GOP Campaigns Prep for Vital Florida Race Republican presidential candidates are looking for late momentum — and votes — in Florida's primary, slated for Tuesday. While the Florida primaries are bipartisan, the state has been punished by the Democratic Party for moving its election.
NPR logo

GOP Campaigns Prep for Vital Florida Race

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18447863/18447852" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
GOP Campaigns Prep for Vital Florida Race

GOP Campaigns Prep for Vital Florida Race

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/18447863/18447852" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

ALISON STEWART, host:

Now as we're waiting for the polls to close in South Carolina and some returns for the evening, let's check in now with what's going on in Florida. Republicans are competing in a primary this Tuesday there.

NPR's Scott Horsley is following the campaign and joins us now from Tampa.

Scott, what were John McCain and Mitt Romney talking about today? I know they're in Florida today.

SCOTT HORSLEY: Well, that's right, Andrea. And there are all sorts of fireworks. In fact, you may hear some real fireworks behind me. Tampa is hosting its annual Mardi Gras-style Gasparilla parade today. But there's also been a parade of Republican presidential hopefuls through Central Florida, and they're generally playing for their strengths.

For Mitt Romney, the businessman-turned-politician, that means talking about his background in the private sector. He was out visiting local businesses today, saying he has the business savvy to prop up a sagging U.S. economy.

Meanwhile, John McCain just spoke a little while ago at the Sun City Center retirement community. He talked about his determination to win the war in Iraq and to capture Osama bin Laden.

You know, at the town hall meeting, though, you'll never know what's going to happen. And the very first question John McCain got was about immigration, which is still a hot-button issue for some Republicans and not one that works in John McCain's favor. In fact, the senator joked that as soon as the question is asked, this town hall meeting is over.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HORSLEY: It wasn't, though. He went on and answered the question and said he would secure the border, first thing of them all.

SEABROOK: Hmm.

RON ELVING: Hi, Scott. It's Ron. And can you tell us what are we hearing from Rudy Giuliani? I think a lot of people have been waiting to hear more from the former mayor, not just in the debates but on one of these voting days.

HORSLEY: Well, that's right. I heard Rudy Giuliani addressed a Republican dinner in Sarasota last night. That's a heavily Republican community south of here. Even though - I mean, polls show him now in third, or in some cases, fourth place here, he's urged his supporters not to count him out.

Remember, Rudy Giuliani has spent months cultivating Florida voters, building an organization on the ground here. And keep in mind that in Florida, as many as 40 percent of the people will cast their ballots actually before Tuesday's election day. In some cases, well before. So some Giuliani supporters may have already voted for the former New York mayor before John McCain even won the New Hampshire primary and sort of started his comeback.

SEABROOK: Hmm. Scott, what's at stake for these candidates in Florida? Is this the end of some stories, the beginning of others in this campaign?

HORSLEY: Andrea, we got an indication of that actually during this town hall meeting I've just come from. John McCain was asked who's on his shortlist of vice presidential running mate. He said it would be premature to talk about that having won just two primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina. But he said, if he wins here on Tuesday, he will start to think about it. That tells you how big Florida is, not only for John McCain but for all of the Republicans. It's the biggest batch of delegates so far. It's also the state where all the Republicans have competed unlike some of the earlier contests. And whoever wins here on Tuesday is going to get a big boost for the Tsunami Tuesday contest in 21 states a week later.

SEABROOK: I call it Super Duper Tuesday, but, you know…

(Soundbite of laughter)

SEABROOK: You call it what you want, Scott.

NPR's Scott Horsley in Tampa. Thanks very much.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.