Roger Stone never pulls punches when he’s talking politics. Javier Manjarres, founder of the Conservative Republican Alliance and a columnist for Red County, quizzed Stone about the Rubio-Crist battle and other political issues during a recent interview. Manjarres focused on one issue dear to grassroots conservative hearts—Marco Rubio’s battle for the nomination to oppose a Democrat in the race for retiring senator Mel Martinez’s seat. Stone also responded to questions about the current state of Republican politics in The Sunshine State and the clear ideological divide between grassroots and leadership.
Stone is an informational gem when it comes to political interviews—I’ve often said he is a walking encyclopedia on politics, both Democrat and Republican. He’s the guy statists love to hate and strategists and media love to call on. His predictions are usually spot on—most recently he predicted Martinez would retire weeks before anyone else thought about it.
Manjarres draws Stone out on everything from Crist’s alliance with the Seminoles to Rubio’s charisma. Political insiders in the GOP endorsed Crist as soon as the popular governor declared his intention to run in the Senate race. That act didn’t go over well with the grassroots, and top conservative influencers like Red State asked donors to forego contributions to the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Rising stars like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) spoke out, endorsing Rubio. The result will be a GOP primary race that may be more interesting than the actual battle for the seat.
Meanwhile, former speaker of the Florida House Marco Rubio hit the streets, speaking to Republican groups around the state and in the process, winning supporters with a message placing fiscal issues front and center. Rubio has continued to rise in the polls and although he still trails Crist, the gap continues to narrow. That’s especially troubling for a sitting governor.
How this will impact the election remains to be seen. Many conservatives from both parties in Florida took umbrage at what was perceived as Crist cozying up to President Barack Obama. Florida’s stance on Cap and Trade is also problematical, the state having bought into financier Al Gore’s dogma without taking dissenting research from proven experts seriously.
Some of us wondered why a governor who would be a shoo-in for re-election would ditch the top executive office in Florida to take a chance on the US Senate seat. Stone sees it as not only putting the governorship at risk but also the Senate seat since the conservative grassroots hold no great affection for the governor.
Rubio has garnered big ink lately, covered by media brands like the Associated Press, conservative icon National Review, Time Magazine and others. Such coverage is essential for polling and fundraising. The US Report was one of the first to focus on the Rubio-Crist duel to determine the GOP contender for 2010 elections.
Time, clearly a statist-leaning publication, pointed out Rubio is “described by fluttery admirers as an Obama of the right.” Time has but one error in that statement. Rubio’s admirers aren’t “fluttery” like the starry-eyed statists who, captured by rhetoric and Tinseltown staging, put an inexperienced community organizer in the Oval Office. Rubio’s admirers are the dogged, determined grassroots supporters who want the Republican Party to return to a premise of fiscal conservatism. They don’t flutter when they hear Rubio, they thunder with applause. The only qualities Rubio and Obama share are a gift for public speaking. Rubio, however, doesn’t use a teleprompter and he is obviously bucking Party insiders, something Obama cannot do.
In the Manjarres interview, Stone hit on a challenge for any candidate crossing state election lines to a race for a federal seat. Fundraising on the federal level isn’t as flexible as the state level. Stone acknowledged Crist is a "champion fundraiser." But there's a point some are missing. “It’s much harder to raise money in $4600 chunks,” said Stone.
But the veteran strategist also said he had “no doubt” Crist would outraise both Rubio and the Democratic challenger. In the interview segment where Stone said this, the ensuing exchange should be dubbed ‘Politics 101,’ because Stone’s analysis offers a detailed explanation of how media markets work and why total fundraising figures aren’t always the final arbiter of who voters will choose. Stone also said conservatives all over the country will be watching this race.
“The real question is whether Marco Rubio can raise enough ideological money,” Stone said.
I’m betting he can. The people appear to want their party back.
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Aug. 24, 2009
Roger Stone has a column up addressing issues with Republican Party of Florida chairman Jim Greer. In 'What did Greer know and when did he know it?'' Stone, as usual, pulls no punches, saying,
"Greer continues to resist any attempt by party funders to see the actual American Express Bills, perpetuating the cover-up of the misuse of party funds. Having lost the State for the McCain-Palin ticket (with left-over funds in the RPOF Federal account) Jim Greer is the first Republican State Chairman since 1964 to preside over the loss of the State by the GOP in a Presidential year, not to mention the loss of a Congressional seat." [Read the whole column (Aug. 24, 2009)at StoneZone.]
Over at the Tallahassee Democrat, there's a story about Greer cutting up his AE credit card: "Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer publicly cut his party-issued American Express card in half today and announced that charge cards have been recalled from all GOP elected officials who used them for political expenses, but said he will "never" disclose line-item charges made by party leaders." The conservative base can be expected to balk at the non-disclosure.