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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Obama camp was skeptical about Fla prospects until Sept



For Democratic presidential candidates, Florida has long been a risky bet. Republicans in modern history have had no choice but play hard to win the state, but for Democrats the Sunshine State an immensely expensive and complex target that ultimately they don't have to win.

Even as they spent millions building up a massive ground operation in Florida for much of 2009 and 2010, top Obama advisers remained uncertain about whether to fully commit to the state until two months before the election.

But after the national conventions, team Obama decided to to go all in to win Florida's 29 electoral votes, campaign officials recounted the other day at a conference at Harvard's Institute of Politics.

"One of the things we had discussed internally was the state of Florida and how we were going to treat Florida. We had made a decision that we were going to wait until mid-September, after the conventions, and see where we were in Florida before we fully committed. We were in, we had invested a lot in Florida, but we hadn't been in Miami, for example, the Miami media market," senior adviser David Axelrod said. "When we emerged from the conventions not only had we gotten a little bump in our numbers but we saw that Florida remained very competitive despite the fact that they had their convention there. And we made decision to go full-out in Florida."

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina: "The Florida decision was a big decision for us. It was a $40-million decision and decided right after the convention we were going to go and go hard. That was a big moment...They didn't do enough to fix their Latino problem in their convention - although I thought Rubio gave a great speech. We looked at that and said, 'We're going all the way in in Florida," he said, adding that Paul Ryan's addition to the ticket and the potential impact on seniors also factored into the decision.

Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades acknowledged the campaign's struggle to win Hispanic voters, at least in Florida and Nevada: "We obviously had some work to do on the Hispanic voter front...We put a focus on the Hispanic vote in Florida. We shifted resources to try to improve our numbers with Hispanics in Florida. We also did the same in Nevada. We did see some Florida but we definitely had issues that we inherited...The long slog primary didn't help for sure, but we did make a concerted effort to move numbers, and I think we had some success in Florida.

They may have moved some numbers, but Romney still overwhelmingly lost among Florida Hispanics, with exit polls showing he won just 39 percent of the vote compared to 60 percent for Obama.


[Last modified: Monday, December 3, 2012 2:40pm]


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