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Sunburn for 8/29: A morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics

By on August 29, 2012

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.***

ANOTHER POLL SHOWS TIGHT NATIONAL RACE

A new CBS News poll shows a very close presidential race with President Obama barely edging Mitt Romney among registered voters, 46% to 45%.

Key finding: “Only 41% of Americans said Romney understands their needs and problems, compared to 54% who feel Mr. Obama understands their needs and problems.”

AN EARLY ELECTION NIGHT

William Galston looks at the Electoral map and concludes “we’re likely to know quite a bit about the outcome fairly early on election night. If Romney loses Florida, the contest is over. If Obama loses Virginia, he needs to run the table. And if he goes down to defeat in both Virginia and New Hampshire, he’d be on track to lose the election — unless he could replace their electoral votes by hanging onto North Carolina. If not, Obama’s reelection would hinge on the most traditional of all pivots — the Buckeye state. This year, we may well know the name of the next president before we cross the Mississippi.”

MY ESSAY: HOW CHARLIE CRIST, ERNEST HOOPER AND A NICE JEWISH COUPLE SAVED FLORIDA FROM T.S. ISAAC

The Tampa Bay Times’ Ernest Hooper mentioned in his column that Crist was looking for an emissary to place his prayer in the Wall.

Risa Demers of Trinity read the column that morning. Knowing she and her husband Bill were flying to Israel in a about a week, she volunteered.

I sent the email right after reading the column because I had to go to work soon. Then I took my dog for a walk and when I came back in the house, the phone was ringing and it was Charlie Crist,” Demers said.

“When he asked if we would take the prayer to the Wall, I said sure and he said he would write it and mail it that morning. We got it in the mail the next day,” Demers said. More here.

GEORGE LEMIEUX OP-ED: ‘THIS ISN’T THE CHARLIE CRIST I KNEW‘: “This shift is more than an ‘evolution.’ It is a metamorphosis. To my knowledge, no prominent politician in modern American history has changed his or her core principles this drastically, this quickly.”

MARCO RUBIO: CHARLIE CRIST ‘RUNNING OUT OF PARTIES’

Charlie Crist is “running out of parties” to support, but if the onetime GOP leader wants to speak at the Democratic National Convention, “that’s fine,” Sen. Marco Rubio said.

“As any American does, he has his right to change parties and do anything he wants to do,” the Florida senator said on CNN. “He’s running out of parties to run under. But look, I think at the end of the day he has any choice that he wants to make, that’s fine. We’ll be interested to see what he says at the convention.”

>>>Asked by Jon Stewart, “Do you read Florida newspapers?” Marco Rubio responded: “Only the accurate ones.”

>>>Check out this great photo of a quiet moment for Rubio before he spoke at a breakfast for the Florida delegation.

>>>Son of a bartender, Rubio had one of the best quotes of the day: “Florida is a swing state so be generous with your tipping.”

US HOUSE MAJORITY WHIP KEVIN MCCARTHY: CRIST IS THE JERRY BROWN OF FLA. POLITICS

U.S. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy rallied Florida Republicans on Tuesday — and added a California twist to the torrent of Republican criticism of former Gov. Charlie Crist, reports the News Service of Florida.

“He’s the moonbeam of Florida,” McCarthy said, likening Crist to California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

***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.”***

CHRIS CHRISTIE CALLS FOR A NEW ERA OF TRUTH-TELLING

Delivering the keynote address at the Republican National Convention, New Jersey Governor called for a “new era of truth-telling.”

Christie said that America must elect Mitt Romney as president to ensure that coming generations “live in a second American Century.”

It was a relatively subdued keynote address as written, particularly for Christie, who has won the hearts of many in the GOP for his fierce and unrestrained rhetoric.

WHO IS THE MYSTERY CONVENTION SPEAKER?

Republican convention planners appear to have a surprise planned for those tuning in Thursday night, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Buried deep in the convention schedule released Monday is a vague reference to a mystery speaker scheduled for the event’s final evening. ‘To Be Announced’ has a prime speaking slot late in the Thursday program.”

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JEB BUSH WITH THE TWEET OF THE DAY: @JebBush: Normally at the RNC with my dad & brother. Thrilled to be here this year with my sons @JebBushJr and @GeorgePBush.

JENNIFER CARROLL DELIVERS FLORIDA FOR ROMNEY via The News Service of Florida

After asking for a moment of silence to honor the people affected by Hurricane Isaac, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll on Tuesday delivered Florida’s 50 delegate votes to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “Florida is the Sunshine State — well, most times,” Carroll said during a roll call of states at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. She also borrowed a page from Gov. Rick Scott, saying Florida showed this week it knows how to respond to hurricanes and provide hospitality to visitors. She also noted that Florida was the first large state to back Romney during this year’s primaries and caucuses, though its delegate votes were reduced from 100 to 50 because of moving up the primary date.

MEDIA NOTE: HOW POLITICO’S PATRICK GAVIN OWNS CONVENTION COVERAGE FROM 900 MILES AWAY

Nobody’s covering members of the media in Tampa this week like Politico reporter Patrick Gavin. He’s been tweeting “rules” for covering the convention such as:

>>>Rule #158: What’s with all these media organizations giving drinks to journos? We used to depend on the pols for that.

>>>Rule #189: Psycho-analyze the delegate seating chart. No one will challenge your interpretations.

>>>Rule #7810: Cronkite never would have Tweeted.

MEDIA NOTE: TAMPA BAY TIMES CAPITALIZES ON GOP CONVENTION — NINE MONTHS AFTER NAME CHANGE via Ad Age

“We’re using the attention on the region to make sure that people are aware of our success,” said Bruce Faulmann, VP for sales and marketing at the Tampa Bay Times.

>>>I’m quoted: “You can’t buy the publicity that the Tampa Bay Times will get from the convention,” said Peter Schorsch, executive editor of Saint Petersblog. He was highly critical of the name change when it was announced and still says that the change was one of the saddest days in his civic life.

BEST QUOTE FROM A JOURNALIST: “On a certain level, political reporters are all Shriners under our collective veneer of cynicism.” — Walter Shapiro.

PAUL SENFT STEPPING DOWN AS FLORIDA’S RNC COMMITTEEMAN

The Republican Party of Florida on Tuesday honored longtime national committeeman Paul Senft, who will step down from the post. Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll presented a lifetime achievement award to Senft during a breakfast of Florida delegates attending the Republican National Convention. “Eight years is enough,” said Senft, a Polk County resident. “This is a huge state, from Pensacola to Key West.”

POLITICOS SHOW FOR BUSINESS PARTY AT AQUARIUM via David Levinthal

The business group party hosted by the Distilled Spirits Council, Business Roundtable and others drew a large crowd at the Tampa Aquarium. Guests were welcomed with an open bar, cigars and scotch and plenty of seafood, including a raw bar with shrimp and oysters. DISCUS’s David Culver, U.S. Travel Association’s Blain Rethmeier, American Petroleum Institute’s Eric Wohlschlegel, Business Roundtable’s John Engler, and National Retail Federation’s David French, were among the large number of folks spotted in the crowd.

THE QUEST FOR RED SUPREMACY IN TAMPA via POLITICO Technology

NGP VAN is a near monopoly in terms of providing software for Democratic campaigns, having landed an exclusive deal with the Democratic National Committee. That means that almost every Dem on every level is urged – and sometimes, as in the case of the Democrats in Clark County, Nev., forced – to use NGP VAN for their voter databases. The Republicans, however, have no such dominating force, which is why Joe Green of NationBuilder is in Tampa this week.

A few months ago, the company announced a deal with the Republican State Leadership Committee for a special cut rate for candidates for state-level offices, but he’s still got to persuade those hopefuls to sign on. It’s not easy, either; down-ballot candidates are often the most resistant to modernizing campaigns out of fear of technology or cost. Green’s also got meetings with “high-level campaign consultants” and trainings for candidates that are already signed on. So far, there’s little noise coming from any of the rival, GOP-leaning software companies. Political Gravity, one significant likely contender, isn’t present in Tampa, prime time for anyone wanting to sell to Republican politicians.

Meanwhile, Green, a lifelong Democrat who cut his teeth on the Kerry campaign in 2004, is enjoying his first convention with the other side. “The more I talk to people here, the more I realize that we’re really not that different,” he said. That’s the sales pitch, anyway.

RNC FORGET TO SEND BUSES TO PICK UP FLA. DELEGATION via Aaron Sharockman of the Tampa Bay Times

If Florida Republicans already didn’t  feel left out in their party’s convention, they just might right about now. Excited to board the buses at noon that would haul them 30 miles to the RNC, they were told that the buses were late.

The RNC forgot to send them. Now they would have to wait. When the replacement buses would come was not announced.

“Well, that sucks,” said Hillsborough County GOP chair Art Wood, wiping sweat from his brow. It was 90 degrees out. “I guess it won’t be the first glitch.

TWEET, TWEET: @mikevansickler: Final tally: 1 hour, 50 minutes bus ride from Innisbrook to RNC. #gotoffbus

SHOCKING: REPUBLICANS THINK GOP CONVENTION IS IMPORTANT; DEMOCRATS DON’T

National Journal Convention Insiders Poll finds 66% of Republicans think this week’s Republican National Convention is “very important” or “somewhat important” for their candidate to be elected president. In contrast, 59% of Democrats think the Democratic National Convention next week it’s “not very important” or “not at all important.”

SOCIAL MEDIA STAGED AT CONVENTIONS?

… Even the purveyors of the major social media outlets acknowledge that the seemingly altruistic goal — to use social media to connect the public to its leaders — can be manipulated just like many of the other tools of modern politics, from TV debates to attack ads.

… “Certainly, people and voters and activists are expecting an incredible amount of transparency at events like this and from the candidates,” said Vincent Harris, a prominent GOP digital strategist. “It almost borders on voyeurism. It’s almost like we’re heading towards a place where everything is constantly streaming.”

… Harris rejected the notion that social media sells a false bill of goods. “Is it a false sense of intimacy? No, because I don’t know how much more intimate or real you can get than having a camera in the front of the stage and the back of the stage and following Romney up into his bus and being in his bus with him,” Harris said.

THE WIZARDS BEHIND THE SCREENS AT THE RNC

The wizards behind the scenes managing the 13 screens of images behind Republican speakers on the stage in the Tampa Bay Times Forum hail from a small New Jersey-based company called Control Freak Systems, LLC. Their normal gigs are manipulating the images all over arenas for Foo Fighters, Journey and Prince concerts, among others.

For live TV, their resumes include the NBA All-Star Game and concerts. But part owner and system designer Dirk Sanders says the RNC is a whole different deal because “the messaging is way more specific. The technology used to play back the content is the same, but making sure we dig in and have the right images to support the messages of the convention is far more specific.”

The nightmare scenario: showing pictures that reflect a piece of a speech that the speaker hasn’t yet uttered. Still, the pressure is worth it for Sanders, a Republican. Helping to frame the images that will follow Mitt Romney for the rest of his career is “one of the great honors of my life.”

Sanders was asked if anyone had instructed him not to use images of President Barack Obama. He said no. Steve asked if there will be any, and Sanders said, “Not that I’ve seen up to this point.” But then Steve asked if he’d been instructed not to use images of former President George W. Bush. Sanders response: “I cannot say.”

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THE REAL PARTY BUSINESS IS BEHIND THE SCENES by the National Journal

This is our industry’s once-every-four-years gathering, where everybody’s in the same place at the same time,” said Mike Shields, political director at the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Because everybody’s here, if you’re sitting in your office in D.C., it’s very difficult to get somebody on the phone.”

NRCC has about two dozen staffers in Tampa this week. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has top political, communications, and fundraising staff in town; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and NRSC Chairman John Cornyn of Texas held a fundraiser for donors on Tuesday morning. NRCC Executive Director Guy Harrison and Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., held a briefing for reporters on Monday, and a handful of incumbents will hold fundraisers around the convention.

At least 34 fundraisers are scheduled for candidates and party committees in Tampa, according to invitations compiled by the Sunlight Foundation.

BUZZFEED TAKING OVER THE FLORIDA AQUARIUM via Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times

BuzzFeed will take over the Florida Aquarium, presenting an invitation-only reception after today’s events, further highlighting the website’s increased original content and political reporting. Organizers expect more than 200 people for the invitation-only event, scheduled from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m.

CONVERSATIONS WITH THE NEXT GENERATION FEATURING CHELSEA CLINTON & GEORGE P. BUSH

Chelsea Clinton will talk with George P. Bush, Rep. Aaron Schock  and Lisa Stickan, chairman of the Young Republicans National Federation. Former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee will also appear, along with MTV Correspondent Andrew Jenks and Ourtime.org’s Matt Segal. Clinton, representing NBC News, will moderate alongside National Journal’sChris Frates and Jim Tankersley.

EARLY COCKTAILS FOR MAJOR DONORS AT ST. PETE’S MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS via Sandra Gadsden of the Tampa Bay Times

The Museum of Fine Arts in St. Petersburg is closing early, at 3 p.m. today, to make way for an RNC cocktail party. It’s super secret, but it’s rumored to be for major donors. It’ll be really early for a cocktail party, beginning about 4:30 and ending at 7:30 so guests can move on to the convention. Invitation only.

FLORIDA LEGISLATIVE LEADERS TO HOST MAJOR FUNDRAISER

President Designate Don Gaetz, Speaker Designate Will Weatherford, Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, and Chairman Chris Dorworth will headline a major fundraiser to benefit Senate Majority 2012 & House Majority 2012.

The event is scheduled for 2:00 P.M. at the home of treasurer to the political stars Nancy Watkins and her husband Robert. Wellcare Health Plans is a featured sponsor.

HOME RUNS FOR HAPPY KIDS 

With the Rays out of town to play the Rangers, this private party at Tropicana Field starts at 10:30 a.m. with politicos and big donors indulging in batting practice and some fielding while they mingle with members of Congress and other VIPs. Proceeds benefit Tampa Bay Rays Baseball Foundation.

HUFFINGTON POST JOBS PANEL AND EXHIBITION

The Huffington Post will join LinkedIn, Starbucks, Microsoft, NBC News and major foundations to present a lunch and exhibition centered on job creation at the Cuban Club. Lunch panel includes Ohio Gov. John Kasich and conservative commentator Laura Ingraham.

MAVERICK PAC MAVBASH TONIGHT AT 10 P.M.

George P. Bush and Mav PAC hold Mav Bash at the RNC, a fundraiser for the PAC, which supports young-ish GOP candidates. How young? Young enough to stay out and attend a fundraiser that starts at 10 p.m. at the Florida Museum of Photographic Art.

RNC VISIONS LUNCHEON

A luncheon hosted by law firm Quarles & Brady honoring African-American Republicans will be held at Avila Country Clubhouse. Speakers include Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll and Congressman Allen West.

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SUPREME COURT TO HEAR PENSION CASE SEPT. 7 by David Royse of the News Service of Florida

The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments Sept. 7 about the constitutionality of a 2011 law that would require government workers to pay 3 percent of their incomes into the state retirement system. Leon County Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford this year struck down key parts of the law, finding that employees hired before July 1, 2011, could not be required to pay into the pension fund. Republican leaders appealed Fulford’s ruling, which led to the law remaining in effect while the legal fight continues. Along with state workers, the issue affects other government employees who are in the retirement system, such as teachers.

GRAYSON VS. LONG CONTEST IS AN APPARENT MISMATCH via The Orlando Sentinel

Todd Long won an improbable victory in the Aug. 14 Republican primary, but he may have to hit the political equivalent of the lottery to beat Democrat Alan Grayson when the two congressional candidates face each other in November.

KEITH FITZGERALD GOES NEGATIVE ON VERN BUCHANAN

Trailing by 22 points in the polls, Democrat Keith Fitzgerald is  preparing an attack website against his Republican opponent Rep. Vern Buchanan.

“Fitzgerald’s decision to make character assassination the central theme of his campaign is sad, disappointing and symbolic of everything that’s wrong with politics today,” said Buchanan spokeswoman Sally Tibbetts. “These types of sleazy attacks insult the intelligence of Florida voters and are why people hate Washington.”

Of course, Fitzgerald, a political science professor at New College, once denounced negative campaigning when it was used against him in earlier campaigns.

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THE 10 MOST MISERABLE SOUNDING EVENTS AT THE RNC via Vanity Fair: 10. “The Alabama delegation hosts a ‘Starship Cruise.’” … 5. “Kid Rock performs at the Liberty Plaza next to Tampa Forum.” … 3. “The Hill hosts a ‘Women to Watch’ party with Beam and Skinny Girl Cocktails at the Pop Up Nightclub Venue.”

ALOE TO SOOTHE THE BURN: Former GOP operative Roger Stone tells New York magazine he thinks politics has gotten a lot less interesting since his days as a Nixon campaign staffer, mainly because there are “fewer and fewer” dirty tricks. “They don’t even have any clean tricks. I don’t know how you run a one-dimensional campaign.”

MORE ALOE: Sarah Palin may not be in town for the Republican National Convention, but a look-alike got a lot of votes from patrons at Thee Doll House. Adult film actress Lisa Ann — who appeared as Alaska’s former governor in the political porn flick “Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?” — shook what her momma gave her, did the splits, spun on a polished chrome pole and a whole lot more in front of a packed house at the Tampa strip club.

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