Archive for January, 2008

McCain on Romney: Nada
January 30, 2008

In his victory speech John McCain heaped praise on Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani is likely to endorse the Arizona Senator and Huckabee, if he stays in the race will suck votes away from Mitt Romney. There was no mention at all of Mitt Romney. McCain and Romney bickered way late in the campaign about “The L word.” Each accused the other of being, horror of horrors for Republicans, a liberal. All this might serve as a predictor of things to come. I do not know much about Mitt Romney’s temperament but John McCain can be brutally blunt and can take things to a personal level quickly. Over the years he’s blistered some of his Senate colleague with some blue language that would almost make a sailor blush. Maybe it was smart that McCain adhered to the old school yard rule “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all.” Last night there were no nice words for Mitt Romney, in fact, no words at all.

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Rudy takes a Florida Bath
January 30, 2008

Wonder why Rudy Giuliani took a bath in Florida? Looks like the South Florida Hispanics and ex-New Yorkers went sour on the the former New York Mayor. Amazing numbers:

Miami-Dade County:

Mitt Romney 16%
Rudy Giuliani 19%
John Mc Cain 49%

Broward County:

Rudy Giuliani 19%
Mitt Romney 24%
John McCain 41%

Those numbers are surprising considering Rudy’s time and dollars spent in South Florida. The “Florida eggs in one basket plan” for the Mayor did not work. It was a political disaster.

Martinez tells all! The McCain endorsement
January 30, 2008

7:55 01/29/08

Senator Mel Martinez tells me tonight that he voted for John McCain when he voted early some weeks ago. Martinez had been hesitant to endorse in the Republican Presidential Primary. Rudy Giuliani had courted Martinez as part of his work in the Cuban American Community. Giuliani was aware that Martinez and McCain had talked. Giuliani wanted Martinez to atleast stay neutral. In the end Martinez tells me that what sent him out front was his belief that McCain would be the best candidate to attract independent voters in the general election. Independent voters are McCain’s strong suite and Martinez believes he can bring them to the Republican table.

McCain: A campaign moment
January 27, 2008

It is one of those moments that you only realize what was going on much later. I was right in the middle of the the McCain grabs the endorsement of Charley Crist story and I really did not know it. My habit, when covering political events, is to stand back on the edge of the crowd. It was what I did when I spent some time as a political operative during a Nevada gubernatorial campaign. On the edge of the crowd you get the big picture, you get the feel and the smell of the event. That is exactly where I was when John McCain walked into the Latin Builders Associatiton meeting with U.S. Senator Mel Martinez in toe, fresh with a sought after endorsement. There was a tall distinguished looking guy with a good suit standing next to me. A local McCain operative introduced me to Charlie Black, which Time Magazine describes as McCain’s “wise Man, famous for shepherding the candidacies of Ronald Reagan and the two Bushes.” Black is the consummate political pro. I mentioned to him that nailing down Mel Martinez was a big coup. He was quick in a very smooth way to focus the conversation on Florida’s tanned, popular, GOP Governor Charley Crist. Just about that time a stocky beaded guy appeared at Black’s side. Now I realized it was Mark Salter, McCain’s speech writer. Salter had a beer in his hand. I said to him that it looked like to me that, “you need that beer.” He kind of nodded, smiled and then it became clear that he’d been in on the coup to line up Senator Mel Martinez. The two political pros had questions about Charley Crist. Since I don’t cover politics on a regular basis I was not much of source of the latest inside scuttle butt, but now I realize
these were the guys leading the charge to snag an endoresment from the highly popular Republican Governor. They had lots of questions of a local reporter who was about their age. My instincts, having been in the game some years ago, was Crist would jump on the band wagon if the polls were looking good for McCain. Those polls convinced Senator Martinez and they probably goosed Crist into getting on board which he did late Saturday evening. It was a magic moment in a campaign. The two endorsements could have iced the Florida Repubican primary for John McCain. I was right there and was more worried about my upcoming live shot that soaking in and figuering out the moment.

McCain on Cuba:"With a little help from my Friends."
January 22, 2008

Senator John McCain was in Little Havana kicking off his Florida Primary campaign. He had lots to say about the economy, the war, and of course Cuba. Here are excepts of his statements about the Island Nation:

On the embargo:

“Continue the embargo until there are elections, human rights organizations and a free and independent country then and only then will the United States extend aid and assistance because we do not want American tax dollars going to a corrupt government headed by Raul and Fidel Castro.”

On Radio and TV Marti:

“I will spend anything that is necessary to in the case of freedom. We know what won the cold war, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty.”

On the “wet foot/dry foot policy.”

“I rely to a large degree on my three friends (Lincoln DiazBalart Mario DiazBalart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen)here that are members of congress…Their advice to me that this is not a good policy, but there is none(nothing)better.”

On Hugo Chavez:

“I believe that he is a threat in the region…. The best way to handle Mr Chavez is to become independent of his oil.”

On Indictments for Fidel and Raul Castro:

I asked the candidate: “Senator would you be willing, as President of the United States to ‘green light’ the indictment of Fidel Castro and Raul Castro for drug dealing and the shoot down of the Brothers to the Rescue?”
Senator McCain answered: “I have talked to Mario, Lincoln and Ileana and I would be prepared to open an investigation immediately. Seems to me the radio intercepts show very clearly that the shoot down of that airplane was orchestrated by the act of the Cuban Government.”

Travel to Cuba by Cuban American Families:

“I have to rely on my friends on that issue, but what I have to worry about, in that case, when does it begin and when does it end? …we find here and other countries, we found out in the cold war the money never goes where it was intended, it winds up in the hands of the oppressive government.”

No real news except it appears that if McCain gets into the White House the DiazBalart Brothers and Ileana Ros-Lehitnen will have a direct pipeline to the Oval Office when things Cuban bubble to the surface.

Obama: Nevada
January 18, 2008

All of my close personal political pals in Nevada, “The Battle Born State,” tell me that if Barack Obama wins the Democratic Caucus, he wins the party nomination for President. The once conservative Nevada Democratic Party has changed over the years and now is much more open with an influx of out-of-staters and minorities. More reflective of the U.S. as a whole that it once was. My how things change when you have been gone 16 years!

Pro & Con on slots: Same old tuna!
January 17, 2008

I am writing all this slot machine stuff in my sleep. I was hoping for a real knock down drag out over the latest attempt to legalize slots in Miami-Dade County. So far it has been like watching a parade of zombies. Of course I am not on “the inside” and maybe the parimutuel owners who are financing the slots campaign are laying in the weeds waiting to see what the other side can come up with. To this point the group called “Yes for a Greater Miami-Dade Campaign” has produced a rather generic TV spot that does not stir a ton of emotion. Same arguments, the state needs money for education, times are tough economically, you get it and you have seen it. The “Yes” crowd carps about the lies the opposition is laying out. However other than a researched campaign piece that counter the argument crime is an issue due to the Broward slot operations there has been no strong retort to some obviously over blown rhetoric by the anti-slot crowd.

Those against the slots are a pale shadow of their former self. At one time a group called “No Casino” was a powerhouse anti-gaming lobby that was able to secure funding from many anti-gambling groups including, back in 1994, the Walt Disney organization and in tandem from the coffers of the late drug store tycoon Jack Eckhard. And there is the Miami Herald which, in the past, harbored publishers and company officials who openly opposed casinos, served personally on anti-gambling organizations. Herald staffers over the years privately complained about the paper’s hierarchy’s close alliance with the anti-gaming crusade. Many of them have departed with the take over by McClatchy. Gamers thought they’d get a better shake out of the Herald. The one blip on the radar is a man by the name of Doug Hurd who is a McClatchy employee. Apparently he is a middle management type, has nothing to do with editorial, I am told. The mild mannered Hurd hosted a meeting of a loose knit coalition which bills itself as “No Casinos Miami.” Doug Hurd is no Alva Chapman.

And then there is Jeb Bush, former Governor and bare knuckled anti-slots crusader who personally crushed the pro slots 2005 campaign in Miami-Dade. Jeb sent a letter of endorsement to an anti-slots rally. That’s it, he was nowhere to be seen.

This is not fun yet. Where are the “Big Guns” on both sides of the issue?

Norman Braman and The Stadium-Some History
January 8, 2008

Miami Car Dealer Norman Braman is opposed to the use of public funds for some major projects in downtown Miami. Included in a package recently approved by Miami-Dade Commission is a Baseball Stadium to be built on the site of the soon-to-be demolished Orange Bowl. Braman says he’ll sue if the plan goes forward.

According to the Miami Herald a radio commercial Braman is paying for proclaims: “Dolphin Stadium was built without taxpayer dollars. The Marlins should do the same. These property taxes were intended for the poor. The Marlins are not poor.”

Apparently Braman is death on public dollars for stadiums but not public land. One of our sports producers dug this gem out of the New York Times from November 1, 1993:

Braman May Build Stadium

Published: November 1, 1993

The Philadelphia Eagles’ owner, Norman Braman, says he will finance an open-air, grass-field football stadium if the city donates the land once occupied by John F. Kennedy Stadium.

“If the city would give me the land, I have the ability to swing it financially,” Braman said, according to today’s editions of The Philadelphia Inquirer. “I think it’s something that could be built rather rapidly,” Braman said. “And I’d like to do it without costing the city of Philadelphia 5 cents.” The field would “have to be somewhere around here; it doesn’t have to be the old J.F.K. site,” Braman said.

Interesting…………………

The County Commission still needs to give final approval to the stadium portion of the massive revamp of downtown. Braman hopes to veto that by swaying public opinion against the stadium deal which includes 155-Million from the Marlins, the County, 249-million, and the city, 121-million.

Miami-Dade Slots Election
January 2, 2008

The Parimutuels are warming up their campaign to bring “Vegas Style slots” to their Miami-Dade facilities. They have for months been operating a call center in North Miami making direct contract with interest groups that political operatives say will make a difference in the vote. A television campaign is being produced and initial air time has been reserved. Proponents are quietly spreading the word that “polls are looking good.” That’s what everybody says early on. Four years ago Miami-Dade voters barely nixed the slots measure that passed in Broward County. Since that time slot operations have opened at Gulfstream, Pompano Harness Track and Hollywood Dog Track. They are operating with mixed results. Some of the best South Florida political minds are at work on the Miami-Dade project: Ron Book, Brian May, and newly minted P.R. guy Ed O’dell. At this writing the opposition has promised “a grass roots effort,” but no hard money seems to becoming down the pike in any great amount. Family Values groups, the Baptist Church and greyhound activists all promise a skirmish. How effective they will be remains to be seen as most of the issues raised during the last campaign against slots really did not materialize. We have not heard much about any increase in crime in and around the slot operations, we have not heard about any businesses being closed because of competition with casino restaurants, have property values dropped near the operations? Local real estate listings include “located near new casinos,” as come-ons. We have not heard from the Compulsive Gambling organizations that there has been an increase in “problem gamblers.” There maybe but we have not heard about it. Broward’s gambling enterprise has been a disappointment as far as revenue. At this point revenues for the state have not been much to write home about. That might be something the anti gaming forces can hang their hat on; failure to deliver the promised bucks. But bottom line, it seems reasonable that at this point why the slots advocates are low key, “the otherside” has not done much and the election is January 29th. Also missing from the issue, former Governor Jeb Bush who mustered up all his political muscle to whip the slots in Miami-Dade last time around. “We will get it when we get a new Governor,” was a quote from one disappointed slot promoter after the defeat. They do have a new Governor, Charley Crist, who just signed a gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe which would bring those very same “Vegas Slots” to the Hardrock Hotel.

Hank Tester’s Fearless Predictions for 2008
January 1, 2008

The tradition continues! Here are the possible “come downs” for the New Year. Enjoy, ponder and send those E-mails!

Hank Tester’s Fearless Predictions for 2008:

Big personal and political problems for a heavy hitter in the South Florida Criminal Justice System.

An unlikely personality will emerge phoenix-like from the ashes of the 2007 Miami Dolphins

Nothing will change for the Cuban People no matter if Fidel lives or dies, the same for Miami’s Exiles.

Prior to the U.S. Presidential election there will be either: A major terrorism attack alert, or the U.S. Government announces a foiled terrorist attack.

A terrorist act does occur.

A local (South Florida) University big shot will walk the plank by years end.

Slots will pass in Miami-Dade County.

Inflation will stall the South Florida Economy but not the tourism industry.

Governor Charlie Crist will break his pick on the twin issues of property tax reform and insurance rates. Citizens will not be happy.

A horrible event will sour the celebrity gossip craze.

Shaq is done, baked. What to do will be a headache the Heat Coach and Owner