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July 18, 2016

Richard Corcoran is still not gung ho about Trump


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


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.

July 17, 2016

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has no plans to debate Tim Canova, despite Canova's TV ad

Television ads are not enough to change Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's mind. 
The DNC chair has no plans to debate Nova Southeastern law professor Tim Canova despite the Canova campaign's release of a TV ad this week that features Wasserman Schutlz (D-Weston) deflecting questions on the issue. 
"The debate we are focusing on right now is that Donald Trump can never become president," Wasserman Schultz said to the Miami Herald on Sunday
Canova released an ad July 11 titled #DebbieDodgesDebate that features multiple clips of Wasserman Schultz being asked if she will debate. 
There are just over six weeks remaining before the Aug. 30 Democratic primary. 

UPDATED: Conspicuously absent from GOP convention schedule: Gov. Rick Scott


CLEVELAND -- Twenty hours before its first gavel, the Republican National Convention finally released its schedule. And missing from the speakers' line-up is Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Scott was on the RNC's "partial" speaker list published Thursday. He was supposed to speak sometime Thursday, on the convention's last night. Presumptive nominee Donald Trump will take the podium that night too -- and possibly other nights.

But Scott's name was nowhere to be found Sunday evening. Attorney General Pam Bondi's was: She's slated to address Republican delegates Wednesday night, as expected.

We've asked Scott's political consultant, Trump's campaign and the RNC to explain what happened. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Scott's political consultant, Melissa Stone, says she was told Scott's absence from the program was an "oversight."

UPDATE #2:Stone says Scott is now slated to speak sometime Wednesday.

--with Steve Bousquet

Dave Barry does the GOP convention -- starting, of course, with the naked women

via @rayadverb

As the old saying goes, “You can’t spell ‘fun’ without using some of the letters in ‘Republican.’” So it looks like Cleveland is in for a rollicking good time, because the GOP convention is in town, and the whole gang is here!

OK, not the whole gang. A large sector of the Republican party establishment had to bow out of the convention at the last minute when it remembered that it had a haircut appointment. Currently the highest-ranking elected Republican official here is Arthur A. “Bud” Klampf, deputy vice mayor of Ant Mound, Arkansas, who is scheduled to deliver what has been billed as “a major prime-time address, assuming he can locate his dentures.”

But there will still be plenty of excitement, with the highlight expected to come Tuesday, when the Republican delegates, barring a last-minute commando assault led by George Will in a camouflage bow tie, are expected to nominate Donald J. Trump, who according to recent polls actually has a chance to defeat Hillary Clinton and become president of the United WAIT WHAT ARE YOU SERIOUS??

Oops! I allowed my mask of professional-journalism objectivity to slip there. We professional journalists are freaking out over the fact that no matter how hard we try to explain to the public that Trump is unqualified, a lot of the public keeps right on liking him and his bold vision for America consisting of whatever happens to cross his mind at a given moment. We journalists are like, “What is WRONG with you people? Why aren’t you LISTENING to us?!? We’re PROFESSIONAL JOURNALISTS WITH VERIFIED TWITTER ACCOUNTS!!!”

Sorry, I had to get that out of my system. Back to my objective report:

More here.

Florida story lines to watch at the Republican convention


It’s here: the most anticipated Republican National Convention in recent memory, featuring the phenomenon of a presidential candidate who rewrote modern campaign rules and whose resounding nomination will finally prove to party elites that they can’t ignore their frustrated grassroots.

Or, if you prefer: the most dreaded Republican National Convention in recent memory, featuring the most disliked presidential nominee in U.S. history, for a party so fractured that some of its nervous members openly worry whether it will heal or permanently splinter.

This is how a divided Republican Party heads into its convention in Cleveland, which will culminate with Donald Trump’s nomination as the GOP candidate to the presidency. The next four days will shape how the GOP approaches the Nov. 8 general election — and, perhaps, politics for years to come.

The heart of the action will be at Quicken Loans Arena, or The Q — where LeBron James now plays — in downtown Cleveland. The city has been blocked off into secure zones, with roads closed and reporters staked out at key locations to watch speeches and votes inside — and protests and parades outside.

Much of the politicking, though, will happen far from the convention hall and the demonstrations. Though Florida delegates have will have front-and-center seating at the arena — a position just behind Trump's home state of New York — their hotel is nine miles away, in suburban Independence, Ohio. 

They’ll gather there for daily political breakfasts — including with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — and to be shuttled off to private programs, like a tour of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a “Red, White, and Brew” night with the Arizona delegation.

Here are three Florida politics questions the convention will help answer:

More here.

Rick Scott rides Trump's coattails onto GOP convention stage

via @stevebousquet

Gov. Rick Scott was conspicuous by his absence at the last Republican convention in Tampa four years ago, but he had a good excuse: A tropical storm was bearing down on Florida.

Scott will play a prominent role in next week’s convention in Cleveland but finds himself at the center of a political storm that poses risks to his final two years in office and a possible run for U.S. Senate in 2018.

For better or worse, the governor of America’s biggest presidential battleground is also his state’s leading supporter of Donald Trump, the most divisive presidential candidate in decades.

Scott is all-in with the bombastic Trump, even as other leading Republicans boycott the convention or keep a distance from a candidate who has torn his party apart while offending one demographic group after another.

Scott will take the stage Thursday to deliver a prime-time convention speech for Trump, and then goes to work in what polls suggest is an uphill climb to deliver Florida to a candidate reviled by Hispanics in particular, the fastest-growing part of Florida’s electorate.

More here.

A tally of Rubio's missed classified briefings

via @learyreports

Under fire for shirking his duty in Washington, Sen. Marco Rubio declared on CNN last October that “We do all the intelligence briefings” and ”I was just there this Tuesday.”

But from that point through when he left the presidential race in March, Rubio missed 20 of 23 classified Intelligence Committee meetings, according to new research.

The Tampa Bay Times earlier this year reported on how Rubiomissed scores of committee hearings, including 60 percent of Foreign Relations meetings since he was first elected.

The new information about closed Intelligence briefings, based on his campaign schedule and other information, adds a new layer to the portrait of absenteeism.

Rubio’s rivals are trying to revive questions now that he has reversed his campaign pledge not to seek re-election. He leads in the polls.

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said the lawmaker was constantly briefed on matters of national security, which Rubio made a centerpiece of his campaign. Intel members also do work outside the committee, including reading classified information and cables. He's said that when he missed hearings, a staffer would go for him or retrieve information he would later read.

Continue reading "A tally of Rubio's missed classified briefings" »

July 16, 2016

Hillary Clinton launches TV ad attacking Donald Trump over nuclear weapons

Hillary Clinton has released a new ad suggesting that she would be better trusted with handling nuclear weapons than Donald Trump.

"An unsteady world will be in one person's hands," says the narrator, and then cuts to a clip of Trump talking about nuclear weapons and Japan. "More countries with more nuclear weapons. Hillary Clinton knows that's the last thing we need. As Secretary of State she negotiated a reduction in nuclear weapons with Russia and worked with both parties to get it passed."

Here is some background from PolitiFact about what Trump said about nuclear weapons and Japan and his comments on war with nukes.


The ads are part of an eight-figure, television buy in Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, New Hampshire, Iowa, Florida, Nevada and North Carolina.