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Florida GOP's Presidency 5 worthy of attention

The Florida GOP's "Presidency 5" powwow set for Sept. 22-24 hasn't generated a lot of buzz, and last week in Iowa with the national political press corps it was hard to find reporters more than vaguely aware of the event.

But it looks more and more like a big deal.

P5 will be the first major cattle call with Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the race, and some of the also-rans at Ames, Iowa, may be culled from the field. Held in conjunction with the American Conservative Union's first regional Conservative Political Action Committee conference, the event certainly will give thousands of GOP activists in Florida an up-close look at the Republican presidential field.

A nationally televised Fox News debate is set for opening night.

On Sept. 23, the conference will feature speeches from all of the major candidates and assorted other conservative bright lights, from Ann Coulter to Bill Kristol to Grover Norquist. Then, on Saturday, a "straw poll" where P5 delegates can vote for their preferred presidential nominee and potentially give some a shot of momentum.

Last week, the conservative group announced another key event: a straw poll vote on the major candidates for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination — Adam Hasner, George LeMieux, Mike McCalister and Craig Miller.

Given the number of voters — 3,500 delegates and many more CPAC attendees — anything could happen.

Bachmann on her way

Michele Bachmann will make her Florida debut as a presidential candidate later this month. In addition to some fundraising events not yet finalized, she is scheduled to hit the Villages in Central Florida on Aug. 27 then headline a Florida Family Policy Council dinner in Orlando that evening.

Rubio forms a PAC

Sen. Marco Rubio has formed a political action committee he said will be used to help elect other conservatives. It was only a matter of time. Elected in November, the Florida Republican has quickly added to his national profile. A PAC could extend his influence.

"Today, our country is headed in the wrong direction. Unsustainable debt. Uncontrollable spending. And typical politicians in both parties who are more interested in reflecting public opinion than leading it. We simply cannot continue down this road Washington is taking us," he wrote in a message to supporters. "That's why I've started the Reclaim America PAC."

The muzzles come off

Want another example of how the Rick Scott administration is shifting gears since Steve MacNamara took over as his chief of staff? Check out Secretary of State Kurt Browning on Bay News 9's Political Connections today giving a forceful defense of Florida's controversial new election law changing rules for voter registration and early voting. The old Gov. Scott kept Browning hidden behind press handlers. The new one lets him speak out. Political Connections airs at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Changing his stance

LeMieux has reintroduced immigration into Florida's GOP U.S. Senate primary, saying he supports an Arizona-style law for Florida.

"I fully support Arizona's attempt to get control of their illegal immigration problem," LeMieux tweeted Wednesday, referring to Gov. Jan Brewer's appeal to the Supreme Court over lower court decisions blocking controversial parts of the law.

LeMieux also wrote on his website: "The federal government has failed for far too long to protect our borders and address our system of legal immigration, resulting in more crime and more costs for communities all over America. I fully support Arizona's attempt to get control of their illegal immigration problem and I supported a similar Florida-style law to address the challenges specific to our state. When I return to the U.S. Senate, I will vote to secure our borders and reach a solution once and for all."

The candidate's views toward Arizona were once quite different. As an interim U.S. senator, he said Arizona went "too far, too quick."

The Buzz was provided a video, taken by a tracker in the bowels of the U.S. Capitol, in which LeMieux is asked, "Do you think the Arizona immigration law should be adopted in Florida?"

LeMieux: "I don't. I understand why people in Arizona are concerned about immigration. They have problems. They have tremendous border issues, and people are concerned about their safety and security. But that's not the right thing for Florida. Really, you shouldn't make legislation in a crisis. And I think they went too far, too quick."

Alex Leary contributed to this report.

Winner of the week

Pam Bondi. The attorney general on Friday hailed a federal appeals court ruling striking down the "individual mandate" in the federal health care law. That victory, along with her lawsuit against Bank of New York Mellon for alleging overcharging the state pension fund, may help deflect attention from questions swirling from her recent firing of mortgage fraud investigators.

Loser of the week

Alex Sink. She fell barely shy of beating Rick Scott in last year's governor's race, but she clearly has a perception with Florida's chattering class. Among nearly 100 experienced politicos participating in a Florida Insider Poll, most viewed Charlie Crist, Rod Smith and Pam Iorio as stronger nominees in 2014 than Sink.

Florida GOP's Presidency 5 worthy of attention 08/13/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 13, 2011 10:19pm]
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