Roger Stone, an outspoken and infamous strategist of behind-the-scenes Republican politics who often is credited with orchestrating key elements of Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign, said he’ll be meeting with House Speaker Richard Corcoran.
“I’m going to meet Richard Corcoran only because I’ve never met him and I’m curious to meet him,” Stone said. Corcoran has confirmed his intent to meet with Stone.
“I’ve let it be known that I’d like to get with him if he has time,” Corcoran told the Miami Herald on Wednesday.
Corcoran, a Land O’Lakes Republican, has yet to announce a gubernatorial bid, but extensive PAC fundraising and recent ads demonstrate an all-but-certain declaration following the 2018 Legislative Session. It’s a political prediction that is further strengthened by Stone, who spoke of Corcoran as if he already was a candidate.
“He’s one of the candidates for governor [who] I don’t know,” Stone said.
He emphasized that the meeting will be casual and friendly, likely at a “bar or something.” A “strictly social” occasion, according to Stone. The agent provocateur said he’s interested only in sizing up the speaker.
“We have a mutual friend,” Stone said. “I expressed an interest in just meeting him, but there’s no agenda other than to take his measure.”
Stone said he has not formed an opinion of Corcoran because the two haven’t met. Though he did indicate a respect for Corcoran’s intelligence.
“He has hired Tony Fabrizio, who in my opinion is the single best political strategist in the Republican Party today,” Stone said. “So if he’s hired Fabrizio he’s gotta be a really smart guy.”
Stone is widely considered a pioneer of opposition research and negative advertising, both staple techniques in national and state campaigns via PACs that are not directly associated with candidates.
Stone’s name is usually preceded with qualifiers that attempt to capture a resume rich with success in the more sinister practices of American politics. He’s often described as unabashedly Machiavellian, controversial, provocative and deceitful. He told reporters of his date with Corcoran following an event hosted by the Capital Tiger Bay Club, where he gave a humorous synopsis of his involvement in shady areas of politics, a decades-long career that includes cameos at Watergate, the Brooks Brothers Riot and the destruction of the Reform Party.
Despite his knack for finding political activity, the infamous “dirty trickster” did not express anything beyond intrigue for upcoming state-based elections.
Stone did, however, suggest that he would’ve supported John Morgan, the owner of a powerhouse law firm who received widespread publicity after flirting with the idea of running for governor as a Democrat and briefly as an Independent.
“I was hopeful that John Morgan would run,” Stone, a lifelong operative of the political right, said. “I think he’s a good man and I probably would’ve ended up voting for him.
“I think he’s been courageous and he’s really put his money where his mouth is on the question of medicinal marijuana.”
Stone said his grandparents both died of cancer and cited the dangers of opioid treatment. He said “pot” helped curb his relatives’ ailments and referenced his own marijuana usage.
“I smoked pot when I was in high school and college,” Stone said. Though he’s now “a vodka guy, to tell you the truth.”
Stone said he has not met any Democratic gubernatorial candidates. He knows Republican candidate Ron DeSantis “well” and said he’s met Adam Putnam.
But Stone maintained he has “no idea” whether he’ll get involved in the governor’s race. An author of five books — each noted for its conspiratorial audacity — he’s dedicating time toward publishing another, which he says will outline “Stone’s Rules.”
“Most of [my rules] are out there,” Stone said. His collection includes “basics like ‘two men can keep a secret if one of them is dead.’”
Stone conceded that some of the rules might be modern adaptations of the writings of Niccolò Machiavelli and Sun Tzu. However, Stone said, that’s only if you buy the idea that nothing is original.
The Florida Democratic Party was quick to criticize the reported meeting between Corcoran and Stone.
“Even by the standards of the far right, Stone is a particularly vile and loathsome figure,” the FDP said in a news release. “The fact that Corcoran is reportedly meeting with Stone marks a new low, even for the House Speaker.”
Citing Stone’s history of promoting conspiracies concerning Barack Obama‘s birthplace, along with Stone’s offensive language on Twitter (the social media site suspended his account indefinitely), FDP spokesperson Kevin Donohoe said, “Richard Corcoran should be condemning Stone’s bigoted paranoia — not embracing it. Corcoran should immediately cancel this reported meeting and make clear that Stone’s extreme, hateful politics have no place in our state.”