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Clinton: Put Fla in Obama's column

Another giant (and frigid) crowd in Kissimmee. Bill Clinton:"I am honored to be here to voice my support for Sen Barack Obama for president....Look at this crowd, it's not only big it is highly diverse. You've got a few old, gray-haired white guys like me. This is America's future. This is a future state. Barack Obama represents America's future and you've got to be there for him next Tuesday."

"This is not a close decision. If you're making the decision based on who can best get us out of the ditch, who's got the best philosophies, the best decisions, the best ability and the best judgment, I think it's clear. The next president of the United States should be - and with your help will be - Sen. Barack Obama."

Posted by Adam Smith at 11:40:47 PM on October 29, 2008

Obama: Not this time

Deafening crowd of 20,000 in Sunrise. Obama: "Look - we've tried it John McCain's way. We've tried it George Bush's way. Deep down, Senator McCain knows that, which is why his campaign said that "if we keep talking about the economy, we're going to lose." ... Because that's how you play the game in Washington. If you can't beat your opponent's ideas, you distort those ideas and maybe make some up. If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run away from. You make a big election about small things.

"Florida, we are here to say "Not this time. Not this year. Not when there is so much is at stake. We are going to win this election Senator McCain might be worried about losing an election, but I'm worried about you losing your homes, and your jobs, and your life savings. I can take one more week of John McCain's attacks, but this country can't take four more years of Bush-McCain. It's time for something new."

The speech is timed so a few minutes at the end air live on his 30-minute info-bama-mercial.

Posted by Adam Smith at 8:35:43 PM on October 29, 2008

McCain gives Obama one last kick in pants

As he wrapped up a day in Florida that touched on economic and security concerns, Sen. John McCain used an appearance in Riviera Beach to deliver a parting shot at his rival.

The topic: Obama's 30 minute commercial that will air before tonight's game 5 of the World Series.

"When you're watching this gauzy, feel-good commercial, just remember that it was paid for with broken promises," a pre-emptive McCain said. "Sen. Obama signed a piece of paper committing to public financing of his campaign. Twice he looked the American people in the eye and said he would sit down with me before he abandoned public financing. He didn't mean a word of it."

Will this be the last time McCain campaigns in Florida? One of his top advisers, Mark Salter, said no decisions had been made, noting how fast things change on the campaign trail.

Posted by Alex Leary at 7:44:01 PM on October 29, 2008

Putnam hits the air

From the department of taking nothing for granted, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow, has two new TV ads airing before Election Day. Or maybe he's laying the groundwork for later.

Continue reading "Putnam hits the air" " (

Posted by Wes Allison at 7:28:04 PM on October 29, 2008

Wexler loves Joe the Plumber

U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, whose district has more Jews than any other in the country, tells Buzz he was thrilled to see Joe the Plumber declare that Barack Obama would be bad for Israel.

""When Joe the Plumber starts opining on behalf of John McCain on Israel policy we went up another three or four points in south Florida. I hope he keeps doing it," said Wexler, the co-chairman of Obama's Florida campaign.

His take on the state of the race in Fla: "We are hitting our peak in Florida just at the right time. It's a close election, it's never a runaway. But we're going to win because we are doing phenomenally well on the I-4 corridor and where we are gelling and peaking at just the right time in south Florida."

Posted by Adam Smith at 6:25:29 PM on October 29, 2008

Martinez stands by Crist on early voting

Sen. Mel Martinez said he agrees with Gov. Charlie Crist's executive order to extend early voting hours and knocked down talk that it hurts Republicans.

"If we're not good enough to get people to the polls and if we've got to rely on inconvenience of voters, that's no way to win an election," he said while flying from Tampa to West Palm with John McCain. "It's democracy at work. We want people to vote. We just have to get our people there, too."

Martinez said McCain is strong in Florida and alluded to Barack Obama's struggles late in the Democratic primary. "If Lehman and AIG had not happened," Martinez said, "we would still be up seven."

Posted by Alex Leary at 5:09:50 PM on October 29, 2008

Palin lining up New Port Richey visit Saturday

Sarah Palin is expected to hit Sims Park at 9 a.m. Saturday for a rally.

New Port Richey city manager Tom O'Neill said he got a phone call this afternoon from John McCain campaign officials who say they want Palin at the park, where Joe Biden spoke Monday night. The steel barricades remain out in anticipation.

The campaign, though, hasn't confirmed her appearance. The only public event on Palin's schedule for Saturday is 4 p.m. in Raleigh, N.C.

Continue reading "Palin lining up New Port Richey visit Saturday" " (

Posted by David DeCamp at 5:03:59 PM on October 29, 2008

Election officials wish 'we had been consulted'

In Gov. Charlie Crist's mailbag: A rather chilly letter from the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, in which the group "acknowledges" Crist's executive order of Tuesday that expanded hours of early voting. "The Supervisors of Elections who now must manage this situation would have been better prepared if we had been consulted concerning the statewide need for this extension, the manner in which it would be employed and the implementation time frame." Read their letter here. (

The supervisors got a one-hour notice on Tuesday after Crist decided to expand hours of early voting following conversations with his general counsel and Rep. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach.

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Kurt Browning said he had heard from some supervisors who asked, "Who's paying for this?" (Answer: counties). Browning, for his part, was solidly on record as saying that there was no need to expand the hours, making it apparent that Crist's order was in conflict with what Browning was saying publicly. But Browning wrote a letter saying hours needed to be expanded, and it was time-stamped in the governor's office at 2:02 p.m. Tuesday -- about a half hour before Crist announced the executive order publicly.

"Look," Browning said. "I understand that as governor, he needs to make decisions that he believes are in the best interests of the people of Florida. I understand that I work for Gov. Crist. My relationship with the governor is not stressed or strained at all."

Posted by Steve Bousquet at 5:00:05 PM on October 29, 2008

Time/CNN: Obama 51, McCain 47

From the Page: ( Men: 47% Obama, 51% McCain; Women: 55% Obama, 44% McCain; Income under $50K: 58% Obama, 40% McCain; Income $50K or more: 48% Obama, 51% McCain

Posted by Adam Smith at 4:48:08 PM on October 29, 2008

'Swift, strong' action against lobbyist urged

The Florida Association of Professional Lobbyists applauded the action against lobbyist Michael Dobson and urged the House to move switfly when it convenes in less than three weeks. FAPL Chairman Joe York said the group "completely supports" the recommendation by a select House committee that Dobson pay back $20,000 to his client, the Panama City Marine Institute, for allegedly representing the institute without registering on their behalf in the 2008 session.

"We encourage members of the Florida House to take swift and strong action and accept this consent decree when they return to Tallahassee for organizational session," York said. "The laws and rules regulating the conduct of Florida lobbyists are in place to protect not only the integrity of the process, but to a larger extent, the interest of the individuals and organizations we collectively represent before both branches of Florida government. That should never be compromised." Read FAPL's statement here. (

Posted by Steve Bousquet at 3:17:02 PM on October 29, 2008

National security still matters, McCain says

TAMPA -- The country's financial crisis will pass and when it does, threats to America's security will remain, John McCain told a crowd of about 100 invited guests in Tampa today. McCain made his remarks after hosting a national security roundtable with senators and military experts.

McCain said Obama is not prepared to defend the country. "The question is whether this is a man who has what it takes to protect to America from Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and other grave threats. He has given no reason to answer in the affirmative," he said.

McCain said he has the support of such leaders in international affairs as former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Lawrence Eagleburger, and George Schultz, who doubt Obama has the wisdom and judgment to defend the country.

He said Obama opposed the war in Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein as its leader. "And now he obstinately opposes the need to defend the young democracy of that country," he said.

Continue reading "National security still matters, McCain says" " (

Posted by Janet Zink at 2:39:07 PM on October 29, 2008

McCain to address Tampa supporters on national security

TAMPA -- Presidential candidate John McCain arrived in Tampa about 12:45 p.m. today with an entourage that included Gov. Charlie Crist and Sens. Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham and Mel Martinez.

A motorcade drove them to the University of Tampa where McCain is participating in a national security roundtable. When that event is finished, he'll address about 150 supporters on national security issues.

Included in the crowd were St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, Republican businessman and fundraiser Al Austin, Hillsborough County Commissioner Brian Blair, former state Rep. Sandy Murman, current state Rep. Kevin Ambler and Tampa City Council member Joe Caetano.

Janet Zink, Times staff writer

Posted by Times Editor at 2:07:23 PM on October 29, 2008

The Fla votes cast so far

The Democrats' latest tally for ballots cast through Tuesday shows Democrats have cast 166,311 more absentee or early votes than Republicans.

Of the 1,220,745 absentee ballots cast, Democrats cast 35.45%, Republicans cast 49.77%, and other cast 14.78%. Of the 1,437,158 early votes, Democrats cast 53.77%, Republicans 30.03%, and other 16.21%. All told, 2,657,903 votes were cast, including 413,370 from voters not registered to either major party.

Continue reading "The Fla votes cast so far" " (

Posted by Adam Smith at 1:46:50 PM on October 29, 2008

Crist & RPOF: A mixed early-voting message

Shortly before before Gov. Charlie Crist ordered early voting expanded on Tuesday -- noting in his order that there are "only" 267 early voting sites in Florida -- the Republican Party of Florida put out a very different message.

RPOF was answering criticism of Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Deboran Clark for her refusal to open more than three early voting sites in the county. (A Democratic Party official, Jon Ausman, labeled Clark a "suppressor of elections" and called for a grand jury probe of her office).

In response to Ausman's criticism, the Republican Party issued a statement, a part of which read as follows: "Florida's voters have unprecedented access to convenient ways to cast their vote, including 15 days to cast their vote in person and several weeks during which they may vote absentee in the comfort of their own homes."

Continue reading "Crist & RPOF: A mixed early-voting message " " (

Posted by Steve Bousquet at 11:38:15 AM on October 29, 2008

To some Cubans, Obama is a young Castro

Listen to Nerty Piscola's story here.

Posted by Alex Leary at 11:31:10 AM on October 29, 2008

TV ad for Obama draws on Reagan speech

The group Progressive Future, a left-leaning nonprofit, says the ad will only be running in Florida and Ohio. In Florida, the ad is scheduled to run once on Thursday in the following media markets: Fort Myers, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Miami, Pensacola, Orlando, Panama City, Tallahassee, Tampa/St. Petersburg and West Palm Beach.

Posted by Jennifer Liberto at 10:59:36 AM on October 29, 2008

McCain in Miami: 'We're all Joes'

Taking the microphone to chants of "USA,USA," Sen. John McCain is addressing a boisterous crowd at a lumber yard near Little Havana and making an urgent appeal for votes.

"We need to win Florida," McCain said. "On Nov. 4, we've got to win the state of Florida, my friends." At another point he said, "You know the pundits have written us off. Just like they have done several times before. They were wrong before and they're wrong now."

Casting himself as a champion of the common man, McCain railed against the "excess, greed and corruption" of Wall Street, pledged to cut taxes and to "take America in a new direction."

"My friends, we've learned more about Sen. Obama's real goals for the country over the last two weeks than we have over the last two years ... and that's only because Joe the Plumber asked him a question in Ohio. We're all Joes."

Continue reading "McCain in Miami: 'We're all Joes'" " (

Posted by Alex Leary at 10:52:56 AM on October 29, 2008

Tentative deal in case of lobbyist's conduct

A select state House committee and an attorney have struck a tentative agreement in the case of Michael Dobson, a lobbyist who faced charges of representing a client without first registering as required by law. Under the proposal, Dobson must repay $20,000 to the client, the Panama City Marine Institute, which sought legislative approval in 2008 for a specialty license tag. (That amount is described as "a portion" of the money paid to Dobson's firm.)

The proposal requires Dobson to repay the money by March 16, 2009. If he does not, the proposal says the Speaker of the House "may send a letter to the Office of Lobbyist Registration suspending Mr. Dobson" from lobbying. The House released a copy of the proposed agreement signed by Dobson on behalf of his firm, Dobson, Craig and Associates LLC.

The proposed consent decree spares Dobson the ordeal of a public hearing on the charges, and it must be ratified by a vote of the House of Representatives -- most likely in an organizational session in mid-November. The six-member Select Committee on Official Standards of Conduct was chaired by Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton.

Initial Buzz coverage is here. (

Posted by Steve Bousquet at 10:48:09 AM on October 29, 2008

Vote and sign ballot initiative for next go round?

The group Fair Districts Florida is asking its supporters to hit the polls on election day and take advantage of the record numbers of civic-minded voters to gather signatures for their ballot initiative aimed to change the way Congressional and legislative district map lines are drawn.

The initiative tends to be favored by Democrats, although Democrats also took advantage of redrawing district lines to suit their incumbents for many years.

Continue reading "Vote and sign ballot initiative for next go round?" " (

Posted by Jennifer Liberto at 10:39:33 AM on October 29, 2008

Crist writing off McCain in Fla?

One theory we've heard about Gov. Charlie Crist's call to extend early voting hours, a move likely to help Democrats: He sees Florida as a lost cause for McCain and wanted to shine up his bi-partisan image with an eye toward 2010.

Another theory: The governor thought it was the right thing to do.

Posted by Adam Smith at 9:53:46 AM on October 29, 2008

Brownback stumping for values voters

Kansas Sen. Brownback, a star among social conservatives, is hopping aboard a two-day "Floridians of Faith for McCain" bus tour that will take him to Maitland, Port St. Lucie, Pembroke Pines and Ave Maria.

Posted by Adam Smith at 9:25:41 AM on October 29, 2008

McCain: Fidel hurt my feelings

Sen. John McCain is currently doing interviews on Spanish-language radio in Miami, telling listeners that America deserves to know about Barack Obama's relationship with Bill Ayers.

"Sen. Obama said it was just a guy in the neighborhood," McCain said on Radio Mambi, his remarks translated into Spanish. "We know much more than that. So I don't care much about an old, washed-up, unrepentant terrorist and his wife, who was on the FBI Top 10 wanted list, but we should know about their relationship."

"It's not that Barack Obama was eight years old when Mr. Ayers was committing acts of terror; it's all about the long relationship on foundations and in his book and launching his political career in Mr. Ayer's living room."

He also appealed to the Cuban-American vote. "Fidel has made his preference known in this campaign and had some very unkind things to say about me," McCain said, laughing "My feelings are hurt."

Continue reading "McCain: Fidel hurt my feelings" "(

Posted by Alex Leary at 9:22:29 AM on October 29, 2008

2 Polls show neck and neck race

Obama 47, McCain 45, according to an Oct. 22-26 Quinnipiac University poll moe +/- 2.6^. (full detail here).( John McCain can find a bright spot: A Q poll on Oct. 23 had Obama up 49-44.But among those who say they already have voted in Florida, Obama leads 58 - 34 percent.

"Sen. McCain has made up some ground in the last week among white voters, especially in Florida where the race remains close," says pollster Peter Brown. "To win the election, he has to dominate the white vote and Sen. Obama is keeping it close enough there to maintain his slightly smaller lead."

AP/GFK 10/22-26 poll (moe +/-4): Obama 45, McCain 43: "Fewer than three in 10 think McCain will win the election. Men prefer McCain by 15 points, women back Obama by about the same amount. People under age 35 back Obama by more than two-to-one, while those age 35 and up lean slightly toward McCain. White men prefer McCain by about two-to-one, while white women are split. Asked about characteristics of minorities, 13 percent of white Democrats in the state said blacks are "violent," making it one of three states in the poll where that answer exceeded 10 percent. Twelve percent of the state's white Democrats are voting for McCain. Independents back Obama by 10 percentage points. Obama is ahead by 7 points with those who say they've already voted."

Continue reading "2 Polls show neck and neck race" " (

Posted by Alex Leary at 6:57:02 AM on October 29, 2008

It still comes down to Fla

Story here. ( "It's going to be very, very close. We're doing everything we possibly can do to carry the state,'' said state Republican chairman Jim Greer, who remains optimistic McCain will win. "It's unfortunate but the Obama campaign has financial resources that the world has never seen before. Not having the resources to be on TV as much as (McCain) needs to be is a great disadvantage."

Through Monday, nearly 20 percent of the electorate - more than 2.3-million people - had voted with mail-in absentee ballots or at early voting locations. No one knows how those Floridians voted, but so far 115,418 more Democrats have voted than Republicans. More than 350,000 independent and minor-party voters also have cast ballots.

Republican consultant Brett Doster, a veteran of both Bush-Cheney campaigns in Florida, said Republicans went into Election Day 2000 with about 100,000 more Republican votes cast than Democratic votes and that advantage rose to 150,000 in 2004. Still, Doster said that last-minute absentee votes will likely narrow the Democratic edge in early votes and that McCain is positioned to win the state thanks to the Florida GOP's long-tested voter turnout machine.

Posted by Adam Smith at 6:40:21 AM on October 29, 2008

Photo album: The fight for Florida

It has been a battle, to be sure, and Florida has provided some of the iconic images. Take a look back with this photo gallery ( we put together.

Posted by Alex Leary at 12:21:02 AM on October 29, 2008