Several factors could combine to set up a donnybrook for GOP candidates on January 29th. First is the state's strategic placement on the calendar. By the time Florida rolls around, we'll have had contests in New Hampshire, Iowa, Michigan and South Carolina. A week after Florida comes Super-duper Tuesday when twenty-plus states will be voting. Should none of the candidates break out and win all the early contests, Florida should prove to be a showdown state.
The wrangling between the state and national party on the Democratic side has left Florida void of an outright campaign in Florida. Both parties are being punished by their national organizations for having moved outside their calendar window and have been threatened with the loss of delegates to the national conventions. But Republicans have handled the dispute with far less infighting while Democrats are embroiled in lawsuits and boycotts. It's why we don't see Democratic candidates in the state, unless it's to sneak in for private fundraisers.
Republican candidates have courted the state early and often and they'll be heading down again this weekend for a state party convention which will culminate in a debate Sunday night in Orlando. It is widely believed that Rudy Giuliani has a decided edge in the state and has clearly made it a key part of his strategy. But events in the early states may have more to say about it than well-laid plans.
Praising Bush? From CBS News' Ryan Corsaro: Speaking to Iowa residents yesterday, Giuliani said that President Bush should be given more credit for his attention to the HIV and AIDS epidemic.
"I think this is one of the things President Bush has been good about," Giuliani told the crowd in Des Moines. "And I think it's something -- unfortunately, maybe it's the idea of being a second term president or maybe it's the media biases -- I don't know what it is. President Bush doesn't get credit for the good things he does."
Giuliani argued that the President has given more money to fighting the problem in African countries than "any president" ever. The mayor added that he supports President Bush's commitment of more money to fight the problem and develop relief for its victims.
Giuliani says the spread of HIV is a problem of enormous importance, and he would like to bring more countries together to combat the virus.
"I think, as a matter of conscience, it's something we have to do."
Last March, President Bush proposed a five-year, $30 billion initiative to fighting HIV/AIDS globally.
Giuliani says continuing to provide economic support shows a different side to an America "which sometimes looks too militaristic."
He told the crowd, "It shows what the American soul and the American heart is really all about."
Murphy Brown Revisited? Former Vice President Dan Quayle started a firestorm during the 1992 campaign when he took on the fictional TV character Murphy Brown and criticized the show for glamorizing single motherhood. Campaigning in Clinton, Iowa yesterday, Mitt Romney gently treaded into the same topic, talking to supporters about the need to strengthen families. "Number one on my list is we have to teach our kids that before they have babies, they should get married," Romney said, according to the Boston Globe.
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