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Stephanie Maier

Stephanie Maier is an international political and development consultant of fifteen years who's worked in twelve countries. She has worked for the GOP of Florida and for the Bush/Cheney Victory 2000 Florida campaign.
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Game Day: Will FL Make the Hypocritical Choice?

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012 - by Stephanie Maier

It’s Florida’s big day to have a voice in this race, and already there’s a strange, de’ja’vu-ish sort of thing going on as I have flashbacks to Rick Scott’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign, wherein many of the same observations can be made.

If Floridians award our fifty delegates to Mitt Romney as a protest to Newt’s 1997 ethics violations in Congress, it would be the height of hypocrisy, since this is the same state that put Naples millionaire Rick Scott in the governor’s mansion right on the heels of his own HCA scandal, the largest Medicare fraud case in U.S. history. That case ended with the hospital giant paying a record $1.7 billion in damages.

That wasn’t a concern for the majority of Florida voters, but Newt’s multiple marriages and his troubles with Congress in 1997 may trump that in favor of Romney, whose own life seems to mirror many of the same attributes as Scott.

Both 2010 Rick Scott and 2012 Mitt Romney are millionaire business men who have absolutely put profit over pretense to climb the ladder of success, and have had to possess egos the size of Mt. Kilimanjaro to do it.

The moral of the story: As Florida heads to the polls, don’t think for a moment that Mitt-the-Mormon is in any way more ethical than Newt Gingrich.

Don’t believe me? Let us hearken back to the campaign trail of two years ago and see the remarkable and eerily familiar comparisons between presidential candidate Mitt Romney and gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott:

Marc Caputos’ 2010 article from the Tampa Bay Times, could in so many ways be about Mitt Romney today:

“Rick Scott’s campaign for the Florida governor’s mansion is starting to look like his latest business acquisition. In the 1990s, Scott exploded on the business scene and reshaped the hospital industry thanks to financial moxie, relentless drive and a salesman’s knack for exploiting opportunities missed by others.”

By comparison, Mitt Romney’s FL campaign in the presidential primary is starting to look like his latest business acquisition. He’s ahead in the polls largely because he is outspending his opponents by tens of millions of dollars in glitzy ads that eviscerate his main competition, Newt Gingrich, rather than focusing on his own solutions. At least 17 of the 24+ million dollars spent in Florida have been from the Romney campaign, and as a result, Romney has been able to reshape the political scene and promote his ObamaCare agenda thanks to his financial moxie, relentless drive and a salesman’s knack for exploiting opportunities missed by others.” (Yep, that sounds familiar).

According to a recent piece in Forbes Magazine, “RomneyCare was more of an insurance bill than a means to cut healthcare costs…to pay for the extra coverage, the state had to find an additional $350 million from its own budget. On balance, RomneyCare costs Massachusetts an extra $100 million a year from its state budget. Not bad for a state with a $30 million budget.”

But will Floridians get the message before it’s too late? Not likely, as the comparison of the voting history continues.
Regarding Rick Scott’s campaign for Governor:

“Those attributes have made the Naples millionaire the frontrunner for governor today. A political newcomer, Scott unexpectedly entered the race in April, hired a top-notch campaign staff and leveraged his sizable fortune to surge ahead of Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Aug. 24 Republican primary…”

Likewise, those attributes have made Massachusetts millionaire Mitt Romney the frontrunner for president today. As Romney entered the race, he hired a top-notch campaign staff and leveraged his sizable fortune to surge ahead of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (leveraged a little and raised a lot from super PACS and millionaire buddies). It seems that he who has the most cash wins, regardless of his record on the issues.

Regarding Scott: “As head of the mammoth Columbia/HCA hospital chain in the 1990s, Scott acknowledges, he was “responsible” for what became the largest Medicare fraud case in U.S. history, totaling $1.7 billion.

Romney: While he understandably tries to push a moral issue down the throats of FL voters regarding Newt Gingrich’s ethics violations in 1997, let’s face it: if FL voters can usher in Rick Scott after his HCA scandal but can’t move on from Newt’s ’97 debacle, then Floridians get what they deserve when Romney is elected and slams them with a huge health care mandate just like his buddy Barack Obama. They’ll also have no room to complain when Romney goes to bed with China in a business-as-usual scenario that will be full of campaign rhetoric but will end up with Romney-style profiteering.

The similarities are painfully obvious. But, just like Governor Scott, Romney brushes off accusations that his campaign feels more confident spewing venom and vitriol against Gingrich than focusing on the solutions Romney offers for the economy or other issues (Isn’t it amazing, folks, how quickly the devout Mormon can turn ugly when power and ego are on the line)?

And, like Governor Scott, the Romney sees the criticism as trivial:

“Scott, 57, brushes it off – sometimes literally, by waving his hand as if shooing gnats.” Likewise, Romney brushes off Newt’s accusations (or any other for that matter) with a flippant wave and a smirk, shrugging it off as just being the ugly side of politics. This week he even had the low class to say that he “felt sad” for Gingrich, hearkening to some kind of school yard thug who can’t make a point based on his own merits but instead finds strength through demeaning others.
More flashbacks from Caputo’s article:

“Scott is a study in polarizing contrasts: he’s arrogant or humble. He’s a visionary who wants to revolutionize health care, or he’s blinded by ambition and a lust for profits.”

Sound familiar?? When it suits him, Romney is the humble Mormon family man, and when it doesn’t, he’s a cutthroat egotistical profiteer who’s out to win at all costs, no matter who he has to pay, what he has to say, or how he has to pray.

Perhaps Kenneth Rapoza says it best in Forbes when he laments the predictions of Gringrich regarding his own campaign:

“I believe the Republican Party will not nominate a pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax increase moderate from Massachusetts,” Gingrich said after attending a Baptist church in Lutz, Florida.
Rapoza: “Oh, yes they will.”

To that I plead: Say it ain’t so, Florida, say it ain’t so…

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Female Voters Are Too Emotional: And That Makes Me Very Angry!!

Monday, January 30th, 2012 - by Stephanie Maier

Did Susan have the hots for Millard Fillmore?

It happens every election cycle: some candidate, for whatever reason, becomes the darling of the girlie establishment, winning hearts and votes based upon the estrogen-soaked fantasies of a few ladies who suck all the intelligence right out of the room.

The latest – and not the last in this long election year, I’m sure – is the woman who called Sean Hannity last week, breathlessly extolling her support for Mitt Romney because “he looks like the kind of guy who would rub my feet.”

Now I’m not without some semblance of humor; her little servile image is cute for about two seconds. She could have had her fun and then bolstered her reasoning with facts that demonstrate she has at least two IQ points to rub together. But noooooooooooo, the giggly caller went on to explain that because she can imagine Romney rubbing her feet, he’s the kind of guy who “is all about service, and that she can’t imagine Newt Gingrich rubbing her feet” (ergo, he should not be president, obviously).

As I listened to the caller’s dizzying intellectual analysis, I almost wrecked the car because I then imagined Newt Gingrich rubbing my feet (no offense to Callista, but, YUCK) and then an image flashed of Santorum (which kind of reminded me of high school) and then a nauseating hypothetical interlude with Ron Paul, kak! peh peh! Make it stop!

The images this woman bored into my brain with her stupid analogy will surely take several election cycles to forget.  And while there’s no end to the horrors playing out in my head and I’ll probably have a PTSD flashback the next time I get a pedicure, it’s true that some women do indeed get this groupie mentality about candidates. They have ever since Kennedy came onto the scene, and perhaps even before that.

Those JFK groupies no doubt wiled away many hours just wishing they were Jackie with her cute pill-box hat and her VIP spot next to “Jack” every night (except for those nights when he was with someone else). Back then, of course, they were probably wishing they could rub Jack’s feet and not the other way around. And just as likely, no one was dreaming of rubbing Richard Nixon’s feet during his less-than-flattering debate against Kennedy, and so goes the election.

Back when Al Gore ran for president, I remember a girl in my office running around swooning and saying, “Al Gore-geous!” (which made me want to hack up something equivalent to a hairball). No doubt Bill Clinton wooed millions of female admirers when he played saxophone on the ultra-hip Arsenio Hall Show, and bada-boom-bada-bing – a few years later everyone wanted a “Lewinsky” at the office.

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Jacksonville Debate Is All In The Family

Friday, January 27th, 2012 - by Stephanie Maier

Campaigning is a draining business, and maybe the candidates are tired, or maybe they’re just getting cranky, but the debate in Jacksonville, sponsored by the Republican Party of Florida and the Hispanic Leadership Network, was one, big, fat dysfunctional Christmas dinner with the relatives: you know the kind: the one you swear every year you’re going to skip but you go because you feel obligated and by the end you just feel tired and bloated and wish everyone would shut the hell up.

Just like an old married couple, Mama Newt and Papa Mitt spent the night quarreling over the same old, tired issues they always have and whining about hurt feelings:

Papa Mitt: You think I’m ‘anti-immigrant?’ ME? How can you say I’m anti-immigrant? My FATHER was an immigrant…blah blah blah…that’s repulsive; I’m offended!

Mama Newt: Oh yeah? Well quite frankly your language deeply offends me and is repulsive, so there!
Papa Mitt: Ha, sooooo typical! You know, you’re just a Fannie Mae lobbyist, that’s what YOU are! ‘Always have been!

Mama Newt: How DARE you! I voted ‘no’ on giving them any money and you know it! My contract specifically said, “No lobbying! No lobbying!” How many times do I have to say it, geez! You NEVER listen!

Papa Mitt: Oh don’t play coy with ME…you were CLEARLY promoting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to the tune of 1.6 million dollars!

GASP!

The shock sinks in as the old couple continues to quarrel about who was offended and hurt the most, as Little Ricky, their wide-eyed son caught in the middle, spends the night wishing everyone could for once just get along:

Little Ricky: Can we pleeeeassse forget that Newt was a member of congress who used his skills to advise businesses? That’s not the worst thing in the world…and that Mitt is a very wealthy guy because he worked hard and made a lot of money and can we pleeeeaaasssee PLEASE focus on the issues finally, GOSH!

Just then, wacky Uncle Ron looked up from his latest edition of Kumbaya Foreign Policy Weekly long enough to poke his own stick at the hornet’s nest:

Wacky Uncle Ron: What do YOU know, kid, huh? Who asked you about South America anyway? Are you old enough to be up this late?

But before Little Ricky could respond, In-law Blitzer had to get his two cents in. Blitzer was one of those typical meddling In-law types who just couldn’t let sleeping dogs lie – there always had to be something juicy going on:

In-Law Blitzer: Oh Uncle Ron wants to speak, (yawn) – so tell us, Uncle Ron, do you think Mama Newt and Papa Mitt should pay back all that money they earned with their investments in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

By this time, Uncle Ron was getting pretty annoyed at all the attention on Mama Newt and Papa Mitt and their infernal fighting about the same things over and over and over….

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It’s Florida’s Turn as GOP Dukes It Out in Tampa

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 - by Stephanie Maier

Hours after the South Carolina primary last Saturday, GOP presidential candidates moved troops to the Sunshine State for the first debate leading up to Florida’s January 31st primary.

The final four brought their “A-game,” but the stars of the show were clearly Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney. Following Romney’s brutal defeat in South Carolina, the Massachusetts governor had the former speaker firmly in his sights and went on the attack early. But somewhere between Charleston and Tampa, Gingrich seemed to have re-discovered his game face, appealing to Florida’s seniors by coming on strong in defense of Medicare and Medicaid and choosing not to take Romney’s bait. Instead, he waved off the governor’s repeated attempts to discredit him as being “typical” of Romney and a “waste of time.”

There was no surprise that Romney’s strategy was to pound home the characterization of Gingrich as a Washington lobbyist for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He repeatedly called him an “influence peddler” “who was ousted by his own people.” Gingrich called Romney’s attacks “the worst kind of trivial politics,” sparking what turned the debate between four candidates into “The Newt and Mitt Show.” The two exchanged accusations and rebuttals for an entire segment and commanded the room until a commercial break forced the otherwise silent moderator to break it off. “And when we return,” said NBC’s Brian Williams, “we will invite the others to join the discussion.”

Santorum tried to keep a hand in the game and build on his Iowa momentum by presenting himself as a “very clear contrast” to the “two front-runners.” In his typical fashion, Romney looked on with that familiar smug grin as though he’s just biding his time until the grown-ups can return to the real conversation. Santorum actually came across well when he had the chance, but even Ron Paul offered a slap by dismissing the Iowa caucus as an irrelevant straw vote when everyone knows their delegates haven’t even been picked yet.

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