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Ads by Romney's allies strike at Santorum, Gingrich

The momentum is on Mitt Romney's side for the GOP nomination, but Romney allies behind a well-funded political committee are taking no chances in Florida.

The independently run Restore Our Future super PAC is running ads across Florida trashing Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.

"Barack Obama knows four facts about Rick Santorum that you don't," says a woman narrator in the Santorum spot that began airing last week. "Santorum pushed for billions in wasteful pork, voting for the Bridge to Nowhere, a teapot museum. Even an indoor rain forest. Santorum voted to raise the debt limit five times, increasing spending and debt by $3 trillion. And he even voted to let convicted felons vote. So how will Santorum beat Obama? Obama knows he can't."

The Gingrich ad, which started weeks ago, paints the former U.S. House speaker as ethically challenged and inconsistent on conservative issues.

Viewing for debate

Mark your calendar for the Republican presidential debate in Tampa on Monday, Jan. 23. Hosted by the Tampa Bay Times, NBC News, the National Journal and the Florida Council of 100, the debate at the University of South Florida will feature the top candidates competing in the state's Jan. 31 primary.

NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams will moderate, and the panel will include Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam C. Smith.

No public tickets are available for the 9 p.m. event, but viewing options are many. Watch it live on NBC or on tampabay.com.

Also, the USF Student Government is hosting a Debate Watch Party on the USF Tampa campus at the western end of the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza lawn. The debate will be simulcast live on a large projection screen inside a tent. The party opens to guests at 7:30 p.m. Seating will be available for 800, and refreshments will be provided. The party is free and open to students and the general public.

A Bush for Jeb

Former first lady Laura Bush told a Sarasota audience last week that she had hoped brother-in-law Jeb Bush would run for president this year. Former President George W. Bush "and I wish he would," Mrs. Bush said when asked if Jeb will run for president someday, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. "We wanted him to this time."

Snub from Scott

Gov. Rick Scott will not respond to a request from U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin that he promptly explain how his administration will ensure "that all Floridians who wish to do so can cast their votes during the early voting period" under the new voting law.

"Governor Scott won't be responding to the senator's letter. He's focused on passing meaningful jobs legislation, education and PIP reform, and respectfully declines to further explain a law he didn't write," spokesman Lane Wright said in an email.

The same goes for a public hearing about the law in Tampa, which Durbin, an Illinois Democrat who chairs the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, invited Scott to attend.

Scott signed the elections overhaul into law in May. The hearing is Jan. 27 at the Hillsborough County Courthouse. Florida Sen. Bill Nelson will be there, too.

State GOP leaders

The Florida Republican Party's state executive committee on Saturday re-elected Sharon Day of Broward County as Florida's national committeewoman and elected lawyer Peter Feamon of Palm Beach County as national committeeman, replacing longtime national committeeman Paul Senft of Haines City.

Alex Leary and Katie Sanders contributed to this week's Buzz. Adam C. Smith can be reached at asmith@tampabay.com.

Winner of the week

Jim Greer. Say what you will about the former state GOP chairman, who is accused of defrauding the state party, the guy did at least take care of Florida delegates to the national convention in 2008. He twisted arms and persuaded John McCain and RNC members to give only token punishment to Florida's delegation for bucking the nominating schedule. This year, even with Tampa hosting the convention, the RNC appears determined to show no mercy, voting last week to relegate Florida's delegation to lousy hotel rooms and strip away passes.

Loser of the week

Nan Rich. The Florida Senate Democratic leader had hoped to propose alternative redistricting maps, but scrapped the idea amid heavy criticism not only from Republicans complaining about lack of time for review but from fellow Democrats complaining about diluting minority voting strength.

Ads by Romney's allies strike at Santorum, Gingrich 01/14/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 14, 2012 9:13pm]

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