Painting Florida Red
Florida is a swing state with an abundance of delegates -- twenty-nine, to be exact. Its importance is reflected in its size, the fact that many of the state officials are Republicans, and the fact that it has a very diverse population. As former Governor Jeb Bush told American Thinker, "You cannot typecast a Floridian." Two prominent Republican representatives from Florida were interviewed by American Thinker: Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Congressman Tom Rooney.
The congresswoman's district includes Little Havana, Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, and Key West. Congressman Rooney's district includes Charlotte and Lee, where much of the district makes up the middle part of Florida. Together they represent a large portion of the state. Both told American Thinker that the important issue to Floridians is the economy since the unemployment rate is approximately 10%. Congressman Rooney noted, "In parts of my district, unemployment is much higher, and people are struggling to make ends meet." The congresswoman agrees and adds that among the minority communities she represents, the rate is much higher.
She describes how the downturn is affecting the construction business. The housing markets with the subprime mortgages have given her district "a direct hit. Every time I meet with people, they are talking to me about the economy, the economy, and the economy. That is the number-one, number-two, and number-three issue. Nothing else even comes close. I keep asking them are they better off now than they were four years ago. I tell them to look at their personal income, and the economic opportunities for their children who have just graduated college. They are very worried. There is a lot of anxiety, and no one is feeling good. Mitt Romney has a great opportunity to pick up these votes because Obama's economy is such a failure."
Congressman Rooney's constituents are also very worried about the national debt and how this will affect their children. They support the tough decisions that must be made. including cutting spending and reforming programs like Social Security and Medicare. Rooney sees Medicare as "a winning issue for us, and I believe that seniors in Florida will overwhelmingly support Governor Romney."
Since many of the congresswoman's constituents are seniors, how does the Republican plan play with them? She commented, "What we are now seeing is that the older folks do not buy into the same song and dance. We now have a sophisticated and knowledgeable electorate who are very wise. They understand that the system will be insolvent and that the gradual reforms prepared by the Republicans will actually save Medicare and will make sure it is around for the next generation. The Democratic message is not successful. Paul Ryan's mom lives part-time up the road in Broward County, and she is just as affected as anyone. The clichés of the Democrats are not true, and they are trite."
If both representatives could take a camera around their districts, where would they go? The congressman sees the need to emphasize the small business owners, since they are the ones who will create about 70% of the new jobs. He would have them talk about "how they've been hit especially hard by the failures of the last four years. I'd ask them to explain to the president how his tax hike proposals would hurt them, and how his threats to raise their taxes have already created enough uncertainty that they've put off plans to grow or hire new workers. I'd talk to them about the policies they'd like to see from Washington and what we can do to help them."
The congresswoman would direct the camera to the retirement communities in her district as well as the Hispanic communities. She wants her constituents to be asked "what they think of their Medicare funds being taken away in order to pay for Obamacare. In the Hispanic neighborhoods, the question that should be posed: what do you think about the high drop-out rate among high school students, and do you consider yourselves being taken for granted since the Democrats no longer try to get your vote?"
What these representatives tell their constituents is that they understand their desire for Congress to implement a jobs program. However, Congressman Rooney emphasizes, "the House has passed dozens of jobs bills that are collecting dust on Harry Reid's desk. The Senate hasn't passed a budget in three years, even though they are required by law to do so. In the House we need to pass a farm bill that cuts spending and makes some critical reforms to our agriculture programs."
They are both optimistic that come November, people will see that Florida has turned into a red state. They cite the fact that their constituents see Romney as a positive alternative to the failed policies of President Obama.