Florida, Florida, Florida
September 12th, 2011
10:50 AM ET
3 years ago

Florida, Florida, Florida

Tampa, Florida (CNN) - Florida will definitely be center stage in the Republican presidential sweepstakes for the next two weeks. The state is hosting two debates among the contenders, a major conference where they will all speak and a straw poll.

Some analysts say these activities just point to how crucial the state will be both in the Republican primary and also in the general election.

On Monday, Sept. 12th, CNN will broadcast the "Tea Party Republican Debate," live from Tampa, Florida at 8 p.m. ET. Follow all the issues and campaign news leading up to the debate on CNNPolitics.com and @cnnpolitics on Twitter.

One major reason for the importance in the state is that it includes three major groups of voters who have played a major role in past contests: the elderly, Hispanics and independents.

The Republican who does well in the Sunshine State in the primary will get a boost come the general election.

"If you lose Florida, you will lose the general," said GOP consultant Ford O'Connell, who worked in the McCain-Palin 2008 campaign.

The GOP candidates have already worked hard to build a campaign in the state. Mitt Romney has lined up some major fundraisers and has paid several visits. Rick Perry already has received key endorsements. Jon Huntsman based his campaign in the state but just moved some of his staff to New Hampshire to bolster his efforts there.

Now dominating a lot of the discussion in the state is the criticism by Perry of Social Security as a "Ponzi scheme" because it is a question of how much younger workers will actually get back in benefits vs. what they put in. He initially made those comments in a book but did not back away from them last week saying he was just being frank.

"It will be very interesting to see how he interacts" with voters after those remarks, O'Connell said.

It is expected Perry will get pressed on his views on Social Security Monday night in the CNN Tea Party Express debate.

The Romney campaign has been circulating a handout contrasting his and Perry's views on Social Security to voters in Florida in areas where the Texas governor is expected to campaign. It says: "Rick Perry. How can we trust anyone who wants to kill Social Security?'

O'Connell said the issue and how he explains his views is "a make or break moment" for the Perry campaign.

Perry is expected to strongly engage in the state.

While Romney and Bachmann have decided not to participate in the Presidency 5 straw poll next weekend because of the commitment of resources it will take, Perry announced last week he will.

"Florida is very important to me, and I am looking forward to bringing my pro-jobs conservative message to Florida and the Presidency 5 straw poll events," he said in a statement last week.

Florida has not decided exactly when to hold its primary next year although it is expected to be early in the process and therefore play a large role in helping to choose the nominee. Florida Republicans are expected to choose the date by the end of this month.

You can follow Kevin Bohn on Twitter @KevinBohnCNN.


Filed under: 2012 • CNN/Tea Party Republican Debate • Florida • Republicans
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Liz the First

    Florida, Florida, Florida, resist, resist, resist!!!!!!!! resist the lies and insanity of the Greed Over People party and vote to keep the president who's actually trying to help us out of the mess that the Greed Over People party created. don't fall for their pleas to give them a second chance to finish off this country!

    September 12, 2011 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  2. DENNA

    I'm not sure that Florida is a good place to begin. Although, there are enough old people there to fool into voting for you I suppose. Why not debate in a state with a younger, more awake population? Why not? Because you will get called out about your lies.

    September 12, 2011 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. KO

    Why is CNN co-sponsoring a debate along with the Tea Party? The Tea Party is the most destructive, divisive thing to happen to American politics in over 50 years. I guess CNN is no better than Fox News–I won't be watching you any more.

    September 12, 2011 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Will the Democratic Party be given a chance at rebuttal? If not, they should. Someone in Las Vegas should take over/under bets on how many times "Obama" is spoken tonight at the debate by the candidates.

    September 12, 2011 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  5. ConservaFASCISTS/TEAliban/TEAhadists

    Florida.....the state responsible for electing George Bush. If those seniors in Florida want their Medicare and Social Security, it will behoove them not to vote for a TEApublican.

    September 12, 2011 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  6. Sam the younger

    Florida needs to lead the nation. Support Perry and end Social Security and Medicare in 2013.
    Why should my money be used to support the money grubbing seniors? They had a chance to
    save there money for retirement. I can't help it they choose to blow there money on bingo and gambling.

    September 12, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The Romney campaign has been circulating a handout contrasting his and Perry's views on Social Security to voters in Florida in areas where the Texas governor is expected to campaign. It says: "Rick Perry. How can we trust anyone who wants to kill Social Security?'

    And, no doubt the Perry camp will be sending out flyer's stating "How can we trust anyone who is an expert at killing jobs?" Good grief, I never thought I'd see the day when one GOPer attacked another GOPer based on facts. Ought to be a hilarious sandbox extravaganza of "yes you did, no I didn't" ... "yes you will, no I won't". Right up the TeaPers alley of "Presidential Debate" entertainment.

    September 12, 2011 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  8. Al-NY,NY

    All the proper buzz words and phrases will be used by these charlatans on the seniors to make Obama out to be the Grim Reaper encarnate. Some will believe them, others will not be fooled and will go the other way FAST. In either case, it should (and will) be an entertaining though truly fantasy-filled debate

    September 12, 2011 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  9. Bill from GA

    I hope the moderator asks the candidates about their plans to allow drilling off the coasts of Florida. There is a wealth of known oi and natural gas off Tampa, and Key West.

    If Floridians want their beaches and waters protected, they should know who will do it. And if any repugs say, 'No, we won't drill off YOUR coast', they're a bunch of Hypocrites.

    September 12, 2011 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  10. Bill from GA

    Florida's Cuban community can teach the tea-baggers a few lessons. The Cuban-Americans have been holding our country hostage for over 50 years. trading their vote for useless sanctions against a country much more moderate than some of our biggest trading partners.

    September 12, 2011 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  11. Rudy NYC

    Sam the younger wrote:
    Florida needs to lead the nation. Support Perry and end Social Security and Medicare in 2013.
    Why should my money be used to support the money grubbing seniors? They had a chance to
    save there money for retirement. I can't help it they choose to blow there money on bingo and gambling.
    -------------
    How do you know that? How can you even say that? Not everyone is fortunate enough to land a job that pays six figures. Many people have lived paycheck to paycheck all of their lives, and the percentage of people doing so I believe is growing.

    Many of those seniors that you scorn have spent their savings on medical expenses that insurance companies choose not to cover. Your words are cold. I shall pray that you do not fall on such financial misfortune that you suffer the fate that you wish upon seniors. Seniors should not be outcasts, or disenfranchised, or simply forgotten and allowed to perish because of your scorn.

    September 12, 2011 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    KO asked:
    Why is CNN co-sponsoring a debate along with the Tea Party? The Tea Party is the most destructive, divisive thing to happen to American politics in over 50 years. I guess CNN is no better than Fox News–I won't be watching you any more.
    -------------
    Because the Republican Party has rebranded itself as the Tea Party. Republicans want you to think that we now have a 3 major party system, and that two of them are conservative. Which would prove the oft-repeated misinformation, "most Americans are conservative, and lean towards the right."

    September 12, 2011 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  13. Rudy NYC

    Sam the younger wrote:
    Florida needs to lead the nation. Support Perry and end Social Security and Medicare in 2013.
    Why should my money be used to support the money grubbing seniors? They had a chance to
    save there money for retirement. I can't help it they choose to blow there money on bingo and gambling.
    -------------
    Why are your tax dollars being spent on SSI? Simple. The Social Security Act clearly defines a separate fund, which can only be used in certain ways.

    The fund had run surpluses for decades. This was by design because it was known that as the years passed, that more people would be enrolled in the program. The original allows for funds to be "invested" in "safe" ways that guaranteed that the funds will not incur loses.

    Republicans have used those surpluses as a source of capital to borrow against. Reagan used it to fund tax cuts to the wealthy. Bush used it the same way. Newt Gingrich used it to balance the budget during Clinton years, with Bill's consent. The problem is that the US government must repay the fund, for the loans it has taken.

    That is why your tax dollars are used for SSI. The US government is repaying money it borrowed from the fund, with interest.

    September 12, 2011 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  14. yeah riiiight

    That is ironic for Rick Perry's Social Security is a ponzi scheme statement to be his platform in Florida. to think that that state was a retirement haven for those collecting Social Security as a livelihood. They could fool those old folks into voting for them .
    But this old folks should notr be shock if they found out that their Social Security check stop if they made Rick Perry win .
    Somebody should explain to them that there will be consequences in their vote for them.

    September 12, 2011 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  15. Henry Hill

    I can't wait for the Ron Paul upset. I wonder how CNN will distort their post-debate poll...

    September 12, 2011 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  16. Bill from GA

    And before Rudy corrects me, I meant to say: Cuban-Americans have been holding our country hostage for over 40 years.

    September 12, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. AW

    I can't wait to see what new talking points and criticism against President Obama's job plan they will come up with tonight.

    September 12, 2011 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  18. Sapient Hetero

    Why is the Tea Party lowering itself to work with the Communist News Network? These losers failed to accurately report Obama's socialist ideology and continues to fawn over his Marxist policies despite their consistent failure to achieve anything he's promised. CNN is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party.

    September 12, 2011 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  19. Peter Allen

    In Florida there are only 512 registered members of the Tea Party, how can so little of a party have so much effluence, Could it be the that we are being bamboozled, why do we even allow ourselves to listen to these people who clearly do not represent us, and the Media is eating this up, shame on them, Floridians know better.

    September 12, 2011 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  20. Sniffit

    Florida: Where democracy goes to die.

    September 12, 2011 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  21. chelle

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if tonight the candidates actually debated EACH OTHER instead of attacking President Obama? It would be great if Governor Huntsman came out and actually disagreed with the other candidates at his podium instead of only in interviews.

    September 12, 2011 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |