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The week that was in Florida politics: Mitt, Isaac and a guy named Clint

By on September 1, 2012

Republican Mitt Romney came to Tampa this week to celebrate his long-sought presidential nomination, even getting help — albeit unusual help — from actor Clint Eastwood.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Isaac posed an uncomfortable question for Floridians and thousands of convention-goers: “Do you feel lucky?”

Thankfully, they were lucky. But the same can’t be said for folks in Louisiana who got blasted by Isaac after it spun up the gulf and turned into a hurricane.

A round-up via the News Service of Florida.

REPUBLICANS TAKE AIM AT OBAMA

By the time Romney took the stage Thursday night at the Republican National Convention, his supporters had already spent three days making argument after argument about why President Obama should be ousted from the White House.

Romney, however, took a somewhat-different tack. He expressed disappointment that Obama had been unable to do a better job with the economy after getting elected for years ago as a sign of America’s promise.

“America’s been patient,” Romney said. “Americans have supported this president in good faith. But today, the time has come to turn the page. Today the time has come for us to put the disappointments of the last four years behind us, and put aside the divisiveness and the recriminations — to forget about what might have been and to look ahead to what can be. Now is a time to restore the promise of America.”

But Romney wasn’t above taking shots at the president — drawing applause from the Republican faithful gathered at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

“President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet,” Romney said mockingly. “My promise is to help you and your family.”

The Romney campaign also used the convention to try to better introduce the former Massachusetts governor to voters, after months of attacks by the Obama campaign and Democrats about issues such as the Republican’s business record. Romney’s wife, Ann, drew widespread praise for a speech she gave about the nominee, and the crowd heard emotional addresses Thursday night from people who received help from Romney while he served as a lay leader of his church.

Befitting the site of the convention — and Florida’s crucial role in the November election — some of the state’s most-prominent Republicans also got a chance to share the limelight. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, for example, introduced Romney on Thursday night and criticized Obama’s handling of the presidency.

“Our problem is not that he’s a bad person,” Rubio said. “Our problem is that he’s a bad president.”

Also given a speaking slot Thursday night was former Gov. Jeb Bush, who detoured from a prepared education address to defend his brother, former President George W. Bush. He challenged Obama for continuing to remind voters about inheriting a deeply troubled economy from George W. Bush in 2009.

“So Mr. President, it is time to stop blaming your predecessor for your failed economic policies,” Jeb Bush said. “You were dealt a tough hand, but your policies have not worked.”

But one of the most-discussed parts of the convention was an odd — some would say downright bizarre — appearance Thursday night by Eastwood. The actor had a dialogue with an empty chair that he said represented Obama.

ISAAC ON THE MOVE

With Tropical Storm Isaac threatening the state, Monday’s opening-day events at the Republican convention were largely called off. But in the end, the storm churned past Tampa and left the state relatively unscathed.

The storm caused flooding in portions of Palm Beach County but saved its worst for Louisiana, as it revisited New Orleans on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. This time, the levies held.

Gov. Rick Scott missed most of the convention as he became commander in chief of Florida’s preparation efforts. Meeting daily with reporters and a wider television audience, Scott gave up his speaking spot at the convention. But arguably, he spent more time on national TV as he became a morning fixture discussing the storm.

“My job is to make sure that the 19 million people who live in our state are safe along with all our visitors, including the delegates to the RNC,” Scott said. “Everybody here (is) focused on the safety of everybody in our state.”

Isaac spent much of the week as a tropical storm, reaching hurricane strength shortly before landfall in southeast Louisiana.

In typical Scott fashion, the governor didn’t waste valuable TV time. He put on his tourism hat and urged folks to spend their Labor Day weekend on Florida’s Isaac-free shores.

STORY OF THE WEEK: Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney accepted the Republican nomination for president at the party’s convention in Tampa.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “When somebody does not do the job, you got to let them go,” actor Clint Eastwood said of President Obama.

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