Amid the clamor of the Republican National Convention, RTTNews spoke with Florida delegate and political expert Jeff Howell for some Sunshine State perspective on all things GOP.
He's certain Mitt Romney will carry Florida in November, and thinks the Republicans message of fiscal restraint will help them regain control of the Senate.
Given the sluggish economy and Romney's credentials in the public and private sector, Howell sees the former Massachusetts governor on a path to victory over President Barack Obama.
"Unless there's a miracle, the economy will not get better in the next 70 days," said the Republican State Committeeman. "Everyone in Florida knows a restaurant that has closed down or knows people without a job, collecting unemployment benefits."
Howell points out GOP nominee Sen. John McCain lost Florida by only a few percentage points in 2008, despite unprecedented Democratic turnout.
Florida is a right-of-center state that will revert to form, handing Romney all 29 of its crucial electoral college votes, Howell predicts.
He may be right: The most recent poll from CNN and Time Magazine give Obama a 50-46 edge over Romney, but the survey was taken before the GOP convention.
Analysts say candidates generally get a boost from their respective party conventions, so Florida may be a dead heat at least until the focus shifts to the Democratic National Convention next week.
For now, the GOP's blistering attacks on Obama's economic policies seem to be winning over independents. A Reuters/Ipsos national poll released Wednesday showed Romney pulling even with the president.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's combative keynote address was exactly what the country needed to hear, according to Howell.
"Christie was right when he said its better to be respected than loved. The American people respect politicians that are telling them the truth," he said. "The deficit needs to be cut, Medicaid needs to be actuarially sound. Christie isn't pandering to the masses, offering welfare."
In Howell's view, Christie was one of many impressive speakers so far in Tampa.
"What you see is the Republicans are firming up their bench. (South Carolina Gov.) Nikki Haley, former Democrat Artur Davis...our bench is firming up faster than the Democrats. Jeb Bush is another Republican that likes to tell it like it is. He's highly popular Florida, which represents a big percentage of the electoral vote."
Meanwhile, Florida Republicans are excited about Wisconsin senator Paul Ryan as Romney's running mate, even if it means native son Marco Rubio will need to wait his turn.
"Paul Ryan is taking it to the Democrats," Howell said. The GOP is saying we are going to be adults about this, that we're going to explain to the American people that social programs are going to broke in ten years if something is not done."
Howell, an attorney from the state capital district, is also blogging about the convention for the online edition of the Tallahassee Democrat.
by RTT Staff Writer
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