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The Buzz: Obama expected to make splashy return to Florida



Obama expected to make splashy return

Barack Obama hasn't set foot in Florida since November, and he hasn't done anything besides private money-raising in the state since August. So when the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination finally returns to Florida, look for him to try to make a splash and show some love to America's biggest battleground state.

Local Obama supporters expect he will be in Tampa on or about May 9, though Frank Sanchez, Tampa Bay's top Obamaniac, said details are still being ironed out and it's uncertain whether the Illinois senator will do any public event in Tampa Bay.

Orlando and/or Jacksonville could also be on Obama's May itinerary, but with little organization in Florida, the campaign's ability to stage major public events is crimped.

McCain can't take Florida for granted

Nothing like evidence that Florida could be a challenge for John McCain to boost Charlie Crist's vice presidential prospects. The Veep-O-Meter this week takes a big swing in the direction of Crist flying on Air Force Two on the heels of a Quinnipiac poll showing McCain vulnerable in the must-win Sunshine State.

The March 24-31 poll of Florida voters showed 44 percent favored Hillary Clinton and 42 percent John McCain, a statistical tie, while McCain led Barack Obama, 46 percent to 37 percent. Even if Obama is the front-runner, the poll signals McCain can't take Florida for granted.

"The difference between Clinton and Obama in Florida is the white vote," said Quinnipiac's Peter Brown. "She gets 38 percent to 50 percent for McCain, but Obama loses to the Arizona senator 54 to 27 among white voters. If Obama does get the nomination, how he fares with whites will be crucial to his chances."

Bill Nelson for vice president?

The Fix,'s political blog, again last week pegged Crist among the five most likely vice presidential picks for McCain. Perhaps more noteworthy, though, was the Fix putting Bill Nelson among the five likeliest choices for Hillary Clinton, along with Barack Obama, Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, former presidential candidate John Edwards of North Carolina and Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

Wrote the Fix's Chris Cillizza: "Every four years, the senator from Florida seems to be among those mentioned — but not picked — for the national ticket. He is a more serious choice in this election, having been an ardent advocate not only for Clinton but also her interests in the Sunshine State. It was Nelson who, unsuccessfully, pushed hardest for the idea of a Florida re-vote. He's also from a state that is almost certainly going to be a battleground in the fall and remains quite popular among Florida's voters."

Two chances to watch Sheila McDevitt

Check out Florida Board of Governors vice chairwoman Sheila McDevitt on "Political Connections" on Bay News 9 discussing the challenges facing the state's university system. The show airs at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Florida, Michigan 'no longer homeless'

Perhaps the most promising bit of news to emerge from last week's private meeting with state Democratic chairwoman Karen Thurman and Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean? That the DNC has, in fact, set aside hotel rooms in Denver for the as-yet unrecognized delegations from Florida and Michigan.

"Not only are we no longer homeless, but I view that as a positive signal that the pace will pick up for a resolution to the Florida question,'' Thurman said Saturday.

The pledged, unpledged become chosen delegates

For folks who don't yet have any say in their presidential nomination, it was a remarkably upbeat group of Democrats who met in Orlando on Saturday to elect 27 party leader and elected official delegates to the national convention.

Among them: Tampa City Council member John Dingfelder, pledged to Obama, and Clinton delegate Sally Phillips, who heads the Hillsborough County gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender caucus.

The state Democrats' executive committee also elected three unpledged delegates: Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink; Florida Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller; and Florida House Democratic Leader Dan Gelber.

Still to be determined is whether those delegates will be recognized as valid, whether all of them or any of them can participate in the national convention, and whether the campaigns will accept the delegates elected. There's Buzz that the Obama team is uncertain about the true allegiances of some delegates previously elected as pledged to the Illinois senator.

Adam C. Smith contributed to this week's Buzz.

The Buzz: Obama expected to make splashy return to Florida 04/05/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 8, 2008 8:45am]
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