The flurry of Republican National Committee (RNC) conference calls with the media Tuesday focused on key battleground states in the presidential election -- and in those calls Florida featured an unlikely speaker in U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla.
While he is new to the national political spotlight and only a freshman in Congress, Ross is no political novice. Besides working for longtime Republican state Sen. Dennis Jones in the 1980s, Ross headed up the Polk County GOP and unsuccessfully challenged Democratic state Sen. Rick Dantzler back in 1996. When Adam Putnam left the Florida House to run for Congress, Ross ran for the open House seat and won it in 2000.
While he served eight years in the Florida House, Rosss profile was raised dramatically in Tallahassee in 2007 when he joined then-Rep. Don Brown, R-DeFuniak Springs, as being the only two votes in the Legislature against an insurance reform package being pushed by two politicians who would dramatically clash in the 2010 U.S. Senate race -- then-Gov. Charlie Crist and then-Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio.
Ross and Brown would pay the price for breaking with Crist and Rubio on the issue. Rubio stripped Brown of the chairmanship of the Jobs & Entrepreneurship Council while Ross was removed as head of the SafetySecurity Council. Both men were taken off the Rules Calendar Council.
But Ross bounced back. When Putnam announced that he was going to run to be state agriculture commissioner, Ross looked to take his spot again -- this time in Congress. Ross would prevail in the primary and general election and headed for Washington. Despite being a freshman, Ross did earn a major plum -- the chairmanship of the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service and Labor Policy.
On Tuesday, Ross went to bat for the RNC, attacking President Barack Obamas managing of the economy and the federal debt in his call with the press. Still, even on the RNC call, Ross showed some independence.
The president did not create our debt problems, Ross told the media, adding it was a Republican and Democrat issue for the last 30 years.
Still, Ross did accuse Obama of ignoring the debt problem, insisting that the president was doing nothing to address it. He complains about the hand he was dealt but he gambles with money borrowed from China, Ross said about Obama. The president has failed, failed miserably, to address the debt spiraling.
Ross bashed federal spending under Obamas watch, hitting him on everything from taxpayer dollars going to Solyndra to signing the health-care law back in 2010. The Florida congressman attempted to contrast Obamas record with that of Republicans in Congress and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, the presumptive Republican candidate who will challenge Obama in November.
Ross said he had high hopes for Romney, saying the former Massachusetts governor would make one of the strongest presidents fiscally weve seen in decades and insisting that he had a history of being fiscally prudent.
While he may have gone against Rubio -- now Floridas junior U.S. senator -- Ross left no room for doubt that he is behind the Republican standard bearer in 2012.
Im excited Governor Romney will be in the Tampa Bay area tomorrow [Wednesday], Ross said. I wholeheartedly support his candidacy.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.