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For their own good
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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GOP boss: Reagan, Lincoln and Crist
By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
Published October 7, 2007
As the leading Republican presidential candidates prepare to converge on Orlando for the Florida GOP's "Presidency IV" weekend Oct. 20-21, state Republican chairman Jim Greer shows little interest in downplaying speculation about Charlie Crist getting tapped as someone's running mate. In fact, Greer sounds ready to nominate Crist for Mount Rushmore.
"Gov. Crist has clearly shown that he governs in a parallel manner to Ronald Reagan, to Abraham Lincoln," Greer responded to the question of Crist as a vice presidential candidate in a taped interview for Political Connections airing today on Bay News 9. "He believes that everyone should have a seat at the table and that's getting him recognition and attention across the nation."
Greer, of course, was happy to talk about the Democratic presidential candidates boycotting Florida's Jan. 29 presidential primary and the Democratic National Committee declaring the primary officially meaningless.
"The rhetoric that the Democratic Party has preached for years, that the Republican Party wants to disenfranchise voters, the camouflage has been removed," Greer said. "It's the Republicans that are committed to the voters."
The interview airs at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. on Bay News 9.
Obama, the candidate of the pets
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who famously guards the Granite State's first-in-the-nation primary status, keeps careful tabs on primary developments in Florida and other states. He read about the Times shouting questions to Barack Obama outside a St. Petersburg fundraiser in a futile effort to get the Illinois senator to address Florida issues after pledging to Democratic leaders in several other states not to campaign in Florida.
But Gardner was a little confused about our trying to get Obama to weigh in on "a national cat fund." So we explained about Florida's keen interest in a national catastrophic insurance fund to alleviate Florida property insurance crisis.
"So it has nothing to do with cats?" Gardner asked, laughing.
State GOP's access fee: $100,000
When Republicans gather for "Presidency IV" later this month, only the leading contenders - Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, John McCain and Mitt Romney - will get to court the Florida activists that Saturday, Oct. 21. How come? Because they're the only ones who coughed up $100,000 to the state GOP.
"We gave them plenty of time and they chose not to participate that way," GOP chairman Greer said of the other candidates, noting that everybody will be at Sunday's debate. Also on the agenda: receptions for black Republicans, Hispanic Republicans and Jewish Republicans.
Actually the party demanded the candidates pay up much earlier but were gracious enough to let latecomer Thompson make his payment after the deadline.
No money needed for absent Democrats
So while the Republican candidates for president are paying big bucks to each speak to Florida's GOP this month, the Democrats have landed - drum roll, please - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who will headline the party's convention dinner on Oct. 27 in Orlando.
The major Democratic presidential candidates - Hillary Clinton, Obama and John Edwards among them - can't come, thanks to that pledge not to campaign in the state for the next four months.
Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida's senior statewide-elected Democrat, said his wife, Grace, invited the spouses of the presidential candidates to the convention, but they've been "reluctant to attend" for fear of breaking the no-Florida pledge.
"This is just getting to the extreme and the ridiculous," Nelson said.
Governor fine-tuning his tuition veto
An evolution of thinking by Crist or an about-face? The governor vetoed a 5 percent tuition increase for universities in the spring, but the Legislature is about to pass it again. The governor increasingly sounds like he's going to approve it this time.
"I haven't reached a complete conclusion, but I'm working on it," he told interviewer Beth Switzer on public TV's Florida Face to Face Thursday. Friday morning, Crist told reporters he was swayed by the compelling logic of Florida Atlantic University president Frank Brogan, who told Crist in a meeting Friday that nearly a third of the revenue from higher tuition would help low-income students.
"That mitigates it for me and makes it a little more palatable, so we'll see," Crist said.