Three of the four Republican presidential hopefuls spent the weekend stumping for votes in the Sunshine State in advance of Florida’s GOP presidential primary Tuesday.
Newt Gingrich brought his message to south Palm Beach County after he and rival Mitt Romney addressed a Hispanic Leadership Network lunch in Miami. Rick Santorum started his day with the Latin Builders Association in Miami.
Ron Paul skipped Florida altogether and instead headed for Maine.
At an event Friday hosted by the Republican Jewish Coalition, Gingrich offered strong support for Israel and took pot shots at GOP rival Romney and President Barack Obama during a speech before 700 people at the South County Civic Center west of Delray Beach.
“Be with me – to save the country together,” he told the standing-room-only audience. “I want to rekindle a belief in America.”
With his wife, Calista, and other supporters seated behind him, the former House speaker promised that if elected, “one of the first things I will do is instruct the State Department to open the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem,” moving it from Tel Aviv.
He also said that “two hours after I give my inaugural address, I will abolish all White House czars.”
RJC member Dr. Jeffery Feingold set the tone in introducing Gingrich by saying Obama “has destroyed our special relationship with Israel.”
Feingold described Gingrich as “an essential part of the Reagan revolution. His will, tenacity and creativity took a minority party sitting in the back benches to a majority.”
The civic center’s surroundings may have seemed unfamiliar to many Republicans. The building on Jog Road is a bastion for Democratic political get-togethers – and has an adjacent park dedicated to former Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles.
Gingrich came out swinging, slamming Obama for doing “just the opposite” of what needs to be done to rectify America’s problems. He singled out the president’s rejection of the Keystone Pipeline, a decision that forced Canada to work a deal with China instead of creating jobs in the United States.
The GOP presidential contender talked of tackling terrorism and the discord in the Middle East, emphasizing the need to neutralize Iran’s potential nuclear capacity.
“Three nukes strategically placed in Israel would be another Holocaust,” Gingrich said. “We had better act before it happens, not after.
“There is no question about the right of Jews to be in the Middle East. They were promised it,” he said, adding that there will be no peace until Palestinians “give up all right of return, stop teaching terrorism and accept Israel.”
Calling himself a “Reagan conservative,” Gingrich said Romney “is a moderate, at best. Romneycare and taxes have made Massachusetts undesirable.”
Taking a cue from Reagan, Gingrich said there are ways of being “strategically very firm” without going to war.
After the speech, the candidate and his entourage left Delray for a $1,000-a-plate dinner at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.
Boca elections down to one race
The March 13 Boca Raton city election just got less competitive.
Bill Trinka, who had announced he was challenging City Councilwoman Constance Scott, has dropped out of the race. That means Scott wins automatically, since Trinka was her only opponent.
“My father raised me on the principles of self-reliance and generosity,” Trinka said in announcing his withdrawal from the race. “Because of my personal discomfort with [asking for] support and the amount of times I would need to do so to be successful in this endeavor, I have withdrawn from the Boca Raton City Council race.”
In response, Scott said, “I am excited and look forward to serving my second term on the Boca Raton City Council, and I will continue to be a strong voice for job creation, balanced budgets, neighborhood concerns and public safety.
“As chair of the Community Redevelopment Agency working together with the city and businesses, we have created over 3,000 jobs. Like everywhere else, Boca Raton faces economic challenges, but I am proud that our city is fiscally sound and residents receive excellent services.”
Trinka’s withdrawal leaves just a single race on the March 13 ballot. Anthony Majhess, who holds Seat D on the council, is being challenged by political newcomer Frank Chapman.
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