Debbie Wasserman Schultz Archives - Florida Politics

Giffords group endorses Stephanie Murphy, Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Giffords, the national gun safety organization co-founded by former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, announced its endorsement Thursday of the re-election bids of Democratic U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, Stephanie Murphy, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The group also endorsed Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings, though Demings was re-elected in 2018, defeating her only opponent in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary.

The organization, founded by the former Arizona congresswoman shot in 2011 during an assassination-turned-mass-shooting, and her husband, retired NASA astronaut and retired Navy Captain Mark Kelly, was created to support candidates who support gun law reforms.

“America experienced three of the deadliest mass shootings in modern history in just the past year. Over 38,000 people in our country were killed by a gun. Florida has not been immune to this deadly crisis: somebody is killed by a gun in Florida every three hours,” Giffords stated in a news release issued by her organization. “Despite this devastating reality, the gun lobby has used its cash and influence to stifle any attempts to pass laws on Capitol Hill to make our schools, streets, and communities safer.

“The members of Congress we are endorsing today acknowledge the devastating toll of our nation’s gun violence crisis, and they are working to combat it. Their leadership will be critical for our next victories in Congress to save lives and prevent future tragedies,” she added.

The endorsement announcement noted that Demings and Murphy both have strong ties to the Orange County community response to the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando; and Deutch and Wasserman Schultz with the Broward County community response to the February massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

In the Nov. 6 election, Murphy faces Republican state Rep. Mike Miller in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, representing much of central Orange County and all of Seminole County

Deutch faces Republican Nicolas Kimaz in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District in northern Broward County.

Wasserman Schultz faces Republican Joe Kaufman and a couple of independent candidates, including Tim Canova, her Democratic primary nemesis in 2016, in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District in central Broward County.

DNC, TV networks discuss presidential debates

The Democratic Party has begun conversations with television networks about a series of presidential primary debates in 2019, a top party official has told The Associated Press.

The talks are “in the very early stages,” according to the official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity. The early start, well before the 2020 field is known, signals the importance that the Democratic National Committee chairman, Tom Perez, is placing on decisions that will be scrutinized for any signs of favoritism among potentially two dozen or more candidates.

“The DNC’s goal is to have a debate process that is transparent, fair, impartial and inclusive,” senior party adviser Mary Beth Cahill said in a statement to the AP that didn’t get into the details of the discussions with networks. Perez has tapped Cahill, who ran the 2004 campaign of Democratic nominee John Kerry, to lead debate discussions.

The party and the networks together will decide the debate schedule, locations and formats. A crucial issue is how many people will be allowed on debate stages and who will be chosen.

Party officials say they’re acutely aware that the answers could amount to the first winnowing of a large field months before the early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada lead off the nominating calendar in 2020.

The Democratic official who confirmed the early network discussions said the party is not yet talking to any potential candidates, taking pains not to be seen as manipulating the process. During the 2016 contest, supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders accused the then-DNC leader, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of conspiring with eventual nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign to limit debates and schedule them for unfavorable time slots.

Conversely, the GOP chairman at that time, Reince Priebus, was blasted within his party for allowing a dozen debates for a field that began with 17 major candidates. Priebus’ critics said the debates were damaging spectacles, though ratings suggested they ultimately helped Donald Trump solidify his bond with core Republican voters.

The DNC’s vice chairman, Michael Blake, said those dynamics are not forgotten.

“It’s hard with that many,” Blake said. “Are we starting to talk about it and think about it? Yes. Are we anywhere close to resolved? No.”

Blake said “you almost have to establish a polling threshold.” But he said the party wants to avoid publicly labeling “lesser candidates” before votes are cast.

Among the potential Democratic candidates, some already have a national profile and almost certainly would qualify for early debate stages regardless of rules. Those include Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Sens. Kamala Harris of California, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have been networking around the country and are also widely considered top-tier candidates.

Other possible candidates would come to the race with lower national profiles — governors and former governors such as Jay Inslee of Washington, Steve Bullock of Montana and Deval Patrick of Massachusetts; mayors and former mayors such as Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles and Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans; and even former Attorney General Eric Holder. For those politicians, the debate stage could become an important opportunity to break out.

The first to announce for the 2020 nomination is John Delaney, a three-term House member from Maryland who is one of the wealthiest members of Congress.

Several state party leaders who attended the national party’s summer meeting in Chicago this past week said Perez has committed to involve them, particularly those in the early voting states, and DNC members in the discussion.

Perez pledged previously that he would have the debate process in place before all the candidates entered the race. Cahill said the DNC intends “to keep that promise” and that the party “will ramp up these efforts after the midterm elections” this November.

Candidates themselves could thwart Perez’s preferred timeline if, as is expected, some begin launching their campaigns soon after that election.

In the last election cycle, Wasserman Schultz did not commit to the initial six debates until May 2015; the first debate wasn’t held until that October.

Material republished from The Associated Press, with permission.

Direct mail roundup: ‘Blue wave’ Belinda Keiser donated to Debbie Wasserman Schultz

A new mailer is heading out to Senate District 25 voters blasting Republican candidate Belinda Keiser for her past campaign contributions to Democratic politicians.

“’Blue wave’ Belinda Keiser gave money to Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the loud-mouthed, ultra-liberal party-boss that ran the DNC under Barack Hussein Obama,” the mailer reads. “Debbie Wasserman Schultz ran her party so shady that she had to resign after the famous email leak because she knew her behavior was immoral and shameful.”

Further down on the full-page mailer, paid for by the Venice-based political committee Make American Great Again, is a clipping from a 2016 New York Times article from when the Democratic congresswoman stepped down as DNC chair, saying it came about “after a trove of leaked emails showed party officials conspiring to sabotage the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.”

Also included are pictures of spreadsheets highlighting the contributions Keiser made to Schultz, dating as far back as 1996 to as recently as 2014.

“’Blue wave’ Belinda Keiser wants us to believe she’s a conservative,” the reverse side of the mailer reads. “What kind of conservative gives money to Obama-era Democrat party boss Debbie Wasserman Shultz???”

The attacks on Keiser’s past contributions are nothing new.

Last month, a political committee tied to the Florida Medical Association released a “Brady Bunch” inspired ad hammering her for donations to Wasserman Schultz as well as Hillary ClintonCharlie Crist, Bob Graham, Al Gore, Alcee HastingsBuddy MacKay and Bill Nelson.

All told, Keiser has given nearly $200,000 to Democratic candidates running at the state and federal level over the years, and many were made well after the former Democrat claimed to have joined the Republican party in 2007. She now claims to have switched her party affiliation in 2001.

This election cycle alone, she’s sent checks to Plantation state Sen. Lauren Book and Crist’s re-election campaign in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

Keiser, who lives 80 miles south of SD 25, entered the race shortly after Senate President Joe Negron announced he would leave his seat early. The special primary and general elections to replace Negron will be held concurrently with the regularly scheduled midterm elections.

Keiser faces Stuart state Rep. Gayle Harrell in the Aug. 28 Republican primary. The winner of that contest will face Democratic nominee Robert Levy in the Nov. 6 general election.

As of July 6, Keiser led the money race with $87,000 raised and $700,000 in candidate loans. She has $187,000 in the bank. Harrell has raised $74,000 and kicked in $100,000 in loans and has $159,000 on hand. Levy has brought in $16,000 and anteed up $150,000 in loans and has an on-hand total of $82,000.

SD 25 covers all of St. Lucie and Martin counties, along with a small portion of Palm Beach County. The safe Republican seat voted plus-12 for Donald Trump two years ago.

The mailer is below.

Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen call for consequences in Nicaragua

U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen say Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega must face consequences after protests of his regime turned deadly this weekend.

A new wave of violence broke out late last week as anti-Ortega protesters clashed with the government. The Nicaraguan Bishop’s Conference tells the BBC that one man died when police and paramilitary forces on Friday evening assaulted a Managua church where 150 students had converged.

Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican, on Friday called Ortega a coward in a Spanish-language tweet. She condemned the regime and called for the international community to take action in response to the violence.

Rubio said Ortega should consider himself on notice. “If his violence leads to a bloodbath he will face consequences,” he tweeted Friday.

Rubio also said that he had spoken with Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada Colindres weeks ago, personally telling him an “opportunity still existed to avoid cycle of conflict with U.S. if they held early & fair elections. But Ortega/Murillo regime responded with more violence making very clear the path they have chosen.”

The tweet referenced Rasio Murillo, Ortega’s wife and vice president.

Rubio said he was closely monitoring the situation and awaited news of a promised release of students, journalists and clergy still trapped inside the church.

Nelson also tweeted in Spanish on Friday that the Nicaraguan people face repression from the Ortega regime. He expressed fear the country could follow the same path as Venezuela under President Nicolas Maduro.

And Florida Gov. Rick Scott chimed in as well, echoing concern that Nicaragua and Venezuela were on the same path to totalitarianism, while also expressing his belief that Cuba’s fate could be tied to that of those nations.

“What we are seeing in Nicaragua this weekend is scary,” he added. “We have to stand with the people of Nicaragua who desperately want freedom and safety.”

Violent protests in Nicaragua in April resulted in nearly 30 deaths, the deadliest political conflict in the nation since the close of the Nicaraguan Revolution, according to The New York Times.

Ros-Lehtinen in June led a Congressional effort urging President Donald Trump’s administration to strongly support the Nicaraguan people resisting totalitarianism. She and U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, a New Jersey Democrat, penned a bipartisan, bicameral letter calling for action.

“We are calling on the Administration to target additional regime officials for designation under the law, so that Ortega and his cronies feel the real impact of their brutal policies,” the letter reads.

Eight other federal lawmakers signed onto the letter, including fellow Floridians Rubio, Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The State Department announced new sanctions on Nicaragua on July 5.

Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz call on Donald Trump to cancel Vladimir Putin meetup

Florida congressmen Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Debbie Wasserman Schultz joined national Democrats calling for President Donald Trump to cancel an upcoming meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Deutch and Frankel signed onto a stern letter from Democrats on the House Foreign Relations Committee sharply criticizing Trump’s meeting with Putin.

“Unfortunately, due to your constant expressions of sympathy for Vladimir Putin, your conflicts of interest, and your attacks on our closest allies, we do not have faith that you can faithfully negotiate with the Russian leader, and we urge you to cancel the meeting,” the letter closes.

Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat, furthered criticism of Trump in his own message on Twitter, where he asserted the president believes Putin over U.S. intelligence when it comes to election interference.

House Democrats issued the letter the same day a fresh round of indictments came out of FBI special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election meddling. The Tampa Bay Times notes those indictments show efforts specifically involving Florida election efforts.

Weston Democrat Wasserman Schultz suggested on Twitter that Trump cancel the meeting and “use the opportunity to publicly call on Russia to extradite the 12 Russian intelligence officials who were just indicted for interfering in the 2016 election.”

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, also made note Florida elections offices had been targeted by Russian meddling, and said Trump should demand criminals be turned over and “quit denying that criminal conspiracy took place.”

On that part, Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio also strongly said Putin’s meddling was clear. “I don’t ‘believe’ Putin interfered in our elections,” Rubio tweeted. “I know for a fact he did.” He went on to criticize the partisan nature of media reaction to the Muller indictments.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, while less sharp in his critique than Democratic colleagues in the House, also said the indictments should be a “wake-up call for all Americans.” The Democrat did not go so far as to call for Trump to cancel his meeting.

Carlos Curbelo: Migrant children housed in Cutler Bay are ‘happy’

A trio of Florida congressmen toured a migrant housing facility in Cutler Bay Monday, with Rep. Carlos Curbelo noting the children appeared to be treated “exceptionally well” and “were smiling, they were happy.” That’s according to a report from The Associated Press.

Curbelo was joined by fellow Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. The visit to Catholic Charities Boystown was bipartisan, however, as Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz also attended.

About 70 children are being housed at the facility. Curbelo says 22 of those children have been separated from their parents.

According to the AP, Curbelo said the center is “doing a good job” of caring for those separated children.

But he also made clear in comments to CBSMiami that he opposes the overall practice, and is looking for a legislative fix to stop it in the future.

“We want to end this policy permanently,” said Curbelo. “For that, we need legislative action. We need changes in the law so that this situation never happens again in our country.”

President Donald Trump‘s administration instituted the policy but was forced to change course via an Executive Order last week after members of both parties harshly condemned the separation of children from their parents. Polls showed a majority of voters were also against the practice.

Trump administration officials were contradictory over the aim of the practice. Multiple officials said they hoped the separation of children would deter parents from trying to enter the country illegally. Others denied the policy even existed.

Though Trump’s new EO ostensibly stopped the separations in the future, his administration has received criticism over exactly how children already separated would be reunited with their families.

Speaking on the children housed in Cutler Bay, Curbelo said, “We received confirmation from the administrators here at this facility that already, some of the children that were housed here are on their way to being reunited with their parents, and that is good news.”

Ros-Lehtinen joined Curbelo’s assessment in calling the facility “well run.” She also added, “Congress must act swiftly to correct this wrong so that these innocent kids can be reunited with their families.”

Legislation could permanently solve the issue by mandating families be kept together and allocating resources to house them.

A law would help take the issue out of the president’s hands, which would be a welcome answer for Ros-Lehtinen. She had strong words for Trump in comments made last week on Twitter, saying he “has heard wailing of children in its centers and president is set to take action weeks after controversy erupts. We must govern with brains and heart. Families must never be separated at the border. @potus broke it + he owns this mess. Don’t pass the buck.”

Philip Levine

Philip Levine making three Broward campaign stops Sunday

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine will be out and about in Broward County this afternoon.

The former Miami Beach mayor will show up at the Rally to Oppose Trump’s Family Separation Policy in Fort Lauderdale, an event co-organized by the Florida chapter of the Women’s March. The campaign said that at 3:15 p.m., Levine will “speak in solidarity with the majority of Americans who stand in opposition to President Trump’s barbaric policy of separating immigrant families.”

Other politicians listed as attending the event, held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in front of the U.S. Courthouse on Broward Boulevard, are Democratic U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Frederica Wilson and state Sen. Gary Farmer.

After he speaks to the crowd at the rally, Levine will head to 1033 NW 6th Street, where his campaign is opening a regional office — their second in Broward County.

Supporters, volunteers and residents who show up to the 4 p.m. opening will hear Levine “share his bold, progressive vision to move the state forward” and “discuss the importance of Broward County in winning this election in August and November.”

At 5:30 p.m., Levine will head to the Chardees Lounge in Wilton Manors to speak at a meet-and-greet hosted by the Dolphin Democratic Club and Women’s March–Broward Chapter. The discussion will focus on “his plans to pass common-sense gun laws and enact strong anti-discrimination policies to make Florida one of the safest and most tolerant states in the nation.”

Levine, the former mayor of Miami Beach, is one of five major Democrats running for Governor in 2018. He faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene and  Orlando-area businessman Chris King in the Aug. 28 primary.

Bill Nelson, others to tour Homestead migrant facility Saturday

After being denied access Tuesday to a Homestead facility housing migrant children, Sen. Bill Nelson says he is being granted a tour of the facility by Health and Human Services (HHS) officials. That tour will take place Saturday.

Nelson arrived at the center earlier in the week with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and incoming Florida House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee.

The group had planned to speak with migrant children being held there. Around 1,000 children in total are housed at that facility, 94 of which were separated from their families under a recently-amended policy by President Donald Trump.

Nelson and Wasserman Schultz say they were told they would be able to tour the facility before arriving, but were barred by HHS officials on the scene. HHS requires a two-week notice before opening the facilities for visitation.

According to an email highlighted by the Tampa Bay Times’ Alex Leary, HHS has decided to temporarily waive that two-week requirement to allow some members of Congress to view the migrant centers and speak to children located there.

Nelson announced on Twitter he would return to the Homestead facility Saturday.

Leary also reports Nelson will be joined by U.S. Reps. Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson.

In his announcement, Nelson noted Trump’s decision to rescind his administration’s child separation policy does not explicitly ensure that children already separated from parents would be returned.

However, in a cabinet meeting earlier today, the president said he would move to bring those families back together.

“I’m directing HHS, DHS, and DOJ to work together to keep illegal immigrant families together during the immigration process and to reunite these previously separated groups,” he said.

In addition to the visit by Florida lawmakers, Democratic candidates for governor also have a march planned for Saturday at the same facility.

Nelson plans to arrive at the Homestead migrant center at 1 p.m.

Donald Trump: New executive order will end child separation policy

President Donald Trump appears to give in to widespread criticism over his administration’s policy of separating thousands of migrant children from their families.

Trump said Wednesday he will sign an executive order ending the controversial policy. “We are going to sign an executive order in a little while to keep families together, but we have to maintain toughness,” he said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“These images affect everybody.”

An order was drafted earlier in the day by Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that would keep families together when detained at the border for entering the country illegally. That’s despite Nielsen previously saying there was no “policy of separating families at the border.”

In fact, members of the Trump administration have repeatedly denied instituting the new policy. That’s in contrast to other administration officials who have admitted creating the policy and argued it would help deter future illegal immigration.

The practice has earned scathing rebukes from members of both parties.

That tension was highlighted during a visit by Sen. Bill Nelson and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to a Homestead facility housing migrant children. Nelson said at least 94 children at that facility had been separated from their parents. He added today that 174 children in total are being housed in Florida facilities after being split from their parents.

Yesterday’s visit by Nelson and Wasserman Schultz prompted Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates to plan a joint march in Homestead to protest the practice.

President Trump also repeatedly refused responsibility for the policy, instead choosing to blame Democrats. Now, it appears Trump is ready to do what many argued he could do all along: end the policy unilaterally.

South Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen recognized this in a scathing statement following Trump’s announcement of the new EO. According to Scott Wong, a writer at the Hill, Ros-Lehtinen called Trump an “arsonist” who is now playing “fireman” by approving this new change.

“Anything to boost his fragile ego,” she added.

Donald Trump immigration furor underscored in Florida

Amid escalating bipartisan demands for President Donald Trump to stop separating undocumented immigrant children from their families at the southern U.S. border, two high-ranking Florida Democrats were denied access Tuesday to a federal detention facility in Homestead housing an estimated 1,000 minors.

The Trump administration family-separation policy — which has resulted in more than 2,000 children being warehoused throughout the country during a six-week period — has drawn harsh rebukes from Democrats, immigration advocates and a growing chorus of Republicans, including the two men vying to replace Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis have spent months hitching themselves to Trump’s coattails.

But, as Scott did this week, the gubernatorial hopefuls adopted softer stances to the hard line immigration policy, which spawned photos of tearful toddlers and audio recordings of children screaming for their mamas and papis.

“It’s important that we enforce our laws in a humane way and families should be kept together. With secure borders, you would have less of this issue. Washington needs to work with President Trump to find a solution,” Putnam said in a statement issued by his campaign Tuesday.

When asked about the issue Monday during a campaign appearance in Bradenton, DeSantis, who’s carved out a reputation as an immigration hawk and claims to have Trump’s endorsement, said he would “keep the family together and repatriate them back as a family unit.”

Scott, who is trying to oust veteran U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and who is an ally of Trump, also distanced himself from the policy — saying he does “not favor separating families” — while at the same time mirroring the president’s finger-pointing at Congress for the situation.

“What the country is witnessing right now is the byproduct of the many years of bipartisan inaction and failure from our federal government,’’ Scott said in a statement distributed by his Senate campaign. “They have failed to secure our borders, which has resulted in this chaos. Let me be clear — I do not favor separating families. Washington is to blame for this by being all talk and no action, and the solution is to secure the border.”

But while four other governors — including Republicans from Maryland and Massachusetts — are refusing to lend aid to the federal border defense, Scott does not plan to recall three Florida National Guard troops dispatched to support the effort.

Tuesday evening, Scott sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, seeking information about the children reportedly housed at the Homestead facility.

Scott asked Azar to notify federal, state and local authorities immediately about any current or future unaccompanied minors, “or children who were separated from their families under President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy toward illegal entry into the United States” coming to or already in Florida. The governor also sought details about health screenings, education and social services provided to the children.

The opposition from Scott, Putnam and DeSantis to the policy — which Trump administration officials claim is not a policy — comes amid competitive campaigns in a state with a fast-growing number of Hispanics, a voting bloc both Republicans and Democrats consider critical to November victories.

Nelson on Tuesday captured national attention after he and Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz were barred from entering a privately run federal detention facility in Homestead. Nelson said that, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 94 of the approximately 1,000 children housed in the facility were taken from their families at the border.

Nelson and Wasserman Schultz, accompanied by incoming state House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee of Miami, told reporters that the contractor running the facility approved their visit.

But Nelson said that, while en route to the detention center Tuesday morning, he was contacted by Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, who told him the facility was off-limits.

“This is not a good day for our country, where a U.S. senator and a U.S. congresswoman have been turned away from a federal facility because the Trump administration does not want us to check on the welfare and the care of the children inside, children who have been taken from their moms and dads,” an irate Nelson told reporters outside the center.

The three Democrats accused Trump and his administration of a cover-up.

“They are obviously hiding something,” Nelson said. “This is absolutely ridiculous. I am ashamed of this administration, that they are doing this.”

The tension outside the Homestead facility, surrounded by a chain-link fence, reflected the increasingly heated rhetoric in Florida and throughout the nation as Trump and his supporters dig in on the issue while more and more Republicans — especially those who are Hispanic or running in swing districts — criticize the family separation process.

“It depends on how it plays out, but it’s certainly not a great general-election issue, for sure,” Brian Ballard, a Republican lobbyist and fundraiser who has close ties to Trump and Scott, told The News Service of Florida in a telephone interview Tuesday.

The situation could provide an opportunity for Republican candidates to define themselves, Ballard said.

“I think it allows folks like Gov. Scott and the gubernatorial candidates to show where they can differ but still be strong Trump supporters. I don’t think people transfer 100 percent of one person to another. Donald Trump’s his own man. There are very few people who agree with Donald Trump on every issue. I think you have to pick your shots,” Ballard said.

But the anger outside the Miami-Dade County facility portrayed a more visceral reaction to the policy state Sen. Rene Garcia, a Hialeah Republican, called “unethical and shameful, to say the least.”

Wasserman Schultz, a former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee who has called on U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to resign, said the Democratic lawmakers wanted to ensure that the children were being cared for.

“Are they abusing these kids? Are they sleeping on the floor? Are they in cages? This is an absolute outrage,” she said.

But, as dramatic as the images of sobbing children pleading to be reunited with their parents may be, Ballard believes the Trump administration’s handling of the policy won’t harm the GOP in the fall.

“I don’t think it’s as problematic for Republicans, who can handle issue by issue. You agree with the president on some things, you disagree with him. You don’t have to go over the top. You don’t have to be crazy in how you criticize him. You do it in a respectful way,” he said, adding that Trump is “making a compelling case” for the need to separate undocumented children from the undocumented immigrant adults who are accompanying them at the border.

“I think it will work out. I don’t think it’s a defining issue in the general election,” Ballard said.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

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