2012 RNC

Boehner Disses Wendy Long (Video Added)

Maybe it’s a good thing GOP US Senate candidate Wendy Long isn’t here in Tampa.

If she had decided to attend the national convention rather than stay home in New York to focus on her long shot attempt to unseat Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, she probably would have been at the delegation breakfasts here in Clearwater.

If so, she would have heard former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato’s glaring omission of her campaign while discussing his own come-from-behind 1980 primary win against sitting GOP Sen. Jacob Javits.

She also probably would have been in the room for House Speaker John Boehner’s speech this morning, during which he spoke of the challenges in for House GOP candidates in 53 “orphan districts” – districts where the presidential campaign won’t be active and there’s “no significant Senate race underway.”

According to Boehner, 18 of the 53 districts are located in Illinois, California and…you guessed it! New York.

In other words: The fact that Long’s chances at unseating Gillibrand are so slim (she’s vastly underfunded and trailing badly in the polls among the few voters who even know who she is), that it makes things harder for her fellow Republicans running in competitive down-ballot congressional races.


Nevertheless, Boehner insisted that the Democrats who are “licking their chops” in anticipation of defeating the GOP New York freshmen who won in the 2010 midterms have “another think coming.”

“In addition to the four of five incumbents running for re-election, we’ve got four more candidates – wether it’s up in Buffalo, up the Rochester, on the east end of Long Island – we’ve got candidates who can win,” the speaker continued.

Republicans won more House seats in New York in 2010 – six – than anywhere else in the country.

There are actually more than five incumbents seeking re-election this year: Reps. Nan Hayworth, Chris Gibson, Ann Marie Buerkle, Richard Hanna, Tom Reed and Michael Grimm.

I’m not sure who Boehner was leaving off his list, or even if he meant to do that. We didn’t get a chance to ask him anything because he left without taking questions.

The incumbent not seeking re-election is Rep. Bob Turner, who wasn’t elected in the 2010 midterms, but won a special election in 2011 for ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s seat.

The challengers are: Randy Altschuler (vs. Rep. Tim Bishop), Matt Doheny (vs. Rep. Bill Owens), Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks (vs. Louise Slaughter) and former Erie County Executive Chris Collins (vs. Rep. Kathy Hochul).

Boehner also revealed there are 10 “victory centers” up and running across New York to help the state GOP with GOTV efforts.

The speaker spent much of the rest of his speech touting Mitt Romney and his selection of Rep. Paul Ryan as his VP running mate.

(He also made an obligatory joke about Weiner, who was none too popular with the Republicans when he was in office, riffing off the frequent mispronunciation of his own name as “boner” and adding: “At least it’s not Weiner.” Big applause, laughs from the crowd).

Boehner was especially enthusiastic about Ryan, whom he said worked on Boehner’s first congressional campaign 22 years ago – “a primary I couldn’t win” – as a 23-year-old college student whose big responsibility was to put up yard signs.

Boehner called Ryan a “great choice” for Romney because he put the GOP on the “offensive” on tough issues like Medicare, and said the two of them have “a very serious relationship” with good chemistry.

“I think this team, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are exactly what the American people are lookimg for,” the speaker said.

“…the president is going to try to make this election about anything other than the economy. But you know, the American people vote with their wallets.”

Rep. King: No Future Aspirations

Rep. Pete King, the Republican dean of the New York congressional delegation, has flirted on numerous occasions with running for higher office. US Senate, governor, even president.

But those days are behind him, the Long Island lawmaker told me during a CapTon interview last night in the YNN/NY1 skybox at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

King now seems quite content to make waves from his post as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and says he has no foreseeable aspirations, even if the Republicans lose the majority.

“I think you’ve seen all you’re going to get from me,” he said.

“Right now, I don’t see a statewide race. If they wanted to draft me for president, I was available. Nobody took me up on it. I’m just doing what I’m doing.”

“Hey, when I was a kid growing up in Sunnyside, I never thought I’d be anything. So, the fact that I’m sitting here in the convention hall with you, great stuff. What happens happens, but I’m not, you know, life goes on.”

Boehner, Pataki As Headliners

It’s a day of heavy hitters for the New York delegation.

House Speaker John Boehner, along with former Gov. George Pataki and Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno will be headlining a joint breakfast event this morning at the delegation hotel in Clearwater.

It’s something of a coup for New York Republicans, which has had stark success in local House races, despite its Democratic-heavy enrollment.

The races are made all the more competitive by the court-drawn Congressional districts. That helps and hurts both parties: Reps. Kathy Hochul and Bill Owens are vulnerable, but so is Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth.

Boehner, of course, held something of a barnstorming trip earlier this summer, fundraising for both GOP candidates and incumbents across upstate New York.

The Boehner visit underscores New York’s status as a battleground when it comes to control for the House of Representatives and how the state GOP feels like they can grow their party through local races.

There aren’t any high-profile New Yorkers speaking at the convention, unless you count Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

And the delegation’s hotel is in Clearwater, roughly 45 minutes outside of the convention green zone in downtown Tampa.

Still, New Yorkers and Puerto Ricans are sharing the same hotel and are holding today’s event in a joint breakfast.

As Ed Cox pointed out earlier this week, he wants to highlight the state’s diversity — a nod to the changing demographics of New York overall and the clear need for the Republican Party to expand and broaden its own appeal.

Obama Campaign: ‘Who Is Paul Ryan?’

With Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, scheduled to take the convention stage tonight as the evening’s featured speaker, President Obama’s re-election campaign has released a web video slamming him and his controversial budget plan.

The video, which is modeled after an old-fashioned newsreel, features an array of individuals criticizing Ryan and his policy positions and says the Wisconsin congressman’s “vision for American is one that will take the nation back to a very different era.”

Ryan will share the prime time stage tonight with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.

Also speaking, albeit earlier and therefore not on national TV, are Sen. John McCain; the 2008 GOP nominee defeated by Obama, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who was believed to be a top VP contender, but was passed over for Ryan; Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuño, and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, among others.

There will also be videos from Rep. Ron Paul (the fact that he has been denied a live speaking slot has feed the anger of some of his supporters here at the convention) and former former Presidents Bush, 41 and 43.

RNC: Chris Christie Speech

Here is the full Chris Christie speech from last night.


RNC: Ann Romney Speech

Here is Ann Romney’s speech from last night.


Boehner To Address NY Delegation

House Speaker John Boehner will address the New York Republican delegation tomorrow morning, a jammed-packed breakfast that will also include Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno and former Gov. George Pataki.

Boehner has a vested interest in New York, even if most of his GOP members from New York won’t be in Tampa this week for the convention (Reps. Peter King and Bob Turner are among the few incumbents who are in town from New York, and GOP hopeful Maggie Brooks is also a delegate.

The Ohio Republican traveled across the state this summer for a weekend of fundraising for contested House elections, including Matt Doheny in the North Country, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle in Central New York and Brooks in the Rochester area.

He previously held an event for Rep. Nan Hayworth of the Hudson Valley.

New York is a battleground for control of the House of Representatives, with at least six seats in major contention.

The state’s Congressional districts were redrawn by a federal magistrate, not the state Legislature, taking away the built-in advantage incumbents enjoy from redistricting.

Demographically the state overall has shifted more Democratic, but the upstate region remains heavily Republican, save for pockets of Democratic strongholds in urban areas and college towns.

The Republican Party is banking heavily on those local House seats as a way to rebuild the party in a very blue state overall.

Bucky Dent And BP (Updated)


We joined a gaggle of New York Republicans this morning to travel to Steinbrenner Field, the spring training facility of The New York Yankees.

Leaving Clearwater in a giant air-conditioned tour bus, the group was taken on something of a 90-minute odyssey through the greater Tampa area after the bus driver became more than briefly lost that resulted in more than a few momentarily peeved Republicans.

Delegation members, including Sens. John DeFrancisco, Joe Griffo and Lee Zeldin, stood patiently on line to receive an autograph from Bucky Dent, the Yankee legend who hit a game-winning home run a one-off game against the Red Sox for the American League Pennant.

On the field, delegates lined up to take batting practice (the mound was moved up to what I’m guessing was Little League regulation) as the humidity climbed to what felt like at least 80 percent.

As is tradition at nearly all of these events during convention week in Tampa, drinks and food were free.

The Yankees are registered as lobbyists in New York state.

Update: To clarify, it was the state Republican Party, not the Yankees, who paid for the event.

D’Amato Fires Up Republican Delegation

Even at 75, ex-Sen. Al D’Amato can leave an audience wanting more.

D’Amato gave the keynote speech this morning to the New York Republican delegation at the Clearwater Beach Hilton in Florida, an address that was equal parts self-deprecating and a critique of the Obama administration.

He called Rep. Peter King “a national treasure.”

He urged louder applause for former President Richard Nixon (his son in law was in the room).

And he told Republicans that while it is difficult to get elected in New York, they shouldn’t give up, reminding them that he was initially down in the polls when he first ran for office in 1980.

He also said he was “very excited” about the merger between his lobbying shop Park Strategies and the Albany-based Capital Public Strategies.

As Liz noted earlier this morning, the Albany firm is populated with former aides to ex-Gov. George Pataki, who coincidentally will be in Tampa this evening for the first full day of the Republican convention.

D’Amato, who held court for a lengthy session with reporters following his rather fiery speech, said the merger would give both firms a larger footprint.

“They’ve got great talent,” D’Amato said. “A number of them are former public servants in the Pataki administration, but we have a very bipartisan firm. We’ve added Speaker Miller — the Democratic speaker of the Assembly — he’s with us.”

D’Amato said it would help counter the perception that his company isn’t purely based in New York City or Nassau County.

“It diversifies us and I think it gives us a reach in a number of cases we are viewed strictly as a New York City or Long Island firm,” D’Amato said. “I think what it does is that it will give us a cross-polinization now where we’ll be doing a lot of work with our upstate counterparts who are now in the firm and we look forward to it.”

D’Amato also said the Republican Party needs to come to grips with the country’s growing Latino community by changing its tone on immigrant matters.

I asked D’Amato, who as Jimmy pointed out earlier has ties to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whether he thought her Republican opponent Wendy Long was too conservative to win in New York.

D’Amato hedged: “I don’t think her positions are such that she’s out of the mainstream. I just think that the numbers are very, very difficult. That’s a fact. I don’t see her as being too extreme. She has an incredible record as an attorney, having clerked as a Supreme Court of the United States.”

Dolan To Deliver Closing Prayer at DNC

Cardial Timothy Dolan will be making an appearance at both conventions.

He was already slated to deliver the closing prayer at the Republican Convention on Thursday. Now he will do the same for the Democrats on Thursday of their convention next week.

“Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has accepted an invitation to deliver the closing prayer at next week’s Democratic National Convention. As was previously announced, he will also be offering the closing prayer at the Republican Convention on Thursday of this week,” said Joseph Zwilling spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York.

It was made clear to the Democratic Convention organizers, as it was to the Republicans, that the Cardinal was coming solely as a pastor, only to pray, not to endorse any party, platform, or candidate. The Cardinal consulted Bishop Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte, who gave the Cardinal his consent to take part in the convention that will be taking place in his diocese.”

Traditionally the Bishop in the host city has delivered a closing prayer, but in both instances the Bishop’s have stepped aside for Cardinal Dolan.

Dolan’s original acceptance of an invitation to speak at the RNC caused concern for the Democrats, because Dolan has been at odds with the Obama administration over their policy of requiring religious organizations and businesses to provide contraception to employees as part of the Affordable Care Act. The Catholic Church argues that it is an infringement on their 1st Amendment rights.

It will be interesting to see if Dolan, who is incredibly politically savoy, weaves any political wisdom into his speeches. The official stance from the Archdiocese of New York has been that the church doesn’t endorse a candidate, and they made it clear when they accepted the RNC invitation that he’d also accept one from the DNC.