Convention notebook: Will storm anxiety yield catastrophe fund?

Sep 3, 2008

Gainesville Sun–September 3, 2008

The anxiety from the succession of hurricanes swirling in the Gulf of Mexico and off the Atlantic Coast has made at least one positive impact for Florida at the Republican National Convention.

For the first time, the GOP’s platform includes language calling for a national catastrophe fund, a move that Florida delegates say is at least partly due to the hurricanes.

A national “Cat Fund” is similar to the state’s fund which pools money from property insurance premiums and taxpayers’ money to pay for damage from hurricanes.

Presidential candidate John McCain has opposed the plan, and he’s not bound by the platform. And the details would take a lot of wrangling.

A few laughs

Insult comedy has been out of vogue since Don Rickles’ heyday in the ’70s. But it was back in style for a few minutes Tuesday morning as Fox News pollster Frank Luntz grilled the Florida GOP delegates at their daily breakfast.

To someone wearing a loud shirt: “I thought funny shirt day was yesterday,” a reference to Monday’s uniform of Florida-themed shirts.

On the Clintons living in Chappaqua, N.Y.: “Chappaqua is Indian for ‘separate bedrooms.’ ”

On John McCain’s awkward speech-reading: “Stevie Wonder reads a teleprompter better than John McCain.”

But seriously, folks, Luntz said McCain’s candidacy, which he gave up for dead just a few months ago, has rebounded quickly in recent weeks.

On Sarah Palin: “Sell her as a mother of five. Her family status is very powerful. Selling her as a mayor of a city that has less people than are in this room doesn’t work.”

Luntz said McCain may get as much as 40 percent of the Jewish vote, which will put him over the top in Florida. Luntz said the election will be won or lost in Michigan and Ohio.

“If John McCain doesn’t win Florida, he does not get elected,” Luntz said. “If a candidate wins both (Ohio and Michigan), they win the election.”

Another storm

Hanna appears ready to further sidetrack Florida Republicans hoping to attend the convention. Gov. Charlie Crist has already canceled his planned appearances here. U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., is scheduled to address the convention today, but that too could change depending on the storm.

Compiled by Joe Follick and Jeremy Wallace of the Sun Tallahassee Bureau.