Donald Trump Archives - Page 3 of 233 - Florida Politics

Debbie Wasserman Schultz says Betsy DeVos will take U.S. schools down a path of failure ‘Florida knows all too well’

In an interview last week with FloridaPolitics.com, Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, blasted Betsy DeVos, Donald Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary.

Weingarten compared DeVos’ zeal for school-choice vouchers on par with what former Gov. Jeb Bush was all about during his reign in Florida.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz agrees.

Hours before DeVos is scheduled to appear before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the South Florida congresswoman lashed out at DeVos, saying in a statement that “based on her long record of activism, she will take our nation’s schools back down a path of proven failure that Florida knows all too well.”

Critics like Weingarten have accused Trump of effectively campaigning on a pledge to dismantle public education as we know it, referencing his (little known) campaign vow to spend $20 million on school choice, which would come from “reprioritizing federal dollars.”

“President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Education Secretary has displayed one consistent value: an open hostility toward public schools and teachers,” Wasserman Schultz said Tuesday. “Betsy DeVos champions ‘reforms’ that basically defund, undercut and privatize public education, with a goal of turning it over to loosely-regulated, for-profit charter schools. She’s spent millions of dollars and decades pushing this cause, the same one that’s failed in Florida.

“Former Gov. Jeb Bush touted the same voucher-happy, test-crazed ‘reforms,’ and they have largely been abandoned,” the past DNC Chair adds. “The billionaire Republican fundraiser that Trump wants to lead our nation’s education system has been one of the biggest proponents of these ‘accountability’ reforms in her home state of Michigan, saddling public schools with burdensome mandates that private schools are mostly free to ignore.”

Bush has been effusive in his praise for DeVos, saying she was an “outstanding pick” by the president-elect.

 

Central Florida House members call on Marco Rubio to protect illegal immigrants

In front of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio‘s office Tuesday morning, Sen. Victor Torres and Reps. Amy Mercado and Carlos Guillermo Smith called on Rubio to protect the state’s immigrant population – especially those not here legally.

Their message was that time is of the essence – now that the Donald Trump administration is just days away from taking control of the country, it’s important that Rubio own up to his promises to stand up to Trump when he can – especially when it comes to potential threats to undocumented immigrants.

Trump has said that he intends to crack down on illegal immigration and immediately deport 2 to 3 million illegal immigrants when he takes office.

All three of the House representatives speaking Tuesday were opposed to that.

“Many undocumented immigrants are otherwise law-abiding citizens,” Torres said. “They want to make a better life for themselves. They were born in another country, but they went to school and were raised in the U.S. – it’s the only society they’ve ever known.”

Torres said attempts to deport or demonize illegal immigrants “robs us of the radiant spirit and skill and desire to make America great.”

Mercado said in calling for mass deportations of illegal immigrants, Trump had threatened a cornerstone of the American dream.

“They should be able to come to America without the threat of persecution,” she said. “We shouldn’t be deporting millions, or driving them into silence out of fear. Florida is a cultural melting pot. There’s a large array of cultures and backgrounds. There are headlines every day about members of Trump’s cabinet and racism. This is not the time for silence.”

Smith said there were up to 8,000 undocumented immigrants in the Orlando area and up to 102,000 statewide – so the stakes were “very large” and he vowed to push back and act as an opposition to Trump’s “racist, bigoted and wrong agenda.”

A Rubio spokesperson said by email that Rubio welcomed more voices and opinions from those interested in tackling the issue of immigration.

“Senator Rubio understands we need to secure our borders, stop visa overstays, modernize our legal immigration system, and enforce our immigration laws fairly and humanely,” he wrote. “He welcomes input from people who are serious about solving our immigration challenges and is hopeful we’ll be able to make real progress on these goals in this new Congress.”

Donald Trump inauguration a special moment for Brian Ballard

This isn’t Brian Ballard’s first inauguration, but it will likely be one of his most memorable.

Ballard, the president of Ballard Partners, is one of several Floridians expected to attend President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration this week. And while his schedule is flush with lunches and galas, he’s most looking forward to the moment Trump takes the oath of office.

“The swearing-in, for me, is going to be the cool part. It’s almost hard to comprehend and put into words. It’s going to be a hugely impactful moment,” said Ballard. “Seeing him take the oath and the government becoming Trump government, which is hard to fathom even for me. It’s going to be so exciting and emotional.”

For Ballard, that moment will also mark the culmination of months of work behind the scenes to help send Trump to the White House.

A top fundraiser for Sen. John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012, Ballard served as finance chairman for Trump’s campaign in Florida. Days after Trump won the presidency, he was selected to serve as one of the finance vice chairs on the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

The two men’s relationship goes beyond politics. Ballard served as the The Trump Organization’s lobbyist in the Florida Legislature for several years.

But Ballard wasn’t all in with Trump from Day 1. He initially supported former Gov. Jeb Bush, signing on early and raising thousands upon thousands of dollars for the former governor and Right to Rise, the super PAC that backing Bush.

He later shifted his support to Sen. Marco Rubio, saying the Bush campaign’s decision to attack the Miami Republican didn’t sit well with him. Once he joined Team Trump, Ballard emerged as one of the New York Republican’s top advisors.

There have been rumblings Ballard might be nominated for an ambassadorship, but he has dismissed them. With a multi-million construction project underway at the corner of Park Avenue and South Monroe Street and a full roster of clients ahead of the 2017 Legislative Session, Ballard appears to have plenty of things to keep him busy in Florida’s capital city.

But that isn’t stopping him from enjoying the festivities and celebrating with friends.  Ballard and his family planned to travel to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. Once there, the schedule is filled to brim with events.

A black tie dinner was scheduled for Tuesday evening to kick off the official festivities. A lunch-hour reception is scheduled for Wednesday, followed by a dinner to honor Vice President-elect Mike Pence.

There’s a leadership luncheon Thursday, and the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration,” a public event at the Lincoln Memorial. That evening, you might be able to find the Ballard family at a candlelight dinner.

When Trump raises his right hand to take the oath of office Friday, Ballard will be there. And he and his family will be on hand later in the evening, this time decked out in tuxedos and ball gown for the inaugural ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

And that is only a piece of Ballard’s schedule.

“It’s incredibly filled with events,” said Ballard, who last attended an inauguration nearly 30 years ago for President George H.W. Bush’s inauguration. “Every night there’s parties before and after, there’s lunches every day. I’m getting a lot of invitations.”

One other event definitely on his calendar: The Florida Sunshine Ball hosted by Gov. Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott. The inaugural ball, according to the Miami Herald, is being sponsored by Let’s Get to Work, Scott’s political committee.

“This is unique because of the president-elect and our relationship,” said Ballard. “You think of people who get sworn in as president as (someone) who is bigger than life, not someone you know very, very well. Knowing someone and seeing him take the oath of office, I’ll never experience (that again).”

Susie Wiles, architect of Donald Trump’s Florida win, heads to D.C. for inauguration

When Jacksonville political consultant Susie Wiles signed on with the Donald Trump campaign, many locals — who thought it was the year of Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio — wondered what she was doing.

Through March of 2016, Wiles was the sole high-profile Jacksonville Republican on the Trump train.

Her role shifted, and she took control of the Sunshine State operation in September, setting the stage for a Trump surge rooted in Wiles’ instinctive understanding that the Trump message matched the mood of the majority of Floridians.

In November, her position was vindicated with Trump’s victory — one which surprised most media members.

In January, Wiles is headed to Washington D.C., to attend the inauguration of the man she helped put in the White House.

Wiles tells FloridaPolitics.com that she is “headed up to DC again on Wednesday for events Wednesday night [through] the ball on Friday night.  Packed full schedule but all fun. It seems as if it will be nice weather!  Many Florida folks will be at various events and I look forward to celebrating with everyone.”

Wiles, the managing partner of Jacksonville’s Ballard Partners shop, won’t be the only Ballard Partner in attendance.

As we reported this morning, Brian Ballard will be in attendance also, in a culmination of his very prominent support of the president-elect’s rise to power, which included being Trump’s Florida finance chair.

While Susie Wiles herself won’t be in the Trump administration, meanwhile, her daughter Caroline Wiles will serve as Trump’s White House director of scheduling.

Ms. Wiles previously had handled scheduling for the Trump campaign.

Florida House leaders support Betsy DeVos in letter

Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and state Reps. Jose Oliva and Jose Felix Diaz have signed on to a letter supporting Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump‘s pick for Education Secretary.

They’re among nearly 150 “state-level elected leaders in all 50 states” who say they support DeVos, a wealthy Republican donor who carries financial and political clout.

Oliva is expected to become speaker in 2018-20 following Corcoran; Diaz chairs the House’s Commerce Committee. Both are Miami-Dade Republicans.

The letter, dated Tuesday, is being sent to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who chairs the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. It will hold a confirmation hearing on her at 5 p.m.

“(W)e must have a Secretary of Education committed to the needs of all of our nation’s children,” the letter says. “Betsy DeVos has made it her life’s mission to find, support and push for education solutions in her home state of Michigan and across the country. She is an advocate and ally for all children, and we write to you today to express our support for her nomination to this important position as her confirmation hearing approaches.”

DeVos, a charter school advocate, is widely expected to push for expanding school choice programs if confirmed as education secretary, prompting pushback from teachers unions.

Democrats and activists also are raising concerns about how her conservative Christian beliefs and advocacy for family values might impact minority and LGBT students.

“Her support for an all-of-the-above approach to K-12 education – from charter schools, to public, private and online education – defines the school choice movement that has helped countless children across many of our states,” the letter says.

“By advancing these innovative solutions from the Department of Education, Betsy DeVos will put children first and empower not only states to lead the way in making critical education decisions, but also empower parents to choose what type of education is best for their children.”

The letter concludes: “We encourage the (committee) to ensure a swift confirmation process so that we together can get to work making classrooms a place for all children to thrive.”

Background for this post provided by The Associated Press, reprinted with permission.

 

Stephen Bittel for Florida Democrats, what do you have to lose?

Over the weekend, Florida Democrats elected Miami rich guy Stephen Bittel to lead their party. The choice was controversial and left many members screaming that Bittel is the wrong man at the wrong time.

They have their reasons, I guess.

But, let me ask a simple question:  Whom would be the right person?

The political cosmos has been trying to send a message for years to Florida Democrats. They haven’t been listening.

They have lost five consecutive races for governor (or, put another way, they haven’t been in control of the governor’s mansion in this century). Republicans also control both chambers of the Legislature. Republicans pass whatever laws they want, many of which trample on Democratic ideals. All the Dems have been able to say is, “May I have another?”

This has happened despite the fact Democrats have long held the lead in the number of registered voters in Florida (that number, by the way, is shrinking).

It takes a special something to have turned such an advantage into what is essentially political irrelevance in Tallahassee. Democrats used to console themselves because they delivered the state’s electoral votes to Barack Obama during his presidential campaigns, but they couldn’t even keep that trend going last November against Donald Trump.

So, to borrow Trump’s own slogan and apply it to Bittel: What have you got to lose? At least the guy seems to have some energy a willingness to engage in the fight.

“Contentious elections are reflective that there are Democrats all over Florida that are passionate, committed to coming together, moving forward together to win elections. So contentious is good. It means you care,” Bittel said after beating four other candidates with more established track records.

He has a point there. Florida Democrats have “contentious” down to a science. What they haven’t shown is any evidence that they have a realistic game plan for returning some political balance to the state.

Bittel made his mark by donating and raising large amounts of money for Democratic candidates. While he told reporters Saturday at the Democratic gathering in Orlando that he is not a billionaire, as was reported, he obviously is a person of substantial wealth and energy.

Democrats? Listen up: You need energy. You need passion. You need a sense of purpose. And most of all you need to explain, in clear words, why you’re better for the state than Republicans.

Democrats deluded themselves into believing voters would never elect Rick Scott, but they didn’t understand the beautiful simplicity of his “Let’s Get To Work” message. They talked themselves again into believing that surely voters wouldn’t re-elect Scott.

Now, Scott likely is coming for Bill Nelson’s U.S. Senate seat in a couple of years, and in Adam Putnam Republicans appear to have a strong gubernatorial candidate ready to make his run. This kind of ballot box domination should send a message that doing things the same ol’ way is a losing strategy for Democrats.

So when Bittel talks about greatly expanding the staff at the state Democratic headquarters in Tallahassee and, as reported in FloridaPolitics.com, promising to “ …  grow this party to a size and strength that has never been seen before,” Democrats should be at least a little invigorated.

That is, assuming they still remember what that feels like.

Charlie Crist looking forward to attending Donald Trump inauguration

There are now 24 Democratic members of Congress who say they won’t attend the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as America’s 45th president on Friday.

Charlie Crist isn’t one or them.

“I will be attending the inauguration, and I look forward to it,” Crist told this reporter on Sunday, after hosting a press event where he called for Republicans not to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The growing number of Democrats who say they will boycott the inauguration began after Trump publicly rebuked civil rights icon John Lewis, on Saturday morning, following Lewis’ remarks to NBC’s Chuck Todd that he didn’t consider Trump “a legitimate president” and wouldn’t attend the inauguration.

“I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” the Georgia Democratic added.

Trump responded in characteristic fashion early Saturday morning, tweeting that Lewis was “all talk” and “should spend more time on fixing and helping his district.

That response angered Tampa Representative Kathy Castor, who wrote in her own tweet that Trump’s attack on Lewis “shows what a small, graceless person he is,” perhaps her most provocative statement regarding the President-elect.

Lewis was in Miami on Monday morning, serving as the keynote speaker for the city of Miami’s MLK Day breakfast.

Meanwhile, the inauguration is taking place at the end of this week. Crist says it’s “important to focus on the peaceful transition of power.”

“I didn’t support Mr. Trump, but I respect the fact that he’s been elected president of the U.S.,” the St. Petersburg Democrat adds.

Crist has made it clear that he was elected by his constituents to get things done in Washington, and has said that he will work with Trump to help get more Americans “back to work.”

Miami area Representative Fredericka Wilson says she won’t attend the inauguration, but not because of Trump. She tells the Miami Herald that she had a previous commitment.

Darren Soto to skip Donald Trump inauguration

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto will be skipping the inauguration of incoming president Donald Trump after hearing the comments Trump made recently about civil rights activist John Lewis.

“I am deeply disappointed with Trump’s attacks against civil rights hero John Lewis and will not be attending the inauguration as a result,” Soto said in a statement to Channel 9.

The statement in question came when Lewis, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., called Trump an illegitimate president who had been bolstered by Russian interference with the election.

Trump, in response, said Lewis was “all talk, no action,” and that he should instead focus on crime in his own district.

The attacks received widespread backlash over the weekend.

Soto is not the first lawmaker to back out of the Trump inauguration – others, like California Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard and Mark Takano and New York Rep. Yvette Clarke, have also issued statements saying they won’t be attending.

Conciliatory meeting between Donald Trump, Martin Luther King Jr.’s son

The Latest on President-elect Donald Trump (all times EST):

2:10 p.m.

The son of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. says he had a “very constructive” meeting with President-elect Donald Trump on the holiday marking King’s life.

Martin Luther King III played down Trump’s recent claim that Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon, was “all talk.” He told reporters at Trump Tower on Monday that in the heat of emotion, “a lot of things get said on both sides.”

King says the focus of his meeting with Trump was to improve voter participation and stress the need to bring America together. He says Trump assured him it’s his intent to reach out to all Americans, even those who did not support him.

Trump briefly appeared with King after their nearly hour-long meeting but ignored reporters’ questions.

12:50 p.m.

Conservative media commentator Monica Crowley will not be joining the Trump administration following accusations of plagiarism.

That’s according to a transition official.

Crowley had been slated to join Trump’s National Security Council as a director of strategic communications. Her decision comes after CNN reported that several passages in a 2012 book written by Crowley were plagiarized. Publisher HarperCollins then pulled the book.

Crowley’s withdrawal from her position was first reported by the Washington Times. The transition official confirmed the decision on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

10:00 a.m.

President-elect Donald Trump is continuing to lash out at critics in the intelligence community and Democrats in Congress who are vowing to skip his swearing-in ceremony.

The tough-talking Republican questioned whether the CIA director himself was “the leaker of fake news” in a Sunday night tweet.

The extraordinary criticism from the incoming president came hours after CIA chief John Brennan charged that Trump lacks a full understanding of the threat Moscow poses to the United States.

Trump shot back in a Twitter post Sunday, saying: “Oh really, couldn’t do much worse – just look at Syria (red line), Crimea, Ukraine and the build-up of Russian nukes. Not good! Was this the leaker of Fake News?”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

‘First Coast inaugural celebration ball’ set for Friday in Jacksonville

Jacksonville Republicans are preparing to celebrate the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump this Friday evening.

The Republican Party of Duval County plans an event at the Adam Herbert Center at the University of North Florida, scheduled from 7 p.m. to Midnight.

Among the attractions: dinner and dancing with the Chris Thomas Band; a Presidential champagne toast; and an “inaugural-themed silent auction.”

Formal or semi-formal dress is recommended.

Tickets run $65 per single, $125 per couple.

The Facebook page for the event shows 13 people as attending so far, including State Rep. Cord Byrd, a Jacksonville Beach Republican.

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