Florida delegates kick off GOP convention

Published: Monday, September 1, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at 12:37 a.m.

— GOP Chairman Jim Greer came tantalizingly close to a politically incorrect joke Sunday when he said a priest, a rabbi, a Muslim and a Protestant would open up Monday’s breakfast for the Florida delegation. But Greer offered no punch line, saying instead that Hurricane Gustav’s arrival in the Gulf Coast created the need to tone down the political rhetoric. We didn’t see a Muslim on the slate of speakers this morning as nearly 200 Florida Republicans ate eggs and bacon in the Minneapolis Airport Marriott in Bloomington, Minn. But we did see the CEO of Mosaic, one of the nation’s largest phosphate mining companies. Jim Prokopanko said Florida creates 75 percent of the nation’s phosphate-based fertilizers, mentioning the need for fertilizer to those who don’t live and breathe fertilizer among the delegates. We presume that was most of them. Prokopanko said the company would donate more than $200,000 to the Red Cross for post-hurricane relief.

Also speaking: Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow. Some of the delegates wore the Florida-themed shirts made familiar by the state’s toll-booth operators. Greer quipped that he was a bit tired Monday morning, but he was wide awake after eyeing the gaudy shirt.

As the delegates came into the dining hall with fake palm trees and Florida signs, the song ‘Linus and Lucy’ from the ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ was playing.

Defending elections

Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning made a brief stop in Minneapolis on Monday to defend his state’s election system. It is a sign of his passion for the job that he woke up at 4:30 a.m. in Pasco County to fly to Minneapolis for a 40-minute talk with about 20 reporters and voting rights advocates. Browning defended the state’s tarnished post-2000 reputation. “There was really nothing wrong with the 2000 election,” he said. “It was a very close contest in a very high-profile race.” He ran down the list of changes the state has made in recent years, including the move to paper ballots statewide this year with the demise of touch-screen voting. “We believe in Florida we are really the leader in election reform,” he said.

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