Parties, rallies on tap as candidates come to town
The candidates are descending on St. Petersburg this week and their plans surrounding Wednesday night's debate are forming. Stay tuned for photo dispatches from both inside and outside the debate hall, traffic news and debate analysis.
In the meantime, take a sneak peak at a few questions asked by Tampa Bay residents.
What's going on in town:
Mitt Romney: His five sons will play "turkey bowl" or flag football Wednesday with supporters, including state Rep. Trey Traviesa, R-Tampa. They'll start at 11 a.m. at Flora Wylie Park, 901 Northshore Drive NE. Later Wednesday, the Romney campaign and supporters plan to gather for Tampa Bay's GOP straw poll and debate-watching barbecue from 4 to 10 p.m. at Vinoy Park, 501 5th Ave. NE.
Fred Thompson: Fredheads are gathering at parties across the state. Hosts who sign up through the campaign Web site, www.fred08.com, get access to a 7:15 p.m. audio Webcast featuring Thompson's wife, Jeri, and other guests. Three local parties are planned: in Tampa, at the home of Teal and Arlo Henderson (phone: 813-792-8444) on San Chaliford Court north of Oldsmar; in Plant City, at the home of Heather Wiggins (phone: 813-313-8991) on Popes Trail Lane; and in Palm Harbor at a party hosted by Thompson campaign staffer Jennifer Marks (850-459-0642) on Melanie Way.
Ron Paul: Local supporters have rented out the Palladium Theater for a debate watching party and rally Wednesday. Admission is $10 and Paul, a congressman from Texas, is expected to address supporters after the CNN event. More information is available at www.ronpauldebate.com.
Dodd has a question
Among the 5,000 video questions submitted for the Republican candidates was one from Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who is running for president.
"Hi, I'm Chris Dodd," he says in the video. "I'm from East Haddam, Connecticut ... and my family and I are spending a little time in Iowa these days.
"I have a question about the Constitution. Many Americans are concerned that the administration seems to be making a false choice. That is to be safer, we have to give up rights. I don't believe that; I wonder if you do. And if you believe we ought not to give up our rights, what would you do in order to protect our Constitution?"
CNN bus has USF stop
Didn't have time to ask a question for Wednesday's debate, but still have something to say? CNN's Election Express Yourself bus will stop at the University of South Florida's St. Petersburg campus from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. today to collect opinions on Iraq, the economy and whatever else comes to mind. The bus, which also features interactive displays, will be parking at 7th Avenue South and 2nd Street across from Davis Hall.
Invitees only at debate
If you're not an invited guest, you won't be sitting inside the Mahaffey Theater for Wednesday night's CNN/YouTube Republican debate. CNN spokeswoman Edie Emery said seating is by invitation only, with tickets allotted to debate partners, sponsors, campaigns and venue hosts. There are about 1,600 seats after staging, Emery said.
Times staff writers Bill Adair, John Frank, Jennifer Liberto and Aaron Sharockman contributed to this report.