***A message from Associated Industries of Florida and the Florida Section of the American Water Works Association: Florida is facing a water crisis. Join leaders from across the state at the 2012 Florida Water Forum to discuss the most pressing issues affecting Florida’s water future, Thursday, Sep. 6, at the Renaissance SeaWorld in Orlando. Register and learn more at www.flawaterforum.com***
FOX NEWS POLL: ROMNEY PULLS AHEAD NATIONALLY
A new Fox News poll shows Mitt Romney inching ahead of President Obama among likely voters nationally, 45% to 44%.
GALLUP: OBAMA MORE LIKABLE THAN ROMNEY
A new USA Today/Gallup poll underscores the strengths and weaknesses of each of the two presidential candidates: President Obama retains a significant edge over Mitt Romney on likability, 54% to 31%, while Americans still believe Romney is better able to handle the economy, 52% to 43%.
GOP DELEGATES TO NOMINATE ROMNEY ON MONDAY, RATHER THAN WEDNESDAY by Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times
Mitt Romney will be elevated as the party’s standard bearer on Monday – not Wednesday as previously expected – to keep the official business of the roll call delegate vote from competing with broader themes of introducing Romney. Officials also are keeping an eye on a potential threat from Tropical Storm Isaac and considering concerns about a possible disruption from Ron Paul supporters at the Republican National Convention next week.
It is a change in the script from previous conventions, where the formal nomination usually takes place on the second to last night of the convention. It is a formality, and Mr. Romney will still deliver his acceptance speech on Thursday evening, but the change is significant and an effort to keep the convention focused tightly on Mr. Romney.
“The roll call will take place on Monday,” said Jim Dyke, a convention spokesman, who dismissed suggestions that the schedule had abruptly changed. “We will go through the roll call in alphabetical order all the way through.”
PREVIEWING CHRIS CHRISTIE’S KEYNOTE ADDRESS
CBS News: “As Republicans from across the country descend on Tampa for the party’s official nominating convention, Chris Christie will be preparing for his big moment: The famously outspoken Republican governor of New Jersey, and a rising star of the GOP, will deliver the convention’s keynote speech – a role that’s known for catapulting politicians into the national spotlight as much as for pumping up the presumptive party’s nominee.”
“Admired though he is for his rhetorical abilities, Christie faces a delicate balancing act in Tampa. In terms of style, he and presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney could hardly be more different: Where Christie is unusually loose-lipped and prone to searing criticism — he’s been known to mock everyone from journalists to fellow Republicans — Romney is viewed as cautious and controlled.”
RUBIO STILL SPEAKING IN PRIME-TIME; WILL INTRODUCE ROMNEY
Contrary to earlier reports, Sen. Marco Rubio will still be delivering his address to the Republican National Convention during prime-time; he will introduce Mitt Romney.
“Sen. Rubio was incredibly gracious to offer his speaking slot to Mrs. Romney, and we thank him for his kind offer,” said Matt Rhoades, campaign manager for Romney. “However, he will remain the last speaker in prime-time on Thursday night before Gov. Romney accepts the nomination. In many ways, Sen. Rubio represents the future of the Republican Party and we can think of no better person to introduce Gov. Romney on this important night.”
Meanwhile, in other scheduling news, former Florida governor Jeb Bush is now scheduled to speak Monday.
JEB TO ‘MEET THE PRESS’, MARCO TO ‘FACE THE NATION’
Jeb Bush will be the guest on Sunday morning on Meet the Press – amazingly his first ever appearance on the show. This week’s Meet the Press will be broadcast from Tampa, where the Republican Convention will start Monday, and where Bush will be highly visible. Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, meanwhile, will be on Face the Nation.
ROMNEY CAMPAIGN TO USE SQUARE FOR MOBILE DONATIONS AT CONVENTION
The campaign will announce a convention-wide rollout of Square, a device on the cutting edge of mobile donations, reports James Hohmann of POLITICO. Square-enabled phones and devices will be used throughout the 2012 Republican national convention providing a quick and easy way for delegates and visitors to make donations and buy souvenirs with a simple swipe of their credit card onto a mobile device. ‘We are excited to be the first Presidential campaign to make serious use of Square devices at a major event like a national convention.’ Zac Moffatt, Digital Director of the Romney campaign, says in a forthcoming statement. This lets grassroots supporters accept credit and debit card donations, which should help Mitt with small-dollar donors. Square devices will also be provided to each Victory location.
UBER, THE APP-BASED CAR SERVICE, ROLLS INTO TAMPA
Delegates aren’t the only ones descending on Tampa for the RNC – there’s also Uber. The app-based click-for-a-car service will be there with a ready fleet of slick sedans. Rachel Holt, the general manager of Uber’s branch in the nation’s capital, said the company has already begun partnering with limousine companies in Tampa and Charlotte to offer service at both conventions. And the reason is simple. “Actually, some folks who work at the conventions reached out to us originally,” Holt said. “They were folks who had used and experienced our services in D.C. and in other cities.” But in D.C. and those other cities, the service has faced obstacles.
***On the eve of the Republican National Convention, several of Florida’s leading political and public affairs consultants will be hosting an invitation-only party in St. Peterburg. The “Full Lid Party” will be the go-to after party following the official welcome reception at Tropicana Field. Click here for more information and tickets.***
FOR GOP MEGA-DONORS, A CONVENTION OF THEIR OWN via POLITICO
The Romney campaign has designated two waterfront hotels — the Westin Tampa Harbour Island and the Marriott Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Golf Club — for its bundlers. Those who have committed to raising $250,000 or more – “Stars,” in the campaign’s parlance — get to attend briefings with Jeb Bush, Rice, Haley, Tim Pawlenty, Bob McDonnell and other big names, according to an agenda obtained by POLITICO.
American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, which were founded by Rove, have lined up some high–powered names for a Thursday morning breakfast briefing for donors and prospective donors. In addition to Rove and Barbour, the former Mississippi governor who has been raising cash for Crossroads, speakers are expected to include Florida Sen. Rubio and Jeb Bush.
The event is closed to the press, said spokesman Jonathan Collegio, who a few months ago had said Crossroads wasn’t planning to have any kind of presence at the convention.
ALLEN WEST TO CASH IN AT GOP CONVENTION
The outdoor tent of the conservative organization Citizens United will host Rep. Allen West on Thursday for a fundraiser, with a minimum donation of $500, according to an invitation obtained by POLITICO Influence. The minimum donation for political action committees is $1,000.
INTERNATIONAL FRANCHISERS TO HOST HURRICANE PARTY ON SUNDAY
In the swirl of Republican National Convention parties, receptions and miscellaneous shindiggery, the International Franchise Association plans to distinguish itself (and capitalize on current events) with a Hurricane Happy Hour on Sunday at the Hurricane Grill in Tampa, Fla. “Kick off your convention week by telling Isaac to take a hike,” an invitation reads. No charge to attend, the association’s Matt Haller says and “we expect members of Congress, congressional candidates, Hill and campaign staff, members of the media and most importantly our IFA members” to be there. Invite here.
NIKKI HALEY JOINING “LASHING BACK AT THE BACKLASH”
Her New View announced another conservative celebrity for their Sunday event at the RNC. Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina, will be joining “Lashing Back at the Backlash: How Conservative Women Confront Media Bias.” The panel already has a star-studded lineup: prominent journalists Katie Pavlich and Dana Loesch, Congresswomen Marsha Blackburn and Renee Ellmers, and the Lt. Governor of Wisconsin Rebecca Kleefisch. It will be moderated by former SCGOP chair Karen Floyd. Register here.
PODESTA GROUP GOES TO TAMPA by Mike Allen of POLITICO
“Expect to see a highly visible Podesta Group in Tampa next week. … Having troops on the ground at GOP conventions is nothing new for us; but we’re taking it to a whole new level this year, … making sure our most senior Principals are on the scene. Our event sponsorships include: ‘Rock the House’ concert with Kid Rock, the Warehouse events every night and the PA delegation events. Painting the town red throughout the week will be: Firm CEO, Kimberley Fritts, along with principals, David Marin, Randall Gerard, Josh Holly, Steve Northrup and Mike Quaranta. Senior associate, Katie Beck, and business development associate, Monica Holb, will be working in the Forum as professional staff volunteers. Steve Northrup will be playing with his band Blame It on Jane at a cocktail reception for the Republican Main Street Partnership on Sunday.”
“David Marin and Steve Northrup will also be on hand to support our troops at Monday’s Birdies for the Brave golf tournament featuring Speaker Boehner and Gov. Bob McDonnell. The We Are Golf coalition, a Podesta Group client, contributed a host of auction items to benefit wounded warriors. … Obviously we are known widely for the name on our door, but Podesta Group has been bipartisan since inception, with a now nearly 50/50 D to R ratio among our senior strategists and with Republican Kimberley Fritts at the helm for more than a decade.”
**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.***
SUPER PAC DRAGS OUT ‘CHARLIE’ SHEEN OF FLORIDA POLITICS’ ATTACK LINE AGAINST MACK
Majority PAC, the Super PAC focused on maintaining Democratic control of the Senate, will go up today with an ad that suggests Florida Rep. Connie Mack belongs more on reality TV than Congress. “Republicans call him the Charlie Sheen of Florida Politics,” a narrator says. “Congressman Connie Mack THE FOURTH: His record includes bar brawls, road rage, and resisting arrest. A past of debts and liens. An overdrawn checking account while in Congress. A loan from Dad to pay his taxes. His yacht club sued him. The Condo Association took him to court. Now he’s running for Senate. But, Florida Families can’t afford Connie Mack’s party tab.” This is the group’s first ad in Florida. Watch here.
FINANCIAL REPORT AMENDED IN RIVERA RACE
A failed Democratic congressional candidate whose campaign is under federal grand jury investigation abruptly amended his financial disclosures to show he loaned himself nearly $53,000 more than he originally reported the Miami Herald‘s Marc Caputo and Manny Garcia. Before filing the new report, Justin Lamar Sternad, 35, insisted his finances were in order and steadfastly refused to say how he paid for tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of campaign-mail services. Many of the transactions were in cash – sometimes in the form of $100 bills stuffed in envelopes, a campaign vendor said. The big cash payments drew the attention of the FBI, which began examining the working-class hotel employee, a political unknown who now claims to have dropped about $64,000 of his own money in his Aug. 14 primary loss. Campaign vendors told The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald that Sternad’s congressional Democratic primary run was backed by Republican Rep. David Rivera, who says he has never met or helped Sternad. During the campaign, Sternad bashed Rivera’s main rival, Joe Garcia. Garcia handily won and faces Rivera in November.
STEARNS, HARIDOPOLOS, LEMIEUX ALL HAVE CAMPAIGN CASH BUT NO CAMPAIGN by Brittany Alana Davis of the Tampa Bay Times
The three are among several high-profile Florida candidates ousted from the campaign trail with formidable war chests of leftover cash. Stearns was sitting on about $2.1 million in late July, while former U.S. Senate candidates Mike Haridopolos and George LeMieux have about $1.4 million and $1 million, respectively.
Money raised for federal campaigns cannot go to personal expenses but almost anything else is fair game.
“I’m sure congressman Stearns is getting quite a few calls from the Republican Party of Florida and other political party committees saying ‘Hey, can we have some of your campaign funds?’ ” said Michael Toner, former Federal Election Commission chairman. “He may want to hang on to the money, but he’ll certainly be under pressure to give.”
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL: FLORIDA ELECTION LAW THREATENS THE VOTE IN KEY SWING STATE
As with many of the voter limitations imposed by Republican state governments since they won election in 2010, these measures are likely to favor Republican candidates — and Florida is the ultimate swing state. Thankfully, a federal judge in Florida has issued a preliminary injunction against the law, which would interfere with the ability of organizations like the League of Women Voters to register voters in time for the election. That’s good for now, but any attempt to discourage participation at the polls should be struck down for good.
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT: President Barack Obama in Spandex fights Republican candidate Mitt Romney with a light saber. Meanwhile, Romney fights back with a barbecue fork and martial arts suit. Just in time for the upcoming presidential debates, it’s a political slugfest on your iPhone or iPad in a new game called Vote!!!
HOT SPOTS: Alexander Trowbridge has the list of places in the city to check out.
IF YOU MUST: The 14 most important sex ads of the Republican National Convention via BuzzFeed here.
MEDIA NOTE: The Tampa Bay Times‘ Michael Kruse notes that the first question asked of editor Neil Brown during an online chat was ‘Why has the Times and other media outlets not vetted Barack Obama?’
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate — they know that this was the place we were born and raised.” — Mitt Romney, campaigning in Michigan.