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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pick a Loser Already!

Can the polls just close? I am so tired of the dredge ads, the anti-prosperity messaging and the hatefulness of the Republican field saturating Florida right now.


Monday, January 30, 2012

McGillicuddy's Screwed-Up Future

I had an interesting experience last week at a political rally I was covering. I bumped into Connie Mack, my congressman and, most likely, the Republican who will challenge Bill Nelson for his Senate seat this year. Why was it strange to see Mack at a presidential candidate rally. The event was for Newt Gingrich and Mack has endorsed Mitt Romney.

And he was making his endorsement known. I asked him if he was traveling with Gingrich, and he was quick to remind, as I had frankly forgotten, that he was backing another guy. But, with the Florida primary days away, he was going from rally to rally, and not just for his guy.

Mack was there as a surrogate, someone to grab the attention of gathered reporters and badmouth Newt. I must admit, this created an entertaining scene. Newt Gingrich's field guy freaked out and was interrupting the little press roundup Mack had called at the base of the camera rafters, and Mack was slamming the guest of honor at this crashed party. He started mentioning Freddie Mac out so often you think he was adopting a new pseudonym for the Senate race. But the attacks were good ones.

"My constituents aren't buying this whole historian story," Mack said, a direct attack on Newt Gingrich's contract work with the bank conservatives hate most.

But as this played out, I couldn't help but think, what happens if Newt becomes the nominee? I imagine there will be some awkward bus rides next October.

For those who haven't been to a presidential campaign, know that every candidate for statewide office at the same time can have their calendar disrupted by their nominee's schedulers at any time. Every moment that Al Gore or George Bush was in Florida in 2000 before the election, Bill Nelson or Bill McCollum respectively were by their sides. It actually becomes a big story when Senate candidates won't make time for the bigger names, the way then gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist didn't really want to be seen with an unpopular George W. Bush in 2006.

So will Connie Mack be ready for long car rides from Miami to Orlando this October. Can he with any credibility announce Newt Gingrich as the "next president of the United States" as he introduces his party nominee?

If Romney wins Florida tomorrow, it may be a moot point. Mack's best hope, of course, is that he bet on the right horse, and the other horses will all go lame quickly. But unlike a lot of the candidates campaigning for presidential hopefuls, or even just endorsing them with non-confrontational and positive statements, there is a lot more at risk for Mack than the average flak.

Which just makes me hope more gleefully than ever that Gingrich is the nominee. If that happens, it's time to buy stock in popcorn.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Florida's Bain Story

I love that there seems to be a story of Bain destroying a company through vulture tactics in every state of the union. Here is ours!.

Via the Miami Herald:
It started in 1995, when Romney’s Bain Capital targeted the company that became Dade Behring, which made blood-testing machines and performed animal research at its Miami campus.

Bain borrowed heavily to buy the company and closed a factory in Puerto Rico to improve the bottom line. About 400 lost jobs there. Then in 1997, Bain shuttered Dade Behring’s Miami operations, costing another 850 jobs and a $30 million payroll in the community.

Before growing debt consumed the company, Bain executed its exit strategy and made $242 million.

Yes, this man clearly knows how to create jobs... for the servants in his own home. But I guess I'm just attacking free enterprise.

The significance of stories like this, though, isn't evidence that Mitt Romney is a terrible businessman. It is that he known only how to make money off exploitation.

I heard Herman Cain defending what Bain does the other day on Bill Maher's show. Cain noted that he shrunk Godfather's Pizza, then when he changed the business model, he expanded it again. That it not the sort of story we story we keep getting about Bain Capital.

Romney's crew didn't stick around to rebuild companies. Instead, they sucked companies dry, like vampires finding corpses near death but still filled with ripe enough blood to consume. After sending people home with boxes, the company found ways to make millions in profits and skipped town themselves.

Businesses fail. I get it. Not that Romney takes responsibility for that happening either.

But the truly disgusting thing that Romney keeps putting on display is his complete inability to defend any part of his record. When people attack his time as governor of Massachusetts, he blames it on Democrats in the Legislature. When people attack his time in the public sector, he calls them commies who aren't properly bowing themselves at his feet to worship at the altar of capitalism.

Romney is not just the enemy of liberals. He is the enemy of the working class. And he is just now coming to realize the Republican Party's rank-and-file membership is made up of working class people.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Problem?

Politico has a story today entitled "Obama's Florida 2012 Problem," which is kind of silly title. The article is fine, I suppose, but the treatment of the story makes the mistake that folks in Washington always tend toward, assuming the last election is indicative of the next one.

Obama won Florida in 2008, but he won a lot of places. It was a landslide election. To suggest he may not see exactly the same results this November is lazy analysis. Of course he won't. He is in a completely different station, both professionally and in the course of time. An incumbent president will have to run a different campaign than a candidate looking to challenge the party in control, and that means we have a very different race on our hands from top to bottom. Consider a flip on the old proverb, to do things differently and expect the same results could be a second definition of insanity.

Florida was a swing state in 2008, and it will be again in 2012. It was also a swing state in 2004, 2000, 1996 and 1992. This is fourth most populous state in the union, and the only one that will actually be up for grabs this go-round.

All that is to say, Big Deal! Politico thinks the fact Florida is a battleground is a problem for the president? If so, it has been a problem for every president of the past 40 years. With the sole of exception of Ronald Reagan, who was reelected by an historic electoral college margin in 1984, every sitting president since Gerald Ford has found themselves worrying about winning Florida. The last two presidents— Bill Clinton and George W. Bush— both increased voter support in the states substantially during their reelection efforts, so there is some reason to believe this state warms to incumbents more than Washington observers realize. But no matter what, presidential candidates of either party, incumbent or not, have to campaign hard in Florida to win. Obama will be no exception.

A lot of people are fascinated with the prospect of a Marco Rubio vice presidential effect, but the more I think about it, the more laughable the constant conversation seems to me. It may be why Rubio has in past been dismissive of VP talks.

First off, the idea party activists can decide the vice president before they even select a nominee is a misunderstanding of the process. This is a personal decision made by a man running for president, and he doesn't want to succomb to public pressure. Bill Clinton once noted this is a presidential decision the nominee gets to make before they are elected president. If anything, the outcry for Rubio is probably a hindrance on his chances of actually getting the nod.

But let's assume, for the sake of argument, that Rubio does get selected as a running mate. Will it help the Republicans in November? Of course, but it won't take Florida off the table. Rubio, who barely won a majority of votes in the state in 2010 and only got elected after a bizarre series of events unlikely to happen again, does not take Florida off the list of swing states. Recall that Jeb Bush, who was widely popular at the time, could not help his brother win Florida in 2000 without an assist from the Supreme Court.

Rubio is actually better off personally sticking out a full term in the Senate, then running for president in 2016, or even 2020. If he avoids this campaign, he runs less risk of having the loser stink that plagues Sarah Palin and other running mates blamed (probably unfairly) for taking a losing ticket down.

So will Obama have to fight for Florida? Of course. That's why he's at Disney today, more than any other reason. But can he still win? Yes. Can he beat a Romney-Rubio or Gingrich-Rubio ticket? Yes. Is he still in a good position to be re-elected regardless of what happens in Florida? Yes.

So what's the problem?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pelosi Behind Demings?

An otherwise unsurprising Politico article on how Nancy Pelosi thinks Mitt Romney will lose had an interesting nugget of information about a certain Central Florida race.

Pelosi also touted female congressional candidates such as Tammy Duckworth, a former assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs who is running for Congress in Illinois, and former Orlando police chief Val Demings, who is trying to unseat Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.).

Read more:

This makes me wonder if Pelosi knows more about Florida redistricting than the rest of us, but it is a pretty strong signal of which way she wants any primary in FL-08 to go. Consider this just another sign Alan Grayson's ambitions lie elsewhere, I guess.

Of course, Pelosi has a lot of reason to be excited about Demings' campaign. She seems to be out-raising Webster, and despite the spin from Webster included in that linked Orlando Sentinel article, an incumbent who can't out-raise a challenger in any scenario should lose sleep at night.

What will really decide this race? It is still tough to predict the political climate in November, but I have a growing feeling that things will tilt to the left come Election Day instead of the right. The only real question right now is whether the Legislature can draw Webster a district in which he cannot lose. Since he has long kept friends on both sides of the aisle in Tallahassee, that is possible, Fair Districts or not.

We shall see.