Hillary Clinton Archives - Page 7 of 164 - Florida Politics

Steve Schale reflects on a ‘race-to-the-bottom’ election year

Democratic political strategist Steve Schale realized that Donald Trump would win Florida 45 minutes after the polling places closed.

“Going into Election Day, I thought that Hillary Clinton had a 200,000 vote lead,” Schale, who managed Barack Obama’s Florida campaigns in 2008 and 2012, but sat out 2016, told the Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee Wednesday.

“By comparison, Barack Obama had a 150,000 vote lead going into Election Day in 2008. Donald Trump would have to win Election Day by nine points. Mitt Romney won Election Day by five points.”

In fact, Schale said, Trump won the day by 13 points.

As the votes came in, at 7:15 Schale thought Clinton had the election “in the bag.”

“By 7:45, I knew it was over,” based on heavily GOP Panhandle counties that were yet to report vote counts. “There were just not enough (Democratic) votes out there for it to play out.”

That’s how finely balanced Florida is politically, Schale said.

Since 1992, when Florida became a swing state, voters here have cast 50 million presidential election ballots, with Democrats enjoying an 18,000-vote advantage in that time — a 0.4 percent difference.

“It’s important not to over-read this election. Even though Trump won, Democrats won governorships in places like North Carolina,” Schale said.

“This was basically a race-to-the-bottom campaign. And, frankly, my party does not win races to the bottom. There are more Republican voters who vote in every election than Democrats. So when you get into a race to the bottom, we don’t win. We have to inspire people, as Barack Obama did in 2008.”

Florida is a “huge, massive place,” Schale said. Miami represents the world’s 32nd largest economy. Tampa ranks No. 57. Orlando’s GDP equals Kuwait’s. Voting patterns reflect the states of origin of Florida’s people, and the I-10 corridor is the fulcrum.

“Hillary Clinton did better in Tampa and Orlando than Barack Obama,” he said.

“Where she lost was in these places that between 7:15 and 7:45 came in and reported. Places like Pasco County, Barack Obama lost by 7,000 votes in 2008, she lost by 53,000.”

It was the 10th closest election in American history, Schale said, and Clinton won the popular vote by at least 2.3 million.

“We’ve not seen this kind of instability in American politics since the 1890s. Our politics are more unstable today than during two world wars, the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Era. It’s Americans calling out, crying out, ‘Please, Washington, be functional. Do something.’ ”

Getting there might be difficult. “The problem is, in both parties, the primaries have become so insane,” Schale said.

“My friends in Bush world, I remember asking them early on, ‘How are you going to win a primary when 60 percent of your primary voters in Iowa believe Barack Obama’s a Muslim from Kenya?’ On my side, same thing.

“That’s the challenge. These primaries are making the candidates more extreme than the country is. Until one of the parties or the other figures it out, we’re going to keep going back and forth.”

As evidence of consensus, he cited gun control. People get hot about it, yet 75 percent of the public supports banning weapons sales to people on the no-fly list, he said.

“Both parties continue to misread these back-and-forth elections as a complete repudiation of the other party and a complete endorsement of something else,” he said.

“One of these days, somebody’s going to figure out that you can run for office on a fiscal conservative, socially liberal message that appeals across party lines, and is going to win 400 electoral votes.”

Clinton supporters should not hope the Electoral College might deny Trump the presidency, Schale said.

“One thing about electors, they’re picked by the candidates. While there have been faithless electors over time — one or two, maybe, at most — you will not see any change in the Electoral College this year. They are slates that are delivered by the campaigns to the state.”

And Schale wishes Trump would shut up about nonexistent voter fraud.

“This voter fraud thing that’s out there right now is absolutely abysmal,” he said. “Not only because it’s a lie. It’s because it plays into the basic cynicism people have about institutions. All of us in the process, we all have a responsibility to defend the institutions.”

Clinton team sees recount effort as waste of resources

Hillary Clinton’s aides and supporters are urging dispirited Democrats to channel their frustrations about the election results into political causes — just not into efforts to recount ballots in three battleground states.

The former Democratic presidential candidate and her close aides see the recount drive largely as a waste of resources, according to people close to Clinton. The effort is being fueled by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who’s formed an organization to try to force recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

“Believe me if there was anything I could do to make Hillary Clinton the next president of the United States I would,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a longtime Clinton supporter. “But this is a big waste of time.”

Aides say Clinton is focused on moving past her unexpected defeat and has devoted little attention to the recount or thinking about her political future. She’s been spending time with her grandchildren and going for walks near her Westchester home. Sightings of Clinton hiking with her dogs and shopping at a Rhode Island bookstore went viral on social media.

“There have been a few times this past week where all I wanted to do was curl up with a good book and our dogs and never leave the house again,” Clinton said in an emotional speech at a gala for the Children’s Defense Fund, her one public appearance since her loss.

Former President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, has been poring over the election results, second-guessing decisions by top campaign aides and intensely trying to figure out how his wife lost the white working-class voters who were the base of his electoral coalition, say people familiar with the campaign.

Clinton’s team was aware of possible discrepancies soon after the election, telling top donors on a conference call four days after the election that they were looking into potential problems in the three states. But while many campaign staffers believe Russian hacking influenced the outcome of the election, blaming foreign actors for incursions into campaign and Democratic National Committee emails, they’ve found no evidence of the kind of widespread ballot box tampering that would change the results of the race — or even flip a single state.

Still, some dejected Clinton supporters have been unwilling to accept the results. Stein has raised $6.5 million for her recount campaign, according to a count posted on her campaign website on Tuesday. That’s nearly double the roughly $3.5 million she raised during her entire presidential bid.

Some former Clinton aides have asked frustrated supporters to donate their dollars to what they view as more constructive causes, like state parties or the Democratic candidate in Louisiana, where a Dec. 10 runoff will be the party’s last chance to pick up a Senate seat this year.

“I wouldn’t give a dollar to Jill Stein,” said Adam Parkhomenko, a longtime Clinton aide. “Volunteers, supporters and Democrats, they want to pick themselves up and get back out there. The best vehicle to do that is the Louisiana Senate race.”

Clinton’s team conducted an exhaustive investigation into the possibility of outside interference in the vote tally, tasking lawyers, data scientists and political analysts to comb over the results. They contacted outside experts, examined the laws governing recounts and double-checked all the vote tallies.

The campaign found no “evidence of manipulation,” wrote Marc Elias, the general counsel for Clinton’s campaign, in an online essay. But, he said, Clinton agreed to minimal participation in Stein’s effort, largely to make sure that her interests are represented. They put out a call for volunteers to monitor the proceedings and are relying on local lawyers to handle filings and other legal matters.

Clinton is under pressure to participate from her supporters, some of whom have struggled to accept the election results given her lead in the popular vote, which has grown to more than 2.3 million in the weeks after the Nov. 8 election.

“Now that a recount is underway, we believe we have an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton to participate in ongoing proceedings to ensure that an accurate vote count will be reported,” Elias wrote.

Clinton’s lawyers filed motions with a Wisconsin judge on Tuesday looking to join Stein’s lawsuit demanding that Wisconsin officials recount ballots by hand. The state elections commission will formally began the recount on Thursday.

Stein’s organization has also filed for recounts in six of Pennsylvania’s largest counties and says it plans to file a petition Wednesday demanding a Michigan recount.

“It’s election law malpractice to not have your lawyers sitting around the table with Jill Stein’s lawyers,” said Adam Ambrogi, elections program director at the bipartisan Democracy Fund. “It is just due diligence.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Duval GOP: ‘Obama and Hillary’ supporters were ‘novelty voting’

A post-election infographic from the Republican Party of Duval County raises more questions than it resolves about what happened on Election Day.

The most provocative assertion: supporters of Hillary Clinton and, in the two elections before that, Barack Obama, were guilty of “novelty voting.”

Clinton and Obama, centrist and corporatist Democrats by many reckonings,  were apparently not supported by nearly half the voters in Duval County for their policy bona fides.

Parenthetically bolstering the “novelty voting” charge: descriptors of Obama as “(1st Black Presidential Candidate)”  and Clinton as “(1st female Presidential candidate).”

“Despite the #NeverTrump movement, and the novelty of 1st female [SIC] running for president, we topped our vote for Romney and McCain,” the infographic asserts.

Clinton lost by roughly 6,000 votes in Duval, and the local Republicans claim to have “robbed her of victory,” despite the “Super PACs and Hillary” having “canvassed our conservative voters as never before.”

In the wake of Election Night, many local Democrats saw a silver (or blue) lining in Clinton’s strong showing. However, Duval Republicans are the ones gloating at November’s end.

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Donald Trump taps Tom Price to lead HHS, plans 2nd meeting with Mitt Romney

President-elect Donald Trump moved to fill out his Cabinet Tuesday, tapping Georgia Rep. Tom Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Aides signaled that at least one other Cabinet nomination was imminent.

The president-elect appeared to still be torn over his choice for secretary of state. He summoned former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to New York for dinner Tuesday night to discuss the post for a second time. He was also meeting with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who was getting new attention from Trump’s team. On Monday, Trump spent an hour with retired Gen. David Petraeus, another new contender.

Trump’s decision to consider Romney for the powerful Cabinet post has sparked an unusual public backlash from some of his closest aides and allies. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has warned that it would be a “betrayal” to Trump supporters if he selected Romney, who was a fierce critic of the president-elect.

Three people close to the transition team said Trump was aware that Conway planned to voice her concerns about Romney in public and they pushed back at suggestions that the president-elect was angry at her for doing so.

Even as he weighed crucial Cabinet decisions, Trump appeared distracted by outside forces — or eager to create distractions himself. He took to Twitter early Tuesday to declare that “nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag.” He warned that those who do should face “perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

Trump offered no context for his message. The Supreme Court has ruled that flag burning is protected by the First Amendment.

The president-elect spent the weekend tweeting his opposition to a recount effort in up to three states that is led by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and joined by Hillary Clinton‘s team. He also falsely claimed that millions of people had voted illegally in the presidential election and provided no evidence to back up the baseless charge.

Trump won praise from Republicans Tuesday for his pick of Price to serve as health and human services secretary. A six-term congressman and orthopedic surgeon, Price has been a leading critic of President Barack Obama‘s health care law. If confirmed by the Senate, he’ll be a leading figure in Republican efforts to repeal the measure.

Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Price “has proven to be far out of the mainstream of what Americans want” for programs that help seniors, women, families and those with disabilities. His nomination, Schumer said, is “akin to asking the fox to guard the henhouse.”

Trump’s team also announced Tuesday that Seema Verma had been chosen to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Jason Miller, a transition team spokesman, said at least one other Cabinet post would be announced in the afternoon. He did not elaborate.

Transition aides said Trump was likely at least a few days away from a decision on secretary of state. Romney has supposed from Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is heading the transition efforts.

Romney was fiercely critical of Trump throughout the campaign, including his preparedness for the foreign policy and national security decisions that confront a president. Still, he is said to be interested in serving in the administration and held a lengthy initial meeting with Romney before Thanksgiving.

Other top Trump allies, notably Conway, have launched a highly unusual public campaign against a Romney nomination. Conway’s comments stirred speculation that she is seeking either to force Trump’s hand or give him cover for ultimately passing over Romney.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a loyal Trump ally, was initially seen as the leading contender to helm the State Department. But questions about his overseas business dealings, as well as his public campaigning for the job, have given Trump pause.

Trump is now said to be considering Giuliani to head the Homeland Security Department, according to those close to the transition process.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Donald Trump drama rolls on: Disputes, falsehoods hit transition

The drama, disputes and falsehoods that permeated Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign are now roiling his transition to the White House, forcing aides to defend his baseless assertions of illegal voting and sending internal fights spilling into public.

On Monday, a recount effort, led by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and joined by Hillary Clinton‘s campaign also marched on in three states, based partly on the Stein campaign’s unsubstantiated assertion that cyberhacking could have interfered with electronic voting machines. Wisconsin officials approved plans to begin a recount as early as Thursday. Stein also asked for a recount in Pennsylvania and was expected to do the same in Michigan, where officials certified Trump’s victory Monday.

Trump has angrily denounced the recounts and now claims without evidence that he, not Clinton, would have won the popular vote if it hadn’t been for “millions of people who voted illegally.” On Twitter, he singled out Virginia, California and New Hampshire.

There has been no indication of widespread election tampering or voter fraud in those states or any others, and Trump aides struggled Monday to back up their boss’ claim.

Spokesman Jason Miller said illegal voting was “an issue of concern.” But the only evidence he raised was a 2014 news report and a study on voting irregularities conducted before the 2016 election.

Trump met Monday with candidates for top Cabinet posts, including retired Gen. David Petraeus, a new contender for secretary of state. Trump is to meet Tuesday with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who is also being considered more seriously for the diplomatic post, and Mitt Romney, who has become a symbol of the internal divisions agitating the transition team.

Petraeus said he spent about an hour with Trump, and he praised the president-elect for showing a “great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there.”

“Very good conversation and we’ll see where it goes from here,” he said. A former CIA chief, Petraeus pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is heading the transition effort, teased “a number of very important announcements tomorrow” as he exited Trump Tower Monday night.

Pence is said to be among those backing Romney for State. Romney was fiercely critical of Trump throughout the campaign but is interested in the Cabinet position, and they discussed it during a lengthy meeting earlier this month.

Other top Trump allies, notably campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, have launched a highly unusual public campaign to warn the president-elect that nominating Romney would be seen as a betrayal by his supporters. Conway’s comments stirred speculation that she is seeking to either force Trump’s hand or give him cover for ultimately passing over Romney.

Three people close to the transition team said Trump had been aware that Conway planned to voice her opinion, both on Twitter and in television interviews. They disputed reports that Trump was furious at her and suggested his decision to consider additional candidates instead highlighted her influence.

Conway served as Trump’s third campaign manager and largely succeeded in navigating the minefield of rivalries that ensnared other officials. Trump is said to have offered her a choice of White House jobs — either press secretary or communications director. But people with knowledge of Conway’s plans say she is more interested in serving as an outside political adviser, akin to the role President Barack Obama‘s campaign manager David Plouffe played following the 2008 election.

The wrangling over the State Department post appears to have slowed the announcements of other top jobs. Retired Gen. James Mattis, who impressed Trump during a pre-Thanksgiving meeting, was at the top of the list for Defense secretary, but a final decision had not been made.

Trump was also considering former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for Homeland Security secretary, according to those close to the transition process. Giuliani was initially the front-runner for State and is still in the mix. But questions about his overseas business dealings, as well as the mayor’s public campaigning for the job, have given Trump pause.

Those close to the transition insisted on anonymity in commenting because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the private process.

Even as Trump weighs major decisions that will shape his presidency, he’s been unable to avoid being distracted by the recount effort. He spent Sunday on a 12-hour Twitter offensive that included quoting Clinton’s concession speech, in which she said the public owed Trump “an open mind and the chance to lead.”

His final tweets challenging the integrity of an election he won were reminiscent of his repeated, unsubstantiated assertions during the campaign that the contest might be rigged. Those previous comments sparked an outcry from both Clinton and some Republicans.

Clinton lawyer Marc Elias said the campaign has seen “no actionable evidence” of voting anomalies. But the campaign still plans to be involved in Stein’s recount to ensure its interests are legally represented.

Trump narrowly won Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. All three would need to flip to Clinton to upend the Republican’s victory, and Clinton’s team says Trump has a larger edge in all three states than has ever been overcome in a presidential recount.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Ralph Fernandez convinced Obama policy on Cuba a major factor in Florida going red

Did President Obama’s latest executive actions regarding Cuba policy in October incite hardline exiles to vote for Donald Trump in large enough numbers to help him win Florida? That belief was pushed by some in the immediate days after the election, and is getting more life from a Hillary Clinton supporter who knows the Cuban exile community very well in the wake of Fidel Castro’s death over the weekend.

Ralph Fernandez is a lifelong Democrat who helped raise money for Clinton’s campaign in Tampa this year. He’s also an attorney who defended many who went up against Castro’s government, and he says the exile community did everything possible to make sure that Clinton didn’t win the state.

“I knew that the efforts from Tampa – Kathy Castor, the presidential announcement, the way that it was carried out – was going to create problems for Hillary in the elections, and it did, because the dinosaurs … came together as they had never done to vote for Trump, a president-elect who will do nothing for Cuba, despite what he promised,” Fernandez said on Saturday.

Obama’s rapprochement with the Castro government began in December 2014, when he announced he had reached a deal with Cuba to begin to normalize relations. Since then, embassies have reopened in both countries, the U.S. has loosened trade and travel restrictions, and Obama visited the island there in March.  His latest foray took place last month,  when he announced that he was removing limits on the import of Cuban cigars and rum. Shortly after that, he ordered U.N. Ambassador Samantha Powers to abstain from a vote condemning the U.S. economic embargo on Cuba. Whether those moves changed opinion among Cuban-Americans in Florida, the fact of the matter is that support for Trump among that demographic shifted from 33 percent in September to 52 percent just before the election, according to a New York Times/Sienna poll.

Although a virulent anti-Castro critic, Fernandez is a Democrat who backed Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and raised funds for Clinton in 2016. He also used to be an ally of Castor, but their relationship was fractured after Castor returned from Cuba in 2013 and called for an end to the fifty-year plus economic embargo against the communist island.

“I told her this was only the wrong thing to do, but it was just going to piss off these old Cubans in Miami that were out to pasture already and may have found that it was too hot or too inconvenient to go out that day, too difficult to read through the lengthy ballot and so forth, and it would just decrease the numbers, and decrease the interest,” Fernandez says.

While public opinion polls have shown a generational divide on the president’s moves towards Cuba (and general support overall for the policy change), the older generation of the Cuban-American community in Florida are in many cases single-issue voters regarding Cuba, Fernandez says. “They were constantly being confronted by the issue of the consulate and this and that, and so it just upset them so that their numbers were astronomic.” But he believes that many of those Cuban exile voters who supported Trump will  be solely disappointed by what they end up getting, and says it should have been just as upsetting that the president-elect was attempting to do business in Cuba as well, as alleged by Newsweek and Bloomberg.

“I told many of my friends, ‘can you believe that you are going to support the guy who was trying to do business in Cuba when I was representing the shoot down of the Brothers to The Rescuewhen I spent 1,000 hours on the skyjacking case or when I represented Rene Cruz in the California case with the two other defendants out there, while I was dedicating my life and and thousand of hours pro bono, and I’m nearly a million dollars out of my pocket defending these causes, and we were adamant about anybody violating the Trading with the Enemy Act going to prison, and now this you’re overlooking this?” Fernandez said with exasperation.

He said those same friends didn’t want to hear about that, and instead would shift the conversation about how President Obama had offended them and they were concerned about a Cuban consulate coming to Tampa. “And that’s all you heard in that community,” he says.

Not everyone agrees with Fernandez theory.

A week after the election results, Cuban American communication strategist Giancarlo Sopo’s wrote up an analysis of the Cuban American vote in Florida, and concluded that it was “fiction” to conclude that Obama’s Cuban policy cost Clinton Florida in the election.

Martin Dyckman: Hillary Clinton, Democrats must now live with futile victory, anachronism

Late on the afternoon of Oct. 8, 1966, the Florida State University football team was trailing its archrival, the University of Florida, 19 to 22. With 26 seconds remaining, FSU quarterback Gary Pajcic threw a 45-yard pass to the visitors’ end zone. Lane Fenner, a wide receiver fresh off the bench, had outraced two Florida defenders and the nearest official. Newspaper photographs clearly showed Fenner scoring the game-winning touchdown, clutching the ball with one knee on the turf a yard inside the chalk line before rolling out of bounds.

Trouble was, that’s not how field judge Doug Mosley saw it. He ruled the pass incomplete as Fenner and FSU people on the sidelines howled in protest. There was no instant replay then. Florida went home with the victory. An hour later, the photographs came out.

“I’m going to tell my boys they won the game,” said the FSU coach, Bill Peterson.

But, of course, they hadn’t. Mosley’s blown call was the reality. There was nothing for the team could do about it but determine to win the next Florida game, which they did by a score of 21-16—their first victory at Gainesville.

People still talk about “the catch.” The photo is in the state archives.

This is the second time that example has come to mind in a context far more significant than sports.

The first was 16 years ago, when Al Gore lost the Electoral College to George W. Bush despite winning the popular vote.

I telephoned Pajcic, a prominent lawyer and philanthropist at Jacksonville (he died in 2006), to ask how one copes with losing what you know you won.

You just go on, he said, and try to make the best of it.

That’s for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats to do following her futile popular vote victory, by a margin five times larger than Gore’s, undone by the same gross anachronism.

There’s a replay of sorts, but don’t expect it to change the reality. The recounts sought in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania would have to uncover massive fraud, for which there are only conspiracy theories rather than evidence.

The irony is that the Electoral College was premised on the notion of wiser people acting as surrogates for the voters, exercising their own best judgment. Enough electors presumably could do that now in states where the laws don’t bind them. But not enough will.

However, Clinton’s two-million vote margin is at least a moral victory that deprives Donald Trump of any claim to a mandate. It should oblige him to try to keep his postelection words about uniting the nation, though most of his appointments so far put that in the same category as the promises he is shedding even faster than the ones he makes to his wives.

His attorney general, who will be responsible for enforcing the civil rights laws, has spent his life opposing them.

His education secretary has spent her life trying to destroy the public schools. His senior adviser was the leading propagandist for the white supremacists and other punks now known, lamely, as the “alt right.” Trump would have everyone believe that Stephen Bannon doesn’t stand for what he was promoting. Trump can easily think that about Bannon because Trump does not seem to believe what he says himself.

It’s astonishing for him to be entertaining even the thought of the jaded Rudy Giuliani as a rival to Mitt Romney for secretary of state.

The Democrats in the Senate have a duty to resist nominees who are hostile to public education, the environment and civil rights. They have more than enough votes to filibuster and to attract that handful of Republicans who refused on principle to slink aboard Trump’s bandwagon.

They also have a duty to pursue the most ominous aspect of the election, which isn’t that Trump won but that he did it with the significant help of a hostile, dangerous foreign power.

If a Democrat were in that position, the Republican House would already be unlimbering the tumbrels of impeachment.

The Democrats need to keep after the Republicans until public opinion forces them establish a commission of inquiry into what Russia actually did to corrupt our election and what might be done about it.

It’s their duty also to keep the heat on Trump’s enormous and abundant conflicts of interest.

And, most of all, to fight like hell when Paul Ryan sets out to destroy Medicare by converting it into a voucher program. One of Trump’s promises was to protect Medicare. He should be held to that one, if nothing else.

The Congress is an imperfect representative of the people. Gerrymandering distorts the House. That every state has two senators gives inordinate power to those states that are thinly populated.

The presidency is the only true voice of the people. They gave Trump’s opponent some 2 million more votes than he got. For him to continue to act as if that doesn’t matter would set him up for a resounding defeat four years hence. Even the Electoral College more often calls it right, and the losing team often comes back.

___

Martin Dyckman is a retired associate editor of the newspaper now known as the Tampa Bay Times. He lives in suburban Asheville, North Carolina.

Rick Scott may serve as model, and warning, for Donald Trump

He was opposed by the Republican establishment. During a contentious campaign, he spoke forcefully about the need to crack down on immigration. And he used millions of his own money to bolster his political career.

President-elect Donald Trump? No, Rick Scott, the current governor of Florida.

While they are oceans apart in temperament and public demeanor, Scott and Trump were both political neophytes who came from a business background and won elections despite being viewed as longshots unable to convince voters to look past their controversial histories. Scott and Trump, who is vacationing this week at his home in Palm Beach, are also long-time friends.

“One of the reasons I always believed he would win Florida … is that Florida had already elected someone similar to him,” Scott said when discussing Trump’s nearly 113,000-vote victory in the Sunshine State, which helped propel him to victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

And as the country gets ready for a Trump administration his friend and political ally Scott may prove a valuable example of the challenges that lie ahead.

After being in office for five years Scott has been forced to drop campaign promises, alter his stance on key issues and deal with an ongoing divide with members of his own party.

But Scott has also shown that it can be wrong to underestimate him.

When he first ran for office in 2010, Scott, a multi-millionaire, used his experience as a former health care executive and outsider as a tonic for Florida’s double-digit unemployment rate and struggling economy. His bid for governor was staunchly opposed by GOP leaders who were backing then-Attorney General Bill McCollum.

With a campaign aided by one of the same pollsters who helped Trump, Scott poured tens of millions of his own money to pay for television ads that hammered McCollum over immigration. In the ads, Scott promised to push a law styled on one in Arizona that would allow police to check someone’s immigration status.

Scott’s first-ever foray into campaigning was characterized by his steadfast refusal to meet with editorial boards or seek newspaper endorsements. When he defeated McCollum, he vowed to crack down on the special interests and lobbyists who he contended were “crying in their cocktails” due to his primary victory.

Yet Scott was still considered an underdog against Democrat Alex Sink because back in 1997 he had been forced out of his job as the head of Columbia/HCA amid a federal investigation into fraud. Although Scott was never charged with any wrongdoing the company paid a then-record $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud. Sink hit at Scott, saying Floridians couldn’t trust him. Scott fired back with his own ads that questioned Sink’s dealings while serving as Florida’s elected chief financial officer. He also accused her of cheating during a televised debate because she read a message from a campaign adviser during a commercial break.

After spending more than $70 million of his own money, Scott edged Sink by more than 61,000 votes.

There are key differences between Scott and Trump, points out Brian Burgess, who started working for Scott when he created a group to oppose President Barack Obama‘s health care overhaul and would later serve as Scott’s first communications director. Burgess calls Scott reserved and extremely disciplined, while Trump is more a showman who speaks off the cuff.

“They are totally different personalities, but both are good guys and both of them are misread by the public more so than any other politicians I know,” said Brian Ballard, a top Republican fundraiser in Florida who has worked for Trump as a lobbyist the past several years.

But Scott’s two victories have not ensured him success and he has discovered that being governor is not the same as being a CEO.

When he first started, Scott barred lobbyists from entering his office. He brought in other outsiders as his top staff and initially talked about aggressively pushing his agenda through the Legislature. That changed, however, after legislators scaled back, or rejected many of his ideas, including his push for massive tax cuts. Scott then turned to Tallahassee insiders to help him negotiate with the Legislature.

After the Legislature deadlocked on toughening immigration laws, Scott abandoned the idea. Ahead of his 2014 campaign, Scott even signed into law measures that guaranteed in-state tuition rates to the children of immigrants who entered without legal permission. Scott came into office railing against Obama’s health care overhaul but has changed his position twice on whether to expand Medicaid as allowed under the overhaul.

The governor now finds himself at odds with members of his own party, especially new House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who helped scuttle Scott’s push this year to increase state spending on incentives to lure new businesses to the state. Due to the rifts, Scott has stopped raising money for the Republican Party of Florida.

Another clear parallel between Scott and Trump is that both men are entering office with enormous wealth.

Scott has foregone his $130,000 a year salary, but not his state-subsidized health insurance, and he sold off the state plane and instead uses his own private jet for travel. He placed his assets in a blind trust controlled by a long-time business partner, although that has not shielded him completely from questions of conflicts.

Scott said that Trump would be better off if he followed the Florida governor’s lead on assets. Trump has said he will use a blind trust, but he has said he will place his children in charge of his business empire.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Experts ask Hillary Clinton to seek recount in 3 battleground states

A group of election lawyers and data experts have asked Hillary Clinton‘s campaign to call for a recount of the vote totals in three battleground states — Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — to ensure that a cyberattack was not committed to manipulate the totals.

There is no evidence that the results were hacked or that electronic voting machines were compromised. The Clinton campaign on Wednesday did not respond to a request for comment as to whether it would petition for a recount before the three states’ fast-approaching deadlines to ask for one.

President-elect Donald Trump won Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by razor-thin margins and has a small lead in Michigan. All three states had been reliably Democratic in recent presidential elections.

The group, led by voting-rights attorney John Bonifaz and J. Alex Halderman, the director of the University of Michigan Center for Computer Security and Society, contacted the Clinton campaign this week. That call, which was first reported by New York Magazine, raised the possibility that Clinton may have received fewer votes than expected in some counties that rely on electronic voting machines.

But Halderman, in an article posted on Medium on Wednesday, stressed that the group has no evidence of a cyberattack or voting irregularities. He urged that a recount be ordered just to eliminate the possibility.

“The only way to know whether a cyberattack changed the result is to closely examine the available physical evidence?_?paper ballots and voting equipment in critical states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania,” Halderman wrote.

Recounts, which are often costly and time-intensive efforts, would likely only be initiated if the Clinton camp pushed for one, though Wisconsin independently announced that it would conduct an audit of its vote. A call for a recount, particularly coming on the heels of a fiercely contested and sharply partisan election, would likely be cheered by Democrats but denounced by Republicans eager to focus on governing.

A request to the Trump transition team for comment was not immediately returned.

Trump’s campaign had long believed that his message of economic populism would resonate in the Rust Belt. He frequently campaigned in Pennsylvania and made a late push in both Wisconsin and Michigan, successfully turning out white working-class voters whom pollsters may have missed.

Many pre-election polls showed Clinton with slight leads. While advocating for the recounts, Halderman writes that “the most likely explanation” for Trump’s surprise win “is that the polls were systematically wrong,”

The deadlines for petitioning for a recount in all three states are in the coming days, with Wisconsin’s on Friday. Green Party candidate Jill Stein announced a fundraising effort Wednesday to pay for such recounts.

The focal point of any possible electoral cyberattack presumably would have been electronic voting machines that, whether or not they are connected to the internet, could be infected with malware that could change vote totals. But many of those machines produce a paper record of the vote that could be checked to see if the vote tabulations are accurate.

Pennsylvania is considered one of the states most susceptible to hacking because 96 percent of its voting machines have no paper trail. Wisconsin is far less vulnerable because it uses electronic machines with voter-verifiable paper trails in most counties. Michigan is considered the safest of the three because it uses paper ballots.

Officials in the three states confirmed that no recounts have been ordered. A spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department says it is not tallying the number of voting complaints to determine whether federal action is warranted.

Many election experts have called for routine post-election audits designed to boost public confidence in vote outcomes, by guarding against both tampering and natural vote-counting mistakes. These could involve spot-checks of the voting records and ballots, typically in randomly selected precincts, to make sure that votes were accurately recorded.

In many states, audits involve hand-counting the votes on paper ballots and comparing the results to the totals stored in the state’s electronic voting system. Such audits do sometimes turn up mistakes that reverse an election. That happened in Florida’s Palm Beach County in 2012, when a post-election audit determined that the “winners” in two city council races were actually losers.

Routine audits also make it possible to confirm the accuracy of elections without putting the onus on losing candidates to call for a recount. In states without regular audits, a candidate who question the results gets “painted as a sore loser,” Pamela Smith, president of the nonprofit Verified Voting, said in an interview earlier this year. “If you do a regular audit, you often don’t need a recount. It either shows the count was right or you find something.”

Any attempted hack to swing the results in three states would have been a massive and unprecedented undertaking. But electoral security was an issue that loomed large in many Americans minds this year as the Democratic National Committee and several Clinton staffers had their emails breached and later released. U.S. security officials believe that hack of email was orchestrated by Russian hackers.

Many Thanksgiving travelers hoping to leave politics behind

When Mary Mitchell gathers with family for Thanksgiving, she plans to enjoy cooking with her sister, a satisfying meal and maybe a game of charades afterward. One thing that’s not on the list: politics.

“It’s kind of a sacred time for family to be together, be thankful and enjoy a holiday,” Mitchell said Monday as she waited for a flight from New Orleans to her home in Chicago. “I really don’t think … that the political arena should be given that much power to come into your home at that time when it’s really special family time.”

Almost 49 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more for the holiday, the most since 2007, according to AAA. Many are hoping to take a break from the rancor and division of the election between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton and instead focus on what unites them: family and tradition.

Kevin Baumann, a 47-year-old boilermaker from Spokane, Washington, belongs to a union whose members are expected to vote Democratic and is accustomed to talking politics at family gatherings, where things can get heated. But Baumann said he has no plans to bring up the subject Thursday at his parents’ house, an annual event he missed the last two years because of work.

“We’ll avoid it,” said Baumann, as he stopped in central Montana with his 27-year-old son on his way home to Washington after working on a coal plant in Iowa. “We’ve got bigger things to talk about during the holidays.”

Some people dread a family showdown so much that they’re opting to stay home, said Heather McCutcheon, 48, a Chicago massage therapist and practitioner of Reiki, a method of reducing stress through touch.

“They are anticipating at best that it will be awkward and uncomfortable; at worst, a conflict,” McCutcheon said.

She said she’s seen Facebook posts issuing open Thanksgiving invitations for those who don’t want to go home. Another friend plans to celebrate with family but is getting a hotel room to avoid her mother’s gloating over Trump’s win.

McCutcheon will spend Thanksgiving with friends, all of whom — like her — supported Clinton. But she still doesn’t want to talk politics: “I don’t want to spend Thanksgiving rehashing this,” she said. “I’m hoping for a moratorium on political talk.”

Trump voter Stephanie Keller of Picayune, Mississippi, agrees that people should focus on coming together this Thanksgiving — to support the president-elect.

“I hope that people calm down and realize that a decision has been made by obviously a majority of the United States and that we can just come together and support him the way that we’re supposed to,” said Keller, who was at the New Orleans airport on her way to Boston to visit a friend.

Some families have already set ground rules.

“My sister-in-law is a big Trump supporter, and she and I have gone back and forth for this entire election,” said Arlene Anjos of Roselle Park, New Jersey, who voted for Clinton. “It got to the point where we were having a conversation about Thanksgiving and … one of the agreements was that we’re not going to talk about politics anymore.”

“That is off-limits for this Thanksgiving dinner,” she said.

Reprinted with permission of the Associated Press

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