No strings attached to Crist, the Donald says

By Times Staff
Published October 15, 2006

Donald Trump may have loads of current and future real estate, development, gambling and other interests potentially affected by the next election, but at his fourth fundraiser for Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, the Donald insisted that had nothing to do with his strong support for Crist.

“No, not at all,” he said Friday night at a $10,000-per-person state GOP fundraiser at his Mar-A-Lago club in Palm Beach. “I don’t need anything from him, I don’t want anything from him. I think he’s a tremendous person, and I think he’ll be great for Florida, that’s it. And if he’s great for Florida, that’s good for me.”

Between enthusiastic chit-chat about a Palm Beach code enforcement controversy over his 40- by 60-foot American flag (“That’s awesome,’’ said Crist), his new bestselling book, and his decision to fire Carolyn Kepcher, his former co-star on The Apprentice, Trump talked a little politics.

The war in Iraq has been a “total and complete disaster,” he said, and “whoever is against the war should take control of Congress.”

He predicts his friends John McCain and Rudy Giuliani will wind up as the Republican ticket together in 2008 and will face a very, very tough race from his good friend Hillary Clinton.

“She’s a brilliant woman, and she’s going to be a very, very formidable candidate,” the registered Republican said of his home state senator. “I believe she’ll be the Democratic candidate. … Absolutely, I think she can win, especially if the war’s still going on. Hopefully, she gets more militant against the war. … She’s a little bit down the middle, which I think is a bad stance.”

Last time Trump headlined a Crist fundraiser in Palm Beach, nearly 600 people showed for a “fiasco” where Trump said he expected no more than 65. Trump told Crist this time he could not make it because his book was coming out, but Crist would not take no for an answer. So Trump obliged, though it meant “grabbing all those filthy hands.”

WAS IT SOMETHING WE SAID? Days after campaigning for Democrats in Tampa Bay, former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner surprised the political world by announcing he would not run for president in 2008 as expected. He also taped an interview on Political Connections airing on Bay News 9 today at 11 a.m.

Warner left office immensely popular in a heavily Republican state, and offered Democrats nationally some advice:
“My hope and prayer is that the Democrats lay out that national competitive strategy, connect the dots between energy policy, global warming, security and job creation, recognize that we’ve got to get our fiscal house in order. We can do it,” he said in the interview that later can be seen on Channel 342 (Bay News 9 on Demand).

SHOW US THE MONEY: The legislature in 2002 did away with a state party campaign finance reporting period, which means the public may not see until after the election who’s putting millions of unlimited “soft money” into many of those campaign ads you’re seeing lately for state candidates.

But the latest reports for the Crist and Davis campaigns show that in the week ending Oct. 6, Crist raised another $1.1-million and Davis nearly $350,000. That leaves Davis with $1.1-million on hand, compared to $3.8-million for Crist.

ROMNEY LANDS BRADSHAW: Sally Bradshaw, Jeb Bush’s longtime political adviser and one of the bigger political brains, has signed on to help prospective presidential candidate Mitt Romney. For the immediate future, Bradshaw will be advising Romney’s Commonwealth PAC on key Republican races across the country.

Is Gov. Bush signaling his preference for ’08? Well, next week Romney joins Bush in Venice, rallying Republicans.

DEMOCRATIC ADS: The Florida Democratic Party has begun a statewide radio advertising campaign on behalf of Davis and running mate Daryl Jones. The ad, which can be heard on tampabay.com, targets African-American voters and highlights Jones’ background.

“We can change Florida because Jim Davis and Daryl Jones are partners for progress, reducing the cost of prescription drugs, housing and insurance rates. Democrats will overhaul the FCAT and reduce class size for our kids,” a male voice says over upbeat music.

Then the mood grows ominous. “Charlie Crist’s slick TV ads don’t tell you that. He’s about the disastrous Bush programs that have hurt black people. No, he won’t tell you that — all the bad things that he’s done to us as a big-time Republican.”

The Crist campaign responded with a statement: “Charlie Crist’s record of doing the right thing when it comes to civil rights speaks for itself — from the Moore investigation to the Marvin Davies Civil Rights Act to the Southern Inn settlement. The Davis campaign is simply trying to distract Floridians from Jim Davis’ poor record on civil rights, especially voting against compensation for (Freddie) Pitts and (Wilbert) Lee.”

Incidentally, Davis and Jones will host a town hall meeting in Largo at 3:30 p.m. today at the Pinellas County Classroom Teachers Association-ESPA Hall, 650 Seminole Blvd.

41 AND 42: After raising money together for tsunami victims, Bill Clinton has spent a weekend in Kennebunkport, Maine, and has Barbara Bush joking that he’s practically a son. But Jeb Bush thinks it’s all about 2008 politics and “maintains Dad is being used,” wrote his sister Doro Bush Koch in a book about former President George H.W. Bush called My Father, My President.

“President Clinton’s advisers have figured out that, in terms of character and integrity, a rising tide lifts all boats,” Jeb said in his sister’s book. “So I could see President Clinton’s motivation. Apparently he is a very likable person. I believe Dad does it because it was important to show the world that partisanship stops when there’s a crisis, and I think the tenor in Washington is such that having a nonpartisan relationship between two former presidents is good.”

LEGISLATOR TO LOBBYIST: Congratulations, Tallahassee, you’re No. 2. The Center for Public Integrity has a new report showing that only Texas has more former legislators in its lobbying corps than Florida (70 and 60, respectively).

-- Adam C. Smith, Jennifer Liberto and Alex Leary contributed to this week’s Buzz. For much more breaking political news check out blogs.tampabay.com/buzz.