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Mitch Perry Report for 11.8.16 — Getting the results before the polls close

The last presidential contest I really didn’t pay that much attention to was back in 1980, but I do remember this: I was in high school, and I had the TV on but the sound down when Jimmy Carter came out at around 6:15 PST to announce he was conceding the election. It was pretty early in the evening, but it was obvious Carter wasn’t going to catch up to Ronald Reagan that night.

Although Carter wanted to get the misery over with, his early concession speech angered people in California on the West Coast, where there were still hours before the polls closed. Every election since then (except for those that went into overtime), have not been declared by the networks and the Associated Press until 11 p.m. Eastern, when all the polls are closed.

That is supposed to change tonight.

As reported by POLITICO on Monday, “Slate and Vice News have partnered with Votecastr, a company helmed by Obama and Bush campaign veterans, to provide real-time projections of how the candidates are faring in each state throughout the day. They expect to begin posting projections at 8 a.m. Eastern time on Election Day — a dramatic departure from current practice, where representatives from a consortium of news organizations (The Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News) huddle in a quarantine room without cell phones, poring over the earliest exit poll data but declining to release anything that points to an election result until all the polls have closed.”

POLITICO also will be working with Morning Consult to conduct a survey of voters after they have cast ballots. Voters will complete the interviews over the internet, beginning one hour after the polls open in their state. Respondents will be asked whether they have voted, and how they voted: either using early voting, by mail or on Election Day in person. POLITICO and Morning Consult will report on some of the results during the day.

I don’t know what any of this means, but let’s face it: in recent elections, people sit around most of the day on Election Day, with nothing to do with polls being meaningless (“the only poll that matters is on Election Day”) but no returns to review until the early evening.

There is some of that infamous exit poll research the networks will start reporting on after 5 p.m. but we all learned after 2004 not to take them too seriously, right, President Kerry?

Personally, I’ll be interested in some House races in Hillsborough County which could go either way — in House Districts 59, 60, and 63.

Have a great day.

In other news …

HART CFO Jeff Seward is going to the International Climate Change Conference in the U.K. next spring, the first representative from a North American transit agency to be invited to the annual event.

On the eve of a Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission meeting on a temporary agreement with Uber and Lyft, a limousine company based in Tampa says they want to become a ridesharing company as well, and is going to court to challenge the agency.

Marco Rubio made a last-day campaign appearance in Brandon yesterday, where he said he thinks the increase in Latino voters in the early vote bodes well for his chances tonight.

Eric Seidel is thinking he can peel off some wayward Democrats in his bid to defeat Pat Frank in the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Courts race tonight.

In a Vice News interview last night, Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the Bernie Sanders campaign made her into a “bogeyman” for her role at the DNC.

 

In Vice interview, Debbie Wasserman Schultz says Bernie Sanders camp “made me the bogeyman”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has kept a relatively low profile since her dramatic departure as Chair of the Democratic National Committee, but she comes out swinging when discussing Bernie Sanders in an interview to be broadcast Monday night.

“The Sanders campaign began aggressively trying to find a way to, you know, find a scapegoat and turn the attention away from mistakes that they made. And they they did so successfully and made me the boogywoman. But that’s okay,” Wasserman Schultz says in a short segment of her interview with Vice News scheduled to be aired Monday night on HBO (as well as HBO Go and Now).

Wasserman Schultz is expected to easily win re-election Tuesday night against Republican Joe Kauffman in Florida’s heavily Democratic-centric 23rd Congressional District.  Her major challenge this year was to get through the first contested primary since being elected to Congress, where she ousted law professor Tim Canova by more than 13 percentage points, 57 percent to 43 percent.

Wasserman Schultz abruptly resigned as chair of the DNC on the eve of their national convention this past July in Philadelphia, after leaked DNC mails appeared to show that the committee was favoring Hillary Clinton over Sanders during the primary election. She had still intended to gavel the convention into session when she was jeered at the Florida delegation breakfast on the first day of the convention.

See clip below:

 

 

Donald Trump talks up his support from blacks and Latinos in Tampa speech

Looking over the thousands of adoring fans who had waited for hours to see him speak, Donald Trump kicked off his 50-minute speech at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Saturday morning by comparing his audience to Hillary Clinton’s campaign appearance with two of the biggest celebrities in America on Friday night in Cleveland.

“We don’t need Jay Z to fill up arenas,” he said as the crowd cheered. “I actually like Jay-Z but you know, the language last night? Ohhhh. Ohhhhh.”

According to press reports, the famed New York City rapper repeatedly used the n-word and dropped the f-bomb as he performed “F—WithMeYouKnowIGotIt” and his hit “Dirt off Your Shoulder” song at the Cleveland rally – which also featured his wife, Beyonce.

“I like them both,” Trump said of the celebrity couple. “But he used language last night that was so bad, and then Hillary said, ‘I did not like Donald Trump’s lewd language.’ I’ll tell you what, I’ve never said what he said in my life. But that shows you the phoniness of politicians and the phoniness of the whole system, folks.”

That dismissal of the system, or what Trump and his fans call “draining the swamp,” is something what his supporters say they love about him as the end of the 2016 campaign grows near.

“I’m not that political. But seeing what was going on with Hillary, all that WikiLeaks stuff that’s coming out, all the corruption that she’s been doing. You have to get involved,” said Altamonte Springs resident Orisis Register. “It comes to a point where you have to say’ enough is enough.’ And you have to start getting involved.”

Trump’s 10:00 a.m. scheduled speech in Tampa (he actually hit the stage at 10:20 a.m) was the first of four scheduled appearances for the day, with later events scheduled in Wilmington, North Carolina, Reno and a 9:30 p.m. local time appearance in Denver, nearly 12 hours after he began his day.

Hillary Clinton, conversely, had only one scheduled appearance on Saturday, in South Florida. That skimpy schedule was duly noted by Trump. “I’m doing five or six of these a day, and Hillary goes home, she goes to sleep,” he said. “She doesn’t have the energy to do it, believe me.”

What Clinton does have that Trump doesn’t however, are star surrogates, like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and on occasion, first lady Michelle Obama, in addition to running mate Tim Kaine, who was also in the Tampa Bay area on Saturday, appearing in Sarasota in the afternoon and with rocker Jon Bon Jovi in a get-out-the vote effort at the State Theater in St. Petersburg.

Regarding policy issues, Trump pushed hard in his address on the recently announced increase in premiums for a certain percentage of people getting their health care insurance from the Affordable Care Act.

He also criticized Clinton’s support of trade deals like NAFTA, the WTO and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which she no longer supports) as something that he’ll reverse when elected, and listed companies that have suffered job losses in the past year, saying that Florida has lost one in four manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was signed in 1994.

Although there is just hours left before Election Day, 30 million Americans have already voted as of Saturday morning, more than five million of them in Florida. There have reports in a large increase in Latino voters, a trend that could portend bad things for Trump, considering that the group Latino Decisions said on Friday that they estimate that 79 percent will vote for Clinton, and only 18 percent for Trump.

“Hispanics for Trump, “Women for Trump,” and “Blacks for Trump” signs were distributed to those entering the arena to hear Trump on Saturday, prompting him to talk up his support for the black and brown community.

“That’s turning out to be story of this election: the African-American vote,” he said, though the story of that demographic to date in terms of the mainstream media coverage is how their voting numbers are down in the post Obama-era.

“How many Hispanics do we have here?” Trump then asked. “That’s another story that’s turning out to be very big. The Hispanic vote is turning out to be much different than people thought,” he said somewhat ambiguously.

Trump went on to familiar tropes, including his criticism of Clinton’s support for wanting to bring more Syrian refugees into the country.  “Her plan will import generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism into your schools and throughout your communities. When I’m elected your president, we will suspend immediately the Syrian refugee program,” he said to cheers, adding, “And we will keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi kicked off the morning’s activities as the M.C.. A number of other speakers followed, including 80’s Saturday Night Live cast member Joe Piscopo, former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz and Polk County area Representative Dennis Ross, who’s expected to win another two-year term in Congress on Tuesday.

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“I did not get elected to surrender this White House to a crook!” said an overly excited Ross, who said the nation’s Second Amendment rights “would be taken away from us” with a Clinton victory on Tuesday.

T-shirts such as “Trump that bitch” and “We’re going to need a bigger basket” could be prominently seen in the audience.

Longtime Miami Beach political activist Bob Kunst stood in the fairgrounds parking lot with “Trump vs. Tramp” and “Hillary: Liar – Traitor” signs propped in front of his car as early attendees made their way into the arena. A registered Democrat, Kunst said he broke ranks with Hillary a few years ago when she “got in bed with Obama” when it comes to dividing the city of  Jerusalem. He’s critical of the Iranian nuclear deal, but he also admitted that Trump is a wild card when it comes to how he might implement any of his policies. But he said it was worth voting for him.

“On the other hand, we know where we’re at right now, which is no future, no hope. A disaster. One scandal after another,” he said. “Anybody who could go with this woman is just unbelievable.”

Kunst says he’s been to 38 Trump rallies around the nation. “This is mishmash of people who wouldn’t sit in the same room with each other in normal occasions,” he said. “The country is in trouble. People are concerned, they’re all freaking out. Where are we going with this thing? It seems to be collapsing before our very eyes.”

Brockville resident Pat Pimm said he’s been backing Trump since last November. Pimm said the number one issue he believed Trump would address is energy, specifically to maintain oil, natural gas and coal into the mix of energy sources for years go to come.

“You gotta get those folks back to work,” he said of coal workers. “That’s a huge part of our economy. It’s wonderful if we have this green economy, but we’ve got to have the entire works. We can’t put the coalminers out of work for the sake of a little green energy. We need it all. It’s going to take a long time to transition to green stuff.”

When asked if he believed in climate change, Pimm said “The climate’s been changing. The climate will always be changng. But I don’t think it’s changed anymore because of industrialization.”

Although Trump is going out west for part of this weekend’s campaign activities, he’ll be right back in the Tampa Bay area on Monday, with a just announced event taking place at Robarts Arena in Sarasota at 11 a.m.

Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump use whatever they’ve got in the final push

Knock on every door. Marshal every volunteer. Lob every attack.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are opening the final weekend of a marathon campaign by pulling out every tool they have to get their supporters to vote. Polls show critical battleground states may still be up for grabs ahead of Tuesday’s election.

Clinton and her allies rushed to shore up support among African-Americans, acknowledging signs of weaker-than-expected turnout in early vote data. That has raised a red flag about diminished enthusiasm that could spell trouble for Democrats up and down the ballot.

The Democrat was due to campaign in Pennsylvania and Michigan on Friday, states long considered Democratic strongholds. She’s been pounding Trump for his record on race, accusing him of tacitly encouraging support from white supremacists.

“He has spent this entire campaign offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters,” Clinton said at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina.

The Democrat got a boost Friday in the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report which showed the unemployment rate declined to 4.9 percent while wages went up in October. It’s the sort of news that might nudge voters to continue current economic policies, as Clinton has promised.

But this campaign has rarely seemed to hinge on policy. The big personalities on both sides have overshadowed more nuanced questions. Heading into the final days, both campaigns are presenting the choice as a crossroads for democracy.

For Trump, that means zeroing in on questions about Clinton’s trustworthiness and a new FBI review of an aide’s emails. Trump warned Thursday that never-ending investigations would prevent his Democratic opponent from governing effectively, speaking directly to voters who may be reluctant Trump supporter but are also repelled by the possible return to Washington of Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

“Here we go again with the Clintons – you remember the impeachment and the problems,” Trump said Thursday at a rally in Jacksonville, Florida. “That’s not what we need in our country, folks. We need someone who is ready to go to work.”

In spite of a close race in national polling, Trump’s path to victory remained narrow. He must win Florida to win the White House, which polls show remains a neck-and-neck race. Early voting has surged in the state. The number of early voters so far, 5.26 million, has already exceeded the overall early voting figure for 2012, and voting will continue this weekend. Republicans have a very narrow edge in ballots cast.

North Carolina also has emerged as critical state for Trump – in part because of early signs that African-American turnout there is lagging.

Both campaigns are so focused on the two states, the candidate and allies have been nearly running into each other at airports. Trump tweeted about gazing at Air Force One at the Miami airport Thursday, using the moment to rip President Barack Obama for campaigning instead of governing.

Both candidates are leaning on surrogates to help carry their message. While Clinton rallies voters in Pittsburgh and Detroit, Obama was to campaign Friday in North Carolina. Bill Clinton was headed to Colorado and Vice President Joe Biden was due in Wisconsin, both states Clinton was believed to have locked up weeks ago. Clinton planned to end her day at a get-out-the-vote rally in Cleveland, using hip-hop artist Jay-Z to draw young people to her cause.

On Thursday, she campaigned with former primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders and pop star Pharrell Williams.

Trump was set to headline events Friday in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Ohio, while running mate Mike Pence is visiting Michigan, North Carolina and Florida.

While Trump’s children, Eric and Ivanka Trump, hit the trail Thursday, his wife, Melania, made her first speech in months. She vowed to advocate against cyberbullying if she becomes first lady, although she made no reference to her husband’s frequent use of Twitter to call his opponents “liars” and “crooked.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Donald Trump delivers the usual to half-empty hall in Jacksonville

Enthusiasm gap for Donald Trump?

With President Barack Obama across town at the University of North Florida, the GOP presidential nominee couldn’t fill the 6,500-person capacity Jacksonville Equestrian Center.

“Great crowd, thank you very much,” Trump said to kick off the event, before discussing poll numbers favorable for him, then launching into his usual critiques of the corrupt Clinton machine.

“We’re leading all over,” Trump said, before sharing “breaking news” regarding “an FBI investigation” into “Hillary Clinton pay-for-play … putting the office of secretary of state up for auction.”

Trump asserted “the investigation is likely to lead to an indictment,” causing the “lock her up” chants to echo throughout the room, creating an ethereal droning noise toward the empty space in the back.

“She shouldn’t be allowed to run for the office of president, and that is where the system is rigged,” Trump said.

Much of Trump’s speech was the greatest hits tour. Well-worn routines about Clinton hammering phones to destroy them only deviated when he asked the crowd if any of them had destroyed phones.

One hand went up.

“I don’t want to know what business you’re in,” Trump quipped.

Trump called a Clinton presidency a “constitutional crisis.”

“This isn’t what we need … we need somebody who’s going to go to work,” Trump said. “This is going to be a mess for many years to come.”

Trump noted he saw Air Force One in Miami; upon mentioning President Barack Obama, the boos echoed off the empty back wall of the rodeo space.

“Why isn’t he back working? He’s campaigning every day. She’s under criminal investigation. I think he has a conflict.”

Citing WikiLeaks, Trump speculated that “Obama knew what she was doing.”

The Obamacare riff resurfaced. While it seemed fresh just days before, in the context of this campaign’s accelerated news cycles, it seemed as novel as last summer’s hit single.

“The president kept lying and lying. Premiums are surging, companies are leaving, and deductibles are through the roof,” Trump said, calling Obamacare a “catastrophe” on which “Hillary Clinton wants to double down.”

“It’s bigger than your mortgage; it’s bigger than your rent,” Trump continued.

Donna Brazile? Yes, there was a riff on her also.

“She took the questions and gave them to Crooked Hillary,” Trump said, before pivoting to poor Bernie Sanders.

“At some point,” Trump said, “doesn’t he tell her supporters to vote for Trump?”

As well, said Trump, “we are living through the biggest jobs theft in the history of the world … from now on, it’s going to be America First.”

NAFTA is on thin ice. So is currency manipulation. And the “job-killing Trans Pacific Partnership.” And “billions in global warming payments to the United Nations” will be canceled.

Continuing the Buchanan-ite America First theme, Trump spent some time discussing wars overseas as part of the Clinton legacy, saying we defend the borders of countries far away while keeping ours open.

As well, Trump botched his policy play to the locals, vowing support for “Jack Port.” [Note to outsiders and Trump operatives: it’s JAXPORT].

“We are led by stupid people,” said Trump. “Remember that.”

Later in the speech, he did manage to get the name of Mayport right, when talking about the 350-ship Navy he wanted to create.

Perhaps because of the heat in the half-empty room on an 80-degree day, Trump’s critiques of the media were muted, limited to saying the press was protecting Clinton, yet “the protected one is not well-protected.”

“When we win on Nov. 8,” Trump vowed, “we are going to Washington D.C. and we are going to drain the swamp!”

As has been customary with Jacksonville events for Trump, the crowd began to trickle out about 40 minutes into his remarks.

img_8390Perhaps to beat the crowd. What there was of it.

Mitch Perry Report for 11.2.16 — Hillary Clinton returns to the oldie but goodies in Dade City speech

Remember when Hillary Clinton would invoke Michelle Obama‘s phrase when dealing with Donald Trump that, “When they go low, we go high?”

That was so, oh, I don’t know, October-like.

In Pasco County yesterday, the Democratic presidential nominee spent considerable time tearing apart Trump, invoking his greatest hits of insults as she tries to rally the base in the final week of the campaign.

Clinton dug deep, referring to how The Donald boasted on Howard Stern’s show about how he used to go backstage at beauty pageants to barge in on the women while they were getting dressed.

“He said he did that — he said he did that to ‘inspect’ them. That was his word — and he said, ‘I sort of get away with things like that.’ And sure enough, contestants have come forward to say, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what he did to us.’ Now, as bad as that is, he didn’t just do it at the Miss USA pageant or the Miss Universe pageant. He’s also been accused of doing it at the Miss Teen USA pageant. Contestants say that Donald Trump came in to look at them when they were changing. Some of them were just 15 years old. We cannot hide from this. We’ve got to be willing to face it. This man wants to be president of the United States of America and our First Lady, Michelle Obama, spoke for many of us when she said Donald Trump’s words have shaken her to her core.”

Obviously, talking about policies has never been at the forefront of this campaign, but undoubtedly this will probably be the nature of her oratory over the next six days. Not exactly the soaring rhetoric her team could have intended to be her message in closing out this interminable campaign.

There are reports this morning that Team Clinton and their allies are freaking out about the black vote not being as robust for Clinton so far in early/absentee voting, in comparison to 2008 and 2012.

Message to the rest of planet Earth — Nobody every thought it could be. Barack Obama‘s name on the ballot was revolutionary in 2008, and though much less so in 2012, it still brought out the black vote in unprecedented ways. Did anybody seriously think Clinton was going to match that number?

Clinton remains strong with older blacks, but millennials have never bought into her to the same extent. A friend of mine yesterday questioned the entire premise that Clinton was so popular among blacks. He said, wasn’t that what “they” said took her over the top over Bernie Sanders?

That wasn’t an opinion; that was a fact. Clinton dominated the black vote — a huge demographic in Democratic primaries — over the Vermont-based socialist senator. I’ve argued that if he had made stronger inroads with the African-American community to any extent prior to his unlikely rise over the past year, he might have had a fighting chance at the nomination.

But Clinton, and certainly Sanders, were never going to get a comparable black vote in 2008 or 2012. Not going to happen.

In other news …

One interesting trend in Florida with less than a week before the voting ends is the record vote from the Latino community to date.

SD 18 Democrat Bob Buesing has gone up on TV with his final ad (he says).

David Jolly isn’t giving up on trying to take part of the black vote in St. Petersburg away from Charlie Crist. The CD 13 Republican is airing a new ad that once again goes back in time to the era when his Democratic opponent was known as “Chain-Gang Charlie.”

Former Florida Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham held a conference call yesterday to detail his problems with Amendment 1, the solar power initiative. Graham said its passage could neutralize the Amendment 4 solar power measure that passed by 73 percent in August. A spokesperson for the measure strongly disagrees with him.

Civil engineer Wael Odeh hopes to win a Temple Terrace City Council seat next week, despite a hate-filled letter spread to households in the city last month regarding his character because he is a Muslim.

Newly leaked WikiLeaks emails indicate that while former DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz was all about Hillary Clinton, the feeling among some of her staffers absolutely wasn’t mutual.

Hacked emails show Hillary Clinton camp discussed ousting Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Jennifer Granholm

In July, Debbie Wasserman Schultz abruptly resigned as head of the Democratic National Committee, after leaked emails showed party officials conspiring to sabotage the presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Now, a new email message from the Gmail account of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta — posted by WikiLeaks Tuesday — indicate Hillary Clinton, the candidate campaign officials were considered to be in the tank for, also had serious issues with Wasserman Schultz. Clinton’s staff even discussed ousting her well before her unexpected midsummer exit.

On Dec. 17, 2015Clinton staffer Heather Stone sent out a memo titled “DNC Leadership,” to Podesta, Robby Mook, and Sara Latham. It explained in part the Clinton campaign had encountered challenges in working with Wasserman Schultz, calling for “systemic shifts at the DNC Leadership Level” to facilitate a better working relationship:

Though we have reached a working arrangement with them, our dealings with Party leadership have been marked by challenges, often requiring multiple meetings and phone calls to resolve relatively simple matters.  We are frequently caught in the middle of poor communication and a difficult relationship between the Chairwoman and the Executive Director. Moreover, leadership at the Committee has been slow to respond to structural challenges within their own operation that could have real impact on our campaign, such as research.

Jen O’Malley Dillon has entered into a contract with the DNC as a consultant for the General Election, which addresses some of these challenges and provides a connection for us within the Party. However, this arrangement does not change the need for systemic shifts at the DNC leadership level — to ensure that we have strategic and operational partners within the Committee that can help drive a program and deliver on our General Election imperatives.

The memo also said the intention should be to keep Wasserman Schultz as DNC chair up until July’s National Convention. After the convention, however, “we should consider three models for the DNC chairmanship:”

Three options discussed would be:

— Keep Wasserman Schultz  and “work through a chief of staff.” Wasserman Schultz would have been no more than a figurehead in this capacity, the memo states.

— Keep Wasserman Schultz in the position, but select someone like former Michigan Gov.

 Jennifer Granholm as a “General Election Chair.” In that situation, the chief of staff would work with the General Election Chair, while Wasserman Schultz played the role as a chief surrogate. This didn’t seem likely to work, however, as Stone wrote that, “This model has the considerable drawback of creating a two-headed monster with little clarity of who is responsible for different areas of work within the Committee.”

— Oust Wasserman Schultz outright for Granholm. “Under this scenario, the convention would represent Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz’s final responsibility to the DNC, and we would use the convention as a clean break between chairs,” wrote Stone. “At the convention, we would honor the Chairwoman’s leadership and service to the Party and introduce the new Chair for the final phase of the campaign.”

As it turned out, leaked WikiLeaks emails were released the weekend before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in late July, prompting an outcry among Sanders delegates who always believed Wasserman Schultz was biased for Clinton in her position at the DNC.

The uproar was so great, Wasserman Schultz quit the Sunday afternoon before the convention, ultimately replaced by Donna Brazile.

Brazile recently left CNN under dubious circumstances following another WikiLeaks release indicating that, while at CNN, she may have passed along a question to Clinton before a debate.

 

Moments to remember — or try to forget — from Campaign 2016

Every presidential race has its big moments. This one, more than most.

A look back at some of the historic, amusing and cringe-inducing events of Campaign 2016.

There are plenty more where these came from. Play along at home and think about what you would add to the list.

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GOING DOWN?

Donald Trump‘s long ride down the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his presidential bid in June 2015 wasn’t huge news at the time. It only merited a page 16 story in his hometown newspaper, The New York Times. But his 45-minute speech laid out a road map for the next 500 days. It had denunciations of rapists from Mexico, the promise to build a border wall, complaints that the United States doesn’t win anymore, assertions that the U.S. should have taken Iraq’s oil before the Islamic State group got it, criticism of President Barack Obama‘s health law, pledges to get lost jobs back from China and elsewhere, rants against “stupid” trade deals and many more themes Trump has hammered on ever since.

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RAISE YOUR HAND

Trump jolted the first Republican debate in August 2015 when he was the sole candidate among 10 men on the stage to raise his hand to signal he wouldn’t pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee. The best he could offer: “I can totally make the pledge if I’m the nominee.” (The GOP field was so crowded then that seven more Republican candidates were relegated to an undercard debate.) This was the same debate where Trump mixed it up with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly over his history of intemperate comments about women, foreshadowing a running campaign theme. Trump answered Kelly’s question about whether he was part of the “war on women” with a riff against political correctness.

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THOSE ‘DAMN EMAILS’

Hillary Clinton got a gift from Bernie Sanders in the first Democratic debate in October 2015 when he seconded her dismay at all the focus on her use of a private email setup as secretary of state. “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” Sanders said. That took some air out of the controversy but it never fully went away. Then in June, FBI Director James Comey announced he would not recommend charges against Clinton over the email issue, but said she and her aides had been “extremely careless” in handling classified information. The issue took on new life when the FBI announced just 11 days before the election that it was investigating whether there is classified information in newly discovered emails. Trump called it “bigger than Watergate.”

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SMALL HANDS. EWW.

A Republican debate this past March strayed into cringe-inducing territory when Trump brought up GOP rival Marco Rubio‘s mocking reference to his “small hands” and then volunteered some reassurance about the size of his genitals. Trump told his debate audience and millions of TV viewers, “He referred to my hands, if they’re small, something else must be small. I guarantee you, There’s no problem, I guarantee.” The arbiters of good taste had a problem with that.

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CEILING: SHATTERED

She wore white, the color of suffragettes. Clinton stood before voters at the Democrats’ Philadelphia convention in July and at last claimed the presidential nomination of a major party for women. “I’m so happy this day has come,” she told cheering supporters. “Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. Happy for boys and men, too. Because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone.” Clinton had finally shattered that “glass ceiling” she cracked in the 2008 campaign.

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THE ‘DEPLORABLES’

Clinton drew laughter when she told supporters at a private fundraiser in September that half of Trump supporters could be lumped into a “basket of deplorables” — denouncing them as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it.” No one was laughing when her remarks became public. Clinton did a partial rollback, saying she’d been “grossly generalistic” and regretted saying the label fit “half” Trump’s supporters. But she didn’t back down from the general sentiment, saying, “He has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices.” Soon enough, Trump had the video running in his campaign ads, and his supporters were wearing the “deplorable” label as a badge of honor.

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A REAL STUMBLE

There are always stumbles in a presidential campaign. Clinton took a real one in September when she became overheated while attending a 9/11 memorial service in New York. It turned out she was suffering from pneumonia, a condition she’d hidden from the public and most of her aides. That gave Trump an opening to press his case that Clinton lacks the “stamina” to be president. But she had a sharp rejoinder in the fall debate with Trump, saying: “As soon as he travels to 112 countries and negotiates a peace deal, a cease-fire, a release of dissidents, an opening of new opportunities in nations around the world or even spends 11 hours testifying in front of a congressional committee, he can talk to me about stamina.”

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‘YOU CAN DO ANYTHING’

Trump’s living-large persona is part of his appeal for many people. But the leaked release in October of a 2005 video in which Trump boasted about groping women’s genitals and kissing them without permission threw his campaign into crisis. Politicians in both parties denounced Trump and some said he should drop out of the race. Trump apologized, but wrote off his videotaped comments as mere “locker-room banter.” He denied engaging in the kind of predatory activity he’d laughed about. But a string of women came forward to say he’d made unwanted sexual advances toward them.

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HE WENT THERE

Trump toyed throughout the campaign with bringing up allegations about Bill Clinton‘s past sexual misconduct. Trump went there in a big way in October at the second presidential debate, seating three of the former president’s accusers in the front row for the faceoff. “Bill Clinton was abusive to women,” Trump said. “Hillary Clinton attacked those same women and attacked them viciously.”

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HE WOULDN’T GO THERE

As Trump’s standing in the polls faltered, he cranked up his claims that the election was being rigged against him. Asked in the final presidential debate if he would accept the results of the election, Trump refused to go there. Pressed on the matter by the debate moderator, Trump said: “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense.” It was a startling statement that raised uncertainty about the peaceful transfer of power after the election. Even the Republican National Committee disavowed Trump’s statement.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Progressive Action at UCF group stages protest against TPP outside Barack Obama rally

Compared to the throngs of people coming to see President Barack Obama at UCF’s CFE Arena on Friday afternoon, the crowd protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership was small. But their passion for politics, inspired by Bernie Sanders, was large and solidified enough to convince you that, one day, they could make the change they desired.

Once called the “Knights for Bernie,” after Sanders ended his campaign last summer, they changed their name to the Progressive Action at UCF group. Their leader, 19-year-old UCF student Bryn Taylor, said the point of their being at the Obama rally was to hopefully turn a few heads and raise awareness of the TPP that Obama has been pushing so heavily in the last year.

“We want Obama and other Democratic candidates to know we are against this,” she said. “We are aware of it and we do not support it. We are young progressives and we’re heading to the voting booths in November.”

She said they opposed the TPP because it would do harm to American jobs, and open the door for corporations to sue governments for impeding on their profits.

They first heard about the deal and its perils when Bernie Sanders talked about it earlier this year, Taylor told FloridaPolitics.com.

“We learned about it from him and his speeches,” she said. “He said it would be really bad for government sovereignty, raising the minimum wage, and climate change.”

Another member of the group, Reimar Francisco, 24, raised another concern — a TPP clause that would increase the patent times on biological medicine and other drugs, some needed for cancer treatment and other ills.

“People who need treatment can use generics to bring the cost down,” Francisco said. “But this could increase the limit and make it take longer for the generics to come out. That could make it harder for people who can’t afford the medication they need.”

On how they were voting now that their candidate Sanders was no longer an option, Taylor talked of a club divided — some voting for Hillary Clinton, she said, and others were sticking it out with Green Party nominee Jill Stein, currently hovering around 2 percent of the vote nationwide.

Taylor herself said she was undecided right now.

Francisco said he was voting for Stein.

“I really liked what Bernie Sanders had to say,” he said. “It was in line with what I had thought about the government for a long time. He didn’t get the nomination, but he spurred me on. I’m voting for Jill Stein. She’s more in line with my thoughts and the solutions I think the country needs.”

Also voting for Stein at the protest was 23-year-old Jim Graves, the lone protester who wasn’t a UCF student currently, though he had been in the past. Graves said Stein had his vote because he was hoping to bolster her support for future elections.

“I voted for her to get her to 5 percent of the vote,” he said. “She can get momentum for the next election. I want to help get grassroots candidates all across the board, not just president. No more wars.”

Fellow club member Stephen Beale, 19, said Hillary Clinton would be his choice — but with caveats.

“I’m voting for Hillary Clinton, but we need to make sure she stands up to her campaign promises, and plans to move toward more progressive stances,” he said.

Tim Canova political group calls for Florida constitutional amendments on open primaries, redistricting commission in 2018

Tim Canova wasn’t kidding when he said he was going to stay involved in the political process following his loss to Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.

The progressive Democrat announced the creation of a political and community action group last month called “Progress For All,” that he said would “will harness the power of our movement.”

He now says the group is “making plans” for a series of referendums on the November 2018 ballot, some of which other activists have been working for years to try to get on the ballot.

The five referendums Progress For All is calling for are:

— Open primaries in which everyone can vote for any candidate, regardless of party. The top two finishers in the primary, regardless of party, then square off against each other in the general election.

— Creation of a Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission to prevent partisan “gerrymandering” to create safe, uncompetitive legislative districts.

— Limiting contributions to Super PACs to $5,000.  This would rein in the corrupting influence of big money in our politics and provide the Supreme Court with an opportunity to overturn Citizens United (That’s an initiative that the St. Petersburg City Council is voting on Thursday).

— Election integrity to ensure they are transparent and verifiable. That would include paper ballots counted by hand in public, as is presently done throughout European democracies.

— Overturning felony disenfranchisement. Unfortunately, the failed war on drugs, mass incarceration, and the New Jim Crow have resulted in millions of American citizens being deprived of their right to vote for the rest of their lives, often for nonviolent felonies committed years ago.

Groups were formed in recent years to try to get amendments on open primaries and the automatic restoration of voting rights for ex-felons on this year’s ballot, to no avail.

As has been shown in recent years on issues like medical marijuana and solar power, such citizen-led initiatives require millions — in some cases, tens of millions — of dollars to get on the ballot.

“Together these reforms would remake our politics in Florida and provide a model for progressive reform throughout our country,” Canova said in a statement. “To get these referendums on the ballot in 2018, we must begin now. There’s no time to delay. State referendums require the gathering of hundreds of thousands of signatures on petitions and canvassing of voters to get our message out.

“This is exactly how we were so successful in our recent campaign against Debbie Wasserman Schultz. We created a huge grassroots movement on the ground that knocked on 10,000 doors a week and, in the face of enormous odds, got us within striking distance.”

When it was announced last month, Progress For All said they would be limited to small donations and would reject contributions from any corporate-funded political action committees.

Canova, a Nova Southeastern law professor, had never run for political office before he took on Wasserman Schultz in the Democratic primary earlier this year. His insurgent campaign against the then-Democratic National Committee Chair inspired the same progressive voters around the nation who rallied around Bernie Sanders’ presidential candidacy, though he ended up losing by 14 percentage points.

Earlier this week, an award-winning report published a statistical analysis of Canova’s race against Wasserman Schultz. At a news conference in WashingtonLulu Fries’dat raised concerns that the contest’s electronic voting machines might have been “manipulated.”

 

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