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Mitt Romney sounded like a really sore loser last week when he complained to donors that President Barack Obama beat him by giving "gifts" to young women and minorities. Gifts like help with college tuition. This from a guy who not long ago apologized for his infamous "47 percent" comment. Republicans roundly criticized Romney but two of his top Florida backers were more gentle.

"I don't know that I would have used the word 'gifts,'" U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, said on CNN. "But I also believe that we need to do a better job, and when I say we, I mean Republicans need to do a better job of communicating to people around this country. And that's not just, you know, it's all people, regardless of where you come from, what you look like and what your political beliefs are. We have a serious problem in this country about how we're going to move forward. We see both parties are at their wings, meaning there's nobody in the center anymore in Washington. Everybody is on their wings. We need to do a better job as Republicans, communicating to people that we believe in their value as a human being, as a person, as an individual."

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio: "I don't want to rebut him point by point. I would just say to you, I don't believe that we have millions and millions of people in this country that don't want to work. I'm not saying that's what he said. I think we have millions of people in this country that are out of work and are dependent on the government because they can't find a job." Rubio, speaking to a reporter from POLITICO, said he didn't know the full context of Romney's remarks.

"I have tremendous admiration for him as a person," Rubio said. "I think he was a good candidate, he ran a hard race, there were a lot of factors at play and I thought he'd be a great president. I hope he'll stay involved with our party and stay involved with conservatism."

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Crist, election's over

The election's over, but former Gov. Charlie Crist is still on the stump for Obama.

Crist dropped in on a gathering of journalists Thursday night and essentially delivered his campaign talking points.

"I just want you to know from my heart, and my soul, I've looked into the soul of this man, and what I've seen is a man who is deserving of all of our prayers, and all of our support," Crist said of Obama at the Griot Drum Awards banquet of the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists.

And Crist continued his indirect scolding of Gov. Rick Scott for not extending early voting like Crist did in 2008 as a Republican governor.

"When you make it hard for people to vote, no matter what branch you're in, legislative, administrative, it doesn't matter, that's not fair, and that's not right," he said. "I'm a pretty easy-going fellow. But, you know, two things bring me close to anger. And it is arrogance and unfairness, and with this issue, we saw the merger of both. And that's just not right and it should not stand, and I know that it won't."

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Lobbying's big bill

The News Service of Florida reports that three legislative lobbying firms topped $1 million in fees from July 1 through Sept. 30, while eight others collected at least $500,000. Another 10 firms pulled in at least $250,000.

The top earners were Ballard Partners, Ronald L. Book PA and Southern Strategy Group. Taking into account earlier reports, each of those firms has reported collecting at least $3 million this year as they represent dozens of clients before the Legislature.

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Scott speaks of mom

Gov. Scott's mother, Esther Scott, was buried Saturday in Kansas City, Mo. She died Tuesday at age 84 after a monthlong illness.

"My mom taught me that there is no limit to what you can accomplish if you put a lot of hard work behind your dreams," Gov. Scott said. "She was gracious and kind, and later in life, she was always up for another adventure."

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DNC possibilities

U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi told her Democratic colleagues last week that she will remain in Congress, ensuring another term as leader of the caucus. The move short-circuits a chess game between would-be successors, including Florida's Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Wasserman Schultz has a few options, according to people close to her: She can stay on as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, having served only a year and a half. There's speculation that she would give up the gig after the election but that's not a given. She could also start a super PAC. Wasserman Schultz was already a proven fundraiser before her DNC role but made many new contacts that could make her a force as Democrats try to recapture the House.

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Leadership picks

The leadership roster of the 2013 Florida Legislature is starting to take shape.

After incoming Republican House Majority Leader Chris Dorworth was ousted from office, incoming Speaker Will Weatherford announced that Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, will take his place. Dana Young, R-Tampa, will be majority whip.

Precourt and Young join incoming rules chairman Rob Schenck, R-Spring Hill, speaker pro tempore Marti Coley, R-Marianna, and budget chairman Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland.

House Democratic Caucus leaders include Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, as floor leader and Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, as Democratic policy adviser.

In the Senate, incoming President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, appointed Garrett Richter, R-Naples, as president pro tempore.

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Winners of the week

State Reps. Steve Crisafulli, top, and Mike Clelland. Republican colleagues unanimously picked Crisafulli to replace Rep. Chris Dorworth as House speaker in 2014. Dorworth lost a shocker re-election battle to newcomer Clelland, whose victory was an added boost for Democrats who have shown a pulse after being dominated for years in the Florida House.

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Loser of the week

U.S. Rep. Allen West. A judge on Friday denied the bombastic South Florida lawmaker's request for a recount of early votes in St. Lucie County. The canvassing board later said it would and counting began Saturday. But it's increasingly clear that West's attempt to take his seat back from Democrat Patrick Murphy is over.

Katie Sanders contributed to this week's Buzz.