By the end of the night, Berke's Yalie friends were buzzing about the idea. "Once we heard his platform, it seemed to make a lot of sense," Goldstein says. "It's crazy that Miami Beach doesn't have a casino and doesn't seem to be encouraging nightlife."

As they talked, he had another brainstorm: Why not make the whole campaign a reality television show? Politics makes great TV. Then he added an even more tantalizing idea. Why not surround the politician/comedian with a retinue of gorgeous models — and do it in sunny South Beach?

A friend who had just finished working on Carl Paladino's failed bid for governor of New York perked up when he heard the idea. "Dude," he said, "I've got the perfect fucking guy for you."

Steve Berke hopes young voters flock to his comedy and his plan to decriminalize weed. View our Steve Berke slide show.
George Martinez
Steve Berke hopes young voters flock to his comedy and his plan to decriminalize weed. View our Steve Berke slide show.
Roger Stone, a Nixon devotee, helped Reagan and both Bushes win the White House.
George Martinez
Roger Stone, a Nixon devotee, helped Reagan and both Bushes win the White House.


Roger Stone strolls into Oliver's, his favorite neighborhood joint on West Avenue. His broad face is bronzed, his slightly conical head topped by blondish-white curls, his eyes shaded by hugely oversize round shades. With his prominent ears and thin nose, he bears no small resemblance to Prince Charles.

Yet something is off. Just three years ago, Stone was riding high — a penthouse office in Fort Lauderdale, a waterfront mansion, even a New Yorker cover story by Jeffrey Toobin that lingered on Stone's wardrobe of more than 100 designer suits and his four chauffeured Jaguars. (Not to mention the tattoo of Richard Nixon's face on his back.)

Today, the mansion has been sold, and if Stone drove to lunch, his car is inconspicuous. He's even wearing a blue polo shirt and khakis.

Has Stone fallen on hard times? The public record indicates as much: After getting tangled up with Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein, Stone faces a $400,000 IRS lien and is being sued over a $25,000 credit card bill. And for the first time, he's throwing his name into a local race in his adopted hometown.

But anyone who takes those facts to mean Stone is broke is dead wrong, he says. "Like a lot of Floridians, I have debt," he says. "But I also have plenty of income."

The story of how Stone ended up running Berke's campaign has two parts: (1) the rough patch in a long career in the political shadows and (2) the lifelong mission to erase the line between politics and entertainment.

Stone was born in Lewisboro, New York, in 1952 and attended George Washington University before abandoning school in 1971 to work as a gofer at the Committee to Re-elect the President (or CREEP, as it became universally known after Watergate).

Soon, he was playing a role in Nixon's Watergate shenanigans. During the 1972 primary, he made contributions to Nixon's rival, Pete McCloskey, in the name of the "Young Socialists Alliance" and then sent the receipts to a newspaper to smear the California Republican's name.

Stone lost a postelection job on the Hill with Bob Dole after the Senate Watergate committee publicized his role. "Watergate was one of the stupidest ideas I ever heard," he says now. "That stuff was all childish."

He served as youth director for Reagan's '76 run and then played key roles in his successful 1980 and '84 races as the candidate's Northeast coordinator. Next he cofounded a lobbying firm along with legendary Republican slime-master Lee Atwater. He consulted for the senior Bush's run in 1988 and Dole's 1996 race.

Stone's public career in politics all but died that year — or at least tilted toward Berke-style libertarian races. The National Enquirer published a story that Stone and his wife, Nydia, a Cuban-American from Miami, had placed ads in swinger magazines looking for sex partners. "Hot, insatiable lady and her handsome bodybuilder husband... seek similar couples," the ads read with pictures of the Stones.

"Roger Stone is a libertine," says Michael Caputo, a fellow political consultant who has known Stone since the mid-'80s. "But he's also a hard-core libertarian. He's no hypocrite."

Dole booted him from the family values-focused campaign, and Stone split his time between Washington and Miami — bouncing between apartments on Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive.

In 2000, Stone made his most notorious mark on national politics — of the sort Berke can only hope for. As the world's media descended on Miami for the presidential recount of ballots, he and his wife bought time on Radio Mambí to lobby for Dubya. On November 22, they urged protesters to storm the Stephen P. Clark Government Center, where Miami-Dade ballots were being recounted. When the protests turned violent, the recount was halted — and a court-mandated deadline couldn't be met. Many pointed toward the riot as a turning point after the Supreme Court declared Bush a winner a few weeks later. Gore likely would have picked up hundreds more votes in Miami had the recount continued.

Stone claims he personally orchestrated the chaos downtown with walkie-talkies from a nearby trailer.

After the riot, the Bush administration landed Stone a cozy position consulting for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, where he allegedly engineered millions in payoffs from tribes looking to build new casinos. Media called his work with tribes seeking new casinos a conflict, but Stone denies the charge. "False," he says. "I put up my own capital on some casino projects, and the vast majority didn't even work out. I certainly didn't make any huge profits."

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26 comments
RJ
RJ

And people wonder why China and India are kicking out @$$.

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zqxz

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tim benedict
tim benedict

just like reagan, a b move actor made it with no experience, so why not berke. just remember he just like all those nazi.s that where elected last year, and who will be out of a job in 2012

Losarbolessondetodo
Losarbolessondetodo

If you at least decrease the Cuban-Corruption ring ,you are welcome,if do more ,you are my heroe.

Pepegarcia
Pepegarcia

Sorry you feel like that, but Cubans will still be in power you sucker

MrChe
MrChe

that's why Miami sucks..Cuban-corruption

Lance
Lance

I disagree with you both, Miami has been the capital of corrupt cities since the 1930s, the white, Italians and blacks have been making as stink down here since the beginnings, but Cubans have taken corruption in Miami to its highest possible peaks.

Lance
Lance

His platform is alright. Now the question is keeping all his promises, what consequence is he willing to pay for failing to follow through?

Obey Satisme
Obey Satisme

Corkey Thatcher should run for Mayor. He is a great actor!

Miami Model
Miami Model

Having been on the beach a very long time, you learn who to stay away from. These three guys and their friends are those people. When you hang with people like this you are judged as an idiot loser. They will use you up and spit you out, seriously, they don't care about anyone but themselves. As for how they treat women is another matter all together ! Girls, if you are hanging out with these guys, you are being pimped out and will eventually get into trouble, Gaurenteed!!! Take it from me, I know first hand.

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Jstacy1999
Jstacy1999

Oh Brother, now we have the clown with the big red rubber nose trying to replace the clown with the big floppy shoes.

Gumbyftlaud
Gumbyftlaud

hmm let's see the guy backing him was in on Watergate....I am NOT GOING TO SAY 1 WORD!!! ONLY in Miami.... Can anyone figure out why I moved 1600 miles away???

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Wugu1012
Wugu1012

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Pentacles
Pentacles

Yep this corrupt clown will sodomize the beach taxpayers Republican style- suck them all dry and run off with the $$$$ while he keeps them all laughing...no kiss the next morning. Bunch of idiots WOULD vote for this little weasle!

Million_dollar_names
Million_dollar_names

my son played him numerous times in junior tennis tournaments and he was one of those under constant pressure by his overbearing father - win at all costs. Guess that's what it takes to be a successful politician.

 
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