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Florida Democrat's comfy with come-latelies Crist and Diaz

For liberal Democratic purists, it must be a little bothersome that two of the leading prospects for the 2014 gubernatorial nomination aren't long-standing Democrats themselves.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist, of course, is a lifelong Republican who only recently became a Democrat. Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz had been registered as an independent until recently changing his registration to Democrat.

No problem, Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz says in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9.

"We have a wide breadth of philosophies that the Democratic Party embraces and we don't have a litmus test — truly don't have a litmus test when it comes to the (positions) that a candidate can take," the South Florida congresswoman said.

The Broward Democrat became heavily involved in the race for Florida Democratic chairman, and ultimately helped deliver the leadership post to her longtime friend Allison Tant. Her aggressive campaign to make sure a strong ally took the party's helm spurred speculation that Wasserman Schultz might be thinking about her own statewide campaign — either governor in 2014 or U.S. Senate in 2016.

"I don't know why you keep asking me this," Wasserman Schultz said. "I am very happy. I am so proud to represent the 23rd congressional district in South Florida. I was just asked by President Obama to chair the DNC for a second term. Those are the two things I'm focusing on professionally, and we're going to make sure that we have a Democratic governor to replace Rick Scott, who has a dismal record, (poll) numbers that are eye-poppingly low because his performance has really been atrocious."

Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Bay News 9.

Scared of Rubio?

To see all the Democratic attacks on increasingly high-profile U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio lately, it's easy to conclude he has Democrats nervous. Nonsense, say some leading Democrats.

In a New York Times magazine piece out today, senior Obama strategist David Plouffe scoffs at the notion that the Cuban-American Rubio is poised to solve the GOP's problems with Hispanic voters across the country.

"Let me tell you something. The Hispanic voters in Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico don't give a damn about Marco Rubio, the tea party Cuban-American from Florida. You know what? We won the Cuban vote! And it's because younger Cubans are behaving differently than their parents. It's probably my favorite stat of the whole campaign," Plouffe said.

"So this notion that Marco Rubio is going to heal their problems — it's not even sophomoric; it's juvenile! And by the way: The bigger problem they've got with Latinos isn't immigration. It's their economic policies and health care. The group that supported the president's health care bill the most? Latinos."

Wasserman Schultz served with Rubio in the Florida Legislature and said she and Florida's junior senator have a "nice relationship" and often cooperate well on constituent matters and some issues. But she suggested Rubio's potential national appeal is overrated.

"We're not worried about Marco Rubio,'' she said on Political Connections, noting that "he struggled a bit in his debut performance" delivering the State of the Union response and voted against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

"Marco's full-on embrace of the tea party's principles and his really ever more extreme record, including when it comes to Medicare and Social Security, taking the position that those are not important programs to preserve as we know them to be and to keep that safety net for our seniors — it's just been shocking to me that he has on the surface continued to really seem like a benign, sweet leader when he really has some pretty sinister views and an ever more sinister record."

Neighborhood guy

"Mr. President, I still live in the same working-class neighborhood I grew up in. My neighbors aren't millionaires. They're retirees who depend on Social Security and Medicare. They're workers who have to get up early tomorrow morning and go to work to pay the bills," Rubio said in his Republican response to the State of the Union last week.

That business about still living in a working-class neighborhood raised some eyebrows, considering Rubio's West Miami home is currently on the market for $675,000 as he prepares to move his family to Washington, D.C. PolitiFact to Rubio's rescue: It rated Rubio's working-class hero shtick Mostly True. Rubio may have one of the nicer homes, but census data show the median household income where Rubio lives is $37,556.

Follow Adam Smith on Twitter: @AdamSmithTimes.

Winner of the week

Poland Spring water. Marco Rubio's awkward lunge for a little water bottle during his nationally televised response to the president's State of the Union speech drew all sorts of snarky late-night jokes and Twitter commentary. But it also heaped attention on the Poland Spring brand. The Nestlé subsidiary (A Swiss company, Sen. Rubio?!) wasn't especially nimble capitalizing on the exposure, but Rubio helpfully tweeted a photo of the bottle.

Loser of the week

Jim Greer. So much for the ex-state GOP chairman's long promise to take down hypocrites in his party while exonerating himself. Looks like Greer is heading toward some hard time after pleaded guilty to grand theft and money laundering charges last week.

Florida Democrat's comfy with come-latelies Crist and Diaz 02/16/13 [Last modified: Saturday, February 16, 2013 8:09pm]
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