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Republicans' 2012 electoral math: it's Florida, Florida, Florida (again). Tampa readies balloons

May 12, 2010 |  9:18 am

Florida's Republican candidate for Senate Marco Rubio in kick off for bus tour April 13, 2010 by AP Photo's Mike Allen is reporting that the Republican National Committee is set to announce Tampa, Fla., as the site of its 2012 convention, beating out competing bids from Phoenix and Salt Lake City. If you want to mark your calendar, that would be the week of Aug. 27.

Insiders apparently felt that Phoenix, also under consideration by Democrats, would not make a good backdrop because of its new anti-immigration law -- and the resulting boycotts that have cast Arizona in the cross-hairs of controversy. As for Salt Lake City, where Utah Republicans denied renomination to longtime U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, parking the Republican convention there might be taken as a sign of retreat in one of the friendliest Republican venues in the country.

For tea-leaf readers, this is interesting on several levels. First, some insiders think it could give a boost to the candidacy of Republican Marco Rubio for Senate in Florida. Others wonder what would happen to this Tampa Bounce if he loses to now Independent Charlie Crist or Democrat Kendrick Meek.

By tradition, parties try for a convention city that will boost their hopes of taking the state in the fall elections. Last year, the Democrats went to Denver, and Colorado went blue, voting for Barack Obama over Republican John McCain by a 54%-45% margin. Republicans went to St. Paul, and lost Minnesota by about the same margin (54-44%).

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For their part, Democrats plan to nominate Obama to his second term the week of Sept. 3, 2012. A site committee has visited St. Louis, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Charlotte, N.C.

North Carolina in play? Who knew.

As for Florida, NBC's much-missed host of "Meet the Press," Tim Russert, who died in June 2008, called it a long time ago. Back in 2000, with the presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore hanging in the balance, Russert held up a low-tech white-board and summed up the race in three words, saying it came down to "Florida, Florida, Florida."

-- Johanna Neuman

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