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THE BUZZ: FLORIDA POLITICS

Rasmussen: McCain 49, Obama 48

Rasmussen(http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/election_20082/2008_presidential_election/florida/election_2008_florida_presidential_election): "The presidential race in Florida is now essentially even. The latest Fox News/Rasmussen Reports telephone survey in the state finds John McCain ahead of Barack Obama 49% to 48%. Support for the GOP nominee is at the highest level in the past five polls of the state. Last week, Obama held a 51% to 46% lead. He led by seven points in the Fox/Rasmussen poll the week before.

"The tighter race in Florida is consistent with national polling, which has tightened up over the past week. The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll has generally shown Obama up by four or five points nationally during the past week. Prior to that, Obama had consistently enjoyed a five-to-eight point lead. The match-up is just as close among unaffiliated voters in Florida, with McCain holding a 46% to 45% edge. The Republican now leads 50% to 45% among men, while Obama holds onto a 51% to 48% lead among women."

Posted by Adam Smith at 8:17:18 PM on October 20, 2008

Thousands in Orlando for Obama/Clinton

The Obama campaign, citing the Orlando fire marshal Tammy Hughes, says more than 50,000 people are crammed around Amway Arena for the joint appearance by Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama. Together, they are offering a full-throated indictment of Republicans on the economy.

"We've tried it John McCain's way. We've tried it George Bush's way," Obama said. "It's been an 8 year failed experiment. It's time for something new."

Clinton unleashed a new chant, "Jobs, baby, jobs." When she finished thinking, Obama literally kissed away the tension -- giving Clinton a peck on the cheek. As if that weren't enough, he then began to lead the crowd in chanting "Hillary, Hillary, Hillary."

Posted by Alex Leary at 6:23:59 PM on October 20, 2008

McCain returning to Central Florida this week

UPDATE: He's supposed to be in Sarasota Thursday for a rally at Robarts Arena. Doors open at 3 p.m.

No details yet on when and where. Buzz Jacobs: "Sen. McCain will be traveling most likely to Central Florida. We will be having additional details coming out."

Posted by Adam Smith at 5:22:29 PM on October 20, 2008

Is Obama flip-flopping on Rays/Phillies?

In congratulating and "showing some love" for the Rays today, Barack Obama didn't quite come out and throw his support to the team. But in case anyone thinks Obama is rooting for Tampa Bay, take note of this Obama comment Oct. 11 in Philly:

"My White Sox are gone, so I'll go ahead and root for the Phillies now."

Posted by Adam Smith at 5:17:11 PM on October 20, 2008

Greer: We're not holding onto any '08 money

State Republican Party chairman Jim Greer says we were incorrect in reporting the other day that the party intended to carry over $2-million into the next election cycle. Party officials were talking about avoiding the kind of deficit this year that they've had after recent elections. But Greer said that what was approved Saturday was a plan for 2009 that foresees carrying $2-million from 2009 into 2010.

"I'm not going to have a deficit, but I'm not carrying anything over,'' Greer said.

Posted by Adam Smith at 4:58:04 PM on October 20, 2008

McCain camp: Dems may win on early votes but not overall

Representatives from the RNC and McCain-Palin campaign touted the "battle-tested" GOP voter turnout machine in a conference call today, and noted that they already have a 17 percent advantage over Democrats in absentee votes -- roughly 295,000 Republicans absentee ballots returned and 199,000 from Democrats.

"We understand the Democrats are going to try to run up the score on early votes. In 2004 certainly Democrats had an advantage during the early vote period, so we anticipate that may happen again,'' said senior McCain adviser Mike DuHaime. "But I feel that our numbers in the absentee ballots, as well as the number of people who are going to turn out and early vote and the number of people that are going to turn out on election day, will more than compensate than that."

Posted by Adam Smith at 4:25:46 PM on October 20, 2008

Browning addressses early voting issues

As the two-week early voting period opened across Florida on Monday, Secretary of State Kurt Browning reported a number of developments:

Long lines at early voting sites, especially in South Florida, which Browning called "a healthy sign of democracy." Pasco County reported 1,000 voters in the first two hours Monday. Sarasota reported a turnout of 1,500 voters during the same period.

There's one known case of an Obama supporter initially being turned away from voting for wearing pro-Obama clothing. Browning said the mixup was corrected, and the voter did cast a ballot. It's a false rumor that voters are prohibited from wearing buttons or clothing that advertises their preference, but a voter cannot attempt to overtly influence another voter within 100 feet of a precinct.

Fraudulent voter registrations? "It's isolated across the state," Browning said. He quickly said that the potential for fraud is why he so strongly supports the "no match" voter verification law.

Fraudulent voter registrations? "It's isolated across the state," Browning said. He quickly said that the potential for fraud is why he so strongly supports the "no match" voter verification law.

Browning has asked his lawyers to take another look at their refusal to permit Congressional researchers to monitor activities at polls in four counties: Pinellas, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade and Broward. Browning has denied access to the researchers, which prompted Sen. Bill Nelson to write to Gov. Charlie Crist in an effort to force Browning to change his position.

Browning reminded voters they can request an absentee ballot through 5 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 29. "We're encouraging all Floridians to exercise their right to vote," Browning said.

Posted by Steve Bousquet at 2:39:00 PM on October 20, 2008

Obama plans economic summit in Lake Worth

Barack Obama is using a stop in Lake Worth tomorrow to try to demonstrate his command of the most pressing issue in the campaign -- the economy. The Democratic presidential nominee will host a number of governors, including Ohio's Ted Strickland, and business leaders like Google CEO Eric Schmidt to talk about his plan for to help the middle class.

Obama plans economic summit in Lake Worth

Barack Obama is using a stop in Lake Worth tomorrow to try to demonstrate his command of the most pressing issue in the campaign -- the economy. The Democratic presidential nominee will host a number of governors, including Ohio's Ted Strickland, and business leaders like Google CEO Eric Schmidt to talk about his plan for to help the middle class.

(Details in the jump)

DELRAY BEACH -– Tomorrow, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama will host governors from around the country, and business leaders and economic experts to discuss his solutions for solving the economic crisis and creating good jobs here in America in Lake Worth, Fla.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker will discuss the economic challenges that they are seeing firsthand and will talk about the impact that Obama's Economic Rescue plan for the middle class would have on the economy in communities across America.

The event is free and open to the public, however, tickets are REQUIRED. See below for ticketing information.

TUESDAY, OCT. 21

GROWING AMERICAN JOBS SUMMIT WITH BARACK OBAMA

Palm Beach Community College

Lake Worth Campus

Elisabeth W. Erling Gymnasium

4200 Congress Ave.

Lake Worth, Fla.

Doors open: 9 a.m.

Program begins: 10:30 a.m.

Posted by Alex Leary at 2:27:38 PM on October 20, 2008

I-75 billboard slams McCain at 75 mph

Whizzing past a blur of Ron Jon and We Bare All billboards on I-75 South, the Buzz spotted this one near Ocala this afternoon. A closer look shows it was paid for by "no needle, no scalpel" vasectomy doc Doug Stein (http://vasweb.com/).

Posted by Alex Leary at 2:18:06 PM on October 20, 2008

Mohawk for Obama?

At least 6,000 people roared for Barack Obama and his calls to get out and vote and change the country: "We have tried it John McCain's way. We have tried it George Bush's way. It hasn't worked. It's time for something new. It is time to turn the page on eight years of economic policies that put Wall Street before Main Street but ended up hurting both. We need policies that grow our economy from the bottom up, so that every American, everywhere, has the chance to get ahead. Not just the person who owns the factory, but the men and women who work on its floor. Because if we've learned anything from this economic crisis, it's that we're all connected; we're all in this together; and we will rise or fall as one nation -- as one people."

The candidate also basked in the glow of the Rays players at his side: "I said from the beginning that I am a unity candidate, bringing people together. So when you see a White Sox fan showing love for the Rays and the Rays showing some love back you know we're onto something here,'' Obama said, joking that he had considered getting a Mohawk as a show of solidarity.

"But my political advisers said they weren't sure how that was going to play with swing voters."

Posted by Adam Smith at 2:00:45 PM on October 20, 2008

Nelson: Congressional researchers need access to polls

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is asking Gov. Charlie Crist to give congressional researchers access to polling places for a study on how easily the disabled can vote.

Earlier this year, the Senate Select Committee on Aging asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office to update a 2000 study that found that only 16 percent of polling places were fully accessible to those with disabilities, including senior citizens.

Nelson, a Democrat and member of the committee, wrote Crist that 30 states have granted access to the researchers, but Florida has not, citing the law that says only voters, poll workers and elections officials are allowed inside.

With the second-largest senior citizen population in the United States, it is imperative that we ensure our seniors have unfettered access to polling places on Election Day," Nelson wrote.

"Given that Floridians have seen their share of election shenanigans, why would state officials reject attempts by Congress to make sure the polling places have proper access for seniors and people with disabilities?"

Posted by Wes Allison at 1:00:11 PM on October 20, 2008

Rays join Obama in Tampa

[Willie J. Allen Jr. | Times]

View more photos from the rally (http://pics.tampabay.com/?category=682)

Thousands of people are still streaming into George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, and now comes word that some of the champion Tampa Bay Rays are about to go to bat for Barack Obama. Carl Crawford, Cliff Floyd, David Price, Edwin Jackson and Jonny Gomes are here, and Fernando Perez will address the crowd.

Posted by Adam Smith at 12:24:51 PM on October 20, 2008

Obama's Florida TV advantage

WaPo (http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/2008/10/obama_spending_dominance_conti.html): From Oct. 7-13, Barack Obama spent $4.7-million on TV ads in Florida, compared to $1.8-million by John McCain. Obama upped his TV spending nearly $2-million from the week before.

Posted by Adam Smith at 9:43:43 AM on October 20, 2008

Palm Beach is voting gaffe central

If there is a case study for what could go wrong in Florida on Election Day, it might well be Palm Beach County's bungled handling of voting results in the Aug. 26 primary.

A staff accustomed to administering touch screen machines was confronted with a new dynamic - lots and lots of paper to process in a short time. The statewide conversion to optical scan technology threw the elections office in Florida's third-biggest county into chaos.

Several boxes containing about 3,400 ballots were misplaced and not counted. A recount in a tight judicial race uncovered the discrepancy. And like the 2000 post-election meltdown, Palm Beach was once again an emblem of what could go wrong in Florida in a closely contested election.

An assistant county administrator, Brad Merriman, has been deputized to take over the elections office after concerns by Palm Beach officials about the ability of elections supervisor Arthur Anderson to handle his duties. (Click here (http://www.tampabay.com/news/article862247.ece) to continue reading the second part of a two-part Times preview of the 2008 election. First part here. (http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/article861016.ece)

Posted by Alex Leary at 1:33:51 AM on October 20, 2008

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