Chris Christie Archives - Page 4 of 30 - Florida Politics

Darryl Paulson: Candidate’s running mate rarely affects outcome of presidential election

The national conventions are less than three months away and, as the nomination phase comes to a close, attention will gravitate toward potential vice presidential candidates.

Let’s focus on the factors that have been used in selecting vice presidents.

Most conventional wisdom is wrong. To begin with, most people and many presidential candidates select a vice president who they believe will help them win the election. Few vice presidents have had any effect on the election results.

Jack Kemp did not help carry his home state for Bob Dole and Paul Ryan did not win Wisconsin for Mitt Romney. On the Democratic side, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen was not able to carry Texas for Michael Dukakis, nor did John Edwards help the Democrats win South Carolina or other southern states.

One of the few times a vice president actually helped a president carry a state was in 1960 when John F. Kennedy picked Sen. Lyndon Johnson as his running mate. If Kennedy had not won Texas, Richard Nixon would have won the presidency.

In like fashion, vice presidents are sometimes selected to provide regional balance, although there is no evidence that this helps. When Bill Clinton of Arkansas picked fellow southerner Al Gore as his vice president, many thought this unbalanced regional ticket was crazy.

When the Clinton-Gore team captured the electoral vote of four southern states, something that Democrats had been unable to do in recent presidential elections, Clinton’s choice looked like genius.

In addition to regional balance, vice presidents are sometimes selected to provide ideological balance. With increased polarization in recent years, this is becoming a less important factor.

In 1976, Ronald Reagan announced Sen. Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania as his vice presidential choice prior to the convention. Reagan hoped to alleviate the fears of some that he was too conservative and needed a moderate to balance the ticket. More importantly, Reagan hoped that picking Schweiker would convince some Pennsylvania delegates to support his candidacy over incumbent Gerald Ford. The pick of Schweiker did not help Reagan and Ford went on to win the nomination.

Many Democrats in 2016 see Hillary Clinton as too conservative and too establishment and have urged her to choose a progressive as vice president. In addition to Bernie Sanders, other progressive names being floated are Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

A vice president is sometimes selected to stimulate participation by a particular group. Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro to get more women to vote. That pick didn’t provide much help. Mondale won only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia against Reagan.

Vice presidents have been picked to add gravitas to the ticket. Concerns about Reagan’s limited government experience led him to pick George Herbert Walker Bush as his vice president. Bush had been a member of Congress, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and to China, head of the Republican National Committee and head of the CIA prior to his selection.

Bush’s son, George W., picked Dick Cheney as his vice president to add heft to his ticket. Cheney had served as Chief-of-Staff to Ford, been a member of the House, and served as Secretary of Defense for George W’s father. In fact, Cheney headed George W’s vice presidential selection team and concluded he was the best candidate.

Do any of these factors help a presidential candidate win? The answer is no.

A study by two political scientists, Bernard Grofman and Reuben Kline, analyzed 11 presidential elections between 1968 and 2008 and found the net effect of a vice president was 1 percent at most.

If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, she may pick a progressive or choose someone like Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro. Although not well known, Castro’s youth and Hispanic background might help stimulate Hispanic turnout.

If Trump is the GOP nominee, it is easier to put together a list of people he would not select than those he would. There is little chance that “lying Ted,” “little Marco,” or “low energy Bush” would want to join forces with Trump.

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is one possibility since he dropped out of the nomination race early before Trump had the opportunity to insult him. Chris Christie is another option because he was the first major candidate to endorse Trump after Christie withdrew. Another option is Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Florida is a “must win” state and Scott endorsed Trump as a “businessman outsider who will shake up the status quo in Washington.”

Although most of the factors in the vice presidential selection process have been shown to have little impact, there are two general rules that no president should ignore.

First, pick someone you feel comfortable working with. Second, and most important, pick someone who is ready to be president. Nothing else matters.

***

Darryl Paulson is Professor Emeritus of Government at USF St. Petersburg.

Darryl Paulson: Candidate’s running mate rarely affects outcome of presidential election

The national conventions are less than three months away and, as the nomination phase comes to a close, attention will gravitate toward potential vice presidential candidates.

Let’s focus on the factors that have been used in selecting vice presidents.

Most conventional wisdom is wrong. To begin with, most people and many presidential candidates select a vice president who they believe will help them win the election. Few vice presidents have had any effect on the election results.

Jack Kemp did not help carry his home state for Bob Dole and Paul Ryan did not win Wisconsin for Mitt Romney. On the Democratic side, Sen. Lloyd Bentsen was not able to carry Texas for Michael Dukakis, nor did John Edwards help the Democrats win South Carolina or other southern states.

One of the few times a vice president actually helped a president carry a state was in 1960 when John F. Kennedy picked Sen. Lyndon Johnson as his running mate. If Kennedy had not won Texas, Richard Nixon would have won the presidency.

In like fashion, vice presidents are sometimes selected to provide regional balance, although there is no evidence that this helps. When Bill Clinton of Arkansas picked fellow southerner Al Gore as his vice president, many thought this unbalanced regional ticket was crazy.

When the Clinton-Gore team captured the electoral vote of four southern states, something that Democrats had been unable to do in recent presidential elections, Clinton’s choice looked like genius.

In addition to regional balance, vice presidents are sometimes selected to provide ideological balance. With increased polarization in recent years, this is becoming a less important factor.

In 1976, Ronald Reagan announced Sen. Richard Schweiker of Pennsylvania as his vice presidential choice prior to the convention. Reagan hoped to alleviate the fears of some that he was too conservative and needed a moderate to balance the ticket. More importantly, Reagan hoped that picking Schweiker would convince some Pennsylvania delegates to support his candidacy over incumbent Gerald Ford. The pick of Schweiker did not help Reagan and Ford went on to win the nomination.

Many Democrats in 2016 see Hillary Clinton as too conservative and too establishment and have urged her to choose a progressive as vice president. In addition to Bernie Sanders, other progressive names being floated are Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

A vice president is sometimes selected to stimulate participation by a particular group. Walter Mondale selected Geraldine Ferraro to get more women to vote. That pick didn’t provide much help. Mondale won only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia against Reagan.

Vice presidents have been picked to add gravitas to the ticket. Concerns about Reagan’s limited government experience led him to pick George Herbert Walker Bush as his vice president. Bush had been a member of Congress, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and to China, head of the Republican National Committee and head of the CIA prior to his selection.

Bush’s son, George W., picked Dick Cheney as his vice president to add heft to his ticket. Cheney had served as Chief-of-Staff to Ford, been a member of the House, and served as Secretary of Defense for George W’s father. In fact, Cheney headed George W’s vice presidential selection team and concluded he was the best candidate.

Do any of these factors help a presidential candidate win? The answer is no.

A study by two political scientists, Bernard Grofman and Reuben Kline, analyzed 11 presidential elections between 1968 and 2008 and found the net effect of a vice president was 1 percent at most.

If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, she may pick a progressive or choose someone like Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro. Although not well known, Castro’s youth and Hispanic background might help stimulate Hispanic turnout.

If Trump is the GOP nominee, it is easier to put together a list of people he would not select than those he would. There is little chance that “lying Ted,” “little Marco,” or “low energy Bush” would want to join forces with Trump.

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is one possibility since he dropped out of the nomination race early before Trump had the opportunity to insult him. Chris Christie is another option because he was the first major candidate to endorse Trump after Christie withdrew. Another option is Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Florida is a “must win” state and Scott endorsed Trump as a “businessman outsider who will shake up the status quo in Washington.”

Although most of the factors in the vice presidential selection process have been shown to have little impact, there are two general rules that no president should ignore.

First, pick someone you feel comfortable working with. Second, and most important, pick someone who is ready to be president. Nothing else matters.

***

Darryl Paulson is Professor Emeritus of Government at USF St. Petersburg. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

 

Donald Trump’s abortion flub shows risks of “winging it” on policy

It was a question sure to come up at some point in the Republican primary campaign.

“What should the law be on abortion?” asked MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to Donald Trump at a town hall event in Wisconsin.

“Should the woman be punished for having an abortion?” Matthews pressed. “This is not something you can dodge.”

Trump’s bungled response — an awkward, extended attempt to evade the question, followed by an answer that, yes, “there has to be some form of punishment” — prompted a backlash that managed to unite abortion rights activists and opponents. It also brought an unprecedented reversal from the notoriously unapologetic candidate less than a week before Wisconsin’s important primary.

The episode demonstrated the extent to which Trump has glossed over the rigorous policy preparation that is fundamental to most presidential campaigns, underscoring the risks of the billionaire businessman’s winging-it approach as he inches closer to the Republican nomination.

“Well, bear in mind I don’t believe that he was warned that that question was coming” and didn’t have a chance to really think about it, said Ben Carson, a former Trump rival who has since endorsed him, in an interview with CNN.

He should have, said political professionals.

“When you’re just winging it, that’s what happens,” said Kevin Madden, a veteran of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney‘s campaign. “Running for president, it’s not a take-home exam.”

This wasn’t the first time Trump’s approach has gotten him in trouble.

He raised eyebrows during a debate when he appeared unfamiliar with the concept of the nuclear triad, an oversight his opponents happily pointed out.

At a town hall on CNN this week, Trump appeared to falter when asked to identified what he believed were the top three priorities of the federal government. Among his answers: health care and education. Trump has vowed to repeal President Barack Obama‘s landmark health care law and gut the budget of the Department of Education.

The lack of preparation extends beyond policy. This week, Trump called into a series of radio stations in Wisconsin, apparently unaware the interviews were likely to be combative.

At the end of a remarkable interview in which he compared Trump’s behavior to that of “a 12-year-old bully on the playground,” WTMJ-AM’s Charlie Sykes asked Trump if he was aware he’d called into someone unabashedly opposed to his candidacy.

“That I didn’t know,” Trump said.

During a recent rally in Vienna, Ohio, Trump delivered his usual indictment of the North American Free Trade Agreement and blasted American companies that have shipped jobs overseas.

But he seemed unaware that Chevrolet, which builds the Chevy Cruze sedan in nearby Lordstown, had recently announced that it was planning to build its 2017 hatchback model in Mexico. It was the kind of local knowledge that requires research and legwork, and could have helped Trump connect with his audience and others in the state.

For most presidential candidates, especially those new to it all, getting up to speed on the intricacies of domestic and foreign policy is a process that begins early. While Trump’s campaign did not respond Thursday to questions about the kind of briefings he receives, it’s clear he has done things differently.

Who does he consult on foreign policy?

“I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things,” Trump said on MSNBC this month. He’s also said he gets information about international affairs from “the shows” and newspapers.

He announced members of his foreign policy team only this month and met with them Thursday as part of a series of appointments in Washington.

Out on the trail, Trump largely skipped town hall events in the early-voting states that were the hallmarks of several rival campaigns. Chris Christie and John Kasich, for example, held dozens of the events, fielding hundreds of questions on every topic imaginable.

Trump might well note that most of his GOP rivals are gone, and he’s still the front-runner.

But what about his abortion comments?

“None of the other candidates would have made that mistake,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, which supports anti-abortion legislation and candidates.

Michael Steel, an adviser to former Trump rival Jeb Bush, said that candidates and presidents have to be able to respond to issues as they arise, which requires a “tremendous amount” of work behind the scenes. It’s one reason major candidates from both parties typically have government experience.

“I think we’ve seen in a variety of venues including the debates that he doesn’t seem to have the knowledge and background on important policy issues that you would expect from a presidential candidate,” Steel said.

Bush spent the months after he announced his candidacy last summer developing a comprehensive domestic and foreign policy platform. Campaign employees assisted by more than 100 outside advisers briefed him in frequent sessions, said Justin Muzinich, the campaign’s policy director.

“He took policy extraordinarily seriously,” Muzinich said.

Dannenfelser, the abortion opponent, said there is still time for Trump.

“The question is, will he be able to get to the point of confidently communicating his position to contrast with Hillary Clinton in a way that helps?” she said. “I think it’s possible.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

 

Martin Dyckman: Cruzing to a police state?

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith memorably said that politics “consists of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.”

But what if the only choice is between the disastrous and the disastrous?

That’s the predicament of establishment Republican politicians who think John Kasich, the only decent human being who remains in their presidential primaries, is either too liberal (i.e., he accepted the Medicaid money) or too unlikely to limp to the finish line at the Cleveland convention.

Chris Christie, ever the opportunist, forgot every truth he had told about Donald Trump’s spectacular lack of qualifications and endorsed him. You could say he sold his soul for a Cabinet post, but that would raise the question of whether he had one to sell.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, admitting out of one side of his face that Kasich would make the better president, out of the other endorsed Ted Cruz.

That is the same Lindsey Graham who, while supporting Jeb Bush, said that if “you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you.”

Mitt Romney came out for Cruz too. He all but begged Kasich to quit the race.

Then Bush himself, whose noblest characteristic was that he’s no bigot, endorsed Cruz, who’s just as dangerous a bigot as Trump. Bush called him “a consistent, principled conservative who has demonstrated the ability to appeal to voters and win primary contests.”

Only a few hours later, that “principled conservative” called for a Castro-style police presence in American Muslim neighborhoods.

Turkey has suffered more bombings recently than any other of our NATO allies. Just this month, at least 41 people died in blasts at Ankara and Istanbul. But Cruz said nothing about that outbreak of terror. Perhaps it was because most of the victims were Muslims.

Then came the terror in Brussels.

That’s when he called for American police to “patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized.”

What would be next? Gated ghettoes? Special ID cards? Yellow crescents to be sewn on their clothing?

President Barack Obama, referring to his just-completed visit to Cuba, had the perfect putdown for Cruz.

“I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance, which, by the way, the father of Senator Cruz escaped for America, the land of the free,” the President said.

Trump, meanwhile, used the Brussels tragedy as yet another opportunity to indulge his sick fascination with torture. His Sadean fixation with hurting people is becoming a subject more for psychiatry than political science.

Anyone who talks like either Cruz or Trump is unfit to be president. Any politician who endorses either of them is clueless as to what a “principled conservative” really is, and can hardly be considered one himself.

There’s one principle, though, that Bush and Cruz apparently share. It’s to cut taxes for the rich and raise them on the poor. Citizens for Tax Justice calculated that Cruz’s scheme, more extreme even than Bush’s, would cost $13.9 trillion over 10 years either as added debt or a demolished government. It also would give the top 1 per cent an average tax cut of $435,000 a year.

Interestingly, that doesn’t seem to be endearing Cruz to the billionaire Koch brothers and the other big-money Republican establishment campaign contributors.

Perhaps it’s because they don’t think even Cruz can stop Trump. And Trump is their worst nightmare — someone they doubt that they could control.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that the Koch network is considering investing most of its $900 million campaign budget on protecting what it can control — its Republican allies in the Congress.

“A key element of the strategy,” the newspaper said, “will be a springtime wave of television ads that slam Democratic contenders and tout Republican incumbents as attuned to hometown concerns. Strategists hope the efforts will help inoculate congressional candidates against association with Trump’s incendiary remarks.”

For example, the article said, one super-PAC in the Koch network is spending $1 million to prop up New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, while another is attacking Ohio’s former Democratic governor, Ted Strickland, who’s running against Republican Sen. Rob Portman.

It means they figure Trump for a general election loser who would cost them the Senate and many seats in the House.

It’s a cynical strategy that makes perfect sense. It should have made sense to Graham and Bush too.

In that scenario, continued Republican control of one or both houses would frustrate anything that either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would want to do — such as appointing any moderate to liberal Supreme Court justice.

Just as they have frustrated nearly everything Obama has wanted to do.

***

Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the St. Petersburg Times. He lives in suburban Asheville, North Carolina. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Steven Kurlander: Donald Trump will grow up to be a great president

I forced myself the other night to watch in totality Donald Trump speak at two rallies in Ohio before that state’s primary — and initially I had great reservations about voting for him.

At these rallies Trump rarely spoke more than five or six words in a sentence. When he was not repeating his canned slogans against Mexicans and the Chinese, he embraced an exaggerated confrontation with demonstrators, urging his security forces to “get ‘em outta here.”

You would expect more from a 69-year-old billionaire with his background and intelligence.

Up to now, Trump has been the “wise guy” candidate who spits out wisecracks and who masterfully plays on the frustrations of the average American. This “Trumpist” strategy has worked well so far. A political phenomenon, he has so far badly beaten a crowded GOP field of candidates.

Trump has separated himself as the “anti-politician” in the race through callous rhetoric and manipulating the media.

His arrogance was not countered effectively by the younger candidates such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, or Chris Christie. There was no older wise man or woman in the GOP contest. Instead, most showed a remarkable lack of maturity and depth.

All of Trump’s opponents, except maybe John Kasich, failed to understand what ails America.

Trump, on the other hand, continues to say what most Americans think, but don’t say because they fear it might be politically incorrect. It’s a brilliant gimmick that is working well.

Growing old makes most people a bit wiser. Reflection and learning are the key to gaining wisdom.

At the time the Constitution was written, our forefathers made sure to impose what was at the time a high age requirement on elected federal officials.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution provides:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

The average life expectancy during that time was close to the age required to be president, so obviously the framers wanted American presidents to be reflective, wise old men.

Indeed, many of our founding fathers were truly wise in their writings and their actions. In the 21st century, the presidency of the young and charismatic Barack Obama proved the opposite — he was a decade or more too early to be a great president.

I regret that Trump and his shallow, reality television approach toward politics (that I would define as “Trumpistic,”) so far is chiefly characterized by a lack of innate wisdom. It’s made me have grave reservations about his candidacy.

But there’s something inside me that says that Trump will prove himself — that he will be an evolutionary politician that will lead America into an era of prosperity and democratic leadership in the world.

Despite his rhetoric, Trump is a great man already. He has achieved remarkable accomplishments as a developer and entertainer. He has experienced great personal and business failure too, which in my book is more important. That’s because old men often learn from their mistakes.

So at the wise old age of 58, I can forgive Trump for all his nasty crap and vile gimmicks displayed in his campaign. It’s a shtick, that’s all.

Deep down, I think Trump is the anti-Obama who will prove once he steps into the Oval Office that he has the same attributes that the founding fathers had.

It’s that instinctual thought of mine, which is (secretly) shared by many angry Americans like myself, that will cause me and many others to vote for Trump.

We’re not interested in a worn-out Hillary Clinton, despite Trump’s nasty theatrics on the campaign trail.

***

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary (stevenkurlander.com) and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, New York.

Steven Kurlander: Trump will grow up to be a great president

I forced myself the other night to watch in totality Donald Trump speak at two rallies in Ohio before that state’s primary — and initially I had great reservations about voting for him.

At these rallies Trump rarely spoke more than five or six words in a sentence. When he was not repeating his canned slogans against Mexicans and the Chinese, he embraced an exaggerated confrontation with demonstrators, urging his security forces to “get ‘em outta here.”

You would expect more from a 69-year-old billionaire with his background and intelligence.

Up to now, Trump has been the “wise guy” candidate who spits out wisecracks and who masterfully plays on the frustrations of the average American. This “Trumpist” strategy has worked well so far. A political phenomenon, he has so far badly beaten a crowded GOP field of candidates.

Trump has separated himself as the “anti-politician” in the race through callous rhetoric and manipulating the media.

His arrogance was not countered effectively by the younger candidates such as Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, or Chris Christie. There was no older wise man or woman in the GOP contest. Instead, most showed a remarkable lack of maturity and depth.

All of Trump’s opponents, except maybe John Kasich, failed to understand what ails America.

Trump, on the other hand, continues to say what most Americans think, but don’t say because they fear it might be politically incorrect. It’s a brilliant gimmick that is working well.

Growing old makes most people a bit wiser. Reflection and learning are the key to gaining wisdom.

At the time the Constitution was written, our forefathers made sure to impose what was at the time a high age requirement on elected federal officials.

Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the U.S. Constitution provides:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

The average life expectancy during that time was close to the age required to be president http://www.legacy.com/life-and-death/the-liberty-era.html  so obviously the framers wanted American presidents to be reflective, wise old men.

Indeed, many of our founding fathers were truly wise in their writings and their actions.  In the 21st century, the presidency of the young and charismatic Barack Obama proved the opposite — he was a decade or more too early to be a great president.

I regret that Trump and his shallow, reality television approach toward politics (that I would define as “Trumpistic,”) so far is chiefly characterized by a lack of innate wisdom. It’s made me have grave reservations about his candidacy.

But there’s something inside me that says that Trump will prove himself — that he will be an evolutionary politician that will lead America into an era of prosperity and democratic leadership in the world.

Despite his rhetoric, Trump is a great man already.  He has achieved remarkable accomplishments as a developer and entertainer.  He has experienced great personal and business failure too, which in my book is more important. That’s because old men often learn from their mistakes.

So at the wise old age of 58, I can forgive Trump for all his nasty crap and vile gimmicks displayed in his campaign. It’s a shtick, that’s all.

Deep down, I think Trump is the anti-Obama who will prove once he steps into the Oval Office that he has the same attributes that the founding fathers had.

It’s that instinctual thought of mine, which is (secretly) shared by many angry Americans like myself, that will cause me and many others to vote for Trump.

We’re not interested in a worn-out Hillary Clinton, despite Trump’s nasty theatrics on the campaign trail.

***

Steven Kurlander blogs at Kurly’s Kommentary (stevenkurlander.com) and writes for Context Florida and The Huffington Post and can be found on Twitter @Kurlykomments. He lives in Monticello, New York. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

Darryl Paulson: The rise and fall of Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio has had a meteoric political career. From winning a seat on the West Miami City Council in the 1990s, to winning a special election by 64 votes to earn a seat in the Florida House, to his stunning victory over Republican Gov. Charlie Crist in the 2010 U.S. Senate race, Rubio’s political career has been impressive.

When Rubio challenged the popular Crist for the Republican nomination to the U.S. Senate, most pundits said he didn’t have a chance. Crist had the support of the Republican establishment in Florida and also the support of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. Rubio started the race trailing Crist by anywhere between 30 to 45 percent.

Rubio, playing the role of the biblical David to perfection, defeated the Goliath Crist. In what I consider the most astounding election in modern Florida history, Rubio chased Crist from the Republican Party and forced him to run as an independent candidate. On Election Day, Rubio won 49 percent of the vote to 30 percent for Crist and only 20 percent for Democrat Kendrick Meek. The giant had been slain, and Rubio would soon be branded by Time magazine as “the Republican savior.”

After losing the 2012 presidential election, the Republican Party created a “Growth and Opportunity Program” to analyze the results and develop a path forward. Essentially, the committee recommended that the party had to broaden its appeal to women and minorities, especially Hispanics, if they hoped to win the White House. They could no longer win with just white, male voters.

Many Republicans viewed Rubio as the future face of the party. Young, articulate, conservative and Hispanic, he was the ideal candidate.

In April 2015, Rubio announced his campaign for the presidency. He was one of 17 Republican candidates and was consider one of the front-runners.

Rubio turned out to be one of the great political underachievers in modern politics. He won only three of the 32 primaries and caucuses, winning Minnesota, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia. Tea Party voters who carried him into the U.S. Senate in 2010 deserted him in the presidential campaign.

“America is in the middle of a real political storm, a real tsunami, and we should have seen this coming,” Rubio said in his concession speech.

Donald Trump destroyed Rubio in his home state where Rubio had never lost an election.

Trump got 45.7 percent of the vote; Rubio got only 27 percent. Trump won 66 of Florida’s 67 counties. The only county Rubio won was his home county of Miami-Dade. All of Florida’s 99 delegates were awarded to Trump.

Not only did Rubio get trounced, but Trump also laid to rest the myth that he could not win in a closed primary state. It was the Republican voters of Florida who said yes to Trump and no to Rubio.

What went wrong for Rubio?

Among the many explanations is Rubio’s role as a member of “the gang of 8” who pushed for immigration reform and a pathway for citizenship for illegal aliens. There is some truth to this, but among Florida’s primary voters, only 12 percent mentioned immigration as a major factor in their vote.

Others cited Rubio’s devastating performance in the New Hampshire debate where Chris Christie accused Rubio of being a robotic, scripted candidate who merely repeated his 25-second talking points. Rubio repeated the same talking point three times during the debate. He finished in fifth place in New Hampshire.

Rubio’s campaign was widely criticized for its reliance on a media-focused approach. As his campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, told the New York Times: “More people in Iowa see Marco on ‘Fox and Friends’ than see Marco when he is in Iowa.” However, numerous studies demonstrate that a solid ground game can produce a voter boost of up to 10 percent on Election Day and a good telephone effort can add another 4 percent.

Finally, many believe Rubio delivered the wrong message at the wrong time. He alluded to this in his concession speech when he said, “this may not have been the year for a hopeful and optimistic message.” Republican voters wanted someone to channel their anger into reforming politics and solving problems.

March 15 was the Ides of March. To paraphrase Marc Antony, “I come to bury Marco, not to praise him.”

***

Darryl Paulson, Emeritus Professor of Government, USF St. Petersburg.

Bob Sparks: Groups believe Pam Bondi’s endorsement of Donald Trump is somehow corrupt

As Donald Trump marches closer to the Republican nomination for president, more prominent elected officials are endorsing him. Florida Gov. Rick Scott is the latest, giving his approval following Trump’s blowout victory in Florida on Tuesday.

The day before the primary, Attorney General Pam Bondi endorsed Trump, the part-time resident of Palm Beach County. The reaction by some Republicans to that endorsement is an example of how deep and wide the gulf within the party has become.

While Trump was my fourth choice among Tuesday’s four candidates, I want no part of the “Anybody But Trump” or the “Our Principles” crowd that is now popping up. These are examples of the establishment on steroids.

For her taking such a step, these saviors of the republic believe Bondi is wrongheaded at best and corrupt at worst. The attorney general’s decision to declare her allegiance to the New York billionaire is just that: her decision. Elected officials have free speech rights, too.

It seems Trump’s foundation contributed $25,000 to Bondi’s 2014 re-election campaign after a news story appeared indicating her office was “reviewing complaints” about Trump University. The online school was under severe fire in New York for alleged fraud.

No action was taken in Florida, which must mean Bondi, according to the anti-Trumpers, was bought off by the contribution. Katie Packer, a former Mitt Romney aide, runs Our Principles.

“It’s too bad people defrauded out of money by Trump University don’t have that kind of money to buy an advocate in the Florida Attorney General’s Office,” Packer was quoted as saying by Politico.

Packer’s hyper hyperbole does not withstand scrutiny. Politico’s Matt Dixon and Marc Caputo found the Attorney General’s Office was in possession of a grand total of one complaint on Trump University when the contribution was given.

Here’s how it works. The Office of the Attorney General receives thousands of complaints each year.

Some are multiple complaints about an individual or entity that lead to official investigations. Others involve one or two complaints, which normally do not trigger more than a preliminary examination.

When Bondi’s spokesman stated the preliminary examination “didn’t rise to her level,” this fits the normal pattern of the Chief Legal Officer’s complaint triage operation. In this case, Florida’s sole complaint would be addressed within the actions already being taken by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

The complainant was also advised to seek private counsel, mirroring advice routinely dispensed in similar circumstances. The attorney general is not permitted to represent an individual.

To be sure, something clearly was amiss within the hallowed cyber walls of Trump U., but the right entity was taking the lead. As one might expect, Trump referred to Schneiderman as “a political hack.”

“She should have to answer for this,” Packer told Politico. “(Trump) gave her money. There was a problem and she didn’t investigate.”

A one-word response is all that is needed. Nonsense.

Many can agree with Packer that our political system is ill. Unfortunately, she and her former boss are now part of the symptoms.

Count me among those who believe Mitt Romney would have been a good president. Many of us who voted for him remain convinced more people would be working and our nation would not be as polarized had the 2012 election gone his/our way. A majority of voters thought otherwise.

When Romney recently fired his full arsenal of rhetorical Tomahawk missiles at Trump, something happened many thought was not possible; the 2016 campaign sank even lower.

After the Romney speech, the confrontations at Trump rallies grew angrier and more intense. Make no mistake, Trump’s longshoreman-style rhetoric provides him with some culpability, but the outside agitators who instigate the violence have become more emboldened in recent days.

Some of the GOP’s conservative base is buying into Anybody But Trump. The dreaded “third party” talk, with Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse among the loudest voices, is increasing.

Sasse, according to Fox News personality Sean Hannity, got into Hannity’s face at CPAC earlier this month for the commentator’s light treatment of Trump, calling it “b******t.” Though we prefer more civility, many conservatives agree that Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have not held Trump to the same conservative litmus test as those administered to Jeb Bush, John Kasich or Chris Christie.

Now we have one of Romney’s former assistants trying to peddle the story that Pam Bondi is possibly corrupt after committing the sin of endorsing Trump. Want to see what quid pro quo really look like, Katie? Read Peter Schweizer’s book Clinton Cash.

Then you can go back to preserving our principles for us. The rest of us will let the voters decide.

***

Bob Sparks is a business and political consultant based in Tallahassee. He is also the former chief spokesperson for Attorney General Charlie Crist. Column courtesy of ContextFlorida.

Donald Trump celebrates victories in Florida, Illinois and North Carolina

Donald Trump promised to continue to “win, win, win” after victories in at least three of the five states holding Republican primaries Tuesday.

Trump won primaries in Illinois, North Carolina and Florida. He came in second in Ohio, trailing John Kasich. The Missouri Republican primary was too close to call late Tuesday night.

The New York businessman clobbered Marco Rubio in Florida. He received 46 percent of the vote, while Rubio received 27 percent in the Sunshine State. Trump won almost every county in Florida, save for Miami-Dade County. Rubio announced Tuesday he was suspending his campaign.

“I would like to congratulate Donald Trump on winning Florida’s winner-take-all presidential primary,” said Blaise Ingoglia, chairman of the Florida GOP in a prepared statement. “While the Florida GOP will remain neutral in the Republican nominating process, we will continue our grassroots efforts to defeat Hillary Clinton and put a Republican in the White House come November.”

Trump has won 18 Republican primaries and leads in the delegate count. The winner-take-all nature of Florida’s election may help Trump secure the Republican nomination.

“I think we’re going to have a great victory,” Trump said during a celebratory speech on Tuesday. “We’re going to win, win, win, and we’re not stopping.”

Trump said his campaign has “had such incredible support,” pointing toward endorsements from Chris Christie, Ben Carson, Sarah Palin and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi as an example of that support.

“We have to bring our party together. We have something happening that actually makes the Republican party the biggest political story in the world,” he said. “Millions of people are coming in to vote. We have a great opportunity. Democrats are coming in, independents are coming in and, very importantly, people are coming in who never voted before.”

“I’m very proud to be a part of this,” he said.

Joe Gruters confident GOP will come together to back Donald Trump

Joe Gruters‘ association with the Donald Trump campaign is controversial, because, well, Donald Trump is controversial.

Gruters became campaign chairman for Trump in Florida last fall. His other public duties include being vice chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, chairman of the Sarasota County Republican Executive Committee, and a member of Florida State University’s board of trustees.

Those conflicting roles have led critics to say that he should step down from one of those positions. Gruters has rebuffed them, now feeling more confident than ever that his candidate will be the GOP nominee this fall. And he has no doubt the party will come together for November.

“Listen, primaries are tough,” he said, standing outside a room used by Trump at the Tampa Convention Center on Monday. “A lot of things get said in primaries. People are unhappy. Their candidate loses, and just like me, there’ve been times before where I didn’t like who are nominee was going to be. But by the end of the day, I was 100 percent doing everything I could for the person, and I think the same will happen here.”

Members of the GOP establishment continue to contend most Republicans don’t support Trump, pointing to his primary victories that rarely exceeded 40 percent of total votes.

A larger field diluted the vote, and Gruters contends Trump’s numbers have grown since other candidates have dropped out.

“Eventually, all will be forgiven, and the Republican Party will come together, stronger and united and bigger and better than before, and I think we’re going to win,” he said.

Perhaps.

On Tuesday, former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford said Trump falls short of his expectations of what the GOP’s standard bearer should be. A former surrogate for Jeb Bush and now a  Marco Rubio supporter, Weatherford said Trump lacks those qualities at the moment.

“I expect the nominee of the Republican Party to be presidential,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I expect them to care about the poor. I expect them to care about free markets and free enterprise. I expect them to care about life. This is not a person who has not embodied what I look for in a candidate for the Republican nomination, and somebody I can support in November.”

Gruters said Trump has ignited a movement resulting in a dramatic increase in Republicans voting in some of the first primaries and caucuses. Democratic strategist Steve Schale told The Wall Street Journal that more than half the early voters in 14 counties across Florida didn’t cast ballots in the 2012 GOP presidential primary.

“I think at the end of the day we have to win the general election, and I think that Donald Trump has the ability to expand our base, to increase the size of our tent,” Gruters said.

“You’ve seen it in the primaries; I think that the energy and enthusiasm that’s been created will be transferred over to the general election, and I think it’s going to be a historic election with DT carrying states that we were never even considered to have a chance of winning before.”

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons