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Lenny Curry 'Welcomes' Obama to Miami by Highlighting Florida Democrat Divisions

June 11, 2013 - 6:00pm

The head of the Republican Party of Florida offered a not-so-warm welcome to President Barack Obama -- who was expected to arrive in Miami Wednesday evening to speak at a Democratic fundraiser -- by highlighting the divisions festering among the president's own state party members.

President Obama is literally flying into a proverbial you-know-what storm, as it relates to the Florida Democratic Party [FDP], when he lands today, RPOF chairman Lenny Curry told reporters at a Wednesday afternoon phone conference, at which he was joined by U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, a freshman Republican from Central Florida.

Curry pointed to two major sources of divisions within the state's left-wing political party: the refusal of FDP chairwoman Allison Tant to let gubernatorial candidate Nan Rich speak at the Democrats' major annual Jefferson-Jackson Gala this weekend, and efforts by House Democratic leaders to introduce new rules which could have the effect of purging moderate Democratic representatives from their caucus.

[Rich] is a respected liberal Democrat that has been state senator, [and is] the only announced candidate for Governor in the Democratic party, Curry said, echoing the talking points of the RPOF's recently launched Free Nan Rich media campaign. I believe I can agree with Nan Rich on the idea that she ought to have five minutes at their annual dinner.

Pointing out that Democrat leadership's tacit shunning of Rich, reportedly out of deference to newly-christened Democrat Charlie Crist (who is expected to jump into the race and challenge Rich in a primary), is upsetting the party's most liberal wing, Curry compared that attitude to what he said was the RPOF's treatment of its grassroots conservative base.

At the Republican Party of Florida, we care about our activists; you win your elections with donors, with volunteer, and with activists, he said. I would think that the Florida Democratic Party would agree with me on that. Apparently, on this one, they don't.

Curry added that the proposed new-rules package House Democratic members are expected to vote on in the course of the same Gala is fuel in the fire of their party division.

Asked by a reporter why the RPOF itself hasn't offered Rich the platform it insists she deserves, Curry responded, "I've actually had that conversation, but our rules prohibit us from extending invitations to non-Republicans. If [RPOF] rules didn't prohibit it, I'd be happy to."

He then added: "You know what? Maybe I can rent a place and offer her a podium and microphone somewhere down there the same night as the dinner ... I'm going to talk to my people and see if we can make this happen."

Naturally, Curry wasted no time ripping into Obama himself, and comparing the president's national leadership to Fla. Gov. Rick Scott's on the state level.

The President is not focused on jobs, he's not kept his eye on the ball. Its the number one issue for Americans, and it has been, for the right reasons, for years now, Curry said. How many times have we seen [Obama] try to pivot [away from] issues in the economy when he's needed, only to be distracted by any other host of items? . . . We're looking forward to his pivoting to jobs again and doing something about it.

Compare that to Rick Scott's leadership, he later added. Rick Scott has focused consistently on jobs: Florida has seen the second biggest drop of unemployment of all 50 states, [with] over 300,000 jobs created under Rick Scott. . . . [And] unlike President Obama, Rick Scott has actually paid down our debt, to the tune of about $2 billion.

Curry suggested Florida's Democrats are themselves beginning to recognize how much of a liability the president's failures are to them.

Is [Gwen] Graham will to campaign with the president, or not? Curry asked, referring to the Democratic congressional candidate, daughter of former U.S. Senator and Fla. Governor Bob Graham. It's a question that needs to be answered.

For his part, Radel hammered away at Obama for what he said was the president's absentee leadership in Washington.

He's in Florida, he's popping in and out of Miami . . . [and] other cities to go fundraise when what he needs to be doing is being here in Washington and being a leader and showing some signs of leadership, the congressman said, going on to highlight Obama's repeated professions of know-nothingness when confronted with numerous scandals surrounding his executive branch agencies. Really, just the utter hypocrisy of the way that then-Sen. Obama, when he was campaigning [in 2008], really painted himself [as promising] to have a transparent White House, to be a leader: he's done none of the above. He needs to be here. He needs to be leading.

Reach Eric Giunta at or at (954) 235-9116.

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