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Texas Gov. Rick Perry has yet to tap many of Florida's elite campaign fundraisers

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has yet to tap many of Florida’s elite campaign fundraisers.

Associated Press

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has yet to tap many of Florida’s elite campaign fundraisers.

Check out the host committee for Rick Perry's Florida fundraising swing that starts in Tampa on Tuesday. It includes some prominent names, from Rudy Giuliani's former Florida finance chairman Joseph Fogg to former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and House Speaker Dean Cannon.

Still, given the number of Florida fundraisers still on the sidelines, it's a bit surprising not to see more top-tier presidential bundlers on the list. Of the 41 names on the list, for instance, we could find only four Bush-Cheney Pioneers or Rangers from Florida who raised at least $100,000 in 2000 and/or 2004: Husein Cumber of Jacksonville, James Holton of St. Pete Beach (who until recently had been on Mitt Romney's team), Jorge Luis Lopez of Hialeah, and William Scherer of Fort Lauderdale.

People may attribute that to the supposed ill will between the George W. Bush and Perry camps, but there's little evidence that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush harbors any animosity to Perry. Some of Bush's most loyal supporters, in fact, have visited with Perry in Texas in recent weeks. The more likely explanation is that Perry has yet to close the sale with some of Florida's most elite money men and women.

McCalister flubs VA question

GOP Senate candidate Mike McCalister said last week he's "just a regular guy." Unlike Republican primary opponents George LeMieux and Adam Hasner, he's "not a polished politician."

He supported that notion Friday by muffing a question about VA eligibility.

McCalister, a retired colonel in the Army Reserves, has made military expertise a central theme in his campaign. But when he wore his uniform to a political fundraiser recently, some vets and their families took umbrage.

That includes Jessica Lillesand, who posed a question Friday at a Suncoast Tiger Bay Club luncheon where McCalister was speaking. Her husband is a lieutenant colonel on active duty. She wanted to explore McCalister's opposition to government-backed health care.

Does McCalister favor limiting VA benefits to veterans with combat experience?

"It's my understanding that it needs to be a military-related illness," he said.

"No, it doesn't," countered Lillesand, a Clearwater disability lawyer.

"No? Okay," McCalister said.

The Veterans Affairs Department explains that many veterans receive VA care. Service-connected disability or illness is not a requirement. Once corrected, McCalister said he opposes cutting back VA benefits. The government made promises to veterans, including those who did not see combat, he said. Those promises should not be unilaterally broken.

Scott appoints old Bush hand

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday announced the appointment of former Jeb Bush chief of staff and political strategist Sally Bradshaw to the Florida State Board of Education. Bradshaw, 46, of Havana, Fla., served on the board from 2003 to 2004. A political consultant who served as an adviser to Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and his political action committee in 2011, Bradshaw previously chaired the board of trustees at Holy Comforter Episcopal School and was a board member of Faith Presbyterian preschool.

She succeeds Mark Kaplan and is appointed for a term ending Dec. 31, 2013. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

Radio ad targets jobs speech

National Republicans have announced a radio ad in Florida ahead of President Barack Obama's jobs speech Thursday, suggesting the emphasis will be on more stimulus spending. "We've already tried that, causing unemployment to shoot up and our deficit to balloon," a narrator says. The Republican National Committee ad is called Morning in America, a spin on Ronald Reagan's 1984 re-election spot that played up an improved economy. Republican national chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement: "Unfortunately, it appears (Obama) plans to recycle the same old failed policies and blame game that we've seen repeatedly. As his approval rating plummets, the president is once again claiming to pivot to jobs. Unfortunately this is too little too late."

Stephen Nohlgren, Alex Leary, Adam C. Smith and Janet Zink contributed to this report.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has yet to tap many of Florida's elite campaign fundraisers 09/06/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 8:25pm]
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