Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Let the Sunshine!

Lead story on Florida late last night on Google News--"Is McCain Fighting a Losing Battle? by Time, describing him well as "typically stubborn, even righteous". The NY Times is worried about GOP acrimony (as the Dems wage an ugly war of identity politics). John Fund of the WSJ stands by his report yesterday:
McCain has told conservatives he would be happy to appoint the likes of Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court. But he indicated he might draw the line on a Samuel Alito, because "he wore his conservatism on his sleeve."
Audio of Fund on Mark Levin's show here. I would tend to trust Fund's memory. After all , McCain has already conveniently forgotten at least one other key remark to a WSJ columnist. Sounds like the "straight talker" needs to check his facts.

Meanwhile in the Sunshine State, Mitt Romney is having a good morning. NY Times:

Mr. Romney’s campaign has spent much time focusing on the so-called I-4 corridor, which stretches from Tampa to Orlando, as well as the Jacksonville area. Those two regions, his campaign believes, will account for more than half the Republican turnout.

His Florida field staff, in the midst of an enormous get-out-the-vote operation, telephoned more than 100,000 voters in 30 counties over the weekend, according to Mandy Fletcher, his state director. Volunteers are going door to door in population centers around the state, including Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale.

Mr. Romney built a sophisticated grass-roots and fund-raising operation in the state over the last year, while Mr. McCain has had virtually no Florida infrastructure since his campaign stalled over the summer. The Romney campaign believes its investment could make the difference on Tuesday.

Governor Romney received a key endorsement in the arena of foreign policy from Dr. Walid Phares, who rarely endorses candidates but felt strongly it was important to do so this time. HotAir's Bryan:

Dr. Walid Phares is among the pre-eminent anti-jihadists around. Dr. Phares is the author of Future Jihad and The War of Ideas, and appeared on two episodes of Hot Air’s Stak Attack last year. Among voters who rank the threat of international terrorism as a high priority, a Phares endorsement carries some weight.
Captain Ed also interviewed Mitt recently and noted this:
One answer in particular I found intriguing for its nuance. Rather than just issue a "I'll chase the terrorists to the gates of Hell" response, Mitt gave both a broader and more focused answer.
Via RCP, latest polls are tight, but indications are Mitt has the Big Mo. Survey USA Florida poll yesterday:

Romney 32 (+4 vs. last poll, Jan. 23-24)

McCain 31 (+1)

Giuliani 16 (-2)

Huckabee 13 (-1)

Paul 5 (-1)

Also yesterday PPP, which was the closest to predicting the Dems' contest in South Carolina:
Mitt Romney 35
John McCain 28
Mike Huckabee 13
Rudy Giuliani 12
Ron Paul 5

Mitt Romney has opened up a seven point in Florida, based largely on support he has picked up in the last week. 40% of respondents said they made up their mind either over the weekend or in the last week. Romney has a 47-28 advantage among folks who said they decided who to vote for in the last week, and a 36-26 lead with people who decided over the weekend.

Romney also has a good amount of support in the bank, regardless of what happens in tomorrow's voting. His lead over McCain is 39-30 among the 25% of folks polled who said they had already voted.
[Note that PPP is not included in the Florida RCP average of polls, I don't know why] And Rasmussen shows Governor nationally pulling ahead of McCain. Polls are just that until election day. It's here for Florida.

UPDATE: Rush on McCain ridiculing the private sector by his campaign's claiming they can just say do it and it can just get done. Rush says to McCain this doesn't happen magically, he misses the number one problem business has--government over-regulation which chokes job growth.

Rush quotes McCain who says--I served for patriotism, not profit. What is that. But he hasn't had to manage for profit, quotes John Locke out of North Carolina--his father-in law has. (Video on that here) Liberal knee-jerk opposition by McCain.

UPDATE: Romney campaign on McCainonomics: TOP 10 REASONS WHY SEN. MCCAIN STILL NEEDS "TO BE EDUCATED" ON ECONOMICS. Here's one: "When the most important pro-growth tax cuts in a generation were proposed by President George W. Bush in 2001 and 2003, Sen. McCain vigorously opposed them." – Club For Growth President Pat Toomey (Pat Toomey, Op-Ed, "The McCain Record," The Wall Street Journal, 3/13/07)

UPDATE: Do Republicans want to rely on John McCain, a man who ridicules the private sector and has drawn a government paycheck for years, to make the tax cuts permanent as president? Via HotAir, this video:

UPDATE: Ambinder on the absentees:

As of yesterday, 301,024 Republicans had turned in absentee ballots in Florida and another 288, 025 had voted early.

Rudy Giuliani's campaign tried to collect absentees early -- before voting started. They were moderately successful, according to the campaign's tracking. Since Giuliani's core pool of supporters is said to overlap with McCain's, McCain is said to be at a disadvantage here.

Mitt Romney's campaign tried to collect absentees late. Initially, they hoped that Romney victories in Iowa and New Hampshire would boost their efforts. Whoops. BUT -- victories in Michigan and Nevada and Wyoming and Romney's enduring viability probably helped their collection.

Ambinder also on Romney's ad advantage.

UPDATE: Caller to Rush from Jacksonville says he admires McCain's service, has been getting robocalls, a way over the top attack on Romney about gun control, and McCain cites his military service, BUT the caller says-- Jimmy Carter was a navy commander--(you can finish the phrase).

UPDATE: Independents voting for McCain in this closed primary:
In northern Coral Springs, near the Sawgrass Expressway and Coral Ridge Drive, David Nirenberg arrived to vote as an independent. Nevertheless, he said poll workers insisted he choose a party ballot.

"He said to me, 'Are you Democrat or Republican?' I said, 'Neither, I am independent.' He said, 'Well, you have to pick one,''' Nirenberg said.

In Florida, only those who declare a party are allowed to cast a vote in that party's presidential primary.

Nirenberg said he tried to explain to the poll worker that he should not vote on a party ballot because of his "no party affiliation" status.

Nirenberg said a second poll worker was called over who agreed that independents should not use party ballots, but said they had received instructions to the contrary.

"He said, 'Ya know, that is kind of funny, but it was what we were told.' … I was shocked when they told me that." Nirenberg said he went ahead and voted for John McCain.
Reports are Romney legal team is on it.

UPDATE: Interactive Florida map, WaPo. Also they have a post on McCain's ties to lobbyists, throwing a fundraiser last night in DC:
Many of the sponsors of the function at Charlie Palmer's Steakhouse are Washington lobbyists, who have become a staple of his fundraising effort, according to a review released today by the advocacy group Public Citizen. The group found that McCain has more bundlers -- people who gather checks from their networks of friends and associates -- than any other presidential candidate from either party.
UPDATE: Mixed bag on polls out this morning. Very tight. NRO
with ARG, Mitchell show Mitt up by 2 (supposedly it's one of the best):

Mitchell Interactive’s final poll in South Carolina showed McCain winning by 3%, he won by 3%. In Michigan, the company was the only pollster polling during the last week to have Romney ahead. Its final poll had Romney leading by 6%, he won by 9%.

Reuters/Zogby tracking is McCain plus 4 (they lean left)
Insider Advantage, McCain by 1, both trending up so it could go either way--it's a statistical tie.

UPDATE: Rush says McCain is doing sleazy robo-calls misrepresenting Romney on abortion, quotes George Will saying McCain is Clintonian. Mark Levin agrees with John Hood (not Locke, thought it was the think tank) going after McCain on the patriotism not profit line.

UPDATE: Here's the robo call audio, transcript: Transcript of anti-Romney robo-call:

"I'm calling with an urgent Mitt Romney voter alert." "We care deeply about traditional values and protecting families and need someone who will not [inaudible] in the White House, ending abortion, preserving the sanctity of marriage, [inaudible] the trash on the airwaves and attempts to ban God from every corner of society. These issues are core to our being."

"Mitt Romney seems to think he can fool us." "He supported abortion on-demand, even wrote a law mandating tax payer funding for abortions." "He says he changed his mind but he still hasn't changed the law." "He told gay organizers in Massachusetts he would be a stronger advocate for [inaudible] rights than even Ted Kennedy, now it's something different."

"Unfortunately, on issue after issue, Mitt Romney has treated special issues voters as fools, thinking they won't catch on." "Sorry Mitt, we know you're aren't trust-worthy on the most important issues and you aren't a conservative."

"Paid for by John McCain 2008"

-End transcript
UPDATE: Drive by primary results. Tampa Tribune:

Two outdoor advertising companies are going to play their part on primary day by posting the results on electronic billboards throughout the state, including the Bay area.

Clear Channel Outdoor and Lamar Outdoor Advertising will dedicate about three-dozen digital billboards to alerting passersby with updated election tabulations once the polls close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. They will continue updating through 11 p.m. as the state Divisions of Elections updates its website, and will display the final results.

UPDATE: Voting problems again in Broward

UPDATE: As we also remember, there are two time zones:
Polls open at 7:00 am ET and close at 7:00 pm ET in most parts of the state; in the panhandle that’s in Central Time, it’s 8:00 am ET and 8:00 pm ET. So there will be no call or even a characterization of the race until 8:00 pm ET.
UPDATE: Illegal voting may skew results--report from a Mitt blogger.

Rush is playing McCain parodies.

UPDATE: Rich Lowry defends Romney from McCain attack on the surge.

Kagan supports McCain attack. More from Lowry. also here.

found the John Hood quote, this is part of it:

For those who don't comprehend why many conservatives are so hostile to John McCain, I'd call their attention to how The Wall Street Journal quoted him today, in response to Mitt Romney touting his business credentials:

"I did not manage, I led ... And I didn't manage for profit, I led for patriotism."

McCain can certainly sound fiscally conservative when he wants to, but this is a revealing quote. At his core, McCain just doesn't display much of an affinity for free-market capitalism.
UPDATE: Rich Lowry thinks Romney can win in November. Kathryn Jean Lopez thinks he will win Florida today.

UPDATE: In case you missed this on McCain's temperament. More voter feedback from an MSNBC story from yesterday's campaigning:
In the Jacksonville area voters were making up their minds Monday.

“I’m leaning, but undecided,” said John Billings, a retired financial executive on Amelia Island, north of Jacksonville. “I will make that decision before midnight tonight. I liked McCain's stand on the military. He’s one of the few people who don’t want to pull 50,000 or 100,000 troops out of Iraq tomorrow without thinking about the consequences. There are not too many people who do think about those consequences.”

But he added, “Romney is very appealing. It’s either going to be one or the other.”

Billings said he admired Romney’s “business acumen. He’s got a very fine business mind.”

He added that he and his wife had seen all the GOP presidential hopefuls in Orlando last October. “I was very impressed with Giuliani. I think he spoke very, very well. But he has shot himself in the foot, and today I don’t think he stands a chance in hell of even coming in third tomorrow.”

Asked why he liked Romney, Fernandina Beach real estate broker Steven Traver said, “First of all he looks like a president to me. I did one of those surveys on the web and you put down all your thinking and McCain came up first. But just watching him in the debate I think Romney has so much more of a presidential bearing and presence.”

He said there were a few issues on which he did not agree with Romney, “but I think Ann Coulter convinced me that just because he differs with me on a woman’s right to choose,[???] that doesn’t mean he’s going to do it (restrict abortion), because he didn’t in Massachusetts. I wouldn’t want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.”

As for McCain, Traver said, “I think he’s a little older than I’d like to see a president be.” McCain is 71 years old; Romney is 60. [snip]

Lillie Bowman who showed up at the rally in Jacksonville airport to cheer on Romney Monday night said McCain was “a very liberal Republican” and “old Washington.”

UPDATE: Jay Cost, the HorseRace Blog, RCP on how to read the early results (the nomination process not today's)

UPDATE: Just saw Carl Cameron's report on FoxNews. Showed clips of both Romney and McCain. I don't know if Cameron misspoke or if he was quoting McCain but he said McCain was accusing Romney of "having a secret plan to withdraw from Iraq" !!!! So now this has morphed to a totally outrageous lie if this is a direct quote.

UPDATE: Lead AP story up on Drudge with this final bit:

The Romney campaign also reported numerous negative phone calls, accusing him incorrectly of supporting taxpayer-funded abortions, opposing President Bush's tax cuts and favoring direct talks with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

The McCain campaign said it was not responsible for the calls.

UPDATE: Are Huckabee's supporters violating campaign finance law?

UPDATE: HotAir on a Romney interview:
It starts off reasonably enough, but Romney starts to school host Tampa Bay 1040 WWBA host Mark Larsen and by extension Ron Paul on taxes and entitlements and you can feel the rails start to give way. When Romney has the audacity of hope to laugh at Paul for suggesting that the way to keep the nation secure is to jettison our intelligence agencies and blame ourselves when jihadists attack, well, the rails fly apart. Romney senses the madness and leaves the host to his rant. Turns out there was a Ronulan underneath the whole time.
Chuck Norris now apologizing for attacking McCain on age, now saying Romney is trying to buy the election. A full-blown McCain-Huck anti-Mitt alliance. The peddlers of Leftie-envy. How about that possible campaign finance reform violation, hmm?

UPDATE: Get this--McCain campaign now admits responsibility for those sleazy, lying robocalls, after just denying it (see above)

UPDATE: Tomorrow night is the California Republican debate. McCain is going on Leno Thursday night.

UPDATE: Via Drudge, Orlando Sentinal reporting one voter was told there was no Dem primary today. More:
Sheneka McDonald spent 10 minutes trying to convince poll workers at the same precinct that she should have a Democratic ballot. She questioned poll workers when she was handed a Republican ballot but was told, "this is the only ballot we have."

"I said, 'How can this be the only ballot,'" McDonald recalled. "That's when the guy chimed in from the back and said the Democratic primary was in March."

The poll captain eventually apologized to McDonald and told her they had forgotten to unpack all the ballots. "It was a little unnerving this morning," she said. "I don't see how you forget to unpack ballots. This is what gives Florida its reputation."

Sharon McDonald said she was given an independent ballot at the Astatula Community Center in Lake County, even though she told the poll workers she was a registered Democrat.

She said she was told that the Democratic primary votes didn't count, so she did not question the ballot. "Shame on me," said McDonald, a homemaker.

A call to the Lake County supervisor of elections office was not immediately returned.
UDPATE: Sarasota replacing 6 voting machines, in the meantime people voted on paper ballots. House passes stimulus package

UPDATE: Turnout may be higher than expected. Ambinder specific link not working--here's the text:
A McCain campaign spokesperson says that a robocall accusing Gov. Mitt Romney of once favoring "special rights" for gay people is no longer in the campaign's rotation
UPDATE: WaPo, The Trail, "McCain's credentials as a champion of bipartisanship are unquestioned"

UPDATE: South Florida Sun Sentinal:
Early reports showed few problems at polling precincts. All polls in Broward County opened on time but two, said Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes. One opened five minutes late, another 10 minutes late, she said. In Palm Beach County, officials reported mostly smooth openings at most of the 780 voting precincts Tuesday morning. On the ballot: Democratic and Republican candidates for president and a controversial property tax amendment to the state's Constitution that needs more than 60 percent of voters' approval to pass.

Long lines formed at two Century Village retirement communities in Pembroke Pines and Deerfield Beach when machines used to verify a voter's identification malfunctioned when swiping a driver's license.
Carl Cameron says 40% turnout.

UPDATE: Bill Hemmer on with the Romney campaign. Says they are working their key votes in a zig-zag pattern, starting in the southwest with Naples, then north to Tampa, St. Pete, and up northeast to Jacksonville. He said they say you can tell a lot by the body language of the campaign workers, they were very subdued in New Hampshire when he was there, they are very upbeat today.

Cavuto showed a clip of Mitt (his voice is hoarse, he's stumping hard), made an appeal on immigration today.
UPDATE: More news from the infamous Broward County:

The design of Broward County’s absentee ballots, price of the postage and lack of privacy about votes cast are worrying some residents this primary day, according to Jessie Guido, an aide to Pompano Beach Commissioner Kay McGinn, and to Oakland Park Commissioner Suzanne Boisvenue.

At issue is the absentee ballot design.

The ballot came with a legal-sized page of instructions that was to be folded over the ballot into a makeshift “secrecy envelope,” then inserted into a mailing envelope that required 97-cents postage.

Some voters worried that a vote would be disqualified if the instruction sheet was not folded properly. They also worried that a voter’s privacy is violated with the folded paperwork.

“It seems we’re doing everything we can to stymie voters in this county,” said Guido, who has heard from a half dozen neighbors in her Sea Monarch condo about how to fold the instruction sheet and the nearly $1 postage. “People are going bananas.”

Mary Cooney, Public Services Director of the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office, said the county worked with the post office in designing the envelope. She said the post office set the price of postage.

“Ballots will be accepted if the 'secrecy' envelope is not folded correctly and if there is not enough postage, there is a risk, but it would be accepted with postage due,” Cooney said.

But ballot design may be beside the point. Voters waiting until the last minute may not have his or her ballot count.

“Even if it’s mailed today, if we don’t get it by 7 p.m., it will not be counted,” Cooney said. “Voters who have not already mailed their ballot may take it to our main office at 115 South Andrews Avenue, Room 102 in Fort Lauderdale. The building will remain open until 7 p.m.”

UPDATE: Hugh Hewitt, who as we know likes Mitt Romney, discusses the drop in consumer confidence (report out) and its impact.

UPDATE: New endorsement--Janet Reno endorses Hillary. Put that one in just for laughs.

UPDATE: Since Bill Hemmer mentioned Naples, Tampa/St. Pete, and Jacksonville I have linked to newspapers there. Don't know if they are the major ones I just googled. Interesting stuff from Naples, which is posting exit polls and vignettes:

Republican presidential primary

Mitt Romney - 107

John McCain - 66

Rudy Giuliani - 32

Mike Huckabee - 15

Fred Thompson – 3

Ron Paul - 2

Democratic presidential primary

Hillary Clinton - 48

John Edwards - 15

Barack Obama - 15

Joe Biden - 2

Property Tax Amendment

FOR - 310


Some guy flew down from Chicago to vote for Obama: (Hillary take note to check he doesn't double vote. Good luck in Chicago, the Big O's home territory) --
Naples resident Dan Olsen flew in from Chicago just to vote this week. Olsen is a registered voter in Florida, but lives part time in Chicago. He said Tuesday he wanted to come down and cast a vote for Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. "He's going to win Illinois," Olsen said. "He needed my vote here, rather than up there."
Another one:
He overheard 71-year-old Jim tell a reporter that he lives in Shadow Wood and works as an independent consultant, prompting Malson to quip, "Nobody works in Shadow Wood."

Alright, so, Malson on the candidates: "I didn't like McCain. He seems too liberal...Romney has a good shot at it."

Malson on the biggest issues this year: "Probably Iraq and taxes."

On the war: "We're going to stay until we win."

On the economy: "Lower taxes, less regulation, leave business alone."

Malson's job: Manufactures nuts and bolts.

I found this quote hilarious:
“I voted for McCain because he says what he really believes,” said Bonita Springs resident Jan McGriff, who would only give her age as more than 70.
Jacksonville links prominently to some photos of Mitt.


There is a touch of irony in Mitt Romney’s choice of a location for his Florida primary election night party.

It’s being held at the Lyceum Theatre in downtown St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker is a vice chair of Romney’s Florida campaign. Baker and Florida Gov. Charlie Crist attended college together and are political allies. But Crist, who was born and raised in St. Petersburg and still lives here, has endorsed John McCain.

So, the two political heavyweights from this city are backing different candidates. Romney made a campaign appearance in Tampa this morning but has no other scheduled public appearances until he steps onto the stage at the Lyceum tonight.
Media swarming around St. Pete, Romney campaign. Video:

UPDATE: El Rushbo votes in Palm Beach. Jonathan Martin, The Politico. And strong turnout in Pasco. Romney territory?

UPDATE: Romney Florida rally. MSNBC. They describe it as weak turnout--let's hope that means everyone was out voting or on GOTV efforts. One graf:
“Right down the hall today, in this very building, there are 700 people assembled,” Romney threw into his speech. “These are people who stood in line -- most of them for years and years -- and worked hard to come to this country legally. Those people are Sworn in as citizens of the United States of America, and we salute them. And we say to the millions of people who have come to this country illegally, ‘Stand back and get in line!” Romney said to wild applause.
UPDATE: McCain did 10million robocalls WaPo reports.

OK, what a day. Am off to watch FoxNews. Cross our fingers for MITT!

Related posts: Romney Answers McCain Attacks, Oink Oink McCain, Romney Comes to Chicago This Sat. 2/2, Main St. for Mitt, Mitt's the Conservative Choice, GOP Illinois, Focus on the Race

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