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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill Clinton to rally for Gwen Graham

Bill Clinton will appear at a rally for Gwen Graham on Oct. 26 in Tallahassee, adding star power to neck-and-neck race with incumbent Republican Rep. Steve Southerland.

The event will be held at Florida A&M Quad and lands in the only Sunday of early voting -- the "souls to the polls" day that could drive a critical African American vote. Admission is free and doors will open at noon, according to the campaign.

“There is so much at stake for the middle class in this election – from expanding our economy to protecting Social Security and Medicare to ending the partisan dysfunction of Congress," Graham said. "Now more than ever, we need to bring the North Florida Way of cooperation, independence and problem solving back to Washington – and I am so excited that President Clinton will be here to help remind North Floridians to make their voices heard by casting their ballots.”

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Video: Crist stops by Jacksonville campaign office, says Obama visit unlikely

Crist and his wife, Carole, stopped by a campaign field office in Jacksonville on Wednesday, where he greeted volunteers and sat down to talk about issues with five college students.

They talked about Gov. Rick Scott's cuts to education early in his term, why they should vote, and Crist's decision to restore voting rights for non-violent felons who have served their time. He urged the students to get the word out to encourage people to show up at the polls but, in what is a measure of the size of that hurdle, only two of the students present were registered to vote in Florida. (Two were from other states.)  

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Hospitals, AHCA quibble over emergency care for undocumented immigrants

A coalition of Florida hospitals is challenging a state policy on emergency care for undocumented immigrants.

The coalition, which includes Broward Health and Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, says the state Agency for Health Care Administration has been unlawfully limiting payments to hospitals that provide emergency services to undocumented immigrants.

"There clearly is a federal intent that these hospitals be paid, and the state is supposed to follow it," said Joanne B. Erde, a Miami attorney representing the hospitals. "It is a condition of participating in the Medicaid program."

The state Agency for Health Care Administration, or AHCA, says it is has followed the law.

"We believe the agency is in compliance with federal and state laws with regard to payment of claims for undocumented aliens," spokeswoman Shelisha Coleman said.

Read more here.

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Telephone town hall urges women to vote

Thousands of women across Florida took place in a telephone town hall Wednesday night aimed at getting out the vote.

Speakers included Sybrina Fulton, the mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin; Jeanette Wynn, president of AFSCME Florida Council 79; Monica Russo, president of the SEIU Florida State Council; and Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition.

The call had a decidedly liberal bent. The panelists addressed the importance of public education, Medicaid expansion and raising the minimum wage.

Wynn stressed that women could make a difference in the razor-tight contest for governor.

"It is crucial that we all understand the important role we will play in determining the future of this state and this country," the union leader said. "If enough women turn out to vote, it will be the deciding factor."

Experts say women tend to support Democratic candidates. An Oct. 22 poll from Quinnipiac University shows Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist leading Republican incumbent Rick Scott among female voters, 45-39. 

The panel also answered some questions from participants. Among them: …

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Rubio campaigns in South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida gave what sounded a lot like a speech from a presidential candidate during a visit with South Carolina Republicans on Wednesday.

Rubio told reporters afterward that he hasn't made any plans for re-election or a presidential run in 2016. But in his 20-minute speech in the state that will cast the first presidential primary ballots in the South, he only briefly mentioned the GOP's candidates, spending most of his time outlining his conservative, populist vision to improve America.

Rubio called for more school choice and said college needs to be more affordable, citing student loan debt of $100,000 after he got his law degree. He also said Republicans need an alternative to the new health care law back by President Barack Obama instead of simply promising to overturn it.

Rubio also talked about his upbringing, recalling days sitting and listening to stories from his grandfather, who came to the United States several years after Rubio's parents arrived in the country from Cuba. He said his grandfather instilled a love of the American dream that he wants to bring back. …

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Video: Rudy Giuliani's revenge on Charlie Crist

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who says Charlie Crist promised him his endorsement for president in 2008 before endorsing John McCain, campaigned in Miami today for Rick Scott.


Here's what Giuliani had to say about Rick Scott in 2010, as Scott was about to snatch the Republican gubernatorial nomination away from Giuliani's former Florida chairman, Attorney General Bill McCollum:

" This is not a guy who should be governor, it is as simple as that ." Giuliani said about Scott, the former head of the Columbia/ HCA hospital chain that in the 90's was immersed in  the largest Medicare fraud case in history. Scott's former company ended up paying 1.7 billion dollars in fines and penalties.

 "If we nominate somebody who has had serious fraud problems in the health care system that is going to be a big mistake," Giuliani said to reporters outside a Boca Raton Republican event.

" There is not going to be a lot of credibility fighting (President Obama's )health care with somebody who has had very very serious problems: one of the largest Medicare frauds in the history of this country," he added.

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Scott tells Miami reporter 'I'll be investing' in his own campaign after all

Rick Scott 2014With less than two weeks before Election Day, Gov. Rick Scott acknowledged Wednesday that he will write a personal check to the Republican Party of Florida to fund his campaign.

In an interview to air Sunday on CBS4’s Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede, Scott told DeFede he "will be investing" in the campaign that has already spent more than $83 million, but he refused to say how much he or his family will spend. 

"We’ll put our report out at the end of the month,'' Scott said, responding that they haven't determined the amount.

The acknowledgement that Florida's millionaire governor is prepared to self-fund a fraction of his spending is a sign that the too-close-to-call race may have tapped out the governor's prodigious fundraising machine. Until last week, Scott's Let's Get to Work Committee had been consistently raising more than Charle Crist's political committee but the numbers switched earlier this month and last week Crist reported out-raising Scott six to one.

Last week, rumors surfaced that Scott was prepared to plow as much as $22 million of his fortunes into the campaign to keep his job.  …

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Here's the latest anti-Charlie Crist TV spot

Released by the Republican Party of Florida, the latest ad continues with the familiar slick politician/lousy governor theme.

There are two ways to look at the pre-Election Day ballots being cast in Florida: compare them to 2012 or 2010. Full Story

Teachers union re-files challenge to controversial education law

The statewide teachers union has re-filed its lawsuit challenging the way a controversial education bill became law.

The original lawsuit targeted a law that both expanded the school voucher program and created new scholarships for children with disabilities. The Florida Education Association argued that the law violated a constitutional provision limiting legislative proposals to a single subject.

A judge dismissed the suit in September, saying the Lee County teacher who was named as the plaintiff did not have legal standing to bring the case. 

The union refiled the complaint Wednesday with three additional plaintiffs, each of whom are Miami-Dade parents.

The FEA, the Florida School Boards Association and several other groups have filed a separate lawsuit alleging the voucher program itself is unconstitutional. A hearing on Dec. 5 will determine whether 15 families can intervene in support of the program.

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Should we compare this year's early votes to '10 or '12? Either way, GOP is winning

Marc Caputo crunches the numbers:

There are two ways to look at the pre-Election Day ballots being cast in Florida: compare them to 2012 or 2010.

Republicans would prefer 2012. It was a high watermark for Democrats with Obama at the top of the ticket and, within two days of early in-person voting, they started to eclipse the Republican advantage rolled up after two weeks of absentee voting. Democats wound up with a total 1 percentage point lead, after having trailed by about 6 percentage points.

Democrats would prefer 2010 as a benchmark. It was a high watermark for Republicans, with Marco Rubio at the top of the ticket and, within two days of early in-person voting, Democrats were losing the in-person early vote by 11.3 percentage points in the first two days in this election. Now Democrats are down 0.18 percentage points to Republicans in early votes cast. The absentee margin for Republicans was bigger in 2010 as well: 22 percentage points. Now it’s 12.8 percentage points. …

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Judge recuses herself in Sheldon's lawsuit against the governor

As proof of how small-town Tallahassee can be, Circuit Court Judge Angela Dempsey on Tuesday recused herself from hearing the lawsuit filed by Democrat Attorney General candidate George Sheldon against Gov. Rick Scott. 

Sheldon is alleging that the governor has failed to report more than $200 million in assets on his state financial disclosure form in violation of the Florida Constitution. His lawsuit, filed two weeks ago, was assigned to Dempsey, appointed to the bench by former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Dempsey, however, had previously been represented by Scott's general counsel, Pete Antonacci, on an ethics charge and Sheldon said that posed an inherent conflict of interest. Dempsey was charged with inflating her record in campaign materials and received a public reprimand from the Florida Supreme Court

Sheldon, a former deputy attorney general under Bob Butterworth, is running against Republican Pam Bondi. Sheldon also noted that Dempsey's former husband, Hayden Dempsey, worked as legislative director for Scott early in his term. …

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Fact-checking the final Rick Scott-Charlie Crist debate

The gloves came off in Jacksonville on Tuesday night, as the third and final gubernatorial debate between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist was marked by insults, arguments and accusations.

The governor and the former governor took each other to task over their respective records, charging each other with mud-slinging and twisting the facts.

CNN moderator Jake Tapper brought up topics like Ebola, executions and Florida State football, but the candidates managed to go back to familiar talking points several times. Both Scott and Crist still talked at length about immigration, the cost of living and believe it or not, jobs.

We took a look at some key claims brought up during the debate, and will highlight some familiar talking points we’ve examined before. In the days ahead, we’ll post fact-checks of new claims from the debate and update this story.

See our fact-checks so far from the debate.

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Crist and Scott deadlocked at 42 percent each in Q poll

From a press release:

Women and men are polar opposites in the Florida governor’s race, as likely voters split 42 – 42 percent between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist, running as a Democrat, with 7 percent for Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

This compares to results of a September 24 survey by the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University, showing Gov. Scott with 44 percent of likely voters, Crist with 42 percent and Wyllie with 8 percent.

With Wyllie out of the race, Scott and Crist still are locked at 44 – 44 percent.

Men and women just about cancel each other out in the three-way matchup. Scott leads Crist among men 46 – 38 percent, with 10 percent for Wyllie, while Crist leads Scott 45 – 39 percent among women, with 6 percent for Wyllie.

Crist gets 41 percent of independent voters, to Scott’s 38 percent, with 11 percent for Wyllie. Republicans back Scott over Crist 81 – 7 percent, with 6 percent for Wyllie. Democrats go to Crist over Scott 86 – 5 percent, with 3 percent for Wyllie.

Among those who already have voted, Crist gets 42 percent to Scott’s 38 percent. …

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Here's the Florida GOP's favorite moment of gov debate

The Florida GOP is sending far and wide a clip from the CNN gubernatorial debate where Charlie Crist suggests "It's worth it" if someone loses their job because of a minimum wage increase.


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Video highlights of the final Rick Scott-Charlie Crist debate

Video clips from the CNN debate:

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