Saturday, June 23, 2018
Editorials

Florida GOP sends signal: Defeat Obama, stop infighting

Florida Republicans signaled Tuesday they are more interested in mounting a vigorous challenge to President Barack Obama in the fall than in venting their frustration now. Mitt Romney's convincing victory in the presidential primary confirmed he is the Republican best positioned for the general election, and it reinforced the importance of a large, diverse swing state playing a prominent role in choosing party nominees. Because of Florida, Romney is a better candidate with broader support — and the clear favorite to return to Tampa in August to accept the Republican nomination for president.

For all of the talk about the tea party influence in Florida and Newt Gingrich's railing about elites in the political party and the media, Republicans embraced the party establishment's candidate. And Romney used a well-established strategy to win. He developed a superior campaign organization, far outspent his opponents and aired many more television ads. He performed well in two Florida debates, and coming off his loss to Gingrich in South Carolina he attacked, attacked, attacked.

The result: Romney won convincingly in Central and South Florida and piled up advantages among men and women, whites and Hispanics, young and old. Gingrich won a number of smaller counties in North Florida and split the vote among tea party voters, signaling Romney has more work to do with the most conservative Republicans. But while Romney has new momentum, the former House speaker leaves Florida much weaker than he arrived and more driven by his own ego than a realistic chance to win the nomination.

Romney remains a flawed candidate. He has yet to develop a compelling agenda or define himself to many voters. His quest to satisfy unconvinced conservative Republicans and his negative campaign ads threaten to alienate independent voters and push him further away from his more mainstream record as Massachusetts governor. Despite an easy win Tuesday night, as the Republican nominee for president Romney would find it more difficult to win Florida in the general election. A Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/BayNews 9 poll showed him essentially tied with Obama, despite Florida's economic issues and the fact the president has yet to start campaigning.

In a general election campaign, Romney would have a tougher time blaming Obama for Florida's weak economy and high unemployment rate at the same time Republican Gov. Rick Scott takes credit for creating more jobs and housing begins to rebound. His harsh anti-immigration rhetoric would not play as well among all Hispanic voters, who backed Obama four years ago. Romney also would have to explain how his opposition to national health care reform that benefits so many Floridians squares with his support for similar health care reform as governor in Massachusetts. This is a candidate who appears firm but flexible in his core beliefs.

Romney has to slog on through the primary season as long as Gingrich continues his self-centered campaign, and expect the attacks to continue to be personal. But Romney had plenty to celebrate on Tuesday night in Tampa, and it would be no surprise to see him back here in seven months to accept the party's nomination at the Republican National Convention.

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Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

Editorial: Handing out gift cards like candy at CareerSource

It’s hard to pick the biggest outrage in the financial and ethical swamp that has swallowed Tampa Bay’s two primary job placement agencies, CareerSource Pinellas and CareerSource Tampa Bay. Is it the boiler room atmosphere where CareerSource recruite...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Family separation crisis is not over

The family-separation crisis that President Donald Trump created is not over. The executive order Trump signed Wednesday purporting to end the routine tearing of children from their undocumented parents stands on uncertain legal ground. U.S. border a...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Editorial: State help needed to staff hotlines with veterans helping veterans

Veterans can help veterans deal with trauma resulting from military service in a way no one else can. That’s the theory behind a special hotline set up in the Tampa Bay area that proponents are hoping to take statewide.The expansion would cost some $...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Published: 06/21/18
Updated: 06/22/18
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney general’s misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect — prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Florida’s environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18