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Politics

Gingrich comes out against national disaster insurance

By ADAM C. SMITH
Published April 15, 2007


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Amid Florida's insurance crisis, the newest issue for presidential candidates to pander on in the Sunshine State is the creation of a national catastrophic fund for disasters. Unlike the current president, Republicans Rudy Giuliani and John McCain both say they support such a fund, and Mitt Romney at least promises to look at it.

But former U.S. House speaker and potential presidential candidate Newt Gingrich apparently missed the Florida talking points memo. He questioned why the country should subsidize people who spend millions of dollars for oceanfront views in hurricane-prone areas.

"If people build in high-risk areas, and you know it's a high-risk area, there should be some way to internalize that risk in your insurance costs," Gingrich said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9. "That's probably very unpopular with people who would like a free ride."

Gingrich, who said he won't decide whether to get into the presidential race until the fall, also weighed in on state House Speaker Marco Rubio, Gov. Charlie Crist's popularity among Democrats, global warming, and the potential presidential campaign of actor and former Sen. Fred Thompson. Part of the interview airs at 11 a.m. on Bay News 9, and the full interview can be seen on Channel 342 (Bay News 9 on Demand).

Party bucks

The Republican Party of Florida filed its quarterly fundraising report last week, showing that it took in nearly $3.87-million in the three months ending March 31.

Six-figure donors include $160,000 from the Florida Realtors PAC, $108,000 in in-kind donations from Universal Studios, and $100,000 each from the Villages, IOTC Financial Services of Boca Raton and Anchors Street Ltd., a Destin real estate firm. The GOP's biggest single expense: $89,000 to Watercolor Inn & Resort, the St. Joe-owned property where House Republicans held a retreat in December.

The Florida Democratic Party took in $1.3-million, with much of the money apparently aimed at investigating and challenging the messy 13th Congressional District election in the Sarasota area. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee gave the party $38,000, and a District 13 recount committee gave more than $55,000.

Heckuva job, Albertie

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite is unimpressed with the way President Bush is standing by embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in the controversy surrounding fired U.S. attorneys.

"I see this as another, "Good job, Brownie,' " said the Brooksville Republican, referring to former Federal Emergency Management Agency director Michael Brown, in a taped interview for an upcoming Political Connections on Bay News 9. "It's almost like the president has an intense loyalty to the people he appoints. In this case, though, I think it's misdirected. ... I would like to see Mr. Gonzales admit his mistakes and/or step down."

Crist's PR

Here's another difference between former Gov. Jeb Bush and Crist: Crist embraces national media attention. While lobbying for a national catastrophic fund in Washington last week, he also scheduled some face time with Fox & Friends, CNN's Wolfe Blitzer and Republican pundit Fred Barnes. He has a Time magazine profile coming soon.

Columnist Robert Novak recently took a shot at Crist for allegedly departing from Jeb Bush's conservative agenda. But Crist may or may not take solace with the glowing reviews he has recently from the Nation's liberal editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, and USA Today's Democratic-leaning columnist DeWayne Wickham for making it easier for ex-felons to regain their civil rights after completing their sentences.

Rah-rah, Ronda

State Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, is only halfway through her first session, but she's already getting praise from Senate President Ken Pruitt, who named Storms to be chairwoman of the Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee.

"This is probably the most difficult, most challenging committee we have, and she has done a masterful job," he said. "She didn't just hit the ground running; she took a sprint. She has an incredible way of elevating the issues, and moving them forward."

Win some, lose some

Former Charlie Justice-Mary Mulhern campaign manager Mitch Kates - "Jason the Terrible" was his name in his old days as a pro wrestler - lost his latest race. His client was an incumbent Sarasota City commissioner who fell victim to the same kind of antigrowth sentiment that helped Mulhern win a seat on the Tampa City Council.

Kates, in an e-mail, was undaunted by the loss: "Just remember, in the movies (Friday the 13th), Jason never dies - he always comes back to wreak havoc again!"

Adam C. Smith, Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler, and Steve Bousquet contributed to this week's Buzz. For much more breaking political news, check out blogs.tampabay.com/buzz.

[Last modified April 15, 2007, 00:28:49]


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