Sunday, October 14, 2012

Are Florida Republicans getting cocky about Romney's chance in the Sunshine State?

Posted By on Sun, Oct 14, 2012 at 2:36 PM

The historic 2000 presidential recount in Florida solidified the Sunshine State's reputation as the biggest of swing states in presidential contests. But the last two presidential elections haven't been all that close at the end; John McCain lost by three percentage points in 2008, and George W. Bush beat John Kerry by five points here in 2004.

So when former South Florida Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler began a discussion on CNN's State of the Union by saying that "one thing that you can bank on is that Florida will be close on election night," Florida Republican Al Cardenas just had to interrupt.

"Maybe. Maybe. I think it all depends on these next two debates. It's fair to say that Governor Romney's got a three-point lead in some polls, Mason-Dixon had him with a seven-point lead. I think it's in the three to four-point rate. But this election maybe could not be close."

Cardenas' (irrational?) exuberance is predicated on that Mason-Dixon poll released on Friday that shows the Republican nominee up by seven points over President Obama. Two other polls (Rasmussen and ARG) show Romney up by four and three points, respectively, over President Obama in the Sunshine State.

Florida GOP political consultant Rick Wilson says Romney's momentum transcends Florida, as he blogged on Friday that Team Obama and their supporters were in free fall.

You can see their gyros tumbling as they slew from Big Bird to abortion to “Mitt Romney is a lying liar liarpants McLiar” to the walking disaster that is Stephanie Cutter every time she opens her mouth to the remarkable, bizarre interview the Three Divas (Axelrod, Plouffe and Messina, obviously) gave Mark Halperin this week. Their campaign is out of control, and they know it.

Back on CNN, Cardenas, the chairman of C-PAC and a two-time Republican Party of Florida chair, said Team Obama is in real trouble in terms of voter intensity.

"The 18-29 vote that was decisive for him in 2008? The intensity factor is down 25 percent and in Florida it's even higher because of the unemployment rate amongst our young people. The seniors...he's now losing the senior vote because of the Medicare issue."

Cardenas even took the offensive on the issue of immigration, where Mitt Romney's "severe" conservatism has appeared to hurt him with Latino voters nationwide.

But apparently not in Florida, according to the Mason-Dixon poll conducted for the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 that was released on Friday, which stunningly showed Romney leading Obama with that growing demographic, 46-44 percent.

"The only candidate who said he's going to find a bi-partisan solution (to comprehensive immigration reform) is Mitt Romney," Cardenas maintained. "It's like Nixon going to China. The only party that can get immigration reform permanently done in the United States is Romney's party. And he said he would. Now President Obama's had four years. He's broken all of his promises to Hispanics. How can you trust a person who hasn't done anything in four years."

Cardenas' point is one that other Hispanic Republicans have been touting on the campaign trail, though there is no proof whatsoever that Romney could lead House Republicans to some type of immigration reform deal. Then again, the candidate has said very little about the issue on the stump, other than that he would support "self-deportation" for undocumented immigrants, and would back a DREAM Act style law for members of the military.

Romney has been a bit less clear about President Obama's plan that would grant reprieves from deportation to hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants.

In an interview earlier this month with the Denver Post, Romney said he would not stop two-year deportation deferrals already granted by the Obama administration, but a campaign aide said the next day that a Romney administration would not continue the president's program, but instead would "replace it and would only honor visas already issued."

On CNN, Robert Wexler pounced, saying nobody was more extreme in his rhetoric on immigration than Romney. "He was to the right of Newt Gingrich. He slammed Newt Gingrich. He slammed Governor Perry to being too accommodating to new immigrants....Governor Romney cannot run from his very harsh position on immigration, a position that is quite anti the interests of Latinos in Florida."

Cardenas responded by citing unemployment rates of Latinos, "and frankly they don't want four more years of this."

In the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday, senior Obama adviser David Plouffe didn't bust out the "bedwetters" epithet so famously employed in 2008 to placate worried Democrats, but did say "It's going to be an extremely close race. It's going to end up in a range I think of 2 or 3 points at the most."

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