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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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It's a gloating old party
By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
Published October 22, 2007
Sure Republicans head into 2008 with an unpopular president, an unpopular war and no consensus on their best presidential candidate. But like manna from heaven, the Democratic presidential candidates' boycott of Florida's Jan. 29 primary has state GOP leaders giddy.
"I cannot imagine any candidate for president ever signing (such a pledge), but they have," a beaming state Republican chairman Jim Greer told party leaders at the Presidency IV convention Sunday in Orlando. The Republican National Committee, like the national Democratic Party, probably will soon declare the Florida GOP is in violation of party rules and should lose half its delegates to the national convention for setting its primary too early, Greer said, but don't sweat it.
The state party is trying to persuade the RNC that it technically complies with the rules. It's also making a compelling political argument.
"Our party, because of what the Democrats have done, has an opportunity that it has never had before to step forward and say every vote will count, no state will have its delegates reduced. And it will benefit our party for 50 years to come," Greer said. "Rules are important to any organization, but no one should be a prisoner of the rules."
Greer said he asks every presidential candidate he speaks to to promise to seat all of Florida's 114 delegates to the national convention, and "I can assure you those conversations have gone along very positively. ... When you read that the national party says Florida is penalized by 50 percent of its vote, tell your neighbors, say, 'Fellow Republicans don't panic.' ... At the end of the day when the gavel comes down at that convention, I think we're going to have all of our delegates, but if not, we're in a great place either way."
No tax cut to celebrate
It was a reminder of how dicey the efforts are to hammer out a property tax cutting package in Tallahassee: The Florida GOP abruptly canceled a tax cut rally planned for Sunday afternoon.
'Get to the bar'
Why did Fred Thompson speak less than five minutes to Florida Republican activists Saturday? Senior Thompson adviser Rich Galen told Buzz that before taking the stage Thompson asked how long the crowd had been in the room, and learned they had already been there a long time.
"He said, 'Then why don't we give them five minutes of pure, grass roots rah-rah and let them get to the bar.'"
Bad call, based on the bad Buzz that speech created for Thompson at Presidency IV.
Giuliani skips reception
Sam Newby, vice chairman of the Florida Federation of Black Republicans and president of the Jacksonville-area Joseph E. Lee Republican Club, is known as a tireless campaign worker, and until Saturday had been an ardent Rudy Giuliani supporter. No longer.
Like a number of African-American Republicans we talked to, he's jumped to team Romney, after Rudy opted not to pop into the Black Republicans reception Saturday.
"As African-Americans, we're not going to be taken for granted any more," Newby said. "That sent a message to me that we're not good enough to come talk to and that means he's not good enough for me to support."
Fred Thompson dropped by to see the 300 people there, and Mitt Romney not only spent 35 minutes but hosted an ice cream reception for the party activists.
The Giuliani camp said the former New York mayor was busy with debate preparation and sent Attorney General Bill McCollum in his place.
Food for thought
Gov. Charlie Crist gave a speech at the end of Sunday's prayer breakfast at the Presidency IV convention that was anything but the bash-the-Democrats fodder that Republican activists like to hear.
Crist was not listed as a speaker on the breakfast program, and he was the last one to speak. Unlike his predecessor, Jeb Bush, Crist is not comfortable talking about faith in public.
"You know, I don't talk about religion that much. It's sort of personal," Crist said. "But it's very meaningful to me." He mentioned Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp's serious heart illness a few years ago that could have been fatal and "we almost lost him" but "God had a mission in mind for him."
Then Crist elicited audible groans from the crowd of more than 2,000 Republican activists when he spoke in glowing terms about his friend Democratic U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler of Palm Beach County, who accompanied Crist to Israel in May. "He's a good man," Crist said of Wexler. "Not perfect, but a good man. He's a little vocal sometimes, I know." Crist told the story of putting a note in the Western Wall asking God to protect Florida from hurricanes, and said: "So far, so good," rapping his right fist on the wooden lectern.
Adam C. Smith and Steve Bousquet contributed to this Presidency IV edition of the Buzz.