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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Cuban stogie could be too hot for Thompson
By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Staff Writer
Published September 16, 2007
Adam Smith | Times
Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson campaigned alongside Pasco GOP Chairman Bill Bunting. They made a stop at the Lakeland Gun Show.
Cuban stogie could be too hot for Thompson
Courting Miami Cuban-Americans on Radio Mambi on Friday in Little Havana, Fred Thompson was adamant about his approach to Fidel Castro's Cuba: "We definitely would maintain sanctions, would maintain the embargo."
So we were curious about a Weekly Standard article noting "box upon box" of cigars from Havana in Thompson's office.
In a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9, Thompson brushed off the apparent contradiction between the embargo and his fondness for Cuban stogies. "If I have a friend that occasionally passes me a cigar, I don't check its heritage," he said. "You know, if it's good, I smoke it."
Miami-Dade Democratic chairman Joe Garcia questioned whether law-and-order voters will embrace a candidate "who smokes something illegal."
The taped interview with the actor and former Tennessee senator airs at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Bay News 9. Thompson has drawn negative press across the country already because of his vague response when asked about congressional intervention in the case of Terri Schiavo, the woman whose feeding tube was removed after she spent years in a vegetative state.
"For conservatives, it was another in a string of Thompson statements since his entry into the race that may give them pause," Politico's Jonathan Martin wrote Saturday.
GOP candidates pick up local cash, support
Florida, and the Tampa Bay area, will this week once see a parade of presidential contenders. Rudy Giuliani will be in Fort Lauderdale Monday morning and in Tampa that afternoon, though the campaign on Saturday had not ironed out details for the Tampa appearance.
On Tuesday, Thompson will meet with Gov. Charlie Crist and other Republicans in Tallahassee and zip into Tampa for a private fundraiser hosted by Dick Beard. Jumping aboard the Thompson train is Pinellas County Commission Chairman Ronnie Duncan. "He's refreshing, and we need someone like him who can galvanize and bring people together," Duncan said.
Mitt Romney, who last week won the endorsement of a top Jacksonville-area money man, John Rood, will hold a rally in the Villages in north-central Florida and attend a series of private fundraisers.
Democrats wring hands over primary
While Republicans are campaigning all over the place for Florida votes, Democrats seem busier fighting over what to do about the state's Jan. 29 primary. The Democratic National Committee is promising to strip away all of Florida delegates because the early date violates the national party's rules, and the leading presidential candidates have promised to boycott Florida unless Florida comes into compliance.
"The DNC made a huge mistake," former Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa said last week.
U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville chimed in: "We cannot afford to stamp on the morale of Florida's voters even more by disenfranchising the state's delegates. To me, that would be not only unconscionable, but politically disastrous for our party."
For Florida Republicans looking at a tough political climate, the Democrats' floundering is much appreciated. "They're like the gift that keeps on giving," said Republican National Committeewoman Sharon Day of Broward County.
And the solution is ...
The state Democratic Party may well come up with a proposal to come into compliance with the DNC - possibly a statewide caucus later in the year to divvy up Florida's presidential delegates, or a state convention or a vote-by-mail election. Sen. Bill Nelson has talked to DNC chairman Howard Dean about holding a mid March state convention to select delegates.
Jon Ausman, a DNC member from Tallahassee, e-mailed state Democratic chairwoman Karen Thurman about the lack of information: "While I do appreciate the fact some like to keep their thinking secret, we represent 4,200,000 Democrats who are anxious and uneasy about the conflict between the Democratic National Committee and Florida Democrats."
GOP political organizers sign up
No, Romney and Giuliani haven't hired all the GOP political talent in Florida. There's Buzz about some new Thompson Sunshine State hires: Former Jeb and Bush-Cheney staffer Brandi Brown will be state political director; veteran organizer Tim Buckley will be doing Central Florida fieldwork out of Orlando; Carlos Curbelo and Danny Lopez will be helping with Hispanic outreach and other organizing in Miami-Dade; former Crist and House Majority staffer Katie Gordon will be doing communications work, and Bill McCollum alum Jill Williams will be helping reel in Florida bucks.
Adam C. Smith and Janet Zink contributed to this week's Buzz.