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Ben Carson nominated for Housing and Urban Development secretary

Palm Beach neurosurgeon and former Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson is Donald Trump‘s pick to be secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Trump’s transition office announced the nomination Monday, bringing his once rival but early supporter into the cabinet discussion for his administration.

“I am thrilled to nominate Dr. Ben Carson as our next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities,” Trump stated in a news release. “We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities. Ben shares my optimism about the future of our country and is part of ensuring that this is a presidency representing all Americans. He is a tough competitor and never gives up.”

“He is a tough competitor and never gives up.”

Carson ran a up-by-your-bootstraps campaign that placed him briefly among the top challengers to Trump’s steamroll primary bid last winter.

Frequently, Carson spoke of finding ways to get people, particularly African-Americans such as himself, out of government-supported lives. His conservative views also extended to science, as he has questioned tenants of science ranging from evolution to the Big Bang Theory, leading Democrats to ridicule him widely.

A Detroit native, Carson, 65, is a retired neurosurgeon, educated at Yale University and trained as a doctor the University of Michigan. He served as director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland and retired in Florida.

After dropping out of the presidential race in March, he quickly endorsed Trump in a news conference, declaring they had buried their hatchets. That news conference sparked immediate talk of the prospect Carson might serve in a Trump administration.

Carson said both he and Trump committed to working together if Trump won.

“I am honored to accept the opportunity to serve our country in the Trump administration,” Carson said. “I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need. We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation’s housing needs are met.”


Donald Trump may revisit Trump Country during a victory tour

Donald Trump may take a victory tour to states that elected him president, an aide said Saturday, as boisterous protests unfolded outside the tower where he holed up with members of his transition team and fielded calls congratulating him.

While he’s announced one decision — putting Vice President-elect Mike Pence in charge of the transition instead of Chris Christie — Trump must identify other people for top White House jobs and Cabinet posts. The president-elect remained out of sight at Trump Tower, with streets outside swarming with thousands objecting to the results of Election Day.

At one point, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, a liberal critic of Trump who nevertheless had predicted his victory, entered the tower lobby with a camera crew in tow and asked to see Trump. “I just thought I’d see if I could get into Trump Tower and ride the famous escalator,” said Moore, who did just that until he reached the fourth floor and the Secret Service told him he could go no higher.

Kellyanne Conway, who was Trump’s campaign manager and is almost surely in line for a prominent job in his presidency, told reporters in the tower lobby that Trump’s choice of a chief of staff was “imminent,” though not coming Saturday. Whoever fills that post will set the tone for Trump’s White House and be a main conduit to Capitol Hill and Cabinet agencies.

Trump is said to be considering Steve Bannon, his campaign chairman and a conservative media executive, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus for the job. Neither has significant policy experience, though Priebus is well-liked in Washington and has ties with lawmakers.

Conway said Trump’s next public appearance was expected “in the next couple of days.” When asked if he’d take a victory tour soon, she said: “It’s possible. It’s possible. We’re working on the schedule.”

She described his day as “meetings, phone calls, conversations, interviews. What you would expect from a normal presidential transition.”

In one gesture of normalcy, Trump pledged to be “very restrained” in the White House with his use of Twitter, “if I use it at all.” But he did not sound convinced that he could leave it behind, when asked in a “60 Minutes” interview to be broadcast Sunday. Some of Trump’s most inflammatory comments, in a campaign loaded with provocation, came in his late-night tweets.

“I have a method of fighting back,” Trump said of social media. He said Twitter is “tremendous” and helped him win races in states where he was vastly outspent. He said he thinks he’s proved that social media can be more powerful than money.

Moments after Moore’s uninvited visit to Trump Tower, Nigel Farage, head of the “Leave” movement that won Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, also arrived. Trump frequently linked his campaign to the Brexit movement.

“It was a great honor to spend time with Donald Trump,” Farage said of his hourlong meeting with Trump, according to a statement from his UK Independence Party. “He was relaxed and full of good ideas. I’m confident he will be a good president. His support for the U.S.-UK relationship is very strong. This is a man with whom we can do business.”

For Trump, who ran on a pledge to “drain the swamp” of Washington insiders, the transition team is strikingly heavy on those with long political resumes.

Another apparent contradiction emerged Friday as Trump, who repeatedly vowed to achieve the repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care law, said he would be open to maintaining portions of it.

Christie was a loyal adviser to Trump for much of the campaign, offered a key early endorsement and came close to being the businessman’s pick for running mate. But Trump ultimately went with Pence, Indiana’s governor and a former congressman with Washington experience and deep ties to conservatives, to take the transition forward.

Christie will still be involved in the transition, joining a cluster of other steadfast Trump supporters serving as vice chairmen: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

In addition, three of Trump’s adult children — Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka — are on the transition executive committee, along with Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband. Kushner was an influential adviser in Trump’s campaign.

The children’s inclusion raised questions about Trump’s ability to sever ties between the administration and the sprawling family business — after the billionaire repeatedly said during the campaign that his grown children would not follow him to Washington but instead run the Trump Organization.

Trump told The Wall Street Journal that after speaking with Obama at the White House, he was considering keeping the provision of the health law that allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until they turn 26. He said previously he may also keep the prohibition against insurers denying coverage because of patients’ existing conditions.

Presidents-elect don’t often appoint their running mates to lead their transition team. Trump and Christie grew apart through the last stretch of the campaign.

Ben Carson: ‘Don’t expect smooth sailing tomorrow’

In Jacksonville Monday, former GOP presidential hopeful Ben Carson made his case for the party’s nominee, Donald Trump.

That case: an urgent appeal, positing the New York real estate tycoon as the last bailiwick against the “secular progressives” who, Carson claimed, need just one term from Hillary Clinton to ensure “America as we know it will be gone.”

To that end, Carson predicted a messy election, saying “don’t expect smooth sailing tomorrow.”

Carson’s presentation was tailored to the GOP base: the room at the Trump-Pence HQ in a disused Southside strip mall was packed with over 100 people, largely Caucasian and clad in casual apparel.

In addressing that segment of the Trumpian GOP base, Carson said he expected to “see all the pundits with egg on their [faces].”

Those pundits: effectively adjuncts to “dishonest politicians and dishonest media,” devoted to “fundamentally changing the world we live in,” by supporting government “picking and choosing winners and losers.”

One example of such: Obamacare, the issue that launched Carson as a national tea party darling years back.

“This group over here,” Carson said (without specifying which group), “they’ve not had insurance, so we’re going to give it to them, but at what cost?”

Carson’s solution: to “take issues like health care out of the political arena,” which would be a neat trick given how lobbied up Big Pharma and the health care industry are in state and federal campaigns and legislative bodies.

Trump, said Carson, backs Health Savings Accounts, which could be extended to the “indigent,” said Carson, providing “something of value they actually own, and then they feel responsible.”

Carson then went on to discuss the “inner cities,” where the “schools are so terrible,” functioning as training grounds for “dependency and crime.”

“You can’t have pockets of weakness through society,” Carson intoned.

Carson made the moral case for Trump as the alternative to Clintonian “corruption,” saying Trump’s language is “mild compared to what I heard [growing up].”

People “need to understand that this is not about their offended sensibilities — this is about America.”

With Clinton appointments to the Supreme Court, Carson said “America as we know it will be gone,” a “Utopian society” led by elites with a vanishing middle class and an ever-expanding underclass.

“Secular progressives,” said Carson, would predominate in Hillary Clinton’s America.

Carson’s appeal is to a segment of the base — the same segment Trump channeled into.

The question to be answered Tuesday evening: are there enough in that segment to counterbalance this apparent “secular progressive” conspiracy Carson discussed Monday in Jacksonville?

Duval Democrats win early voting by 4,200 votes, hold slender turnout lead

The Republican Party of Duval County knows now how far behind it is in the turnout battle.

With early voting wrapped up and a total of 297,616 Duval County voters having made their choices, Democratic turnout outpaced that of Republicans by a margin of 126,687 to 122,464. An additional 48,465 NPA voters have turned out thus far.

In Duval pre-Election Day voting, 42.5 percent of voters are Democrats, 41.1 percent are Republicans, and NPA voters comprise the additional 16.4 percent.

And turnout at the end of the early voting period is 50.6 percent — an unprecedented number and a signal of a shift in voting patterns among both parties.

The Democrats were aggressive in GOTV, bringing Bill Clinton through via bus to thank a small crowd of supporters, and having former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Rev. Jesse Jackson participate in GOTV efforts over the weekend.

The Democrats finally took the lead in early voting on Saturday, which (for what it’s worth) underperformed the Democratic machine in the 2015 mayoral race, which saw Democrats take the early voting lead on the last Friday of early voting.

If Republicans or other skeptics are looking for signs of depressed turnout among the Democratic base, they may find them there.

Monday sees Republican campaigns making their play for Election Day turnout, which typically swings GOP.

On Monday morning, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams and Mayor Lenny Curry will swing by the Marco Rubio office and “thank volunteers.”

On Monday afternoon, Dr. Ben Carson visits the Donald Trump HQ at 3428 Beach Blvd.

Ben Carson talks Donald Trump in Jacksonville on Monday

In Duval County, the doctor is in on Monday.

Ben Carson will be at the Donald Trump headquarters, located at 3428 Beach Blvd., at 4:00 p.m. Monday afternoon.

Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, will be the last national-level Trump surrogate to appear in Jacksonville during the campaign.

Carson was in Jacksonville in late October at the Florida Forum.

WJXT covered that event, and reports that the former GOP Presidential candidate discussed “kindness and gratitude as a power source for the brain.”

Carson has been a traveling Trump surrogate, deployed to appeal to and reinforce sentiment within the GOP base.

He was in Phoenix over the weekend.

The Arizona Republic reports Carson opining that “many people are timid when it comes to standing up for what they believe in,. Our system and our freedoms are based on the well informed and educated populous, and if we become anything other than that, the nature of the country will change rapidly.”

The Phoenix report adds that Carson “quoted the Pledge of Allegiance, saying ‘liberty and justice for all,’ means liberty and justice for all, not just for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. He concluded by saying it was time for the people to regain control of the government.”

Carson was accompanied in Phoenix by Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the local octogenarian authoritarian facing a competitive re-election race.

In Colorado Springs on Friday, Carson asserted that the “common sense” of the voters would ensure that Trump prevailed.

In Des Moines on Nov. 3, Carson had this to say.

“The message is that America was and is a very special place that many people fought for very hard, and particularly for the freedoms that we enjoy,” Carson told The Des Moines Register. “It is supposed to be people-centric and not government-centric. As we move further and further towards the government model, is that really what we want to pass on to our children? Or do we still believe in the creativity, the ingenuity and the can-do attitude that made America great?”

Trump hasn’t shown any particular interest in reducing the size of government, which suggests that musings like this from Carson are of the theoretical nature that extends little farther than corporate deregulation.

Carson has also posited that the race between Trump and Clinton transcends party identification, as a battle of Trump versus the “political elites.”

Ben Carson stumps for Francis Rooney in CD 19

Ben Carson rallied party faithful during a campaign stop in Southwest Florida, using the event as a chance to urge them to get out the vote for Republican candidates this election cycle.

Carson was in Cape Coral on Tuesday to campaign with Francis Rooney, a Naples Republican vying to replace Curt Clawson in the U.S. House. But the one-time Republican presidential hopeful also called Southwest Florida voters to support Donald Trump, and do their part keep Hillary Clinton out of the White House.

“The time has come where we have to start acting like the patriots of old,” said Carson to a crowd of about 400 supporters. “This is our time right now.”

Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, announced last month he was backing Rooney in Florida’s 19th Congressional District. The two men campaigned in Cape Coral, one of Southwest Florida’s largest cities.

“This country was designed for citizen statesman like Francis Rooney, not career politicians like Hillary Clinton,” said Carson.

The two men met through mutual friends, including some who live in Southwest Florida. Carson said he decided to support Rooney’s congressional bid because they shared a similar vision for the country.

“I think America needs to change directions. We’re the country that began with limited government and fleeing oppression, and now we’re welcoming oppression to ourselves. We’re the people that created free speech, and now we’re afraid of free speech,” said Rooney after the event. “We need to take our country back and turn it into the economic engine of prosperity and freedom that created the American Dream, that created the opportunities I had.”

The congressional run marks the first time Rooney, a prominent Republican fundraiser and the former ambassador to the Holy See, has run for public office. He’ll face Republicans Dan Bongino and Chauncey Goss in the Aug. 30 primary.

Rooney has put $1.5 million of his own money into the race, and his campaign has been flooding the airwaves with advertisements. He’s also been racking up big-name endorsements, including ones from Gov. Rick Scott and Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and another 2016 presidential hopeful.

While Carson was in Cape Coral to stump for Rooney, he also used the event as a chance to encourage Southwest Florida voters to come out in support of Trump come November. He defended the Republican nominee, and said he believed Trump is “coming to the understanding that he needs to concentrate on the issues.”

“There’s way too much emphasis on personalities,” said Carson. “We need to start concentrating on the issues and get away from the name calling and the personalities. This election is about so much more. It’s about major shifts in what we’re going to be as a nation.”

Joe Henderson: Convention wrap up — is it November yet?

A convention two weeks that marked plagiarism from Donald Trump’s wife and a small-but-noisy insurrection by Bernie Sanders’ supporters has concluded with … what?

Good question. It appears the American public is flummoxed over the choice of an obnoxious and potentially dangerous billionaire against a scandal-coated representative from the nation’s ruling class.

Or, maybe it’s a huuuugely successful businessman against a woman of considerable accomplishment who is shattering the glass ceiling.

Definitely one or the other.

The most recent Rasmussen poll with a 3-point margin of error showed 28 percent of voters have switched their preferred candidate since the start of the year. Hillary Clinton has a 43-42 percent lead nationally over Trump in that poll, which doesn’t mean squat. It’s all about electoral math and that’s too fuzzy right now to hazard anything more than a guess that’s likely to be wrong.

At least the conventions this year were able to clearly present the themes of their respective parties.

Republicans seem to be trying to convince voters we’re all going to die if Clinton is elected because she is weak, crooked and, if Ben Carson is to be believed, a devotee of Satan.

Democrats counter with a vision of Donald Trump as a man of with no principles who is campaigning to be dictator-in-chief and will unleash nuclear holocaust while playing footsie with Vladimir Putin.

With the trend toward early voting taking hold around the country, neither party has much time to change the negatives about their candidate. That’s why the conventions were perhaps their best opportunity to make an impression.

So, let’s go to the tale of the tape. Who won?

SIGNATURE QUOTE — Trump: “I alone can fix it.”

Clinton: “I will be a president for Democrats, Republicans and independents. … For those who vote for me and those who don’t. For all Americans.”

Winner: Draw. Clinton as a unifier is tough to picture, and Trump already doesn’t care if anyone likes him.

QUOTE THEY’D LIKE YOU TO FORGET — Trump: “America is far less safe and the world is far less stable than when Obama made the decision to put Hillary Clinton in charge of America’s foreign policy. I am certain it is a decision he truly regrets.”

Clinton: “The truth is, through all these years of public service, the service part has always come easier to me than the public part.”

Winner: Trump. Even after President Obama’s vigorous endorsement of his former secretary of state, Clinton’s renowned penchant for secrecy, right down to her private mail server, makes her quote likely to show up in an attack ad.

BEST ACCEPTANCE SPEECH — Trump’s rambling, lengthy and cataclysmic forecast for America may have boosted Xanax sales but it also probably did scare the bejeebers out of at least some people who might vote for him now. Clinton laid out specifics in a speech that was surprisingly liberal but plodding. And like her or not, the speech was history unfolding.

Winner: Clinton, for making history while not making viewers crawl under the covers while listening to her.

BEST NON-CANDIDATE MOMENT — Republicans: Donald Trump Jr. emerged as a possible rising star, both with his impassioned speech for his father and the fact that he got to announce the votes that officially gave his father the nomination.

Democrats: Several candidates, starting with first lady Michelle Obama’s landmark speech and including Rev. William Barber’s drop-the-mic firebrand address Thursday and the one-for-the-ages address by Kazir Kahn, father of a Muslim American soldier killed in action.

Winner: Democrats, if only for this quote by Kahn directed at Trump: “Have you ever been to Arlington cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing.”

NEW CAMPAIGN SLOGAN — Republicans: “If Hillary wins, the nation is doomed.”

Democrats: “If Trump wins, the nation is doomed.”

Americans: “When does November finally get here?”

Winner: No one.

Bill Rufty: Tidbits from the Republican National Convention

RuftyFlorida’s Republican National Committeeman Peter Feaman, who sits on the Rules Committee, told the Florida delegation Tuesday he had never seen such careful cooperation between Republican National Committee representatives and a candidate’s representatives coming before the committee Monday.

The RNC and the Trump representatives were on the same page.

Usually, the candidate and the RNC can be at odds as to some of the rules, but not Monday, and not at this convention.

“That’s what pushed many away from (the Stop Trump) forces wanting to throw out the rules of a binding first-round vote,” said Dena DeCamp, a Florida delegate and president of the Florida Federation of Republican Women.


There is no election Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam can run in this year, but it sure seemed like he was campaigning with friends from Florida in Cleveland Monday night.

Putnam’s desire to run for governor in 2018 likely is the biggest open secret in the state this decade. Monday night he hosted a private dinner for 15 Floridians, many from his home in Polk County. He talked, and the Florida friends thanked him for his years of service.

And did he mention a run for governor in two years?

“No, but everybody else did,” said Dena DeCamp. “We were all urging him to run, and it is something we all want to happen.”

Tuesday morning Putnam hosted a Taste of Florida breakfast for the entire delegation, with speakers including former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, former Congressman Allen West and U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton from Arkansas.

And what is a Taste of Florida breakfast?

Why, lots of fruit and chicken and waffles with cheese grits, of course.

Ben Carson backs Francis Rooney in CD 19

Ben Carson is hitting the campaign trail for Francis Rooney.

The Naples Republican’s campaign announced Tuesday Carson will campaign with Rooney Aug. 2. The campaign also announced Carson has thrown his support behind Rooney.

“Francis is a successful businessman and family man who will stand up for our conservative values and fight big government all the way to Washington,” said Carson in a statement. “I’m supporting Francis because he is a pragmatic conservative leader who knows what it takes to get things done. He will work tirelessly to protect freedom and opportunity while fighting the expansion of the bloated government bureaucracy that is hurting Southwest Florida’s businesses and families.”

A retired neurosurgeon, Carson was one of more than a dozen Republicans who ran for president this year. He’s well-liked in Southwest Florida, with hundreds of people turning out for book signings in Fort Myers and Naples.

The two men are scheduled to hold an event together Aug. 2 at the La Venezia Ballroom in Cape Coral. According to the campaign, the event is free, but RSVPs are required.

Rooney, the former ambassador to the Holy See, faces Chauncey Goss and Dan Bongino in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

Former rivals, military leaders, actors to take stage at RNC

Former presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Scott Walker and Marco Rubio — the latter by video link — are among those set to speak at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. Military leaders, members of Congress, actors, faith leaders and family members of presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump are also set to speak in what the Republican National Committee calls “an unconventional lineup” that will challenge the status quo and press for Trump’s agenda.

Speaker highlights at the four-day convention, which begins Monday at the Quicken Loans Arena.


Theme: Make America Safe Again

Headliners: Trump’s wife, Melania; Lt. Gen. (ret.) Michael Flynn, U.S. Army; Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; and Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont.

Others: Willie Robertson, star of “Duck Dynasty”; former Texas Gov. Rick Perry; Marcus Luttrell, retired U.S. Navy SEAL; Scott Baio, actor; Pat Smith, mother of Sean Smith, killed in the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya; Mark “Oz” Geist, member of a security team that fought in Benghazi; John Tiegen, member of Benghazi security team and co-author of the book “13 Hours,” an account of the attacks; Kent Terry and Kelly Terry-Willis, siblings of Brian Terry, a Border Patrol agent whose shooting death revealed the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-smuggling operation; Antonio Sabato Jr., actor; Mary Ann Mendoza, Sabine Durden and Jamiel Shaw, immigration reform advocates; Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas; David Clarke, sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wis.; Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis.; Rachel Campos-Duffy, LIBRE Initiative for Hispanic economic empowerment; Darryl Glenn, Senate candidate in Colorado; Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Karen Vaughn, mother of a U.S. Navy SEAL killed in Afghanistan; Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani; and Jason Beardsley of Concerned Veterans for America.



Theme: Make America Work Again

Headliners: Tiffany Trump, candidate’s daughter; Kerry Woolard, general manager, Trump Winery in Virginia; Donald Trump Jr.; Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson; and actress Kimberlin Brown.

Others: Sharon Day, co-chairwoman of Republican National Committee; Dana White, president, Ultimate Fighting Championship; Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson; Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge; former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey; Andy Wist, founder of Standard Waterproofing Co.; Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; Chris Cox, executive director, NRA Institute for Legislative Action; golfer Natalie Gulbis; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.; House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.



Theme: Make America First Again

Headliners: Former presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; Eric Trump, son of the candidate; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s pick to be vice president.

Others: radio host Laura Ingraham; Phil Ruffin, businessman with interests in real estate, lodging, manufacturing and energy; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; retired astronaut Eileen Collins; Michelle Van Etten, small business owner; Kentucky state Sen. Ralph Alvarado Jr.; Darrell Scott, senior pastor and co-founder of New Spirit Revival Center Ministries, Cleveland; Harold Hamm, oil executive; Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker; Lynne Patton, vice president, Eric Trump Foundation; Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. (by video); Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Callista Gingrich, wife of Newt Gingrich.



Theme: Make America One Again

Headliners: Peter Thiel, co-founder PayPal; Tom Barrack, CEO of Colony Capital; Ivanka Trump, daughter of the candidate; and Donald Trump, GOP nominee for president.

Others: Brock Mealer, motivational speaker; Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.; Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin; Dr. Lisa Shin, owner of Los Alamos Family Eyecare in New Mexico; RNC Chairman Reince Priebus; Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University and evangelical leader.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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