Donald Trump Archives - Page 2 of 284 - Florida Politics

Donald Trump drawing criticism for not explicitly rebuking white supremacists

President Donald Trump is drawing criticism from Republicans and Democrats for not explicitly denouncing white supremacists in the aftermath of violent clashes in Virginia, with lawmakers saying he needs to take a public stand against groups that espouse racism and hate.

Trump, while on a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club, addressed the nation Saturday soon after a car plowed into a group of anti-racist counter-protesters in Charlottesville, a college town where neo-Nazis and white nationalists had assembled for march. The president did not single out any group, instead blaming “many sides” for the violence.

“Hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now,” he said. “We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and … true affection for each other.”

Trump condemned “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” He added: “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”

He did not answer questions from reporters about whether he rejected the support of white nationalists or whether he believed the car crash was an example of domestic terrorism. Aides who appeared on the Sunday news shows said the White House did believe those things, but many fellow Republicans demanded that Trump personally denounce the white supremacists.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., tweeted: “Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”

Added Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.: “Nothing patriotic about #Nazis,the #KKK or #WhiteSupremacists It’s the direct opposite of what #America seeks to be.”

GOP Chris Christie of New Jersey, a staunch Trump supporter, wrote: “We reject the racism and violence of white nationalists like the ones acting out in Charlottesville. Everyone in leadership must speak out.”

On the Democrat side, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York said “of course we condemn ALL that hate stands for. Until @POTUS specifically condemns alt-right action in Charlottesville, he hasn’t done his job.”

The president’s only public statement early Sunday was a retweet saluting two Virginia state police officers killed in helicopter crash after being dispatched to monitor the Charlottesville clashes.

The previous day, Trump tweeted condolences to those officers soon after the helicopter crashed. His tweet sending condolences to the woman killed in the protests came more than five hours after the incident.

Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Sunday that he considered the attack in Charlottesville to be terrorism:

“I certainly think anytime that you commit an attack against people to incite fear, it is terrorism,” McMaster told ABC’s “This Week.”

“It meets the definition of terrorism. But what this is, what you see here, is you see someone who is a criminal, who is committing a criminal act against fellow Americans.”

The president’s homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, defended the president’s statement by suggesting that some of the counter-protesters were violent too.

When pressed, he specifically condemned the racist groups. The president’s daughter and White House aide, Ivanka Trump, tweeted Sunday morning: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”

White nationalists had assembled in Charlottesville to vent their frustration against the city’s plans to take down a statue of Confederal Gen. Robert E. Lee. Counter-protesters massed in opposition. A few hours after violent encounters between the two groups, a car drove into a crowd of people peacefully protesting the rally. The driver was later taken into custody.

Alt-right leader Richard Spencer and former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke attended the demonstrations. Duke told reporters that the white nationalists were working to “fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”

Trump’s speech also drew praise from the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, which wrote: “Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. … No condemnation at all.”

The website had been promoting the Charlottesville demonstration as part of its “Summer of Hate” edition.

Mayor Michael Signer, a Democrat, said he was disgusted that the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed Trump for inflaming racial prejudices with his campaign last year.

“I’m not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you’re seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president,” he said.

Trump, as a candidate, frequently came under scrutiny for being slow to offer his condemnation of white supremacists. His strongest denunciation of the movement has not come voluntarily, only when asked, and he occasionally trafficked in retweets of racist social media posts during his campaign. His chief strategist, Steve Bannon, once declared that his former news site, Breitbart, was “the platform for the alt-right.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Donald Trump answers call of crisis with familiar bluster, spontaneity and norm-breaking risk that defined his political rise

A nuclear showdown. The world’s most unpredictable foe. A world on edge. What will the new president do?

Be Trump.

Faced with perhaps his gravest international crisis yet, President Donald Trump this week responded precisely as his some of supporters hoped and his critics long feared. The mix of plain-spoken bluster, spontaneity and norm-breaking risk that defined his political rise defined his approach to a round of fresh threats from nuclear North Korea. When Pyongyang punched, Trump counterpunched harder — much as he did on a debate stage flanked by political opponents.

But this was not a Florida debate stage or a low-stakes celebrity Twitter war of the sort Trump perfected before entering politics. It was a standoff over North Korea’s rapidly developing nuclear program, complete with trading threats of war and the safety of millions in the balance. Over the course of the week, Trump unleashed provocative rhetoric and dismissed the careful or precise diplomatic language favored by his predecessors.

“They should be very nervous,” Trump said of North Korea. “Because things will happen to them like they never thought possible, OK?

Still, Trump’s strategy was familiar. He tweeted regularly. He took it personally. He spoke off the cuff. He talked — a lot — holding a two-day blitz of press conferences, each yielding moments that immediately sparked chatter, confusion, criticism and attention.

On Friday, after striking a slightly toned-down message to North Korea, Trump offered that he would consider military action in Venezuela, where the president has consolidated power and sparked widespread international condemnation. In the course of a 12-minute exchange with journalists, the remark raised the prospect of the use of military force against two countries in two different hemispheres.

Trump’s pugnacious public talk is matched by his private conversations with aides and allies. Trump has told associates that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has disrespected him and the United States and that he believes the rogue nation will only respond to toughness and the threat of force, according to two people who, like others interviewed, requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private conversations.

Some aides were surprised when Trump declared Tuesday, soon after word spread that North Korea had made a nuclear breakthrough, that the isolated nation would face “fire and fury” if the threat continued. The president had not used those words in a conference call with advisers beforehand when discussing the matter.

He also told aides, including new chief of staff John Kelly, that he had no intention of softening his tone, according to two White House officials, who also demanded anonymity to discuss the conversations.

The president has gone out of his way to discuss the threat posed by North Korea, tweeting frequently and engaging reporters at length four times over two days in his golf club.

On Thursday, as he fielded questions from a small group of reporters, he ignored press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who repeatedly held up a hand-written sign that urged him to take just one final question. Instead, he frequently made eye contact with individual reporters to seek out their inquiries. He ended up talking for 30 minutes, much of it in ominous language about North Korea.

His plain-spoken tough talk, which is easily distilled into tweets and the ticker headlines that crawl across cable television, has frequently thrilled supporters.

“Trump is simply trying to communicate in vivid, clear language to a dictator not used to listening to anybody that they are facing the potential end of their regime,” said frequent Trump adviser Newt Gingrich. “I think that what he’s trying to do in the short run is to communicate with great intensity that we are serious.”

For others, Trump’s rhetoric only appeared to be escalating the crisis.

“Presidents have used tough language about adversaries,” said Julian Zelizer, history professor at Princeton University. “The difference is how unscripted this is … this is ad hoc and improvised, which most presidents have understood to be dangerous when nuclear weapons are involved.”

Trump dismissed such criticism on Friday evening, as he answered more questions from reporters, and issued more threats.

“My critics are only saying that because it’s me,” Trump said. “We have tens of millions of people in this country that are so happy with what I’m saying because they’re saying finally we have a president that’s sticking up for our nation and frankly sticking up for our friends and our allies.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Darryl Paulson: National Public Radio urges revolution

The 2016 presidential election divided America more than ever. Not only was the election relatively close in terms of the popular vote, but the popular vote winner actually ended up losing the electoral college vote and the presidency.

Instead of attempting to unite a badly divided America, as most presidents have attempted to do upon assuming office, Donald Trump continued to denigrate “crooked Hillary” and chastise Democrats for being sore losers. Many Trump critics immediately called for his impeachment on the grounds of Russian interference in the election and their belief that Trump was emotionally and mentally incompetent to be president.

Elections often unsettled the American public, but few have done so like the 2016 election. There was growing concern that the fabric of America was being destroyed and America was literally being pulled apart.

As we approached the 4th of July this year, when we celebrate America’s independence from Great Britain with the approval of the Declaration of Independence, thoughts of rebellion were in the air.

On July 4, National Public Radio (NPR) issued its call for an American revolution. At least, that is what many NPR listeners believed they were doing.

As they had done for many years on July 4, NPR featured the Declaration of Independence. In prior years, the Declaration was read in its entirety. In 2017, for the first time, NPR decided to convey the Declaration through modern social messaging. They posted the entire Declaration in 112 tweets.

The tweets unleashed a storm of protest from disgusted listeners who were shocked to hear taxpayer-funded NPR calling for a revolution. Many listeners thought NPR was trying to mobilize the anti-Trump forces to start a new revolution in order to change the government.

One listener tweeted that it was an “interesting way to condone the violence while trying to sound patriotic.” Another thought that NPR had been hacked and the tweets were part of a leftist assault on the Trump Administration.

Some listeners called for NPR to lose its government funding. One wrote, “this is why you’re going to get defended.” Many called the tweets “trash,” and others attacked the tweets as another example of “fake news.”

Over the next few days, news began to circulate about NPR’s “revolutionary tweets,” and many of those protesting the tweets realized that this was not part of an attempt to overthrow the government.

Just as Orson Welles’ 1938 CBS Radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” stunned and terrified his radio audience, the NPR 112 tweets of the Declaration of Independence stunned, terrified and angered many of NPR’s listeners July 4, 2017.

Three-quarters of a century had passed since “War of the Worlds” and the subject matter was different, but the results from both broadcasts were similar. People were so close-minded in their own views that they reacted to conflicting news emotionally and not rationally.

When one listener suggested that one of the individuals who had been duped by the tweets should take down her criticism of NPR, she refused. “If my stupidity spurs us to READ our Declaration of Independence then I don’t mind the comments. Worth the embarrassment.”

At least one person learned an important lesson.

I wonder how most Americans would respond tomorrow if they read in The New York Times or heard on FOX News that “a little rebellion now and then is a good thing,” or “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

Would the Times and FOX News be flooded with hate mail like NPR, or would people simply say Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the Declaration of Independence, was a wise man?

___

Darryl Paulson is Emeritus Professor of Government at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg specializing in Florida politics and elections.

Beyond bluster, U.S., N. Korea in regular contact

Beyond the bluster, the Trump administration has been quietly engaged in back channel diplomacy with North Korea for several months, addressing Americans imprisoned in the communist country and deteriorating relations between the longtime foes, The Associated Press has learned.

It had been known the two sides had discussions to secure the June release of an American university student. But it wasn’t known until now that the contacts have continued, or that they have broached matters other than U.S. detainees.

People familiar with the contacts say the interactions have done nothing thus far to quell tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile advances, which are now fueling fears of military confrontation. But they say the behind-the-scenes discussions could still be a foundation for more serious negotiation, including on North Korea’s nuclear weapons, should President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un put aside the bellicose rhetoric of recent days and endorse a dialogue.

Trump refused to discuss the diplomatic contacts. “We don’t want to talk about progress, we don’t want to talk about back channels,” Trump told reporters Friday.

The diplomatic contacts are occurring regularly between Joseph Yun, the U.S. envoy for North Korea policy, and Pak Song Il, a senior North Korean diplomat at the country’s U.N. mission, according to U.S. officials and others briefed on the process. They weren’t authorized to discuss the confidential exchanges and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Officials call it the “New York channel.” Yun is the only U.S. diplomat in contact with any North Korean counterpart. The communications largely serve as a way to exchange messages, allowing Washington and Pyongyang to relay information.

Drowned out by the furor over Trump’s warning to North Korea of “fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has expressed a willingness to entertain negotiations. His condition: Pyongyang stopping tests of missiles that can now potentially reach the U.S. mainland.

Tillerson has even hinted at an ongoing back channel. “We have other means of communication open to them, to certainly hear from them if they have a desire to want to talk,” he said at an Asian security meeting in the Philippines this week.

The interactions could point to a level of pragmatism in the Trump administration’s approach to the North Korean threat, despite the president’s dire warnings.

On Friday, he tweeted: “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.” But on Thursday, he said, “we’ll always consider negotiations,” even if they haven’t worked in the last quarter-century.

The contacts suggest Pyongyang, too, may be open to a negotiation even as it talks of launching missiles near the U.S. territory of Guam. The North regularly threatens nuclear strikes on the United States and its allies.

The State Department and the White House declined to comment on Yun’s diplomacy. A diplomat at North Korea’s U.N. mission only confirmed use of diplomatic channel up to the release of U.S. college student Otto Warmbier two months ago.

Trump, in some ways, has been more flexible in his approach to North Korea than President Barack Obama. While variations of the New York channel have been used on-and-off for years by past administrations, there were no discussions over the last seven months of Obama’s presidency after Pyongyang broke them off in anger over U.S. sanctions imposed on its leader, Kim. Obama made little effort to reopen lines of communication.

The contacts quickly restarted after Trump’s inauguration, other people familiar with the discussions say.

“Contrary to the public vitriol of the moment, the North Koreans were willing to reopen the New York channel following the election of President Trump and his administration signaled an openness to engage and ‘talk about talks,’” said Keith Luse, executive director of the National Committee on North Korea, a U.S.-based group that promotes U.S.-North Korean engagement.

“However, the massive trust deficit in Pyongyang and in Washington toward each other has impeded the confidence-building process necessary to have constructive dialogue,” he said.

The early U.S. focus was on securing the release of several Americans held in North Korea.

They included Warmbier, who was imprisoned for stealing a propaganda poster and only allowed to return to the U.S. in June — in an unconscious state. He died days later. Yun traveled on the widely publicized mission to Pyongyang to bring Warmbier home.

Despite outrage in the U.S. with Warmbier’s treatment and sharp condemnation by Trump, the U.S.-North Korean interactions in New York continued.

Yun and his counterpart have discussed the other Americans still being held. They include Kim Hak Song, a university employee detained in May accused of unspecified “hostile” acts; Tony Kim, a teacher at the same school, accused of trying to overthrow the government; and Kim Dong Chul, sentenced last year to a decade in prison with hard labor for supposed espionage.

But the American and North Korean diplomats also have discussed the overall U.S.-North Korean relationship. The two countries have no diplomatic ties and are still enemies, having only reached an armistice — not a peace treaty — to end the 1950-1953 Korean War. Twenty-eight thousand U.S. troops are still stationed in South Korea.

In its own convoluted way, North Korea has indicated openness to talks in recent weeks, even as it has accelerated the tempo of weapons tests.

On July 4, after the North test-launched an intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially strike the continental U.S., leader Kim added a new caveat to his refusal to negotiate over its nukes or missiles. Instead of a blanket rejection, he ruled out such concessions “unless the U.S. hostile policy and nuclear threat to the DPRK are definitely terminated.”

That message has been repeated by other North Korean officials, without greater specification. Nor have they offered an indication as to whether Pyongyang would accept denuclearization as the goal of talks.

Still, advocates for diplomacy, including some voices in the U.S. government, view the addendum as a potential opening.

“North Korea is assessing its options,” said Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at the New America think tank who participated in unofficial talks with North Korean officials in Oslo in May, where Yun also met with the North Koreans. “They recognize that at some point they have to return to the table to address what’s becoming a crisis. That’s what they are weighing right now: the timing of engagement.”

Any negotiation would face huge skepticism in Washington given North Korea’s long record of broken promises. The last serious U.S.-North Korea negotiations collapsed in 2012 when Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket that derailed an agreement of a North Korean nuclear freeze in exchange for U.S. food aid.

North Korea’s weapons program has developed significantly since then. As a result, its price in any such negotiation is now likely to be far higher. At a minimum, Pyongyang would renew its long-standing demands for an end to joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises — which are set to resume this month — and an eventual peace treaty with Washington.

To date, the Trump administration has heavily concentrated its diplomatic energy on cranking up international pressure on North Korea’s government, in particular pressing China to lean on its wayward ally. Last weekend, the U.N. adopted its strongest economic sanctions on Pyongyang.

Trump has been widely accused of injecting a new element of unpredictability and even chaos into U.S. policy toward North Korea, especially with his tweets and proclamations this week. It’s unclear what effect they may have on the back-channel contacts being maintained by Yun.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Study: Donald Trump actions trigger health premium hikes for 2018

The Trump administration’s own actions are triggering double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies purchased by many consumers, a nonpartisan study has found.

The analysis released Thursday by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that mixed signals from President Donald Trump have created uncertainty “far outside the norm,” leading insurers to seek higher premium increases for 2018 than would otherwise have been the case.

The report comes with Republicans in Congress unable to deliver on their promise to repeal and replace the Obama-era Affordable Care Act. Trump, meanwhile, insists lawmakers try again. The president says “Obamacare” is collapsing, but he’s also threatened to give it a shove by stopping billions of dollars in payments to insurers. Some leading Republicans are considering fallback measures to stabilize markets.

Researchers from the Kaiser Foundation looked at proposed premiums for a benchmark silver plan across major metropolitan areas in 20 states and Washington, D.C. Overall, they found that 15 of those cities will see increases of 10 percent or more next year.

The highest: a 49 percent jump in Wilmington, Delaware. The only decline: a 5 percent reduction in Providence, Rhode Island.

About 10 million people who buy policies through HealthCare.gov and state-run markets are potentially affected, as well as another 5 million to 7 million who purchase individual policies on their own.

Consumers in the government-sponsored markets can dodge the hit with the help of tax credits that most of them qualify for to help pay premiums. But off-marketplace customers pay full freight, and they face a second consecutive year of steep increases. Many are self-employed business owners.

The report also found that insurer participation in the ACA markets will be lower than at any time since “Obamacare” opened for business in 2014. The average: 4.6 insurers in the states studied, down from 5.7 insurers this year. In many cases, insurers do not sell plans in every community in a state.

The researchers analyzed publicly available filings through which insurers justify their proposed premiums to state regulators. To be sure, insurers continue to struggle with sicker-than-expected customers and disappointing enrollment. And an ACA tax on the industry is expected to add 2 to 3 percentage points to premiums next year.

But on top of that, the researchers found the mixed signals from the administration account for some of the higher charges. Those could increase before enrollment starts Nov. 1.

“The vast majority of companies in states with detailed rate filings have included some language around the uncertainty, so it is likely that more companies will revise their premiums to reflect uncertainty in the absence of clear answers from Congress or the administration,” the report said. Once premiums are set, they’re generally in place for a whole year.

Insurers who assumed that Trump will make good on his threat to stop billions in payments to subsidize co-pays and deductibles requested additional premium increases ranging from 2 percent to 23 percent, the report found.

Insurers who assumed the IRS under Trump will not enforce unpopular fines on people who remain uninsured requested additional premium increases ranging from 1.2 percent to 20 percent.

“In many cases that means insurers are adding double-digit premium increases on top of what they otherwise would have requested,” said Cynthia Cox, a co-author of the Kaiser report. “In many cases, what we are seeing is an additional increase due to the political uncertainty.”

That doesn’t sound like what Trump promised when he assumed the presidency.

In a Washington Post interview ahead of his inauguration, Trump said, “We’re going to have insurance for everybody.”

“There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it,” he added. “That’s not going to happen with us.”

People covered under Obama’s law “can expect to have great health care,” Trump said at the time. “It will be in a much-simplified form. Much less expensive and much better.”

But the White House never produced the health care proposal Trump promised. And the GOP bills in Congress would have left millions more uninsured, a sobering side-effect that contributed to their political undoing.

The Trump administration sidestepped questions about its own role raised by the Kaiser study.

Spokeswoman Alleigh Marre said rising premiums and dwindling choices predate Trump.

“The Trump administration is committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare and will always be focused on putting patients, families and doctors, not Washington, in charge of health care,” Marre said in a statement.

The ongoing political turmoil for people who buy individual health insurance stands in sharp contrast to relative calm and stability for the majority of Americans insured through workplace plans. The cost of employer-sponsored coverage is expected to rise around 5 or 6 percent next year, benefits consultants say.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Gwen Graham talks July 4 party presence, climate change, ‘fire and fury’

In a matter of minutes Thursday night in Lake Mary, gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham went from indignation over Gov. Rick Scott‘s climate change policies to laughing at why President Donald Trump used the words “fire and fury,” to near tears in explaining her presence at a July 4 party with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

The moments, coming during a question and answer session with the Seminole County Democrats, illustrated how well Graham can be received by Democrats with her familiar Democratic messages, and yet how her background of old money still leaves her having to defend herself to skeptical progressives.

Earlier, Graham covered numerous policy positions in rapid fire, from support for a minimum wage increase to a call to reintroduce the arts, extra curricular activities, and technical training into schools, during a 13 minute speech to the Seminole Democratic Executive Committee.

Then during the subsequent question and answer period she really loosened up, calling Scott’s [and President Donald Trump‘s] climate change positions “criminal” and making fun of them, and then becoming emotional when challenged to explain how her she could distance herself from the influence of money if she goes to parties with people like Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

Graham has responded previously, primarily in a written statement, to questions about the ritzy party and its odd-bedfellow guest list of Democrats and Republicans, along with other rich and famous people.

On Thursday, she laid it out in a very personal and emotional manner, and took it live, as one woman webcasted her response on Facebook Live. Graham’s voice began to break as she described the relationships between herself and her cousin who threw the party, Lally Weymouth, and the rest of the family, including Gwen Graham’s parents, former Gov. Bob and Adele Graham, and Weymouth’s late parents, Philip and Katherine Graham.

It was important for her parents and her to attend, she explained.

And she had no idea PresidentTrump’s daughter and son-in-law would be there too, she insisted.

“I was there to take care of my parents,” she said. “I did not talk to them [Trump and Kushner.] I did not approach them.”

“I’m sorry to get emotional,” she added, “but it was hurtful to see these attacks come. This was about family for me. I love my cousin. I love my family. It was important for me to be there for family. And by the way, the moment I saw Ivanka and Jared I was, ohhh, gosh. I stayed away, on the other side of the tent.”

That led to a follow up question, pressing her on whether “big money, dark money, big corporations” would be a part of her. She denied influence, but would not dismiss the need for money.

“In order to run for office you have to raise a lot of money,” Graham said. “You know how much money I have to raise, I’ve been told, in order to be competitive with Republicans? Quite a bit. So, I mean, I’m not sure which groups you’re referring to, what you’re talking about, I haven’t taken any corporate money, if that’s what you’re talking about.”

Moments before she was expressing outrage with Scott, and making fun of Scott and Donald Trump

“It is criminal what Gov. Scott has done in Tallahassee to ignore the biggest threat to Florida, which is rising sea levels. Rising sea levels, we are on a peninsula! We have water all around us! There is no state, there is no state in the nation that is more impacted by climate change than Florida,” she said. “So what we need to do is planning for what is inevitable. The water is already here. Everyone saw what happened in Miami Beach.

“We need to prepare for it. We need to recognize it. We need to deal with it. We need to be putting money into infrastructure projects,” she continued. “We need to make sure we do all we can to move to renewable energy in this state, to do our part.”

She said as governor it would be her responsibility to immediately start developing plans to deal with rising sea levels.

“You can deny the use of words, but you cannot deny the reality on the ground. You know what now? Guess who recently said we’re not gong to allow the use of the words climate change in the federal government? Donald J. Trump. Also known as Rick Scott’s BFF.”

Speaking of Trump, she segued, “When Donald J. Trump said, ‘fire and fury’ [declaring what America’s response would be if North Korea made any more threats,] who watched Game of Thrones Sunday night?

“That’s where he got it! That is where! The fire and the fury! He got it from Game of Thrones! I love that show!”

Annette Taddeo links Jose Felix Diaz to Donald Trump in new SD 40 ad

Annette Taddeo is hoping to link Jose Felix Diaz to President Donald Trump in a new television ad in Senate District 40.

The advertisement — paid for by the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee — links Diaz, a Miami-Dade Republican, to Trump on healthcare policy. In the ad, Taddeo calls Felix out for supporting “Trump’s every move.”

“Families are too busy to worry about this drama,” the Miami-Dade Democrat says in the advertisement. “Struggling put our children’s goals out of reach and health care costs go up, but Jose Felix Diaz supports Trump’s every move, including his plan to slash Medicare, charge older Americans an age tax, and cut coverage for pre-existing conditions.”

Taddeo goes on to say she’ll fight for “better schools and lower health care costs” in Tallahassee.

“Jose Felix and Donald Trump are advocating for a healthcare policy that will raise healthcare costs and kick millions of Americans off their insurance. Plain and simple, electing more Trump Republicans like Jose Felix Diaz will devastate South Florida’s middle-class,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Johanna Cervone in a statement. “We can’t afford politicians like Jose Felix Diaz who want to make healthcare more expensive for our families just to give the wealthiest 1% another tax break. Annette Taddeo is a working mom who will fight to lower healthcare costs and stand up for working families–healthcare is an important issue for every family in Miami-Dade and this ad makes each candidates’ stance on the issue clear.”

The Senate District 40 special election is Sept. 26.

Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto join ‘New Democracy,’ to win back middle-class voters

Two Central Florida first-year members of Congress — Stephanie Murphy and Darren Soto — are joining former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis and a group of Democrats determined to extend the party’s reach to centrist voters.

In what reads like an update of the earlier center-leaning Democratic Leadership Council, New Democracy has the explicit mandate to expand the party’s appeal, both demographically and geographically.

Leading New Democracy is Will Marshall, president and founder of the Progressive Policy Institute and a co-founder of the now defunct DLC, created in the aftermath of Walter Mondale‘s landslide 1984 loss to Ronald Reagan. Alumni include Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Florida’s Bob Buckhorn and Rick Kriseman.

“New Democracy is a ‘home base’ and support network for pragmatic Democrats determined to make our party competitive in every part of America,” Marshall said. “These leaders — governors, mayors, state officials and Members of Congress — know how to reach beyond core partisans and build governing majorities from the ground up,” he added.

Since Hillary Clinton‘s November defeat much has been made about the Democratic Party losing white, middle-class voters to Donald Trump, particularly in the industrial Midwest. In addition to losses in the House, Senate and White House to Republicans, Democrats have also dropped 900 seats in state legislatures over the past nine years.

Marshall said New Democracy will focus on four key priorities for building a bigger Democratic tent: reclaiming economic hope and progress; engaging voters across America’s cultural divides; decentralizing power to more effective and trusted local governments, and putting national and personal security first.

“Democrats don’t need to choose between center and left — we need to expand in all directions,” he added. “Building a broad coalition is the Party’s best chance of rectifying today’s dangerous imbalance of political power and stopping the harmful Trump-Republican agenda.”

Along with Florida Democrats enlisted to help guide New Democracy’s strategy is Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear. 

Democratic ad attempts to link Rick Baker to Donald Trump

With Rick Kriseman trailing Rick Baker in the latest poll of St. Petersburg’s mayoral race, the Florida Democratic Party is paying for a new ad linking the former mayor with President Donald Trump.

Whether national politics will trickle down to the local level is something the Kriseman team is banking on, though it hasn’t been reflected yet in the polls.

The 30-second ad also tries to connect Baker with other Republicans, including Mitt Romney and Rick Scott.

“Rick Baker is on the extreme team, siding with climate change deniers, silent on Donald Trump’s countless discriminatory policies, Baker is weak and out of touch with our values,” a female narrator says to begin the ad.

The spot then segues into praising Kriseman for working with Democrats like Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Charlie Crist.

From the beginning of his campaign, Baker warned St. Pete residents that the Kriseman campaign would criticize him for being a Republican in a city that is overwhelmingly Democratic.

The mayoral race, in theory, is nonpartisan, but both campaigns are being heavily supported by their respective political parties.

“Republican Rick Baker is happy to take big checks from right-wing conservatives and Trump Republicans, but doesn’t want to talk about whether or not he supports the Trump agenda,” said FDP spokesperson Johanna Cervone. “Mayor Rick Kriseman, on the other hand, has been clear about his support and partnership with the former Obama administration as well as his firm opposition to Donald Trump’s harmful GOP policies. Since Rick Baker insists on misleading voters about his Republican ties, the Florida Democratic Party’s new ad will let voters know where he really stands.”

 

Donald Trump’s unprecedented hands-on messaging carries risks

For the third time in six months, President Donald Trump is on the hunt for a new communications director. But in practice, the job is filled.

It’s Trump who’s the White House’s leading expert and the final word on what and how he communicates with the public. Despite decrying most negative media coverage as “fake news” and personally insulting members of the media, he has inserted himself into the White House’s press operations in an unprecedented fashion for a president.

Trump has dictated news releases and pushed those who speak for him to bend the facts to bolster his claims. He has ignored the advice of his legal team and thrown out carefully planned legislative strategies with a single 140-character tweet.

His direct, hands-on style helped him win the White House and still thrills his supporters. It also, however, poses increasing political and potentially legal risks. The clearest example is his involvement in crafting a statement for son Donald Jr. about a meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer. That declaration was quickly proven erroneous and raised questions about whether the president was trying to cover for his son.

Trump has struggled to find a communications adviser that meets his approval.

His first, Mike Dubke, stayed behind the scenes and never clicked with Trump, leaving after three months. Then Sean Spicer, Trump’s oft-beleaguered press secretary, took on the communications director job as well. He resigned both posts last month when Trump brought in hard-charging New York financier Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci lasted only 11 days before being fired in the aftermath of an expletive-filled interview.

A fourth candidate for the post, campaign spokesman Jason Miller, was named to the job during the transition but turned it down days later, citing a need to spend time with his family.

More recently there have been some informal internal conversations about an increased communications role for White House aide Stephen Miller, according to an administration official who was not authorized to discuss private talks by name and requested anonymity. Those talks are still seen as preliminary. Miller recently clashed with some reporters over immigration policy at a contentious press briefing.

This past week, as White House staffers readied a statement accompanying Trump’s signature on legislation approving toughened sanctions on Russia — a bill Trump criticized — word came down that the president wanted to add some off-topic language into the statement. That’s according to two officials familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly talk about internal discussions.

“I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars,” the new section read. “That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As president, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”

That personal and boastful rhetoric is a far cry from the formal language normally found in presidential statements. It also appeared aimed at angering the same lawmakers he will need if he wants to pass any major legislation.

“All presidents are their own best messengers,” said Ari Fleischer, press secretary for President George W. Bush. Fleischer said that Bush, too, would at times get involved with the White House press shop.

Fleischer noted there was always a safety net of advisers at work. That does not appear to exist around the current president — particular around his Twitter account.

“The lesson for this president is that it’s perfectly fine to be involved and to, at times, go around the mainstream media with Twitter,” Fleischer said. “But he needs to tweet smarter.”

Corralling the president’s impulses is a challenge that now falls to new White House chief of staff John Kelly, a four-star Marine general tasked with straightening out an unruly West Wing. But many Trump allies don’t believe he’ll alter his ways.

“The reality is President Trump is sitting in the Oval Office,” said Sam Nunberg, a former campaign staffer. “And before that, he was a mogul with a business that spanned continents. He did it his way. He’s not going to change. It got him where he is and it will keep him where he is.”

Trump has long considered himself his own best spokesman and cares deeply about his public perception.

While a budding real estate magnate in New York in the 1980s and 1990s, he was known to call reporters to plant anonymously sourced scoops about himself. He vaulted to national stardom with “The Apprentice” and micromanaged aspects of his appearances, including his hair and lighting.

During the 2016 campaign, Trump was known to obsess over single images in a commercial or the font for an ad.

As president, he frequently has raged about his communications staff, blaming them for White House’s stumbles while almost never taking responsibility himself.

An avid consumer of cable news, Trump scolds surrogates when he thinks they are not adequately defending him on television. His frequently shifting positions also challenge his staffers, who have grown to be fearful of answering basic questions about the president’s beliefs for fear of later being contradicted, according to more than a half dozen White House officials and outside advisers speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

And the president has pushed staff to defend untruths, including when he ordered Spicer, in Spicer’s first White House briefing, to claim that the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd was larger than his predecessor’s, according to three White House officials and outside advisers familiar with the encounter.

More untruths have followed. In March, Trump tweeted without evidence that President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower. And soon after firing FBI Director James Comey, Trump tweeted a warning that Comey had better hope there were no tapes of their White House conversations. There weren’t.

Another statement has received bipartisan condemnation and could face scrutiny from investigators probing possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials.

As news broke last month that Trump Jr. had met with Russians in June 2016, the president’s eldest son released a statement — which was in part crafted on Air Force One by the president and a small group of aides while flying home from a summit in Europe — that claimed the meeting was about adoptions. But within days, Trump Jr. had to revise his story several times before eventually acknowledging that he was trying to procure damaging, Russia-produced information about Hillary Clinton.

“This was a bad decision by the president,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “When you get caught in a lie about one thing, it makes it hard to just say let the other stuff go.”

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said last week that Trump “weighed in as any father would, based on the limited information that he had.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons