Note: This blog's templates will be updated this afternoon to a responsive design bringing it in line with MiamiHerald.com.

At that time, we will also change to the Facebook commenting system. You will need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment.

July 18, 2016

Hillary Clinton's coming to Florida right before Democratic convention

@PatriciaMazzei

Hillary Clinton will spend two days campaigning in Florida before the Democratic convention begins next week.

Clinton has scheduled events in Orlando and Tampa on Friday, and in South Florida on Saturday, her campaign announced Monday. The Tampa event will be a rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds. The campaign did not provide any further details on the Orlando and South Florida events. 

Members of the public can try to get tickets for the Tampa rally here and for the South Florida event here. The RSVP site says Clinton will talk about the economy.

The presumptive Democratic nominee is expected to name her running mate right around that time. Doing so in Florida -- or traveling to Florida immediately after the announcement -- could be a way to get lots of news coverage in the crucial battleground state. It could also rob Republican Donald Trump of some coverage following prime-time Thursday speech at the Republican National Convention.

The Democratic National Convention will begin next Monday in Philadelphia.

Praise for high-profile GOP'er skipping convention

Quick, now, as in Quicken Loans Arena: Who's the only statewide elected Republican state official in Florida not attending the party's convention in Cleveland?

That would be Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, who was at work in South Florida Monday before heading back to Tallahassee.

Atwater has the distinction of being the highest vote-getter in each of the past two mid-term elections. He got nearly 3 million votes in 2010 and 3.4 million in 2014. But he had no interest in going to the convention, and told a Republican club in Sarasota that he wouldn't be endorsing Donald Trump "any time soon," and that was in March. Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi will speak to the convention and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is there too.

Atwater did not respond to a request for comment. He must leave the CFO's office in 2018 because of term limits and would be a potent candidate for governor or U.S. Senate, two offices open in the next cycle. The former Senate president from Palm Beach County is known for his cautious, methodical approach, but his snub of the convention brought praise from J.M. (Mac) Stipanovich, the Tallahassee Republican strategist and long-time lobbyist, who has been one of the most vocal critics of Trump.

"That is one of the most stand-up and principled things I've ever seen Jeff Atwater do. I'm proud of him for not running in front of the crowd," Stipanovich said. "He has realized that his colleagues (Scott, Bondi and Putnam) are wrong, and I'm proud of him."

 

Carlos Beruff to Marco Rubio: 'man up'

@JeremySWallace

A more aggressive Carlos Beruff came out swinging today at U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Last week Rubio's allies went after Beruff, a Republican from Manatee County, for supporting former Gov. Charlie Crist in 2010 after he left the Republican Party and ran as an independent. But campaign finance records show Beruff never donated any money to Crist after he left the Republican Party. Beruff attended a fundraiser Crist was at in 2010, but Beruff did not donate any money at that event.

"Washington’s candidate Marco Rubio continues to lie about me and about his record, hiding behind his Washington allies of course," Beruff said in a sharply worded press release sent to the media this morning. "It’s no surprise considering integrity is clearly not an important quality to Senator Rubio, who lied to the people of Florida about amnesty, lied about his support for Donald Trump and lied about his promise to not run for reelection."

“And now Marco Rubio is ducking debates, afraid to answer for his record face to face. It’s common in Washington to pass the buck and hide from a challenge, but the people of Florida deserve a Senator who’s not afraid to take a stand. My message to Marco is simple: man up.”

The new more aggressive tone comes just days after Beruff spent nearly $1 million on ads attacking Rubio for his previous support of an immigration reform bill in Washington back in 2013. 

In response to the ads, Rubio's campaign put out a statement from Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Rubio's longtime friend, further trying to link Beruff with Crist.

"His record is clear, just like his good friend Charlie Crist, Carlos Beruff continues to flip-flop to try to be everything to everyone," Lopez-Cantera said. "He’s a Crist insider who values political opportunity over Florida’s conservative principles."

Lopez-Cantera was originally running for the U.S. Senate as well, but quit the race when Rubio changed his mind last month and decided to run for re-election.

Rubio and Beruff are battling in an Aug. 30 Republican Primary.

PolitiFact: Priebus wrong says no Bush attended RNC in 2012

Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus is confident the Cleveland RNC will be a success, even without a Bush in attendance.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former presidents George W. and George H.W. Bush all declined to participate or attend the 2016 nominating convention. Meet the Press host Chuck Todd offered the decision of the Bush family to spurn the 2016 convention as evidence that this year’s event will be a little different.

"You’re not showcasing the best parts of your party," Todd said to Priebus, adding "it is unusual not to have a Bush at the convention."

Priebus responded: "It didn’t happen four years ago" at the 2012 RNC in Tampa. Priebus added after some back-and-forth that that "there was no President Bush" at the RNC in 2008.

Claims about the pre-eminence of the Bush family in Republican politics have come up before. We previously rated True a claim that Republicans haven’t won an election without a Bush or Nixon since 1928.

In this case we wondered if Priebus was right that the Bush family eschewed the RNC in some form in 2012 and 2008.

He wasn’t.

Keep reading this fact-check from Allison Graves and Neelesh Moorthy from PolitiFact.

Fact-checking the Florida delegate convention speakers

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Florida delegates to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland kicked off their quadrennial confab with a breakfast featuring four speakers. PolitiFact took a look at some of their talking points.

Arkansas Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, touted his state’s economy on his watch.

“I’ve been governor for 18 months,” he said. “We have a 3.8 percent unemployment rate, which is the lowest rate in the history of Arkansas.”

He’s correct. The state set a new record low for unemployment in March 2016 with 4.1 percent, breaking the previous mark set in 2000. The rate fell further, to 3.9 percent in April and 3.8 in May.

The biggest applause of the morning came for a remark by Karen Vaughn, senior military families adviser for Concerned Veterans for America and the mother of Navy SEAL Aaron Carson Vaughn, who was killed in action in 2011.

Vaughn said her son didn’t give his life for the principles represented by Hillary Clinton. Clinton, she said, “stood over the bodies of four dead Americans and lied to their families.”

Keep reading Louis Jacobson's article from PolitiFact.

Florida House candidate uses Pokémon Go to lure voters

@alextdaugherty

Democrat Dan Horton is trying to catch ’em all.

On Saturday, Horton, a candidate for the state House, attracted Pokémon Go players to a campaign event in Key West by using in-game items to show his event's location on players' smartphones. Once people showed up to Horton’s event in Bayview Park they were able to catch rare Pokémon that were lured to the park.

“On Saturday, his campaign used the game to attract something even more elusive than rare Pokémon... young voters,” a Horton campaign press release said.

Horton, 30, is running in House District 120, which encompasses the Florida Keys and a swath of South Miami-Dade. He will challenge Kevin Diaz in the Democratic primary. Incumbent Holly Raschein is unopposed in the Republican primary.

Pokémon Go, which now has more users than Twitter, is a free game that uses a cell phone’s GPS and clock to determine where the player is located, then virtual Pokémon appear on the smartphone’s map. The app is the newest iteration of a Nintendo-owned series that once included trading cards and hand-held video games.

Pokemon and Politics 1 (1)

Pollster Frank Luntz's lucrative relationship with the incoming Florida House speaker

via @adamsmithtimes

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- The highlight of the Florida Republican delegation's opening breakfast Monday was a speech from GOP pollster and wordsmith (death tax, not estate tax) Frank Luntz. He mixed a stand up comedy routine with advice on how Republican can more effectively communicate and target their messages.

The kickoff breakfast was hosted by incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, whom Luntz showered with praise.

"These are very significant times, and I think you're a very significant leader," Luntz said of Corcoran. "And what I appreciate and respect so much about you is that I can talk to you, I can listen to you. You're a real guy. You're so incredibly principled, and you fight for your beliefs. But you do so in suc a respectful and decent way. I mean you're a role model."

Corcoran has also been an employer, hiring Luntz for consulting work when he worked for former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio and again when he was elected to the legislature himself. The state GOP and Corcoran's political committee have paid Luntz more than $455,000.

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Richard Corcoran is still not gung ho about Trump

IMG_0099@PatriciaMazzei

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Ask incoming Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who famously said earlier this year that Donald Trump "has offended every other possible group known to mankind," how to describe his attitude toward Trump now that he's about to get the GOP's presidential nomination, and Corcoran hesitates and smiles wryly.

"I don't -- I don't --" stammers Corcoran, who first backed Jeb Bush, then Marco Rubio, then Ted Cruz. "Um."

He finally settles on a word: "Encouraged."

Encouraged, above all, by Trump's vice-presidential pick of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. "It sends a strong message to the conservative base that this could be good," Corcoran told reporters Monday after the Florida delegation's breakfast.

But is Trump himself conservative? 

Corcoran responds with a side-eye.

"It's certainly -- there's never -- I'm --" he begins, undoubtedly trying to sound diplomatic. "I would argue that there's never been...there's never been a candidate you agree with 100 percent of the time. I'm not sure at times it exists in my own legislative chamber."

Lots of talk about Clinton -- but little of Trump -- at Florida delegation breakfast

IMG_0089
@PatriciaMazzei

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Florida's Republican delegates warmed up Monday for the start of the GOP convention by hearing a lot about President Barack Obama and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton -- but not a lot about their own nominee, Donald Trump.

The keynote speakers at the Republican Party of Florida's breakfast -- Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and pollster Frank Luntz -- tore into Democrats. 

Luntz held up a talking "Lying Hillary" doll ("Goldman Sachs didn't expect anything in return -- they just liked my speeches!") but chided the crowd at the Embassy Suites Rockside for hissing. "This is not a real person!" (One delegate held up a sign that read "Hillary for Prison.")

Luntz tried to spur Florida Republicans into action.

"I do mean to concern you. I do mean to scare you," he said. "And I'm going to show you some data that should upset you."

Republicans, he said, are "not visual enough" to attract younger voters. 

"I don't want us to be boring. I want us to be relevant," Luntz said. But, he added: "If the election were held today, Hillary Clinton wins."

Guess who's coming to 1st night of GOP convention? Trump

via @lesleyclark

CLEVELAND -- Donald Trump will make his unconventional convention even more so by showing up on the first night.

Campaign manager Paul Manafort wouldn’t confirm speculation that Trump may appear to watch his wife, Melania, deliver an address on the opening night of the Republican National Convention.

But Trump himself spilled the beans on Monday morning: “I may sneak out, I have to be honest, I want to see this,” he told Fox News in a phone interview, adding that he’d like to see the stage where the speeches will be delivered: “We spent so much time building the center, it got built properly, it’s beautiful, it’s really one of the most beautiful I’ve seen of it’s kind and we’re very proud of it.”

And, he added, he’d like to see his wife speak: “The answer is yes,” he said of his appearance. It’s been a tradition for nominees to tease the delegates with an early appearance, showing up at the end of the night with a wave and a promise to return on the last night.

Trump did backtrack a bit: “I just don’t want to say it, I want to keep it quiet, just among us,” he said. “Under no circumstances can anyone know,” he joked.

More here.