Vail Valley Voices: How Florida’s primary is playing out on the ground |

Vail Valley Voices: How Florida’s primary is playing out on the ground

Most of this could be old news for you, but I thought I’d send along a note about what I see happening in the Sunshine State.

I’ll start with Southwest Florida.

Newt was just in Naples, shoring up the base at a $500-per-ticket fundraiser. Naples just happens to be our tea party Gov. Rick Scott’s hometown. Go figure.

While Gingrich was wining and dining with his rich and influential buddies, what I am hearing from other conservative, non-tea party types is a growing suspicion that the former speaker of the house does not have the temperament to be the “leader of the free world.”

I was very surprised to hear that kind of talk from people who might normally be in Gingrich’s camp, including one who had been very active in politics before he retired. Many are not impressed with his testy showdowns during the debates and fear his grandiose ideas may lead to even more trouble if he is elected president.

That’s one of the reasons I think Sen. Rubio spoke up for Romney, but I also remember that Romney endorsed Rubio in 2010.

As an added note, so many people take the Latino vote for granted down here, forgetting that a lot of it is made up of Cuban immigrants and their descendants (like Rubio), people who lived under Castro and want nothing to do with anything that might smack of socialism. No one should carelessly lump them in with an ethnic group most often identified with the Democratic Party.

Gingrich’s work with Freddie and Fannie also has not endeared him to a state that is at the top of the heap in the foreclosure crisis.

No matter what he says about what he did there, Floridians simply have a sour taste in their mouths when it comes to the state of the housing market here and blame the government for letting it happen. By extension, that includes Gingrich.

Vacant homes pockmark the landscape in many subdivisions. All I have to do is to take a walk and count the empty houses to figure out the health of my neighborhood. And if you hear news that the foreclosure rates are declining, remember that mortgage companies only have this year to take advantage of the breaks they get on short sales. Just talk to the Realtors.

Gingrich may be getting a few punches in against Romney when it comes to the wealth factor, playing on petty jealousy and the lousy economy here. It doesn’t help that our unemployment rate is still more than 9 percent.

I find it amusing that Newt is pointing a finger at Mitt, considering that Newt has a tidy little financial bundle of his own – not to mention that sounds like the kind of tactic the Democrats might use against a Republican. Hmmmm.

We are all getting pretty tired of the fear-mongering ads, so too of the “witch hunt” commercials. Some people are pretty angry that the politicians are playing on the worries of senior citizens, of which we have plenty down here.

Anyway, that’s just the scene from my vantage point so far, and it’s hardly conclusive. I think Romney has a great chance of taking Florida. I could be wrong, but it’s sure interesting watching the drama unfold.

Southwest Florida resident Maggie Fiorini, now working primarily in health care, spent 20 years as a radio and newspaper journalist and remains a political junkie. She is a happily married mother of two grown sons and one grandson.

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