Donald Trump – Page 7 – Florida Politics
Adam Putnam

NBC News poll: Adam Putnam clear GOP Gov. front-runner, Democrats split

A fresh poll shows Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam with a solid lead in the Republican primary for Governor, while on the Democratic side it’s still anybody’s race.

The NBC News/Marist Poll found Putnam leading Northeast Florida U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis 38-21 percent, with 39 percent undecided. That lines up with another recent poll, commissioned by the pro-Putnam Florida Chamber of Commerce, which gives the second-term Commissioner a 32-15 lead.

On the Democratic side, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is on top with 19 percent support, followed by former Congresswoman Gwen Graham in the No. 2 spot with 17 percent support.

The other three Democrats vying for the Governor’s Mansion — Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Orlando-area businessman Chris King and Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene — combine to have 15 percent support among Sunshine State Democrats, 47 percent of whom say they haven’t decided who they will support in the primary.

Only about a third of those who said they were supporting a particular candidate in the Democratic primary said they were firm supporters, adding a layer of mystery regarding who is really on top in the five-way race primary.

Undecideds make up a much higher share of the Democratic side in the NBC News/Marist Poll than they did in a recent poll from RABA Research, which also found Levine and Graham in tight contest for the top two spots 27-26 percent, followed by King at 15 percent, Gillum at 8 percent and Greene at 3 percent.

Crosstabs included in the poll mainly focused on President Donald Trump and the national political climate. Floridians gave Trump a negative job approval rating, with 43 percent approving and 46 percent disapproving; that meshes with the 56 percent who told NBC News/Marist that they didn’t think Trump should  be re-elected to another term in 2020.

When it comes to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the president, 46 percent of Floridians say it’s fair, while 36 percent are calling foul. About one in six said they were unsure.

Despite the mediocre-to-negative outlook on the president, 46 percent of Floridians say the economy is improving and he deserves some credit. A quarter of Floridians recognized the improvements, but don’t credit them to Trump, while another quarter says the economy has stayed flat since he took office. Just 1 percent said the economy has worsened in the past 18 months.

Joe Henderson: It’s getting harder to identify the good guys

Attorney General Pam Bondi was harassed by protestors last Friday when she was at a movie theater in Tampa for a screening of the Mr. Rogers’ movie “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

Video of the incident went viral. Interestingly, it was captured by a member of Organize Florida who happened to be on the scene.

That group describes itself as “a community-based, nonprofit member organization of low and moderate-income people dedicated to the principles of social, racial, and economic justice and the promotion of an equal and fair Florida for all.”

Very good.

We need more of that.

What we don’t need are the guerilla tactics the video showed against Bondi.

They were inappropriate and juvenile.

Wait a minute, Pam.

Don’t think I’m defending your decision to have Florida join a lawsuit that could end protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.

That’s what triggered the protest, and Bondi should be ashamed to be a party to that. It is cold, heartless, cruel and an unworthy partisan example of how she puts her Republican Party ideals over what is best for all the people.

And I did have to suppress a laugh when I saw her quote in the Tampa Bay Times about the incident.

“We were in a movie about anti-bullying and practicing peace and love and tolerance and accepting of people for their differences,” Bondi told The Times. “That’s what Mister Rogers is all about. We all believe in free speech, but there’s a big difference there.”

A good way to put anti-bullying, peace, love and tolerance into practice might be to stop trying to destroy people’s insurance lifeline without replacing it with something that can provide the coverage they need and can afford.

It’s despicable.

Can you say that, Pam? Sure, you can.

Actually, I doubt she could.

This kind of stuff has been building since Donald Trump started his campaign for president. Progressives and Democrats, in general, despise him and the members of his administration — and, by extension, people like Bondi.

They believe Republican policies are designed to make the rich become richer and to screw the little guy. Often, they aren’t wrong.

They believe Trump is a feckless bully whose fallback position is to lie about pretty much everything. Some of the people who support him believe they have a license to intimidate, mock, berate and stomp on people who have different ideas.

Democrats are fed up. The anti-Trumpies have had enough.

But there is no excuse — none, zero — for some of the things we’ve seen lately.

Take Democratic U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of California, for instance. She is acting just like the person she despises.

Saturday in Los Angeles, she said in a speech, “If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

That’s ignorant on so many levels that it’s hard to know where to start.

It’s basically what Trump called for his supporters to do during the campaign. It’s how he excused racists in Charlottesville for inciting violence. It’s his fallback position whenever he feels the heat.

His opponents aren’t as good at that game as Trump has been, and right now they are too filled with fury to grasp that their best weapon isn’t a rock or screaming insults, it’s a ballot on Election Day.

But even that won’t work if the anti-Trump crowd keeps up this garbage. They shouldn’t try to justify this junk with a “yeah, but …” because they would be wrong.

Non-aligned voters already say they can’t tell the difference between the two parties, and these actions reinforce that belief. And they tend to believe that while conservatives can be hardhearted, liberals can be clueless.

Democrats need to ask themselves a serious question. Florida has elected a Republican Governor in five consecutive elections. The vast majority of top officials in Tallahassee are Republicans.

Yes, gerrymandering can explain the GOP lockjaw on the Legislature, but that doesn’t explain why Dems keep losing statewide races.

It’s just possible that Republicans have done a better job of articulating a vision enough Floridians agree with.

Hard to swallow, eh?

If they want to change that narrative, it’s time for leaders of the so-called “resistance” to show they can be something besides mad.

Recent events aren’t promising.

Rick Scott on travel ban: ‘The president’s job is to keep us all safe’

Tuesday in Jacksonville saw Gov. Rick Scott address the travel ban upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Decried as a “Muslim ban” by critics, President Donald Trump nonetheless is upholding the ban on travel from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen as essential to national security.

The Supreme Court backed Trump’s play by a 5-4 margin, including negating the proposition statements made by the President on the campaign trail should factor in the interpretation of the policy.

In Jacksonville Tuesday to spotlight proposed reforms during his Make Washington Work tour, Scott backed the President on the travel ban, as well as addressing the broader issue of border security.

“The President’s job is to keep us all safe,” Scott said. “That’s his job.”

Describing Florida as a “melting pot,” Scott said, “we love legal immigration in our state.”

However, “people ought to be vetted. We shouldn’t let people into our country who want to harm us, who don’t believe in the principles that we all believe in.”

“A lot of these problems are caused because Congress has failed to act,” Scott added. “They’ve failed to secure our borders, they sit there and just do speeches and photo ops, but they don’t go do their jobs. Secure our borders. Fix our immigration policy. Then we wouldn’t have so many of these problems.”

Regarding secure borders, one of the biggest controversies of 2018 for the Trump administration has been the separation of families of migrants coming across the Mexican border.

Florida Politics asked Scott, who has demonstrated an interest in policy relative to Latin America throughout his two terms as Governor, if the United States was to blame for creating the conditions that led to migration from those countries.

“It’s actually the two Castro brothers’ fault … their thugs are in Venezuela now, Nicaragua, causing civil unrest. You look at a place like Venezuela, a beautiful country, they don’t have enough medicine to take care of the children. People don’t have enough food now. It’s all because of the Castro brothers.”

Saying that he believed in promoting democracy and freedom worldwide, Scott noted that in Florida, “what happens in Latin America has a big impact on us … and we have to do whatever we can to promote freedom and democracy.”

Scott was optimistic about the new Colombian president, but: “What [Nicolas] Maduro is doing in Venezuela and what [Daniel] Ortega is doing in Nicaragua is despicable.”

Bill Nelson: Eight migrant children in Homestead facility still haven’t spoken with parents

Bill Nelson has been asking questions since last week about the 70 migrant children housed at a Homestead facility after being separated from their parents.

On Tuesday, he was able to get some answers during an interview with Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.

The conversation, which took place during a Senate Finance Committee hearing, started off tense as Nelson questioned Azar over the fate of those 70 children. After Nelson was denied entry to that Homestead facility, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order seeking to keep migrant children together with their parents when apprehended at the border.

Trump also said children already separated from their families would be reunited.

Nelson was eventually granted access to the Homestead center this past weekend. After pressing Azar, Nelson learned that most of those 70 children remain there, with several still unable to contact their parents.

“On Saturday, I was not allowed, in the detention facility in Homestead, Florida, to speak with the 70 children that I was told that were there that had been separated from their parents,” said Nelson. “Do you know what has changed since Saturday with those 70?”

Azar’s reply didn’t deal with that question; instead, he addressed why Nelson was not allowed to speak with the children.

“These are minor children. They’re not there to be deposed or interviewed, so I do want to be careful about that.”

He continued, “We are doing our best and our utmost to be respectful of those children.”

That’s when Nelson cut him off: “Mr. Secretary, I didn’t ask that. I asked what has happened since Saturday to those 70 children.”

Azar did not directly answer but gave a general overview of the government’s process.

“They would either continue to be in our care, or if they have reached a point where a sponsor who is in the United States, who is a parent or a relative, has been vetted and has been approved for sponsorship, they would have been released as expeditiously as possible to those sponsors.”

After some more back-and-forth, Nelson once again pressed Azar on the administration’s promise to bring those separated children back to their parents. “What is the plan to reunite 2,300 children?”

Azar replied that they must vet the parents to confirm the child does belong to them and make sure they aren’t traffickers or smugglers posing as parents. “At that point, they will be ready to be reconnected with their parents.”

He also echoed Trump’s call for legislation allowing families to stay together.

“We’re not allowed to have a child be with a parent who is in custody of the Department of Homeland Security for more than 20 days. And so until we can get Congress to change that law to the forcible separation of the family units, we’ll hold them or place them with another family or relative in the United States.”

Nelson says HHS arranged a follow-up call with the Homestead facility after his discussion with Secretary Azar. During that call, Nelson says he was told that 62 of the 70 children had been able to contact their parents. The remaining eight had not.

Per Nelson’s conversation, HHS officials say they were not able to locate the parents of those eight children, possibly because they had already been deported.

Of the 62 who had contacted their parents, only two requested the kids return to their home countries. The remaining 60 asked HHS to place them with sponsors or relatives in the U.S.

According to Nelson, HHS said the children would not be reunited with their parents at detention facilities. Instead, the agency may set up what they’re calling “family camps” where families could be detained together.

Nelson says he asked HHS how those “family camps” would work and was told officials were still figuring that out.

Carlos Curbelo on Donald Trump travel ban: ‘Discontinue this misguided policy’

After the Supreme Court today upheld Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban targeting seven countries, South Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo condemned the practice, urging the president to “discontinue this misguided policy.”

The version of the ban before the Supreme Court was the third of its kind after previous versions of the ban were struck down by lower courts. This latest variant restricted travel from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Venezuela and Yemen.

Critics argued the ban was a form of religious discrimination, as most of the countries on the banned list were majority-Muslim nations.

Many also cited Trump’s statements throughout the 2016 campaign, signaling a desire for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” They argued those statements showed that an animus toward Muslims was motivating the travel ban, rather than a desire for increased national security.

Chief Justice John Roberts addressed those concerns in his opinion, stating: “We must consider not only the statements of a particular president, but also the authority of the presidency itself.”

The 5-4 majority held that it is within the president’s power to restrict the flow of immigration from certain countries and that prior political statements do not negate that power when an Executive Order is neutral on its face.

The text of the order did not mention the words “Islam” or “Muslim.” Instead, it focused on the countries’ abilities to provide documentation that would allow proper vetting of those traveling to the U.S.

Importantly, what the Supreme Court was not doing was expressing any opinion on whether the ban was a good idea or not. “We express no view on the soundness of the policy,” Roberts said in the majority opinion.

Curbelo made clear that he finds the policy to be unsound.

“The United States is and has always been a generous nation when it comes to welcoming those who seek refuge and want to contribute to society,” Curbelo wrote in a statement following the ruling.

“While we should demand a strong vetting process and orderly, lawful entry, we must not summarily reject an entire region of the world, and we should never use any religious test. I urge the administration to discontinue this misguided policy and instead take action to continue our tradition of welcoming those who are persecuted.”

That is a sharp rebuke from a member of the president’s own party. But it appears unlikely that Trump will heed that message.


Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police generally need a search warrant if they want to track criminal suspects’ movements by collecting information about where they’ve used their cellphones.

Republican state Sen. Jeff Brandes may not have been the first Florida lawmaker to raise concerns about that issue, but he has probably been the loudest.

In 2013, in the face of staunch opposition from law enforcement, he sponsored legislation that would have prevented warrantless cellphone searches.

Privacy in an age of boundless technological innovation is one of a barrage of issues of which Brandes is on the forefront:

— He was talking about ride-sharing before many of his colleagues knew how to pronounce Uber.

— He’s the lawmaker who paved the way for autonomous vehicle testing in Florida.

— He’s been one of the leading proponents in the Senate for the expansion of medical marijuana and the reforming of the criminal justice system.

It’s on issues like those last two which have often left Brandes with fewer allies than he would like. Then again, PolitiFact in 2011 described him as the most independent member of the Florida Legislature, at least if you go by the voting records.

Because of his forward-thinking (among several other reasons), I’ve been proud – no, make that excited – to work for Brandes’ political operation. I broke with many other progressives to support his insurgent bid in 2010 against Democrat Bill Heller, himself a good man and thoughtful lawmaker.

This November, Brandes faces a challenge from a very intelligent, exceedingly friendly challenger, Carrie Pilon, whom I’ve known since she was the president of our high school’s student government. The voters of Senate District 24 are genuinely blessed to have two competent candidates.

In any other election cycle, Team Brandes would not be very worried by the threat posed by Pilon. She’s a first-time candidate with probably a tenth of the resources Brandes has to run his campaign.

Just as he did against another smart, capable Democrat (Judithanne McLaughlin), Brandes would simply overwhelm her in a district that leans ever so slightly to the right.

But this is no ordinary election cycle. In fact, it has the possibility to be the most extraordinary non-presidential election cycle of the last 30 years. That’s because it is, simply, the Cycle of Trump.

Since Trump was elected in 2016, there has been one election after another won by Florida Democrats. If you need evidence that a blue wave is forming in Florida politics, look no further than last week. That’s when a white Democrat defeated a Cuban Republican for the Miami-Dade County Commission seat that represents – wait for it – Little Havana.

Unfortunately, if a blue wave does sweep through Florida politics, it will wipe away sensible Republicans like Brandes, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, and/or state Sen. Dana Young.

What a blue wave is unlikely to do is take out the far-right, fire-breathing Republicans who have transformed the GOP into a party that looks nothing like ‘the party of Lincoln.’

Meanwhile, moderating forces of the Republican Party are heading for the hills.

Last week, the brilliant strategist Steve Schmidt announced he is becoming an independent and is urging others to vote Democrat.

Also conservative columnist George Will suggested that voters should punish Paul Ryan‘s colleagues in the U.S. House by giving control to the Democrats.

I am a registered Republican. Not because of philosophy but because, in Pinellas County, Florida, the only real action in the primaries has been on the GOP side. Democrats have been unable to slate an entire ballot much less recruit enough candidates to enjoy competitive primaries.

For the last ten years, I’ve waged war for Brandes and many, many others against the forces of the far-right. At some point or another, we all delude ourselves into believing we are Robert Jordan.

If there were any time to leave the Republican Party, now — in this era of Trump — now would be the time. Most people probably assume I’m a Democrat anyway.

But I ain’t leavin’.

If there ever were a time for common-sense Republicans to fight for the soul of their party, it’s now. Don’t just abandon it to the #MAGA crowd.

That’s why it’s critical to support Republicans who 1) genuinely believe in limited government, and 2) are running in vulnerable seats susceptible to the blue wave.

A vote for Curbelo or Mario Diaz-Balart or Brandes or Rob Bradley or dozens of other main street Republicans is not a vote for or against Donald Trump. It’s a vote to make sure there’s still a party left after he’s long gone.

New Matt Haggman ad features wife: ‘Trump is destroying families’

A new ad from Democratic congressional candidate Matt Haggman is once again going after the Donald Trump administration over its immigration policies.

This time, however, Haggman is using his wife Danet Linares, whose family migrated from Cuba through the Freedom Tower.

In the ad, which is set to air on English TV stations, Linares speaks in Spanish critiquing Trump’s now-reversed policy to separate migrant children from their families when the parents have been charged with entering the country illegally.

Linares says, “My parents arrived from Cuba on the Freedom Flights. My family is everything to me. Trump is destroying families. In Congress, my husband Matt will do everything possible to eliminate ICE.” The ad will run with English subtitles.

Haggman, who is running in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, recently called for the abolishment of ICE in light of Trump’s push for harsher immigration enforcement. He continued those calls in a statement on the ad’s release.

“ICE needs to be disbanded and Trump’s hateful rhetoric needs to be rejected,” said Haggman. “This bilingual ad drives home the point that every community in South Florida has a stake in this election.”

He argues abolishing ICE is just one piece of the puzzle in solving the country’s immigration problems.

“I believe in the need for comprehensive immigration reform — including a pathway to citizenship, permanent solutions for DACA and TPS recipients, and a streamlined visa process. Abolishing ICE must be a part of that larger picture. Our goal must be to create an immigration system that treats immigrants as human beings and renders ICE unnecessary.”

Haggman also highlighted his wife’s motivations for speaking out against Trump, noting her family’s history.

“My wife Danet’s family came from Cuba through the Freedom Tower in 1966, fleeing the tyranny of the Castros and looking for a better life. They found a country that welcomed them with open arms and gave them a shot.

“That’s the America we need to get back to being.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ron DeSantis ad touts Donald Trump endorsement

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis is out with a new ad this week as part of a $12 million ad buy through the primary election, and as expected Donald Trump’s endorsement takes center stage.

The ad, titled “Only DeSantis,” goes through the Northeast Florida Congressman’s background and a handful of policy positions at a breakneck pace.

“Iraq War veteran. JAG officer who dealt with terrorists in Guantanamo Bay” … “The guts to fight establishment politicians in both parties to drain the swamp. 100 percent pro-life. Leading the charge against illegal immigration. Taxpayer superhero,” the ad narrator says.

The final third of the 30-second spot is devoted to President Donald Trump’s endorsement of DeSantis, which was recently clarified and reiterated via a second endorsement tweet from Trump himself.

“Backed by the big man himself, President Trump says Ron DeSantis is a quote ‘brilliant leader’ and an ‘absolute warrior,’” the ad says in closing.

DeSantis faces Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Republican primary to succeed term-limited Gov. Rick Scott. Recent polling shows Putnam far ahead of DeSantis among likely Republican primary voters, though more than half are undecided.

Putnam also leads in fundraising. As of May 31, Putnam had raised more than $30 million between his campaign and committee accounts, while DeSantis had raised $10.8 million, including $1.1 million in old money transferred in from his now-defunct Congressional re-election campaign.

The ad is below.

CBS News poll: Rick Scott 46%, Bill Nelson 41%

Republican Gov. Rick Scott leads incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson in the 2018 U.S. Senate race according to a new poll from CBS News.

The poll found Scott with 46 percent support among likely voters and Nelson with 41 percent support. That 5-point margin is Scott’s largest among recent polls. Earlier this month, a Florida Chamber poll showed the two-term Governor with a 48-45 percent lead. Last month, an FAU poll showed Scott ahead 44-40 percent.

Another recent poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, showed Nelson ahead 48-46 percent.

The CBS News results, as summarized by Anthony Salvanto, Jennifer De Pinto, Kabir Khanna and Fred Backus: “Scott has a five-point edge among Florida likely voters. Most Florida voters like the job Scott is doing as governor, he has a 61 percent approval rating among registered voters. In addition to strong support from his own party, most independents approve of the job he’s doing (as do about a third of Democrats). Scott currently leads Nelson among independents. The two are effectively tied among Hispanics.”

Further down, CBS News says the race tightens when it includes responses from registered voters, who unlike “likely voters” aren’t as committed to showing up in November. More of those voters were Democrats and independents than Republicans.

The horserace between Nelson and Scott was among several issues tracked in the poll, which also found that about half of Florida voters won’t change the way they vote based on the controversial family separation policy the Trump Administration has been enforcing at the US-Mexico border.

The poll also found that President Donald Trump has a 52 percent approval rating in the Sunshine State, which is higher than most other recent polls show. That makes Florida voters more supportive of Trump than voters in the traditionally more Republican-leaning states in the CBS poll, which found Trump with 50 percent support in Texas and 47 percent support in Arizona.

The Florida poll was conducted June 19—22 and interviewed 1,002 registered voters. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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