Joe Henderson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 7 of 13

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including the last nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. I covered a large variety of things, primarily in sports but also including hard news. The two intertwined in the decade-long search to bring Major League Baseball to the area. I also was the City Hall reporter for two years and covered all sides of the sales tax issue that ultimately led to the construction of Raymond James Stadium. I served as a full-time sports columnist for about 10 years before moving to the metro news columnist for the last 4 ½ years. I have numerous local, state and national writing awards. I have been married to my wife, Elaine, for nearly 35 years and have two grown sons – Ben and Patrick.

Joe Henderson: Hillary Clinton, Citizens United and ‘never-ending’ thirst for cash

One of the themes of Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency has been her opposition to Citizens United.

From the podium, she preaches that she doesn’t like the idea of the wealthy few using their money to buy influence over policies that determine the future for the rest of us. She says he wants to overturn that controversial ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that has allowed our politics to be bartered out to the uber rich.

Well, OK.

She says all that, but then The Washington Post reported Sunday that her campaign raised $1.14 billion by the end of September. More than a fifth of that came from just 100 donors.

The top five donors, the Post reported, included two hedge fund managers and one venture capitalist. Combined, they have contributed one out of every $17 Clinton raised. And as you read on SaintPetersBlog.com, Hillary will be in Florida Tuesday for what has been billed as “the largest fundraising event” in Florida’s history.

Got $100,000 laying around? Donate it, and you can take part in a special host reception with HRC. For a mere $5,000, you get dinner and reception.

With two weeks to go and Hillary way out in front of Donald Trump in the polls, this might seem like the political equivalent of running up the score on an overmatched opponent. The bigger question is, how much is enough to quench Clinton’s never-ending thirst for money?

And the biggest question is, what does that money buy? Look, the news business has allowed me to get to know some really rich people, and they have one thing in common: When they invest this kind of money, they expect something in return.

Just follow the trail of breadcrumbs or, in this case, the dollar bills and see where it leads.

Trump’s donors are the same way, of course, so let’s not pretend Clinton’s voracious appetite for dollars is unique. But whether he actually believes his words or not, Trump has made a good case with the “quid pro quo” label he has tried to stick on Clinton.

Trump rose to the Republican nomination on the winds of disgusted Americans who feel locked out of the political process by the wealthy. They believe the game is rigged against them. That same theme inspired Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

That attitude isn’t likely to change after the election.

Clinton’s supporters squirm a little uncomfortably when the subject is money. No one is being naïve, though. It takes a lot of cash to run a national campaign. She is running for president of the most powerful nation on earth, not a seat on the county commission or school board.

The great Bobby Bowden once said of a freshman player who leaped into his arms on the sideline during an over-exuberant moment, “Recruiting season is over. He’s got to stop calling me Bobby.”

Hillary Clinton is recruiting America now, and by most accounts, she is doing such a good job that even Trump’s closest surrogates concede she is likely to win.

But next Jan. 20, when we start calling her Madam President instead of Hillary and it comes time to make good on her posturing against Wall Street and Citizens United, the big players will be in the background, expecting the return on their investments.

What then? Too often in politics, the answer is that you get what you pay for.

Joe Henderson: Predicting Donald Trump in final debate is risky business

Game-changer?

Or victory lap?

That’s two potential outcomes for tonight’s third, and final, presidential debate.

The first one applies to Donald Trump. If he fails to change the election narrative in his last head-to-head face off with Hillary Clinton, his White House aspirations likely are finished (if they aren’t already).

Clinton, ahead in the polls, likely just needs to avoid committing a major gaffe in the face of what is expected to be a flurry of attacks and allegations from an opponent with nothing to lose.

Trying to guess what Trump might do is risky business. In the first debate, he interrupted Clinton repeatedly and accused her, among other things, of “fighting ISIS your whole adult life.”

Fact-check alert: That terrorist organization didn’t exist until Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi gave it a name in 2013. If you want to stretch and say its brand of terrorism has been around since the 1990s, even that doesn’t fit Trump’s charge.

Trump did better in the second debate, but a big story that emerged was that he essentially stalked Clinton around the stage while she was speaking. It may have been an attempt at intimidation. It didn’t work.

So what’s it going to be tonight?

Here are a few possibilities.

DRAIN THE SWAMP

Team Trump has been telegraphing this one. Trump could focus on his five-point proposal aimed at curbing lobbying by lawmakers and members of the executive branch after they leave government service. It’s a populist approach Trump has called “Drain The Swamp” and it definitely has appeal.

It also helps focus attention on Clinton’s reputation as the ultimate Washington insider as well as the controversies surrounding the Clinton Foundation.

YOU MISOGYNIST PIG

Trump has tried to say the multiple women who accused him of unwanted sexual advances are lying.

His case is not helped by the now-infamous audio of him and former NBC host Billy Bush engaging in “locker room talk” (Trump’s words) about how big shots like The Donald can do anything they want with any woman they want.

Trump’s base has wholeheartedly bought his “they’re all liars” gambit. Tonight, we’ll see if the rest of America does.

PAGING OLIVER STONE, PLEASE REPORT TO TRUMP TOWER

Trump’s latest line of attack is that the “crooked media” has conspired with Clinton to rig the election in her favor. Well, the media certainly have been reporting the things Trump says and does, along with what people say about him.

But a conspiracy? You can bet he will advance that theory in the debate.

It could be a pre-emptive move by Trump to have a fallback if election night goes as many predict. He will just say he was robbed, and will set his followers’ hair on fire with allegations that precincts here or there had suspicious activity.

Arguing the election is “rigged” has been denounced by most high-level Republicans, including Mike Pence — Trump’s running mate. Clinton can make Trump look extra foolish on that point in front of millions of TV viewers.

STAY ABOVE IT

Clinton’s strategy likely will involve staying above the fray, refusing to engage on Trump’s expected batch of dark theories and oft-repeated accusations about her alleged misconduct. Her best gambit should be to show voters she isn’t the monster Trump is trying to depict.

Clinton can be a wooden campaigner. She doesn’t have her husband’s natural gift for connecting with an audience. She has further been battered by three decades of attacks by Republicans.

They have, at times, depicted her to be complicit in a murder (former aide Vince Foster’s suicide). The beneficiary of a shady land deal (Whitewater). A traitorous secretary of state (we didn’t forget Benghazi or her use of a private email server for sensitive government business).

Trump even suggested recently she wasn’t faithful to her husband.

Despite all that, she has a solid lead in the polls. Early voting is underway and CBS News reported that 94 percent of Clinton voters say they have made up their minds (compared to 93 percent for Trump).

If she can stay away from political quicksand tonight, she might be home free.

Joe Henderson: ‘Checkmate’ in the Marco Rubio-Patrick Murphy debate

In the game of chess, it is called “checkmate.”

It is that moment when a player realizes their opponent just cut off their last route of escape.

I think that’s the gambit Marco Rubio sprung on Democrat Patrick Murphy during their U.S. Senate debate Monday night.

One of the best lines of attack for Murphy was that Rubio hadn’t committed to serving the full six-year term that goes with being a senator. The implication was this young man in a hurry was at it again, using the Senate as just a parking spot until he could accomplish his real ambition — winning the presidency.

It was a strong argument, especially given Rubio’s shoddy attendance record during his first term in office.

But then Rubio broke the news in the faceoff with the following statement: “I am going to serve in the Senate for the next six years.”

Say what? Does this mean you’re not going to run for president in the next election, Rubio was asked?

“I am going to be a senator for the next six years on behalf of the state of Florida.”

Whether he actually keeps that vow is fodder for future debates and campaigns. After all, he also promised repeatedly he wasn’t going to run for re-election to the Senate, and here we are.

That apparently hasn’t bothered voters, though. Rubio has a lead in the polls hovering around seven points, and with early voting already underway, Rubio could be difficult to catch in the final three weeks before the election. That’s why Murphy needed a decisive, headline-grabbing debate to swing attention back on his side.

He didn’t get it, but it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Murphy punched hard from the outset, quickly trying to link Rubio with Donald Trump. Murphy pointed out that Trump had essentially humiliated Rubio during the campaign, raising the question of why he hasn’t refused to endorse Trump’s volatile White House bid.

“Senator, if you can’t stand up to him as a candidate, how will you do that as president?” Murphy asked.

Rubio had a good answer.

“I think it’s pretty clear Donald Trump is not my first choice, or even my 10th choice,” he said.

And after jabbing Murphy for his unqualified support of Hillary Clinton, Rubio added, “I have deep reservations about the nominee of my party.”

With that settled, the debate settled into a predictable formula. Rubio criticized Murphy for his well-publicized overstatements about his qualifications. Murphy hit hard on Rubio’s poor attendance record.

My guess is voters made up their minds about those issues a long time ago. What was hovering out there was Rubio’s willingness to commit to serving a full term in the Senate.

With his promise, Rubio may have removed the last bit of major uncertainty the public had about his actual interest in doing the job. If voters decide he means what he says … checkmate.

Joe Henderson: To catch up, Patrick Murphy needs knockout debate against Marco Rubio

When the candidates in one of the strangest U.S. Senate races in Florida’s history finally meet at 7 tonight in Orlando at the University of Central Florida in their first of two debates, it will come down to this:

It’s the last big chance for Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy to make up what polls say is a considerable gap between himself and incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Here are the stakes:

THE TRAIN IS LEAVING THE STATION

Early voting already is underway. According to the Florida Division of Elections, nearly 500,000 mail-in ballots already have been returned out of 2.4 million requested, with a nearly even split between Republicans and Democrats. The X-factor is about 500,000 ballots specifying either no party affiliation or “other” — candidates who don’t identify with the major parties.

With the latest University of North Florida poll showing Rubio running about seven points ahead, Murphy needs two things tonight: A large, fully engaged, statewide TV audience, and then to convince undecided viewers they should vote for him because Rubio didn’t do the job Floridians elected him for in 2010.

He will hammer on Rubio’s seeming disinterest in his job. It’s an old theme, though. Rubio had one of the worst attendance records in the Senate, but people already know that. Rubio will pounce on Murphy’s distorted resume, which embellished several of his accomplishments. That charge, too, has been out there since the primaries.

For voters still trying to make up their minds, it simply could come down to which candidate comes across better on TV.

THE TRUMP CARD

Expect Murphy to hammer Rubio early and often on his association with presidential candidate Donald Trump. Although Rubio, like nearly everyone, denounced Trump’s recently unearthed lewd comments on a decade-old video, he maintains Trump is still preferable to Hillary Clinton.

Murphy, who has been endorsed by Clinton and President Barack Obama, likely will press Rubio on why he continues to support Trump. With Clinton leading narrowly in Florida polls, Rubio may need a better answer than “Trump may be terrible, but at least he isn’t Clinton.”

THE CHRISTIE GAMBIT

Murphy might try to pull a page from the campaign tactics book of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. In February’s New Hampshire primary debate, Christie torpedoed Rubio with a blistering attack that left Rubio flummoxed and fumbling.

Rubio’s campaign never recovered.

Going that route could be risky for Murphy, though. Rubio learned from that tough night and handled himself better in subsequent debates. While it was a fatal blow to his presidential aspirations for this election, Rubio generally is a gifted public speaker if he stays on script. Knocking him off that may be tough now because Murphy won’t have the element of surprise.

HOW MUCH WILL VOTERS CARE?

The election season has been an interminable grind, and it’s possible many voters will choose the option of changing the channel to something more soothing. Local TV stations generally carry entertainment shows during the 7-8 p.m. hour, when the debate is scheduled.

With Round III of Trump-Clinton scheduled for Wednesday in Las Vegas, it is worth wondering how many potential viewers will decide to pass on the Senate race. The candidates, obviously, must treat this like everyone in Florida is watching, but a lower TV audience probably would be great news for Rubio.

IT’S ALL ABOUT CONTROL

Democrats held high hopes this year of winning this seat on the way to retaking control of the Senate. If Clinton wins the election, they need to pick up four seats to accomplish that. Florida was one of their prime targets.

With Murphy lagging in polls, though, the national Democratic strategy (and money) has shifted to other states where they believe they have a better chance.

A good showing by Murphy could reinvigorate his campaign and convince party bosses he is worth the investment of time and money. With just three weeks left until the election, he can’t just squeak out a win. He probably needs a knockout.

Otherwise, Rubio likely will be too far ahead to catch.

Joe Henderson: Assault on polling begins in ‘ShameFest 2016’

As we approach the home stretch of ShameFest 2016 — otherwise known as the election — we should take a moment to ponder one of the great moments the last time the nation chose a president.

It was election night 2012 and Fox News, accurately as it turned out, declared President Barack Obama had won Ohio and, thus, a second term as commander in chief.

But GOP operative Karl Rove didn’t agree. He argued live on camera that his own network was wrong. He argued his numbers told a different story, and that Mitt Romney would win. So anchor Megyn Kelly was dispatched to the Fox number-crunching room, where the people charged with making that call patiently explained why they were 99.5 percent correct on their projection.

When Rove persisted, saying his calculations told a different story, Kelly asked, “Is that math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?”

It was the runaway best quote of the election season.

We are seeing an assault on polling again, particularly by the Donald Trump camp. At every rally, he tells the faithful that the polls are wrong and it always gets big cheers.

I’ll admit this morning I did a double-take Friday morning when Rasmussen Polling showed Trump with a 43-41 percent lead nationally. Where in the world did that come from, especially when the evening news shows Hillary Clinton with a seven-point advantage?

There are too many polls for the average voter (or, I hate to admit, the average journalist) to keep up with. And since polls show only a snapshot of the moment, no one can say with certainty who will or won’t win until all the votes are counted.

So it’s really a case of which ones you trust most.

I tend to believe Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com site is on the mark way more often than not. In case you’re curious, his site has a section devoted to grading the accuracy of all the polls. The ranking is based on several criteria, including the percentage of races it has called correctly.

He has the Monmouth University poll at the top of a lengthy list of polls. It was one of six polls, including the ABC/Washington Post poll, to get an A-plus rating.

For what it’s worth, he gives the Rasmussen poll a C-plus.

Silver’s own forecast has Hillary Clinton with an 84.4 percent chance of winning the election. He gives her a 72 percent chance of winning Florida’s 29 electoral votes.

Remember, though, that’s just a snapshot. The site advises it will be updating its forecasts every time new data is available until the election, because things do change.

In the end, though, numbers never lie — even when politicians do.

Joe Henderson: Donald Trump was right about Marco Rubio

I can’t believe I am saying this, but Donald Trump was right – at least about Marco Rubio. He is “Little Marco.” He is terrified in the face of potential retaliation from Trump’s legion of loon if he publicly abandons the Republican nominee for president.

In a statement released Tuesday, Rubio continued trying to have it both ways.

“I have consistently rejected his offensive rhetoric and behavior. I disagree with him on many things, but I disagree with his opponent on virtually everything,” he said. “I wish we had better choices for president. But I do not want Hillary Clinton to be our next president. And, therefore, my position has not changed.”

That’s not exactly a chapter from “Profiles in Courage.”

And what if Trump somehow wins the presidency and starts making good on his threats to run his administration like a third-world dictator? Will Rubio stand up and call the insanity for what it is?

Or will he obediently abandon principles of common decency I believe he has and go along with attempted mass deportations, military threats, suspension of civil rights, and all the other stuff Trump has promised on the campaign trail?

I keep hearing from Rubio supporters that he is the new face of Republican conservatism, that he is a dynamic visionary, possessing a once-in-a-generation mind that can lead America out of the morass.

I hear it. But I also see how he melted in the primary campaign heat. I see statements like the one Rubio just made.

It doesn’t jibe.

Rubio doesn’t even appear to want the job he is now campaigning for, at least not much. While running to keep a vital swing-state Senate seat from Democratic hands makes political sense, it does nothing to affect the lives of average Floridians.

But, OK, this isn’t the only state where that is happening. That’s partisan party politics and both sides play that game. Rubio’s opponent, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, is deeply flawed too.

Is there an actual leader on the Senate ballot?

Anywhere?

If Rubio’s aim is to run again for president in four years, playing along with this game of charades with Donald Trump is not the way to go. If Trump, as expected, gets thumped at the polls, he might take Rubio and other Republicans down with him anyway.

As a face of opposition, Rubio would at least have a solid base of “I told you so” to rebuild his career. That’s better than the fate that awaits those who stood with Trump. They will wear that scarlet “T” for the rest of their political lives.

Rubio could have followed the lead of Arizona Sen. John McCain and said he just can’t vote for Trump. He could have followed the course of action when confronted by a bully like this: Take two hands and shove the bully, hard, in his chest.

Given his oratorical skill, Rubio could have become the face of commonsense Republican opposition to the inmate running their asylum. The kind of insanity we’re seeing now won’t last.

But supporting Trump? Little does Marco seem to know, but that lasts forever.

Joe Henderson: 5 post-debate points to ponder

The unmoving needle: It generally is conceded Donald Trump’s fervent base will be ecstatic with his performance.

Breitbart.com, for instance, declared in a giant headline on its home page — Clinton Crash: Trump dominates. It highlighted a quote from Rudy Giuliani declaring, “Biggest knockout I’ve seen in a presidential debate.”

Breitbart ran one of those quick-click polls asking “Which debate moderator was more shameful?” When I checked Monday morning, there were 50,744 votes. Martha Raddatz, if you’re curious, was the runaway “winner.”

But Brietbart and, I’ll wager, the people who favor that site aren’t the ones who needed to be convinced about Trump. By repeating the same stuff he has been saying for weeks on the campaign trail, what did we really learn about Trump — or Hillary Clinton, for that matter? Well, Trump did say he would appoint a special prosecutor to look into Clinton’s alleged misdeeds. The base loved that, I am sure.

Clinton, though, seemed prepared for this flurry of punches from an opponent trailing badly on points in the late rounds. If there is a bombshell out there about Clinton that could mitigate some of the nuclear fallout from his widely reported vulgar comments over the weekend, Trump probably should consider rolling it out very, very soon.

The real takeaway from Sunday night is that Clinton got one day closer to being elected president.

Numbers don’t lie: NBC ran a collage Monday morning of high-level Republican lawmakers and party leaders who rebuked or abandoned the party’s nominee after those remarks. It was a striking image that was overwhelmingly white and male. Of the 76 headshots on the screen, I counted two people of color and 12 women. The rest were white males.

That has been the GOP’s problem all along, especially with a flame-throwing, race-baiting candidate like Trump. Sure, those Republicans — especially those on the November ballot — are condemning Trump. That’s because they understand the electorate is large, diversified, and can translate the code words coming from Trump’s base about immigration and crime.

If Republicans don’t understand that after the beating it looks like they’re about to take in November, they never will. They love to talk about the “base” of each party. The GOP’s core ideal is lower taxes, less regulation, and smaller government. That message has been obliterated in a waterfall of hate, misogyny, and lies.

We’re not electing a debater-in-chief: Debates are important and it can be rationally argued that Sunday was a draw. Trump played the only card he could, essentially turning the evening into a misdirection play to obscure his own real problems related to the now-infamous audio tape he dismisses as “locker room talk.”

For what it’s worth, I have been in a lot of locker rooms and they can be places where the faint of heart should not tread. But I also remember a high school coach from my small Ohio town who would have had his players running until their tongues dropped if he heard the kind of chatter that has landed Trump in trouble.

Back on point though, as a nation (and media), we are obsessed with “winners” and “losers” in settings like this. It generally was conceded that Clinton “won” the first debate. The bounce seemed to help her in the polls.

It still should be more about policy, though, and less about debate skills. One of these two persons is going to be president of the United States. When that day comes, we won’t care about how they did in the debates.

Oh dear! They don’t like each other: Much was made about that the candidates didn’t shake hands after being introduced. It set Twitter afire. The honor of the best tweet in my highly unofficial survey (based solely on my reaction) goes to POLITICO Chief White House Correspondent Mike Allen: “No handshake! … Overheard: “Even Ali and Frazier touched gloves” #FightNight.

They did shake hands briefly afterward, but put it this way: The moment was about as warm as New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick after losing to Rex Ryan.

One final question to ponder: After all this, do we really need the third and (yes!) final debate on Oct. 19? I suppose if there is a big news story between now and then that one candidate or the other has to address (WikiLeaks maybe?), it could be intriguing to see what happens on the stage.

The format will be the same as the first debate. At this point though, Trump looks to be trailing by two touchdowns, out of timeouts, and Clinton has the ball. Absentee and mail ballots have already been distributed in many states, so millions of Americans may already have voted by the time the two candidates meet again.

Oh well. The pundits need something to do, I guess.

Joe Henderson: GOP is distancing from Donald Trump. Except David Jolly; he was already there.

Many Republicans have distanced themselves from Donald Trump after crude sexual remarks about women he made surfaced on tape Friday, but stopped short of saying they won’t vote for him in November.

David Jolly is not one of those. His anti-Trump chops can no longer be debated. He is all-in on being all-out on Trump.

Jolly, trailing Democrat Charlie Crist in the race to represent Florida’s 13th Congressional District, flatly stated Trump’s banter in a decade-old tape is the last straw.

“A man who brags about sexual assault isn’t qualified to be president of the United States,” the Tampa Bay Times reported through a spokeswoman Saturday.

Jolly also told the Times/Herald, “I’m not voting for him.”

Jolly’s support for Trump always has been tepid at best. During the primary, his opponent, retired U.S. Marines Gen. Mark Bircher, stated the Republican Party should support him if Jolly refused to endorse Trump.

Jolly easily won the primary.

Last month, though, his support of Trump was still an issue. In an interview with Sunshine State News, Jolly said, “If the election were today, I would not support Donald Trump. I don’t know where I’ll be in November, but I don’t see a pathway to support Donald Trump.”

If there was a pathway then, it no longer exists.

Of course, it should be noted that politically this likely is Jolly’s best and only option. According to a recent Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poll, he is trailing Crist 50-39 percent. Other polls have the race much closer.

Jolly is banking on his image as someone willing to buck the Republican establishment to win him votes in a new district that seems to favor a Democratic candidate. Most notably, he filed a bill aimed at party bosses who require their members of Congress to spend up to four hours daily on fundraising.

That didn’t make him popular in top GOP circles, and the party responded with crickets when Jolly abandoned a planned run for the U.S. Senate and announced he would try to keep his seat in the U.S. House.

It didn’t help that Beverly Young, widow of Republican icon C.W. Bill Young — the man Jolly succeeded — said she would vote for Crist. On her Facebook page, she said, Bill would be totally disgusted and ashamed of how (Jolly) has handled his district of 50 years.”

There is a lot of disgust going around in politics these days, and it was coming in waves since the Trump revelations. Whether that makes any difference in Jolly’s bid to stay in office remains to be seen. But after tap-dancing up to the edge with Donald Trump, there is no ambiguity now where Jolly stands.

 

Joe Henderson: Republicans wonder how quickly they can get as far away from Donald Trump

If Republicans were honest, many would admit they have been looking for the right chance to bail on Donald Trump without looking disloyal to the party.

He just gave it to them after the Washington Post reported Friday about a crude, vulgar conversation he had a decade ago. This isn’t just a chance to run away, run away, run away though. It’s essentially a requirement for anyone who wants to be taken seriously as a politician or human being.

So quite properly, condemnation is coming at Trump from A-list Republicans. I certainly would hope so.

Someone who wants to be president of the United States should be held to the highest standard – or at least higher than that of the average middle-school locker room. The chit-chat Trump had about grabbing women’s privates and all the other unmentionables he mentioned may have happened years ago, but given his history can we say for sure the same thing hasn’t been going on regularly since then?

Women are offended and even horrified. Florida state senate candidate Dana Young, who is one bright, tough lady, said of Trump, “As a woman and the mother of two teenage daughters, I find Mr. Trump’s comments disgusting, as does every other woman in this country.”

Those are good words. They also are smart words. Any Republican in a potentially close race, which Young is, needs to keep as much distance as possible from the toxic waste at the top of the GOP ticket.

Marco Rubio, who is leading his U.S. Senate race against Democrat Patrick Murphy, moved quickly to create space between himself and Trump, saying on Twitter, “Donald’s comments were vulgar, egregious & impossible to justify. No one should ever talk about any woman in those terms, even in private.”

Gov. Rick Scott, who may have ambitions for the U.S. Senate after his term ends in 2018, told the Naples Daily News in a statement, “I’m not following politics closely right now, but this is terrible. I don’t agree with anyone talking like this about anyone, ever,”

Even Mike Pence, Trump’s vice presidential running mate, is looking for cover. He canceled a rally Saturday in Wisconsin and issued a statement that said in part, “I do not condone his remarks and cannot defend them.”

Men everywhere should be just as offended as women. There are millions of men who reject things like sexual harassment and adultery.

Oh yes.

On the tape, Trump was talking about trying to have sex with a woman he knew was married. He carried on openly with Marla Maples while married to his first of three wives. The tape about hitting on a married woman was recorded just a few months after he married Melania, his current wife.

Former presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a fine and moral man, said in a statement: “Hitting on married women? Condoning assault? Such vile degradations demean our wives and daughters and corrupt America’s face to the world.”

If a man still stands with Trump after this, he risks guilt by association. Straw-graspers will bring up former President Bill Clinton’s reprehensible behavior while in the White House, but Bill Clinton isn’t on the ticket.

If a Republican still stands with Trump, he or she risks unrecoverable political damage. Forget the presidency. Hillary Clinton can start measuring the White House for new drapes. The bigger issue now is that polluted goo could swamp down-ballot GOP candidates across the land, tipping control of the Senate and perhaps even the House.

Even worse is what this says about this fraud whose campaign for the presidency has risen on the winds of insults and ignorance. Didn’t we always suspect something like this tape was out there, waiting to be unleashed for maximum political damage?

Now that it has been released, all we can wonder is how Donald Trump ever got this far to begin with. And his fellow Republicans wonder how quickly they can get as far away from him as possible.

Joe Henderson: Rick Scott again passes the ‘hurricane test’

It seemed like Gov. Rick Scott was everywhere in the days and hours leading up to the impact on our state by Hurricane Matthew. His face was on nearly every news show, local and national, warning the people of Florida “this storm will kill you.”

He pleaded, “If instructed to evacuate, don’t wait. You can always repair and rebuild— and we’ll be here to help you do that. The most important thing you can do is keep you and your family safe.”

I saw him Friday morning on the “Today” show, telling the hosts the goal is to avoid the loss of even one life from this storm. His Twitter account was active throughout the night, blasting out updates on the approaching storm.

He mobilized the National Guard. Tolls were suspended on roadways leading away from the storm. He worked with President Obama and FEMA to ensure a rapid response in the aftermath of the storm. He passed out praise to local officials and law enforcement for the roles they played. He even thanked the media for making sure people stayed informed.

There may be some problems later — it seems like there always are in the aftermath of major disasters — but even his critics would have to admit that Scott has been the strong leader a governor should be in this time of crisis.

We tend to reduce everything to politics when it comes to our highest officials, and maybe some will try to do that later. This isn’t about whether you agree or not with Scott’s policies. This is a time where the people of Florida stand as one and look to the governor to take charge.

Scott has passed that test.

Scott can look wooden and stiff on the campaign trail. He is not the most gifted public speaker (although he has gotten better). But people who know him best say that behind that exterior is a caring man, and that trait has shown through strongly in recent days.

Scott moved quickly once it became all but certain that Matthew was going to deliver a gut punch to the east coast. People can’t say they weren’t warned. He worked with emergency officials to coordinate the best response possible to the unprecedented event of a major hurricane raking up the coastline.

People apparently listened, too. News reports Friday morning told of empty roadways in the affected areas. While some people hunkered down (and that’s always going to happen), Scott said about 20,000 had moved to shelters and thousands more either fled to the west coast or filled up hotel rooms.

The next challenge will come after the storm moves out and people begin to assess the damage left behind. Although early reports say a slight shift to the east may have saved some places from catastrophic damage, it’s too early to say what the final toll will be.

Scott said the state is already working with federal and local agencies to assist those who need it most.

There will be plenty of time later for politics, and plenty of time to second-guess the governor’s policies and ambitions. But as this hurricane approached, the people of Florida weren’t looking for a politician. They were looking for a leader.

Scott stepped up.

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