Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts arenít worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Floridaís juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scottís administration was defensive and obtuse. So itís welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over stateís rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week wonít make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, itís obvious that Jeff Vinikís plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17
Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

Editorial: Make texting while driving a primary offense

It is dangerous and illegal to text while driving in Florida, and police should be able to pull over and ticket those lawbreakers without witnessing another violation first. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has lent his powerful voice to legislation th...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Editorial: Outsourcing common sense on St. Petersburg Pier naming rights

St. Petersburg officials predict that selling the naming rights to parts of the new Pier could generate $100,000 in annual revenue. But first the city wants to pay a consultant to tell it how and to whom to sell the rights. Why do city officials need...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17

Another voice: Trumpís risky move

President Donald Trumpís decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israelís capital has a certain amount of common sense on its side. As a practical matter, West Jerusalem has been the seat of Israeli government since 1949, and no conceivable formula for Pa...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/07/17
Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

Editorial: Tampaís MOSI reinvents itself

A tactical retreat and regrouping seems to be paying off for Hillsborough Countyís Museum of Science and Industry. After paring back its operations, the museum posted a small profit over the past year, enabling the attraction to keep its doors open a...
Published: 12/05/17
Updated: 12/07/17