Donald Trump – Page 6 – Florida Politics

Marco Rubio says Parkland murders result of ‘multi-systemic failure’

At a Congressional roundtable Wednesday at the White House, Sen. Marco Rubio described the Parkland murders not as a failure of gun control, but as a “multi-systemic failure.”

“This was a multi-systemic failure,” Rubio said. “The Sheriff’s Office knew this was a problem. The FBI knew this was a problem. The Department of Children and Families knew this was a problem.”

“The big problem is they don’t talk to each other. Nobody told the others what they knew,” Rubio said, before outlining legislative remedies.

One remedy, Rubio said, is live in the House and soon to be live in the Senate: the Stop School Violence Act, sponsored by Rep. John Rutherford in the House.

“The best way to prevent these is to stop it before it starts. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t harden schools. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have debate in other areas … get on them, get them the services they need, and deny them the right to buy any gun,” Rubio said.

“I think that’s something that holds tremendous bipartisan promise,” Rubio said.

The Senator also held up Florida’s proposed reforms in the wake of Parkland as a possible example for the rest of the country.

The plan offers some moves toward gun control: restrictions of purchases by those who have been Baker Acted, as well as a ban on commercial sales to those under 21, and a “bump stock” ban. As well, $450 million for school hardening, and another $50 million for mental health, including overt cooperation between local law enforcement and the DCF.

“We can still debate some of the other things,” Rubio said, “but we owe it to the families.”

The President agreed with the Senator.

Ron DeSantis’ dad says Democrats are clamoring to support his son. That’s cute.

In his bid for Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis can always count on at least one unwavering cheerleader — his dad, Ron Daniel DeSantis of Dunedin.

According to a post on the Facebook group page “Ron DeSantis for Governor Pinellas County,” the elder DeSantis “talked to many people who want to support my son for Governor” but could not vote in the primary, simply because they are not registered Republican.

Papa DeSantis then suggests those interested parties (both Democrats and independents) should switch parties (after which they “can always change back later”). Next, he goes on a lengthy explanation how to change party affiliation in time for the Aug. 28 primaries.

Of course, it’s awfully cute that DeSantis’ dad is in his corner — what good father wouldn’t be?

But are there really a significant number of voters — particularly Democrats — who are clamoring to jump ship for the DeSantis campaign?

Doubtful, at best.

For example, as the Tampa Bay Times noted: “Democrats generally see [DeSantis] as the weakest Republican nominee of the bunch, an unbending government shutdown guy too far out of the mainstream for a purple state like Florida.”

DeSantis — whose only statewide campaign was a short-lived bid for the U.S. Senate — was also named one of the top 25 conservatives in the nation (by radio host and far-right firebrand Mark Levin) and took perfect scores from both Americans for Prosperity and the American Conservative Union — all of which are anything but a Democrat magnet.

Then, there is the full-throated Twitter endorsement from President Donald Trump, which said DeSantis “would make a GREAT Governor of Florida.”

And no Democrat in Florida is going weak-kneed looking at this photo.

Deep down, the one sure thing DeSantis for Governor has going for it is Trump’s tweet.

Indeed, the President’s comment was the main impetus for DeSantis’ newfound support from conservative billionaires who rarely get involved on the state level, such as casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, investment tycoon Foster Friess, and Breitbart co-owner Rebekah Mercer.

And as for his known policy positions, DeSantis offers little for the average Democrat to embrace.

He is a small-government conservative and a vocal supporter of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. DeSantis is also critical of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation of the Trump administration’s ties to Russia.

Few of those things are endearing to the typical Democrat.

In addition, DeSantis has the backing of David Bossie from Citizens United.

For those who don’t remember (or choose to forget), Citizens United is the infamous anti-Hillary Clinton organization which led to the much-reviled 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing unlimited corporate money into political campaigns.

Want to instantly enrage Democrats and progressives? Simply say two words: “Citizens United.”

So, imagine it was “Citizens United supports Ron DeSantis.”

Taking all this into account, it is highly unlikely Florida Democrats will switch parties willingly (even temporarily) to throw their weight behind DeSantis.

But it’s always good to have dad on your side.


Kim Daniels prays for Donald Trump, against warlocks and witches

State Rep. Kim Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat, got national publicity on Monday for the kind of prayer that no other Democrat in the state would deliver.

Namely, as Patheos observed, Daniels delivered with “rants against witches” and a prayer for President Donald Trump.

“God, I lift up President Donald Trump before you,” Daniels intoned during a daybreak sermon off the shoulder of an interstate. “I plead the blood over him. I plead the blood over his family.”

“Over Capitol Hill, over the White House … wherever that first family is travelling in Jesus’ name,” Daniels observed, “over the office of the President of the United States will not be disrespected.”

Daniels inveighed against “witches and warlocks … trying to bring confusion to this great man,” calling for them to  — appropriately enough — be “fired.”

“God, when it comes to the place where witches are bold enough to come out and declare that they will have authority over who’s the President of the United States, I think it’s time for the saints of God to take a radical position, and we send every curse back to the vortexes of Hell where they came from, in the name of Jesus,” Daniels contended.

“We thank you God for Donald Trump. We thank you for his family. We thank you for his possessions,” the Representative continued.

Daniels has made a habit of praying for Presidents.

Her prayer for President Barack Obama, documented in Charisma, was less salutary and more skeptical than the tribute to Trump.

“Lord, expose the work of every witch, sorcerer, spiritualist or person from the dark side operating through his cabinet members or through anyone else closely associated with him. We block the power of the influence of the Yorùbá religion and all other groups of black people who worship their ancestors, in Jesus’ name. We put barriers around the United States that will bind and block the witchcraft coming from Kenya to influence our president in Jesus’ name. Let the power of every dedication of his past be broken, in Jesus’ name,” Daniels urged.

“We break every soul tie and vow that has been established between him and Harvard, secret societies and the Illuminati,” Daniels added.

Daniels, per another blog, once said that she wouldn’t vote for Obama for a billion dollars; however, that archive apparently was scrubbed.

Florida political observers, of course, recall Daniels for her commentary on current events.

Her most celebrated declaration in recent months: an October contention that “prophets foretold” Hurricane Irma.

We asked Daniels about these comments, and her responses were worthy of quotation in full. To sum, she stands by the claim.

“I wouldn’t post it on Facebook if I didn’t believe it,” Daniels said, feet away from where a massive relief fund was being rolled out for the storm she said prophets knew would happen.

Brandon Arnold: Florida wins by modernizing NAFTA

Trade officials from the Trump administration recently wrapped up the sixth of seven scheduled rounds of discussions with counterparts from Mexico and Canada to revise and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

President Donald Trump stated that if the process doesn’t go to his liking, he’ll pull the plug on the deal altogether. That would be a huge mistake. While modernization policies would improve NAFTA, the trade agreement has been a huge success in Florida and across the country, creating millions of jobs and boosting the economy for all Americans.

NAFTA was controversial back in 1993 when it was signed by President Bill Clinton and approved by bipartisan majorities in Congress, including Floridian Republican Sen. Connie Mack and Democratic Sen. Bob Graham.

While Trump has called NAFTA “the worst trade deal in the history of the world,” withdrawing would have enormous consequences. There hasn’t been enormous support on either side of the aisle for full withdrawal from NAFTA, but even the suggestion from the president is concerning.

According to new research from the Business Roundtable, terminating NAFTA would come at an extraordinary cost for the country. The total short to medium term job losses would be between 1.8 and 3.6 million. More than 200,000 jobs could be at risk in Florida alone.

The damage to economic output would be staggering — GDP would fall by an estimated $119 to 231 billion per year. Florida’s state economic output would drop by at least $6.3 billion — partly because ending NAFTA would reduce Florida’s exports by $980 million.

Rather than scrapping NAFTA, U.S. officials should continue to work with our trading partners to update and modernize the deal. Indeed, there is plenty of room for improvement. The original pact was crafted in the early 90s, before the advent of the digital economy and the formation of large tech companies like Google and Amazon.

Trump’s trade negotiators can score significant wins for American businesses — especially those in the tech sector — by establishing rules that permit the free flow of data across international borders. Further, a new NAFTA should prohibit any data localization requirements that have the potential to impose unnecessary capital costs on our domestic companies.

Additionally, U.S. negotiators should use this process to pressure Mexico to liberalize its state-owned enterprises. For instance, our neighbors to the south should rein in various subsidies to these entities that give them an unfair advantage relative to private companies.

Our officials should also encourage Canada and Mexico to let more low-priced imports enter duty-free. For example, in the United States, goods that cost less than $800 are not subject to import taxes. In Canada, it’s just $20 (Canadian).

Aligning this threshold with U.S. policy could be a tremendous boon for many U.S.-based businesses, as it would allow our companies to export low-dollar goods to neighboring countries without paying duties or completing bureaucratic paperwork. This would mean faster shipping times, more efficient logistical processes, and lower costs for businesses and consumers. These are but a few of the improvements that could be made to NAFTA — assuming our negotiators are earnestly trying to update, not eviscerate the deal.

On the campaign trail, Trump often threatened a drastic departure from our long-standing commitment to free trade. Now that he’s been in office for over a year, thankfully, we’ve yet to see the president implement many major protectionist measures.

A continued commitment to international commerce has helped the economy grow — especially when paired with deregulatory policies and Trump’s pro-growth tax reform plan.

As Florida’s economy expands, creates jobs, and pushes wages upward, residents and businesses should keep a close eye on how the Trump administration handles trade policy. There are certainly gains to be made by modernizing existing deals, opening up new foreign markets, and leveling the playing field for American businesses.

But extreme actions like withdrawing from NAFTA could be calamitous and undo many of the economic gains our nation has made recently.


Brandon Arnold is the Executive Vice President of the National Taxpayers Union, a nonprofit citizen group whose members work every day for lower taxes and smaller government at all levels.

How the dominoes could fall after ‘Rooney out’

Last week U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney put out the “Rooney out” message, launching a wave of speculation over who could step in and win the heavily Republican CD 17 in the fall.

So far, all the GOP candidates running to replace Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam – former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman, Lehigh Acres Rep. Matt Caldwell and Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley – have taken their names out of the hat. Fort Myers Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto said she wasn’t ruling out a run, and a host of other elected officials within CD 17 have been even less public about their plans.

Florida’s 17th Congressional District covers parts of Sarasota, Lee and Polk counties as well as the whole of Charlotte, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee.

The seat is a Republican stronghold that voted plus-27 for President Donald Trump.

The massive district covers a number of state legislative seats, but outside of Benacquisto’s nexus in Lee County, most of the GOP power players in CD 17 are concentrated in Sarasota County, though Rep. Michael Grant, who represents Charlotte County, is thought to be mulling a run, as is Rep. Ben Albritton, who represents DeSoto, Hardee and part of Polk.

At the top of the heap in Sarasota County are Sen. Greg Steube, Rep. Joe Gruters and Rep. Julio Gonzalez. Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight has said he will not run for the seat.

Then there are former pols such as Ray Pilon, who could jump in and muddy the vote within the Sarasota area even more, though he could just as easily lay out a return trip to the Legislature if enough of his former colleagues abandon their posts.

If any of those lawmakers make the plunge there could be a chain reaction that shakes up the Republican landscape in the Sarasota area, though Steube’s entry would register much higher on the Richter scale.

If he makes the call, his Senate seat will be a more natural step up for some contemplating the congressional jump, and a more realistic option for those lower down the totem pole.

Gruters is in no way at the bottom of that totem pole –  he chairs the Sarasota GOP and was one of President Donald Trump’s top men in Florida. Trump connections may not have played well in the HD 72 special, but both CD 17 and SD 23 have far greater Republican advantages.

The freshman lawmaker hasn’t ruled out a CD 17 run, but his likely play is to wait for Stuebe to announce for Congress and pounce into the Senate race, where he would have a massive advantage.

SD 23 covers all of Sarasota County and part of Charlotte.

GOP voters outnumber Democrats 161,000 to 114,000 and the seat voted plus-14 for Trump in 2016, putting it outside the common threshold for a “blue wave” flip.

So, who runs for Gruters’ seat if he goes for an upgrade?

Perhaps there will be a do-over for James Buchanan, the loser of the HD 72 special. He didn’t have to go through a primary in that race, but if he wants to become a lawmaker this year he’ll have to.

His opponents will likely have more political experience than him this time around. Likely to join him in the HD 73 race are Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh and Lakewood Ranch Republican Club head Steve Vernon. Vernon took Gruters to the wire in the 2016 primary for HD 73, losing by just 385 votes.

That three-way primary would be a pricy one, but it’s a guaranteed House seat for the winner. HD 73 went plus-25 for Trump in 2016 and Democrat Liv Coleman, who is currently filed to run against Gruters, has only $5,000 of loans in her campaign account.

If Gonzalez’ makes a move, it’s likely for Congress. He told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune he’s “absolutely” interested in the seat. If he makes the plunge, there’ll be another battle royale for a state House seat.

HD 74 has a strong GOP edge. Republicans have 21,000 more registered voters than Democrats in the district, making the seat’s GOP advantage half again better than the 13,000-registrant advantage in neighboring HD 72, which recently flipped with the election of Democrat Margaret Good.

Gonzalez beat Democrat Manny Lopez with 63 percent of the vote in 2016, and no candidate has filed to run against him in 2018.

If he hops into the congressional race, his legislative assistant, Vickie Brill, is likely to take a shot, as are North Port Vice-Mayor Linda Yates and up-and-comer Justin Taylor.

Firsthand experience in the legislative process has been more than enough to win a seat for many lawmakers, but Yates brings the experience of an elected official, while Taylor has enthusiasm and ties to former Sen. Nancy Detert working in his favor. An endorsement from Detert, now a Sarasota County Commissioner, could make a big difference early on in a campaign.

No matter who replaces Rooney, expect a few extra fresh faces when the 2019 Legislative Session begins.

Brian Ballard’s newest challenge: representing Maldives in crisis

Florida lobbyist Brian Ballard is facing possibly his biggest challenge yet, representing the Maldives, a nation embroiled in an internal crisis.

Last week, Ballard Partners inked a deal with the Indian Ocean island for a one-year contract worth $600,000 to help build support from policymakers and the U.S. government.

Ballard has been called on for his considerable talents to help the Maldives, as the popular tourist destination faces a national crisis which included the county’s leader declaring a 15-day state of emergency.

Maldives president Abdulla Yameen prompted international outrage when he cracked down on opponents, media, and its courts, arresting justices, including Supreme Court Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed.

On Jan. 29, Yameen’s opponents petitioned the Maldives Supreme Court to investigate allegations of corruption and human rights abuses, asking the court to remove him temporarily. They allege Yameen, who first assumed power in 2013, stole more than $1 million of state funds, including tourism revenue.

Yameen strongly denies the allegations, telling Al Jazeera that the opposition is “seeking to overthrow a legitimate government.” Earlier this month, the United Nations urged the Maldives to end its emergency declaration, calling Yameen’s actions “tantamount to an all-out assault on democracy.”

Ballard, an influential Republican fundraiser and lobbyist with a close relationship to President Donald Trump, will partner with the government-funded Maldives Marketing and PR Corp., to provide consulting and advocacy during the country’s crisis.

As chair of the Florida Trump Victory organization during the 2016 campaign, Ballard stopped representing Trump directly shortly after he won the White House. But soon after, Ballard expanded his Florida-based lobbyist shop to Washington.

Since then, Ballard Partners signed more than $3.5 million in deals with major Capitol Hill clients, including ($140,000); American Road & Transport Builders Association ($200,000); Reynolds American ($220,000) Geo Group ($250,000) U.S. Sugar ($300,000), the governments of Turkey ($1.5 million), the Dominican Republic and Halkbank –  the Turkish state-owned bank.

Managing the Turkish interests for Ballard is former Democratic Congressman Robert Wexler, who joined the firm in 2016.

With more than 30 staffers from Florida to Washington, Ballard Partners has emerged as an essential stop for Republican politicians in both the Sunshine State and nationally. Ballard previously served as national finance chair for Mitt Romney’s 2012 and John McCain’s 2008 presidential bids.

“I was [Trump’s] lobbyist and anyone who knows me and knows my business knows that,” Ballard told POLITICO last year. “We’re not part of the crew that says, ‘Hey, let’s go to town and take advantage of the new administration.’ We came here with a different path, by clients who wanted us to come to D.C. I kind of came reluctantly and I get the criticism. It’s fair criticism. But we have a job to do.”

Bill Nelson dismisses Rick Scott charge he’s done ‘nothing’ on gun safety

Bill Nelson is responding to criticism offered by Rick Scott that the Democrat has done “nothing” when it comes to gun safety.

“I have voted for and sponsored every major piece of legislation, including the comprehensive background checks, as well as getting the assault rifles off the streets,” Nelson told reporters Sunday following a church service he attended at Bethel African American Episcopal in East Tampa.

He said that those votes have gone in vain because Democrats are the minority party in Congress, sidestepping the fact that the Democrats did control all levers of the federal government in 2009 and 2010.

“Too many people have a desire to have an A+ rating from the NRA,” Nelson continued, boasting that he’s proud to have earned an “F” grade from the country’s leading gun rights group.

Scott announced a $500 million school safety package on Friday that the GOP-led Legislature will begin debating on Monday. Most of that funding would go towards putting a law enforcement officer in every public school, and beefing up Safe Schools funding to provide metal detectors, bulletproof glass and steel doors in classrooms. The proposal also calls for gun purchase restrictions for those committed under Baker Act and, perhaps most notably because it goes up against the NRA, a law requiring all people buying firearms to be 21 or older.

That provision, as well as similar measures proposed by President Donald Trump such as stronger background checks and banning “bump stocks” – a device that allows semi-automatic rifles to fire more rapidly — has left Nelson “encouraged” in terms of Republicans being willing to consider measures that they never explored prior to  the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre.

Nelson says it’s the young people at Stoneham Douglas and around the state who have been so passionate in calling for gun regulations that is making a difference so far.

“They see how the massacres increase so much when you have a high-velocity, rapid fire weapon that is designed for combat,” said Nelson, a self-described lifelong hunter.

Nelson said he was in sync with Scott in not supporting the idea of giving teachers guns for protection.

The Florida Democrat is running for reelection for his Senate seat, where he expected to face Scott, who has yet to formally declare his candidacy.

On Friday the two sounded like they were already running against each other when Nelson was dismissive of Scott’s suite of gun safety measures, saying the leadership coming from the governor’s office was “weak” and that he was choosing to only to listen to the NRA, and not the voices of the friends and family members of the Parkland victims who are calling for a ban on assault weapons.

Those comments prompted Scott to reply in kind that Nelson was simply a career politician who in almost 50 years of public life had done “nothing” to show for himself when when it comes to gun safety.

When asked to respond to that claim on Sunday, Nelson began by saying that Scott had failed to answer the question posed by a reporter.

“The question was: what do you think about Bill Nelson said ought to be done? The governor didn’t answer that question. He just wanted to go out, always blame the other fella,” Nelson said.

Nelson said he would reserve comment about the fate of Broward County Sheriff Sheriff Scott Israel, who is now facing severe heat following revelations that his office failed to adequately follow up on red flags about Nikolas Cruz, the 19-year-old confessed gunman of the Parkland incident. Coral Springs police officers who responded to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School say several Broward sheriff’s deputies waited outside rather than rush in as the killer was gunning down students.

Scott has called for the Florida Deptartment of Law Enforcement (FDLE) to conduct an investigation into the law enforcement response to the shooting in Parkland. Because of that investigation, Nelson said he would refrain from commenting.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bill Hager became the first member of the Florida House to call for  Israel to resign from office based on reports about his agency’s handling of the shooting. That list had grown to nearly every other member of the Florida House by Sunday afternoon.

(Photo credit: Kim DeFalco).

Florida’s largest teacher union backs Rick Scott school safety plan

The Florida Education Association hasn’t often championed Gov. Rick Scott‘s education proposals, but it is applauding his $500 million plan to address school safety that he announced Friday in Tallahassee.

The suite of proposals most notably does not include arming schoolteachers, an idea that President Donald Trump and other Florida Republican lawmakers have proposed in the wake of last week’s gun massacre in Parkland.

“I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who has mental issues to use a gun,” Scott said at a news conference unveiling his proposals. “I want to make it virtually impossible for anyone who is a danger to themselves or others to use a gun.”

The plan does include spending $450 million to put a law enforcement officer in every public school, and one officer for every 1,000 students by the 2018 school year. It also calls for hiring more mental health counselors to serve every student a school and funding to provide metal detectors, bulletproof glass and steel doors.

Safety plans would be required before the money would be spent.

“Our members’ primary concern right now is to ensure that our students feel safe and cared for in our schools. We are determined that our students never again experience these all too common shootings,” Florida Education Association President Joanne McCall said in a statement. “We thank the governor and all those involved in crafting this proposal, it is very close to what the FEA has been calling for.”

Scott worked with a variety of experts in preparing his school safety plan, including educators.

An “overwhelming majority of citizens are in agreement that weapons designed for war have no place in our society,” McCall said, adding that while legislators can debate gun control regulations, the FEA will continue to focus on educating public school children and protecting students and education employees.

“We call on both sides of the gun debate to come together for our students — especially for the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High,” McCall said. “The safety of our students is in the hands of our elected officials. It is time to act. No more excuses.”

In defiance of the National Rifle Association, Scott also backed raising the minimum age to buy any firearm, including semi-automatic rifles, to 21 from 18.

David Jolly: Assault weapon license should be as hard to get as White House security clearance

David Jolly says he’s not sure that a ban on assault weapons is possible in Washington, but believes a solution that could happen immediately is to make them “functionally obsolete” for the average citizen.

“Make the requirements to get an assault weapon as hard as it is to get a security clearance in this White House,” the former Republican congressman quipped to laughs while addressing the Cafe Con Tampa crowd at the Oxford Exchange Friday morning.

“That would be a yearlong process,” he said, turning serious to say that it would allow authorities to get as much information about a person’s background as possible, including serious training and storage requirements that he thinks would only allow the most trained sportsman or woman to handle.

Like many Republicans, he also says that enforcing current laws on the books to a greater extent would also work, or as he says, “Enforce the gun laws as strictly as Donald Trump wants to enforce the immigration laws.”

Though not a card-carrying NRA member, Jolly did receive $9,600 in contributions from the gun rights organization in his special election against Democrat Alex Sink in 2014 and was the beneficiary of the group spending more than $100,000 against Sink in that same campaign.

He said the current background check process is relatively toothless, consisting of a criminal conviction check and little else. People’s mental health history, including counseling, is currently not part of such a check.

And with all that has been learned about Parkland confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz, Jolly said it should be.

Universal and comprehensive background checks should include every transaction involved with a gun, Jolly said, so if somebody wants to sell it to a family member, it should be done at the local sheriff’s department.

Jolly said he’s now “evolved” to the point where he believes such medical background history needs to be included in such a background check.

Joining the Indian Shores Republican in the discussion was former Treasure Coast Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy, who called guns like the AR-15 “weapons of war” designed to kill human beings, and said they need to go away.

Cruz used an AR-15 to kill 17 people last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week.

“If you need 50 rounds to kill a deer, you need a new sport. Bottom line,” he said.

Murphy said in the current climate in Washington (controlled by Republicans in both the House and Senate)  banning assault weapons isn’t a viable possibility, but says it should be the ultimate goal.

Eliminating bump stocks, addressing mental health and reinforcing school safety are “baby steps” that Murphy believes are possible to achieve now.

A joint appearance by two moderate former members of Congress (who collectively only spent six and a half years in Washington) was part of their traveling road show on ways to get Washington working better, a tour they are holding across the state and other parts of the country since the fall.

To their credit, Jolly and Murphy aren’t preaching to the crowd that they need to be as moderate politically as they are, but that it’s essential to find common ground to fix the problems that our political system is supposed to do but has been breaking down over the past few decades into increased partisan rancor.

Jolly attributes the beginning of the fissure was the mid-1990s when Newt Gingrich led the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives. However, he also insists that Democrats were poised to do the same thing if they were in charge (which they were for decades in the U.S. House before 1994).

“Newt Gingrich realized not only did we take control of the House of Representatives, we’re now going to demand that K Street give us all their money that they’ve been giving to Democrats,” he said, “and then we’re going to go around the country and set up these funds to push lobbyists money into the states, so we can take over our state legislatures, and start to redistrict, start to close primaries, and put a chokehold that ensures that Republicans have a structural advantage for the next couple of decades.”

“And that’s what they did.”

After losing a re-election bid after redistricting in Florida’s 13th Congressional District in 2016 to Charlie Crist, Jolly has become omnipresent on CNN and MSNBC as one of the most outspoken Republican critics to President Trump. Although he’s said as recently as a month ago that he was still considering a run for office in 2018, he all but admitted on Friday that’s increasingly unlikely.

“Not only am I candidate without a party, I’m a candidate without a donor base.”

He did add that he is already involved with efforts to help out a Republican primary presidential challenge to Trump in 2020, having recently met with Republicans in both Iowa and Washington D.C.

Murphy said the teenagers who were directly affected by the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School and have been protesting this week about gun violence give him great hope.

“It’s powerful for our country,” he said.

Murphy concluded: “To get involved, to knock on doors, to get out there to vote, or at least get others to vote. That’s a powerful thing. Politicians, by and large, will care more about that than the money, or anything else, if they see that as a sustaining movement, it can’t be one week, two weeks and done.

“This has to continue for months, and unfortunately probably years to be effective, but with the passion that I see, I am optimistic that this can be a generation that does lead to results.”

Rick Scott stays in sync with the NRA as he faces a reckoning on guns

The governor is planning to roll out his legislative proposal Friday that, according to a spokesman, will be “aimed at keeping Florida schools safe and keeping firearms out of the hands of mentally ill people.”

With Florida now at the epicenter of a fast-changing national gun debate, the state’s Republican governor is so far refusing to budge from his long-standing opposition to new limits on firearms.

The approach of Gov. Rick Scott, who holds an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association and is preparing to enter what would be a hotly-contested Senate race, stands in contrast to fellow Republicans such as Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and President Donald Trump who in recent days have expressed openness to some new gun limits.

In the days since last week’s mass shooting at a South Florida high school re-energized gun-control activists, Scott has so far responded to questions about the issue with answers that quickly turn to mental health and the need for enhancing safety protocols in schools.

Although he initially told CNN last week “everything’s on the table,” Scott declined an invitation from the network to appear at Wednesday night’s town hall with survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Rubio attended the event and said for the first time he was ready to consider some restrictions on assault weapons — while Scott’s potential opponent in the fall, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, hinted guns could be a focal point in the race by taking a swipe at the governor’s decision to skip.

″[Rubio] had guts, coming here,” Nelson said, prompting boos from the crowd of 7,000 moments later when he added: “Our governor did not come here.”

Scott could face a reckoning on the issue in the coming days, with GOP lawmakers engaged in talks with Democrats designed to produce a potentially modest gun restriction bill before the Legislature’s Session ends next week. The measure would go to Scott for his signature — or possible veto.

The governor is planning to roll out his own legislative proposal Friday that, according to a spokesman, will be “aimed at keeping Florida schools safe and keeping firearms out of the hands of mentally ill people.” The spokesman, John Tupps, said Scott would like to see “swift action,” but he did not specify what that could be.

Scott declined to be interviewed for this story, but several associates this week told The Washington Post he has no intention of softening his views on gun rights.

“He’s committed to Second Amendment rights, and that’s not going to change,” said Brian Ballard, a veteran Florida lobbyist and Scott supporter. “He’s a strong NRA supporter and knows that you have to be careful about tweaking anything that would affect someone’s right to bear arms.”

Keith Appell, a former Scott campaign adviser, said the governor is highly unlikely to embrace new gun regulations.

“He genuinely feels that you don’t solve a symptom of the problem, you solve the problem,” Appell said. “The problem is that schools aren’t safe and is eroding the Second Amendment going to make one kid safer?”

Appell added, “He’s going to be skeptical about the suggestion that banning guns will make school safer.”

Scott, 65, is a wiry and wealthy former health care executive whose anti-establishment entry into politics eight years ago foreshadowed the rise of his ally, Trump.

Known for an upbeat but scripted style, Scott has not shied away from political drama since last week’s tragedy.

He has placed blame on the FBI for failing to act on a call weeks before the shooting, calling for the resignation of the bureau’s director, Christopher Wray.

He has attended numerous funerals, and he has met with survivors of last week’s deadly rampage that killed 17 people and left scores injured. Even in private discussions, he has avoided talk of gun limits.

“He said there is no way that someone who is mentally deranged, such as [Douglas High School shooting suspect] Nikolas Cruz, should have access to a gun,” said Olivia Feller, 16, a junior at the high school who met with Scott on Wednesday along with other students.

One place for consensus could be a revision of Florida’s Baker Act, a law that determines how far law enforcement can go in restricting the activities or purchases of mentally ill people.

Sheriffs and other leaders were divided on whether a change to the scope of the law would infringe on gun rights. Some officials said it should be left alone and urged the state to concentrate on giving weapons to teachers.

Appearing Tuesday at a policy workshop, Scott steered clear of talk of gun rights and focused on “taking a hard look at security” in Florida schools.

“It’s very important we act with a sense of urgency,” Scott said, sitting with a group of sheriffs and state officials.

The deadline for Scott’s final decision on the changes he could support, if any, is fast approaching. State Republican leaders said Tuesday they are planning for a committee vote on their plans next week.

Scott’s enduring position on gun rights reflects the entrenched support for firearms in Florida, despite several of the most deadly mass shootings in U.S. history occurring in the state during his tenure.

Florida has a history of taking the lead nationally in legislating concealed-carry permits, and it has passed a “stand your ground” law, which protects citizens who use deadly force if they feel they are in imminent danger.

Scott’s stance also underscores just how careful most Republican leaders, especially those eyeing higher office, remain on the issue of guns, knowing the party’s base is wary of any push to limit the usage of guns.

Scott has become one of the NRA’s favorite elected officials. The website for the group’s annual meeting this May in Dallas lists him as a speaker earlier in the week, but his smiling photo disappeared from the website by Wednesday. A flier the NRA sent out in 2014 hailed the governor as a trusted foe of “gun control extremists.”

NRA officials made clear this week they intend to fight back against efforts to curb gun rights. The group said in a statement on Wednesday it would oppose legislation to raise the age requirement for buying rifles.

A bill authored by Florida Democrats to ban high-capacity magazines and some semiautomatic weapons failed Tuesday, as gun-control activists and students watched the vote from the state capitol. State GOP leaders said afterward they would consider more modest bills.

The slow pace of debate is a familiar replay for longtime watchers of Florida politics and its governor, although Scott has shown in the past an occasional willingness to move to the center on issues such as Medicaid expansion.

“Florida is littered with examples of people thinking it’ll be a different moment on guns, but the culture never changes,” Florida Republican consultant Rick Wilson said. “This is another one of those moments. That cold political calculus is made, and there is zero movement in Tallahassee.”

Democrats have increased their attacks. “Governor Scott, we need more than your thoughts and prayers. Stop putting the gun lobby ahead of our safety,” a narrator says in the latest ad from Giffords PAC, the political-action committee helmed by former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, a Democrat.

Trump’s allies say presidential action, while at its early stages, could ultimately prod Scott to move further on guns.

“The president’s position goes beyond that, the White House wants stronger background checks,” said Christopher Ruddy, a Trump ally and the Florida-based chief executive of Newsmax Media. “The smart thing to do politically would be to require stronger background checks not only for mentally ill people but for those with criminal backgrounds and other issues. Rick is a strong conservative but he likes to be in line with the president, and Trump is the standard-bearer.”

Florida lawmakers and consultants point back to Scott’s responses to past shootings as the better way to predict his next steps.

“The Second Amendment has never shot anybody. The evil did this,” Scott told reporters two years ago following a shooting in Fort Myers, where two teenagers were killed outside of a nightclub.


The Washington Post’s Michael Scherer contributed reporting from Tallahassee.

Republished with permission of the Washington Post.

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