Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Republicans tout state 'machine'

TALLAHASSEE — Winning Florida is critical to Sen. John McCain's bid for the presidency, and his campaign announced a team Friday that it said will overpower Sen. Barack Obama's volunteer army.

Including state Republican Party workers, McCain will be assisted by about 30 full-time employees. What's more, 23 offices are being set up across the state, including one already in Tampa, that will serve as nerve centers for phone banks, door-to-door campaigning and other grass roots efforts.

"It's a very strong political machine," said Arlene DiBenigno, director of the Florida campaign. "And it's a machine you can point to. It's there. It's in every county."

Her comments were a not-so-subtle slam at the volunteer effort the Obama campaign says it will unleash on the state. About 400 college students and retirees from all over the United States are being dispatched as part of what they're calling an unprecedented ground game.

GOP chairman Jim Greer dismissed Obama's plan as "a phantom organizational structure." Still, Obama also has about 20 paid organizers in Florida and has been building staff. He is setting up a Florida headquarters in Ybor City.

The McCain staff will be augmented by paid state party "Victory" workers who will help with races up and down the ballot.

Heading that effort will be Jim Rimes, a former deputy chief of staff to Gov. Charlie Crist who now is a top official with the Republican Party of Florida. Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., will co-chair the leadership team, with scores of other elected officials and party activists serving as vice chairs and steering committee members.

The campaign also boasted Friday that it had chairs in each of the state's 67 counties. Hillsborough will be overseen by Greg Truax, Pinellas by Chet Renfro, Pasco by Bill Bunting and Hernando by Tommy Bronson.

Another familiar bay area face is joining the McCain team: Former WTSP-Ch. 10 anchor Mario Diaz is leaving St. Petersburg's CBS affiliate to take a job as a communication director.

Times staff writers Wes Allison and Eric Deggans contributed to this report.

Republicans tout state 'machine' 06/20/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 24, 2008 11:10am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Philippines forces make gains in city under siege by ISIS-linked militants

    MARAWI, Philippines — Philippine forces say they now control most of a southern city where militants linked to the Islamic State group launched a bloody siege nearly a week ago.

  2. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  3. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.
  4. Takuma Sato surprise winner of wreck-filled Indy 500

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Takuma Sato, a journeyman driver, became the first Japanese winner of the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday when he held off three-time champion Helio Castroneves in a 230-mph wheel-rubbing duel to the finish.

    Scott Dixon’s car goes over the top of Jay Howard, soaring so high that Helio Castroneves drove under it while it was airborne. Stunningly, there were no serious injuries.
  5. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile

    World

    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.