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March 08, 2014

Charlie Crist addresses Gridiron Club


More than 600 beltway elites gathered tonight in white tie at the Renaissance Washington for the 129th anniversary dinner of the Gridiron Club and Foundation. Along with skits from the journalists, the closed event featured Texas Sen. Ted Cruz speaking for Republicans, Sec. of State John Kerry speaking for the White House and Charlie Crist for Democrats.

The Gridiron Club, which funds college scholarships and journalism organizations, allows no live tweeting of the dinner, let alone TV cameras or recordings. But at least we can give you Charlie Crist's remarks as prepared for delivery:

I know what you’re thinking—why Charlie Crist?

Simple— The Gridiron wanted someone of color.

It’s an honor for me to have been invited to this legendary event, one that has such a great tradition.

The Gridiron always pokes fun at candidates from both parties. You could have saved time and just invited me.

A lot of you may not know that much about me so let me give you some background.

I’m a guy with a healthy ego. But every time my ego gets a little out of control my wife reminds me that John McCain

considered me and Sarah Palin for Vice President and decided Sarah was more qualified.

I’m running for office again. Bottom line, I want my old job back. It’s the same reason Hillary is running for President.

One of the things I plan to do in my campaign is attack Rick Scott on the fact that he has let immigrants cross into Florida

to commit crimes, but enough about Justin Bieber.

Have you ever seen Rick Scott? He looks like James Carville’s evil Republican twin.

As I join you here in the nation’s capitol, I’m struck by the biggest difference between Florida and Washington DC. We

have shark attacks; you have books by Bob Gates.

I ran for Senate in 2010. Back then Ted Cruz was big fan of Donald Trump. Now Ted is saying, “lighten up on all that

born overseas birth certificate stuff.”

Ted you really are an amazing guy.

I mean to filibuster for 21 hours straight. As lawyers, we both know that’s about 63 billable hours.

Since I’m following Ted I also had a breakfast speech prepared.

I know it’s odd to see a guy like me follow Ted. Usually Ted’s followers have tri-corner aluminum foil hats.

I was trying to estimate how many people are here tonight but you know how much trouble Floridians have when it comes

to counting. All I know is it is more people than watch CNN.

You know things are bad at CNN when they say they may go to a print edition.

Sorry Candy, go easy on me tomorrow.

Yes, you in the press play a critical role in our society.

One of the important jobs all of you do is shine a light on Washington.

People get the wrong idea about politics when they see TV shows like House of Cards. People in DC aren’t nearly that

ethical. Or good looking. Or articulate.

There are a lot of reporters here representing our most prestigious papers.

And from Colorado and Washington State, there are a couple guys representing rolling papers. This could be the first year

High Times wins a Pulitzer.

The big criticism I face is that people don’t know where I stand. So it’s time to let you know once and for all what I


I believe in President Obama and I’m not going to say anything bad about him for two reasons. I like him and he has


I believe what unites us regardless of party is our realization that we all have a ruthless common enemy willing to attack

our way of life – Mark Leibovich.

I believe politicians should come to Washington with a goal.

For some it is to change America for the better. For Paul Ryan, that goal was to bench press 275.

I believe that if something is important, you should put it in writing. Just don’t let Edward Snowden near it.

I believe in freedom of speech. Even if that speech is reading Dr. Seuss in front of congress – Ted.

I believe that John Dingell’s retirement opens up a chance for young members to move up in the ranks – young upstarts

like John Conyers and Charlie Rangel.

I believe that the GOP presidential campaign will come down to Chris Christie versus Ted Cruz. They represent the two

wings of the GOP—the shutdown bridges faction versus the shutdown the entire government faction.

I believe that there is still a big tent in the GOP. With room for far right conservatives like Rand Paul and extreme liberals

like Marco Rubio.

And most of all I believe that government should care for those struggling to get by, those without hope – print reporters.

If you want to know more about what I believe in you can read my new book, The Party’s Over: How The Extreme Right

Hijacked the GOP and I Became A Democrat. If you read it backwards it sounds like the Joe Lieberman story.

One thing I don’t address in the book are the rumors about me. So I’ve decided it’s time to address them once and for all.

Confession is good for the soul and I’ve decided to admit to things about my past.

I admit I have done a few endorsement deals: [PHOTO: Just for Men Touch of Grey]

I am not ashamed to admit how much I admire John Kerry.

He’s been a mentor to me, a guy I try to emulate. [PHOTO: Windsurfing]

For years I’ve been hiding the fact I have a long lost twin. [PHOTO: George Hamilton]

I have a strange hobby. I collect fossils. [PHOTO: Newspapers]

It’s true I meddle in foreign policy. In fact I told the President I will go to Moscow to negotiate with Vladimir Putin

because Putin will be intimidated by me. [PHOTO: Bear Meme]

Of course there’s a lot of rumors going around Tallahassee about who I’d pick as my Lieutenant Governor, but I’ve got

the perfect guy who fits right in… [PHOTO: ROB FORD], especially during spring break.

But now the big one, I admit to the rumor going around about me for years—for I did in fact have a relationship with a

man… a loving relationship…a relationship that some people objected to… [PHOTO: Obama Hug]

I want to sincerely thank Clark Hoyt and the Gridiron members for inviting me to speak.

Tonight is a chance for those of us who run for office and those who report on what we do, to relax together, have some

fun and to carry on a tradition that has been part of life in Washington DC since 1885.

The Gridiron is unique—it’s an opportunity for press and politicians, Democrats and Republicans, to show that despite

our differences, we also have a lot in common.

We all want our country to be stronger. We all want it to be better.

We could use a little more of that cooperation. We could use more of that friendly dialogue. We could use more of that

attitude — in Washington DC and in Florida.

[STORY: Adam Christodoulos, Governor Crist’s grandfather, who immigrated to the USA from Cyprus in 1912.]

Once again thank you for inviting me, God Bless all of those in our military who keep us safe strong and secure and

God Bless the United States of America.

Also, the Rick Scott campaign felt obliged to offer this:

"Charlie Crist and President Obama have decided to trade places this weekend. The President is on another golfing trip in South Florida while ignoring the crisis in Venezuela, and Charlie Crist is hobnobbing with the Washington elite crowd while ignoring over 1 million Florida seniors who could be harmed by Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage.” - Greg Blair, Rick Scott for Florida spokesman



Ahead in polls, medical marijuana poised for ad-war win


Medical marijuana is so popular in Florida that 78 percent of likely voters in Republican-controlled state Senate districts back the idea, according to a recent state GOP poll obtained by The Miami Herald.

The survey echoes two others last month that found medical-marijuana support ranging from 64 percent to 70 percent — results consistent with every major Florida public poll released in the past year.

And the favorable political environment for a proposed medical-marijuana constitutional amendment isn’t just limited to public opinion.

Well-funded organized opposition is lacking right now. And, in an ironic twist, the most high-profile opponent of medical marijuana — Gov. Rick Scott — could indirectly and unintentionally help the proposed amendment, strategists say.

To win reelection, Scott’s campaign is likely to trigger a mammoth $150 million TV ad war, which could reduce the supply of available commercial advertising time, drive up the price of commercials and therefore make it tougher for outgunned anti-drug crusaders to get out their message.

“In an environment such as that, message-penetration can be challenging for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of money,” said Kyle Roberts, president of Virginia-based Smart Media Group, one of the nation’s premier political ad-buying firms.

The estimated $150 million that could be spent — $100 million from Scott and Republicans; $50 million from Democrat Charlie Crist — “can cause a lot of voter confusion when it comes to other issues on the ballot,” Roberts said.

Medical-marijuana opponents have one major advantage, however: It takes 60 percent voter approval — a high bar — to pass a constitutional amendment in Florida. That means just a minority of voters can defeat the proposal at the Nov. 4 polls.

More here

The Hill: Marco Rubio's 'the biggest loser' in CPAC poll

From The Hill:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has won the Conservative Political Action Conference's straw poll for the second year in a row.

Paul took 31 percent of the vote, a 20 point lead over second-place finisher Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The freshman senator got 11 percent, but saw a significant uptick from just 4 percent last year....

The biggest loser of the night was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Though he finished in second place last year with 23 percent, this year his support cratered and he finished in seventh place with just 6 percent support. The Florida senator saw his support among the conservative base erode following his support for comprehensive immigration reform.

More here

GOP strength increasing by the day in CD13


As of Saturday, about 117,000 ballots had been cast in Pinellas County’s special election for Congressional District 13 - more than half of the votes likely to be cast - and Republicans are gaining steam in the closing days. The GOP advantage in votes cast more than doubled over the last week to about 4,500 votes.

That said, most of what we wrote yesterday still holds, so through the wonders of cut and paste:...

For all the talk about an energized, anti-Obama Republican base in this off-year special election, the key to victory on Tuesday — no surprise for a swing district in the swing state of Florida — is swing voters and independents.
Republican David Jolly wins if he can keep Democrat Alex Sink from peeling away too many Republicans and beating him too heavily among the nearly one in five voters registered to neither major party.

As of Saturday, Republicans had a nearly 4,515-vote advantage over Democrats in District 13 and likely will cast significantly more votes on election day than Democrats. It still may not be enough for Jolly, given the way swing voters ultimately pick the winner in this centrist district.
Consider that in 2012, Republicans had cast nearly 11,000 more votes than Democrats by election day and then outperformed Democrats on election day by more than 9,000 votes. Barack Obama still narrowly won that district.

In 2010, Republicans had a nearly 12,400-vote lead prior to election day and then on election day cast more than 8,600 more votes than Democrats. Sink still narrowly beat Republican Rick Scott in the district.

It’s shaping up to be a squeaker, but giving the recent track record of District 13 voters, Jolly needs an even stronger GOP surge in final stretch and on Tuesday. If it’s really close, we may not know the winner for sure until March 21, the deadline for overseas ballots to arrive.

$9m in outside spending + misleading ads = 'death of the local campaign' in CD13


In the 33 years before his death, U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young spent a total of $6.7 million on his campaigns. The race to succeed him has blown past $12 million. In three months.

The onslaught is fueled not by the candidates but by outside groups that have delivered $9 million in mostly negative ads and contributed to an emerging and dramatic shift in politics:

The death of the local campaign.

Republican David Jolly and Democrat Alex Sink are supporting actors in an arms war that has turned the race into a simplistic, hard-hitting and often misleading referendum. Sink is cast as a liberal puppet in love with Obamacare; Jolly is characterized as a slick lobbyist bent on destroying Social Security and Medicare.

The candidates, like others in competitive races increasingly drawing outside money, have harnessed these themes at the expense of highlighting parochial issues and presenting themselves in a positive light. At once they are helped and hemmed in by independent groups, which have made the contest the most expensive special House election in history.

"It's incredibly frustrating," said Jolly, who has publicly criticized some of the attacks his allies made on Sink. "You would be hard pressed to find a voter in Pinellas County, who doesn't already know Alex or I, that's been able to make an informed decision simply on the TV commercials."

A swing seat after decades of Republican control, the 13th Congressional District has attracted outsized attention because it is the only game in the country at the moment, each side prepping for November's bigger war.

Still, the torrent of money, a significant amount from groups that keep the identities of donors a secret, has exceeded all expectations.

Nearly 200 political commercials have aired on TV each day. Ads dog people online and clog mailboxes, a daily dose of accusations and unflattering photos. When one outside group drops a new ad, it is followed by a call to attack from a group on the other side, an endlessly escalating game of mutual destruction.

Full story here

Curbelo named CPAC rising star

State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz wasn't the only Miami-Dade politician honored at this weekend's Conservative Political Action Conference.

The 10 rising conservative stars under 40 also included Miami-Dade School Board member and congressional candidate Carlos Curbelo.

Speaking to attendees Saturday, Curbelo called Obamacare "the most recent example of the left's misguided policies that close the path of upward social mobility for those that have the desire to grow and achieve more for themselves and their families."

"Before they used to trap people in welfare," he said. "Today, they trap people in Obamacare. This healthcare law is the perfect storm to suppress those that are most in need of jobs and opportunities in this country."

Curbelo also used the platform to criticize Democratic education policies.

"Their chief concern is: Are the adults satisfied?" he said.

Curbelo is running against Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia in Florida's 26th congressional district.

Watch his speech below.


Marco Rubio blasts OAS' 'sham' Venezuela resolution, chides Obama

From a press release:

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement today regarding last night's passage of an Organization of American States (OAS) resolution regarding the Venezuela crisis:

"First, I want to commend the governments of Canada and Panama for standing with the U.S. and the Inter-American Democratic Charter against this sham of an OAS resolution on Venezuela.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio blasts OAS' 'sham' Venezuela resolution, chides Obama" »

What Rep. Joe Garcia said to President Obama

From a press release

WASHINGTON, DC - This morning, Congressman Joe Garcia met with President Obama to discuss critical issues affecting his South Florida District. During the in-flight meeting, Congressman Garcia discussed some of his top-priority issues including the crisis in Venezuela, immigration reform, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and skyrocketing flood insurance rates – a topic that has been gaining steam in Congress.

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed a bill which would address exorbitant rate increases for tens of thousands of homeowners and renters in the district. Congressman Garcia has been at the forefront of flood insurance reform and a staunch advocate for finding bipartisan solutions.

Continue reading "What Rep. Joe Garcia said to President Obama" »