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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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Candidates say funny things - on purpose
By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
Published October 21, 2007
Republican presidential candidates used humor as they wooed Florida GOP stalwarts at the party's state convention in Orlando Saturday.
Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy have nothing to worry about from this crew, but they did get off a few good one-liners.
Here's a sample. Call it "You may be a Republican if ...this cracks you up":
Rudy Giuliani: "Where are the Canadians going to go for health care if Hillary gets Hillarycare? ... You don't believe Michael Moore that health care in Cuba is better? It now occurs to me, I've been looking at Michael Moore, and he gets his health care in Cuba, he looks real healthy, doesn't he?"
John McCain: "I feel a bit like Zsa Zsa Gabor's fifth husband, who on their wedding night said 'I know what I'm supposed to do. I just don't know how to make it interesting.'"
McCain: "The approval rating in Congress is 11 percent.
You get down that low, and you get down to paid staffers and blood relatives. It don't get much lower than that."
Mitt Romney: "My wife and I we fell in love in high school, and we've been going steady ever since. She knows my strengths and weaknesses. When we all got together to talk about it as a family, and we decided to get into this race, it was a big change, a big challenge. I turned to my wife and said, sweetheart, in your wildest dreams, could you see me running for president of the United States?
"She said, Mitt , you weren't in my wildest dreams."
Fred Thompson: This is my wife, Jeri. I think she'd make a better first a lady than Bill Clinton.
Crist's biggest applause getter: Jeb Bush
About 3,000 Republican activists gave Gov. Charlie Crist a reception Saturday that could be called polite. They applauded his arrival, but a few hundred wouldn't join in a standing ovation, and his remarks on climate change got no applause at all.
The cool reception was not altogether surprising. It's a highly partisan crowd in Orlando, and Crist has strongly downplayed partisanship as governor in favor of working with both Democrats and Republicans.
When Crist mentioned his predecessor, Jeb Bush, the crowd whooped and applauded. Social and moral issues are vital to many convention delegates, but Crist touched on them only perfunctorily, saying "the sanctity of marriage" is between a man and a woman and "a culture of life."
Crist mentioned Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan in his speech, lavishing all three with praise. But neither he nor the other luncheon speakers mentioned a fellow Republican by the name of George W. Bush.
Dr. Phil clue to Storms' favorite candidates
State Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Valrico, says she's not going to publicly endorse any candidate, but she gave Buzz a glimpse at who's catching her eye: candidates with "demonstrated integrity."
"Somebody who has integrity, to themselves, and to their espoused beliefs, and so that you can see it over a long period of time. It's like the Dr. Phil format of Republicanism: The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior."
Giuliani, Thompson do rock star walk
Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, listened to Giuliani, Romney and Thompson give private speeches at an exclusive "VIP" reception. Fasano, who is supporting Giuliani, said that "both Giuliani and Thompson, when they walked in, they were like rock stars. Definitely Thompson and Giuliani stole the show."
'Mike Who?' is banking on Florida spotlight
Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel may be barely registering in polls, but he's nothing if not optimistic. With all the other Democrats boycotting Florida's primary, the 77-year-old former Alaska senator is hopeful his refusal to shun Florida voters might raise his profile in America's biggest battleground state.
"If I can gain the support here from people, it's great. I need it, and it will be significant nationally to me and it may well propel me into the presidency," Gravel said in a Political Connectionsinterview airing today on Bay New 9 at 11 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. Gravel confided to us that the least friendly Democrat at the presidential debates is Barack Obama.
"He's just not a warm person. And he's got a fish handshake," said Gravel, depicting a flaccid grip. He offered up John Edwards and Joe Biden as among the most friendly.
Adam Smith, Jennifer Liberto and Steve Bousquet, contributed to the Buzz.