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Adam Putnam as presidential kingmaker?

Jon Huntsman had him over for dinner in Orlando. Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have left phone messages asking for his support.

So it goes for Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who along with other high-ranking Republicans is being aggressively courted by the presidential hopefuls. He's still undecided.

"I'm just trying to get to know them all better," said Putnam, who served in Congress with Michele Bachmann.

Rubio's mother has stroke

Sen. Marco Rubio's 80-year-old mother suffered her second stroke in as many weeks, causing the lawmaker to cancel events Tuesday in Orlando and Lakeland.

Oria Rubio, who proudly watched her son during campaign events late last year, had a stroke two weeks ago. "Over the last 48 hours, she has experienced additional setbacks that require Sen. Rubio to remain in Miami with her," spokesman Alex Burgos said Tuesday.

Rubio, 40, lost his father to emphysema and lung cancer in September 2010.

Perry's book could hurt him

Romney has seen his lead erased by Perry, so he's carefully wading into attack mode. But the campaign could take a harder swing in Florida. "Romney strategists are quick to note that in his book, Fed Up!, Perry writes that, 'By any measure, Social Security is a failure' and calls the program 'something we have been forced to accept for more than 70 years now,' " Washington Post columnist Marc A. Thiessen reported Tuesday, adding that the campaign could use the book "to scare seniors in early-primary states with large retiree populations, such as Florida and South Carolina."

Michigan no match for Florida

Okay, so not all the leading presidential candidates will actively campaign for the Florida GOP's Presidency 5 straw poll Sept. 24. But looking at the lineup for a competing GOP event, the Republican Leadership Conference on Michigan's Mackinac Island Sept. 23-25, it appears there's no question the place to be is Florida. So far, the Michigan GOP has lined up Romney, Perry, and Michigan U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter. In Florida, Presidency 5 starts Sept. 22 with a televised Fox News debate expected to include Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Romney, Ron Paul, Perry and Rick Santorum. All those and more will also address the CPAC-FL conference Sept. 23, held in conjunction with Presidency 5. The final day will feature the straw poll.

Hasner's endorsement lead

If endorsements won races, Adam Hasner would be out front in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. Tuesday he announced the backing of former House Speaker Larry Cretul (the "accidental speaker" who took over during the controversy that engulfed Ray Sansom), who will also serve as statewide co-chairman of the campaign.

Mark your schedule

• Romney will open his Florida headquarters in Tampa on Friday. Doors to the 142 W Platt Street office open at 9 a.m., with a program at 10 a.m. He was already scheduled to be in town for the Republican National Hispanic Assembly convention. To RSVP or ask questions, e-mail

• U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy will be in Tampa on Sept. 6 for the Florida Young Guns Victory Fund roundtable and lunch at Palma Ceia Country Club.

• Former Sen. Bob Graham will join Sen. Bill Nelson for a rally Oct. 29 as part of the state Democratic Party's 2011 Convention at the Contemporary Resort at Disney World. It will also feature Vice President Joe Biden. Tickets can be purchased at

• There's Buzz that organizers of the 2012 Republican convention in Tampa will hold the big, opening media party at Tropicana Field.

Times political editor Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.

Adam Putnam as presidential kingmaker? 08/30/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 3:54pm]
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