: Live by the media, die by the media.
Not that Weatherford lives or dies by the press, it’s just that this ‘rising star’ talk has me worried about his future.
Because, for Will Weatherford, the future is now. More here.
NEW SUIT FILED AGAINST SENATE REDISTRICTING PLAN
The League of Women Voters, Common Cause and other groups are challenging the Senate’s redistricting map in a new lawsuit that alleges it violated the new constitutional requirements against using political considerations in drawing boundaries, reports the News Service of Florida.
The challenge was filed in circuit court in Tallahassee and alleges that the Senate drew a map which “reflected blatant incumbent favoritism and partisan gamesmanship.” The map was a second attempt by the Senate, after initially having its efforts rejected by the Florida Supreme Court. But the second map – the one being challenged in the new suit – has survived a challenge in the Supreme Court already, though the plaintiffs say that wasn’t a full review of the issues, but was merely a “facial” review. “The Legislature drew districts that will keep incumbent senators in office, assist incumbent House members with election to the Senate, impact internal Senate leadership battles, and make gains for the controlling party,” the lawsuit alleges. Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, the incoming Senate president who drove the Republican redistricting effort in the Senate, was dismissive. “Today’s filing is nothing more than summer re-runs of the same complaints that were rejected by the Florida Supreme Court,” Gaetz said.
STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT HIRING ON RISE
For the first time since the start of the economic downturn, state and local governments created more jobs than they lost last month, according to a recent Gallup survey. Meanwhile, private-sector employment remained essentially unchanged and federal government employment dipped slightly.
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CAN’T WAIT TO READ: The Fine Print by David Cay Johnston. “No other modern country gives corporations the unfettered power found in America to gouge customers, shortchange workers, and erect barriers to fair play. A big reason is that so little of the news… addresses the private, government-approved mechanisms by which price gouging is employed to redistribute income upward.”
HAPPIEST OF BIRTHDAY WISHES to two of my favorite colleagues, Abel Harding and Dave Trotter.