Monday, January 28, 2008

Hey, We Have a Primary Here

I’ve been out of town for a little while, and so when I get back home imagine my surprise at finding all sorts of phone machine messages urging me to vote for this or that, and suddenly yard signs are seen for this or that candidate. Along with all of that we get articles in the Miami Herald about fighting between the Republicans over the endorsement by Governor Crist. It seems the Romney people are feeling like they got dissed.

The disser-in-chief: former Florida House Speaker Allan Bense. He suggested the Republican governor’s endorsement of John McCain could actually hurt the candidate in the Panhandle because Crist is seen as too moderate.

Bense is a supporter of Mitt Romney.

”I think we’re conservative in this part of the world,” Bense said in a conference call. ”Since the endorsement last night, I got 47 phone calls to my cellphone and home cell, either wanting to get [Romney] campaign signs or how to get to the rally that Gov. Romney will attend.”

The sour-grapes comments — Romney had sought the governor’s endorsement — exposed the increasing tensions in the two men’s battle for victory in Florida. Polls have the two men running neck and neck for first place in Tuesday’s primary.

The Romney camp struck hard at McCain in a prerecorded call Sunday to Republican voters that painted the Arizona senator as a Hillary Clinton buddy, a Bush tax-cut flip-flopper and a supporter of ”amnesty” for illegal immigrants.

McCain’s camp said Romney was desperate. The tough talk came a day after McCain put Romney on the defensive by twisting his words on Iraq and suggesting Romney wanted to withdraw quickly. Romney called McCain’s statements ”dishonest” and demanded an apology. McCain hit back, saying Romney should apologize to the troops.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton blew through the state even though the Democratic votes and delegates aren’t supposed to count.

Still, Democrat Hillary Clinton swooped into Florida for three fundraisers late Sunday and said she would be back Tuesday to assure Democrats voting in the state’s primary that ”their voices are heard.”

The Florida chairman of rival Barack Obama’s campaign, Kirk Wagar, accused her campaign of looking to soften the loss to Obama in South Carolina.

Now I just have to remember to vote.