Gold Cards Galore!
By Chris Ingram
There was a whole lot of hot air at the Gaylord Palms resort in Orlando this weekend as the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) conducted its quarterly meeting.
Charlie Crist was there looking all tanned, smiling, and talking as though he is a conservative (really Charlie, you don’t have to be conservative, just stand for something).
Bill McCollum the likely GOP nominee to replace Chuckles the Clown was there too. While McCollum is a good man who has solid conservative credentials and actually believes in something, I’ve been told from numerous sources that in private, McCollum responds to the “why are you running?” question with an answer of “because it’s my turn.” I guess that makes him the Bob Dole of the Fla. GOP. Without a vision for Florida’s future, and probably among the worst public communicators in America. Republicans better start getting used to the idea of saying Governor Sink, the likely Democrat nominee.
Marco Rubio was making the rounds and got a standing ovation (as did Chuckie) when he addressed the committee. Marco is a solid conservative and among the best public speakers I have ever seen. But Marco will lose unless he gets a much better campaign organization, shuffles his inadequate and ill-prepared staff (they listed me as a Doctor of a pathology clinic on his FEC campaign report), improves his anemic fundraising (I contributed $500 three months ago and still have not received a thank you note or a follow-up solicitation — I guess it went to my medical office), and stops spending more time looking at his Blackberry than he does mingling with the crowds.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen TooTan Charlie with a Blackberry in his hands, and certainly not in an environment full of potential supporters. No, Chuckles makes the rounds smiling, shaking hands, feigning interest, and overall doing a great job being a retail politician.
I still like Marco Rubio and want to see him get the GOP nomination as I believe him when he says he cares about the debt our government is piling up and wants to make the world a better place for our children (he has four of his own). I appreciate the fact that he talks tough about making sacrifices (something we all need to recognize and own up to) if we’re going to leave a legacy of prosperity and a higher quality of life to future generations.
But Marco has been a victim of his own success. That is, he shot up the political ladder very fast, and has never lost an election. In a way, I think he kind of thinks he knows it all as far as running a campaign goes. He doesn’t. I’ve seen it firsthand. His campaign lacks direction, money, and people who know what they are doing as well as people who will tell the candidate what he doesn’t know or should be doing (like putting the Blackberry down).
My plea to Marco is this: start running your campaign like a business. Focus. Direction. Discipline. Customer (voter) service. And put down the damned Blackberry at all times when you aren’t alone in a car with just your staff.
Marco still has plenty of time to right the listing ship that is his campaign, but first he’s got to recognize it is listing.
In closing, the funniest part of the meeting was hearing the prince of darkness RPOF Chairman Jim Greer.
Ol’ Jimbo made comments about how the party needs to reject those who would cause chaos from within and bring the party down. Take a look in the mirror Jimmy — it ain’t a pretty site.
Greer also publicly bragged about how he was pulling all party-issued American Express credit cards from party big-wigs. This comes only after the St. Petersburg Times reported that disgraced former House Speaker Ray Sansom ran up over $170,000 in credit card bills. The Sansom card issue only came to light due to Sansom’s criminal court proceedings, and Greer has made no effort at transparency by releasing card statements of other party bosses. But he said the cards will be revoked — and he even said he was giving up his own card.
But did he?
Interestingly enough, late Friday night as I was standing on my hotel balcony, I looked down and saw the prince whip out an American Express card to pay for a dinner (see photo) of what looked like RPOF staff at a swank restaurant in the hotel below my room. I don’t know if it was Greer’s personal card or not, but I can tell you it was without a doubt an American Express Gold Card and I challenge Greer to release the card statement or receipt showing whether or not it was a party-issued card.
After Greer got through paying the bill he pushed his chair back from the table, stood up, made a sweeping motion with his hand behind him and said, “Where is my chariot?” It was as if he was suggesting the crown prince needed a regal coach to haul his rather large and pompous derriere to his hotel room. I swear I am not making this up.
To my fellow Florida Republicans I say this: don’t you think we can do better? And if you agree that we can, start demanding it. Tell your state committeemen and women to call on King Charlie and ask him to sack the prince. He’s more of a court jester than a suitable party leader.
Chris Ingram is the president and founder of 411 Communications a corporate and political communications firm, and publisher of www.IrreverentView.com. Ingram is a frequent pundit on Fox News and CNN, and has written opinion columns for the Washington Times, UPI, Front Page Florida, and National Review online. E-mail him at: Chris@411Communications.net.