Update: The FPA/FSNE candidate forum may have concluded yesterday evening, but you can still read the recap after the jump.
The Florida Independent is live-blogging this afternoon’s candidate forum at the Florida Press Association and Florida Society of News Editors‘ 2010 convention, featuring most of the big names running for statewide office this year.
Gubernatorial hopefuls Alex Sink, Bill McCollum and Bud Chiles, and U.S. Senate aspirants Marco Rubio, Charlie Crist, Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene will all make an appearance at the event, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. at the Sarasota Ritz-Carlton. Rick Scott is the only high-profile candidate not attending the event; he traveled to Tallahassee to make his first public speech there earlier this afternoon.
Click through to catch the latest.
Battery turning red, need to shut this down. Thanks for reading, folks! We’ll have more on fallout from the FPA/FSNE forum tomorrow!
5:12 Asked if he will support extending the Bush tax cuts, Greene says no. He says he saved a lot of money as a result of the cuts, but points out he didn’t create a single job with that bonus.
5:11 Greene explains why he gave Meek $500 last year if he now views him as a failed candidate. He says he went to hear Rep. Barney Frank speak, and the contribution was part of admission.
5:07 Greene just responded to a Florida Independent question about what the United States can do to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon, committed as it is to two conflicts already. “We have to have crippling sanctions,” Greene says, suggesting the federal government ban American companies from doing businesses with Iran. “I will stand against our enemies and I will make them tremble.”
5:01 Greene calls for moratorium on oil companies giving any money to politicians for the next 10 years.
4:58 America needs to renew its infrastructure, Greene says. We can’t compete if we don’t.
Programming note: Laptop battery power is dwindling, without a power source in sight. Will keep blogging as long as possible.
4:54 “We have to make our enemies tremble,” Greene says about foreign policy, citing Iran as a major threat.
4:53 Calls out Crist for a sharp increase in Florida unemployment and foreclosure numbers during his tenure.
4:53 Greene: “I’m angry and frustrated, and I’m in a panic actually” about where the country is headed.
4:52 And with that, Crist is done. Jeff Greene about to take the stage.
4:49 On Senate Bill 6 veto: Crist wanted to support it originally because it was grounded in merit-pay rules, but as it went through Tallahassee, it became more “punitive” than “beneficial” for students and teachers. “It changed, not me.”
4:46 “Our country is at a crossroads,” Crist says, explaining why he thinks he can be more effective in Washington than in Tallahassee. “I think that we’ve done a pretty good job in Florida”
4:45 Crist, asked about our relationship with Israel, calls the nation “our best ally on the planet.”
4:43 “The party I used to belong to left me,” Crist says, citing party figures Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Reagan. Current party? “I don’t identify with that. … The people deserve a choice. If they want somebody on the far right, he was here today. If they want somebody on the far left, he was here today.”
4:38 “I have no debt, none,” Crist jokes. “I’m a cheap guy.”
4:38 “Why shouldn’t the federal government, your government, live within its means?” Crist asks, suggesting the country could use laws like those that limit Florida spending.
4:32 Q: Do you support Florida’s ban on gay adoption? “That is a decision best left to judges,” Crist answers, comparing it to the question of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which he says should be answered by the military.
4:30 “Never in my career have I decided to support and idea because it was a Republican idea or a Democratic idea,” Crist says, explaining his decision to become an independent.
4:28 Crist emphasizes the work he’s doing to manage the response to the gulf spill, updating the room on latest developments.
4:28 “I heard it got a little exciting here,” Crist, dressed in jeans and casual shirt, jokes.
4:27 Snitker departs, room breaks out with chatter. Pause before introducing Gov. Charlie Crist.
4:24 “We cannot allow this anymore to be career politicians,” Snitker says, calling out media reps for not supporting his right to speak.
4:23 Alex Snitker, the libertarian candidate, is furious. “It’s unbelievable that you’re not going to let me speak!” Snitker shouts, saying Greene didn’t poll high enough to be included.
4:22 Organizer says candidates were selected because they polled above 10-percent in “respectable” polls.
4:21 Libertarian candidate grabs the microphone, and issues a statement that he deserves to be included in the town hall.
4:17 Rubio wants to repeal “ObamaCare.”
4:15 “I believe that Arizona’s law should serve as a wake-up call to other states, not a model,” says Rubio in response to a question about an Arizona-style law in Florida.
4:14 Rubio says he doesn’t believe there exists a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
4:13 Q: Would you support extending benefits for those on unemployment? “I understand the plight of people in that situation,” Rubio says, but Congress cannot continue to spend money it doesn’t have.
4:12 Rubio is asked about the tea party: What’s driving it? People feel like “there’s an attempt to redefine the role of government,” Rubio says, pointing out that the group’s sentiments have existed for decades but have found an outlet through social media.
4:08 Rubio: Republican Party lost its “soul,” and its majority, because it failed to spend responsibly.
4:07 “We are headed toward bankruptcy,” Rubio says, adds that both parties need to work to put the country on the path to fiscal sustainability.
4:04 Q: Why do you continue to support offshore drilling? BP made cost-cutting decisions and that needs to be dealt with, Rubio states, but America needs to become energy-independent and, during the short term, we will continue to rely on oil.
4:02 Meek says goodbye, and Marco Rubio takes the stage, delivering his introductory remarks.
3:59 Meek just responded to a Florida Independent question about whether he supports President Obama’s right to authorize the assassination of an American citizen, as he has done in the case of Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen currently hiding in Yemen, according to The New York Times. “If it’s in defense of our men and women in harm’s way, and he makes the decision to take someone out, absolutely,” Meek answered. It was his final question.
3:44 Q: Would you support a second stimulus package? No, Meek says, “We have to look at what’s actually creating jobs,” and should see what worked with the first stimulus and follow through on those ideas.
3:41 Q: Spending is out of control; what can you do about that? “Currency manipulation has been a huge issue,” Meek responds. Says he has voted for a pay-as-you-go policy in Congress, voted against raising the debt limit. “We must get our federal deficit under control.”
3:37 Meek makes his introductions, going over his background.
3:36 Kendrick Meek up first.
3:22 McCollum gives his closing remarks. Pause before introducing the Senate candidates.
3:14 McCollum just responded to a Florida Independent question about his campaign’s association with the 527 group Florida First Initiative: “We don’t control it. I don’t control it.” McCollum said that if organizations ask to help his campaign, he won’t deny them. Our question was followed up by Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times, which broke news that McCollum’s finance director helped solicit funds for FFI. “I happen to keep my distance from how my consultants do their business,” McCollum responded, denying he knew the specifics of the activity. But, “Do I know this is going on generically? Yeah.”
3:07 Scott successes don’t say much about McCollum’s campaign, but instead show Scott’s deep pockets.
3:04 “I represent the idea … in reducing the size of government, keeping taxes low. … I think this health care legislation that got passed into law is very difficult for everybody.”
3:02 Q: Will you still support a millage freeze if local community wants to increase it? “There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it,” local governments will have to reduce spending as well as the state.
3:00 “We’re not going to raise taxes. We’re not going to raise fees.” Won’t offer other specifics on how to address budget shortfall.
2:59 “We don’t need a rookie. We need someone who knows how to get it done.”
2:56 McCollum arrives.
2:54 Momentary confusion about McCollum’s whereabouts.
2:54 McCollum not in the room?
2:53 Chiles concludes. Attorney General Bill McCollum being introduced next.
2:52 Q: Would you be willing to eliminate Florida’s corporate income tax? “No. … We have a 1940s tax system in Florida in a 2010 economy.” Says small businesses need incentives, but believes large corporations need to pay their fair share.
2:49 Q: If Chiles’ candidacy is unsuccessful, would he endorse others? “I’m in this campaign to win.”
2:46 Q: Amendment 4 support? “I think it’s another major problem for local government.” Amendment 4 is “unworkable” for local government and businesses.
2:45 Q: How can you work with Tallahassee as an independent? “My philosophy is to make government smaller in Tallahasse, bigger in local communities.”
2:44 Chiles would make all government action take place in the open.
2:43 “We definitely need a fair redistricting process.” One step toward curbing influence of money.
2:41 Q: Democrats are beseeching you to get out; is there no difference between McCollum, Scott and Sink? Chiles doesn’t believe that, but says Florida deserves a candidate will “stand up to money.”
2:38 “We have done a terrible job in Florida as the Sunshine State in green energy. … The real problem is the utilities.”
2:36 Q: What is your opinion of the FCAT? “Not necessarily anything wrong” with the FCAT, but problem with how it’s used. Calls vouchers a “corporate tax break.”
2:35 Q: How will you address budget shortfall? Chiles says Florida spends too much on prisons, not enough on education.
2:35 Chiles calls himself “the people’s candidate.”
2:32 “We’ve got a political system that is completely out of control.” Chiles brings up corruption cases, Greer’s arrest, etc.
2:32 Chiles: “I represent something completely different for the people of Florida.”
2:31 Lawton “Bud” Chiles being introduced.
2:29 Sink wraps up her session.
2:27 Q: How would your administration lessen partisanship? “This year was my most successful legislative session. We got many significant pieces of legislation passed.” Says she can create compromise.
2:25 Q: How will Sink handle bills that seek to restrict public records? Sink points to examples as CFO: putting out information about vendors the state works with. “We have an attorney whose sole responsible is public records and sunshine.” Supports whistleblower protection.
2:20 “I would say that all agencies that can be more efficient,” Sink says, when asked which governor agencies need reform.
2:17 Q: Will you vote for Amendment 4? “I have long been opposed to Amendment 4.” Representatives should be making decisions about comprehensive plans.
2:14 Q: How would you diversify Florida’s economy? “My favorite topic.” Ideas: Opportunity to build international business because of Florida’s location, dynamic health-care industry.
2:12 Q: Would Sink support deregulating property insurance? “It is critical that we stabilize our property insurance market. … No, we should not have deregulation in the insurance market.” Nevertheless, Sink says Florida can attract more private insurers to the state.
2:10 First question: “How much of a budget shortfall do you expect in fiscal year 2012?” Sink says we will need to rely on the federal government to overcome budget shortfalls in the short term.
2:09 On oil spill: ”I’ve been to the panhandle many times. I went for one reason: to help.”
2:08 Sink describes a “crisis of leadership” in Tallahassee: “I want wasteful spending cut; I want corruption prosecuted.”
2:06 Format being explained: Candidates will speak, then take questions from the audience, with a two-minute limit on responses. CFO Alex Sink is up first.