PRESIDENTIAL WANNABEES QUIETLY WORKING FLORIDA
At least a couple of candidates for president are beginning to shore up their support around the Sunshine State...
Former Republican Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's campaign has been building it's team in Florida. Several of former Governor Jeb Bush's staff members have joined the Romney campaign. Among them: Former Campaign Manager/Chief of Staff Sally Bradshaw, Finance Director Ann Herberger, and Mandy Fletcher, who recently stepped down as Executive Director of Bush's Foundation for Florida's Future. Also on the Romney team are major Florida developers and Bush fundraisers, Mel Sembler of Tampa and Mark Guzzetta of Boca Raton.
Some well known Florida politicos are also supporting Romney, including former Lieutenant Governor Toni Jennings and former State House Speaker Allan Bense. And on Friday, the Romney team announced that Congressman Tom Feeney (R - Titusville) has agreed to support his candidacy. That move is expected to help build credibility among fiscal conservatives.
Meanwhile, U.S. Senator John McCain (R - AZ) will be in South Florida tomorrow for a private meeting with supporters at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. His appearance tomorrow morning on NBC's Meet the Press will be via satellite from Miami. The senator's effort in Florida is being led by former Jeb Bush and Dick Cheney chief of staff Kathleen Shanahan, with help from Melissa Shuffield, former press secretary for U.S. Senator and new Republican National Committee Chairman Mel Martinez (R - FL), and fundraiser Phil Handy.
There is talk that Governor Charlie Crist may be favouring McCain, but he has not come out publicly to do so. Some political watchers remember that Crist snubbed a visit to North Florida by President Bush to attend a rally featuring McCain, and that the two shared a meal on Crist's campaign plane.
And among Democrats, former U.S. Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, who was John Kerry's vice presidential running mate in 2004, visited South Florida earlier in the week for a private meet-and-greet with trial attorneys from the Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach area.