Jeb Bush Archives - Page 7 of 150 - Florida Politics

Mark Wilson: Rising workers’ comp rates hurt businesses

Mark Wilson

Attention Florida business owners — in case you missed it, you are about to be hit with a workers’ compensation insurance increase that you most likely haven’t planned for, all for the benefit of Florida’s billboard trial lawyers.

This week, the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation approved a 14.5 percent workers’ compensation rate increase that takes effect Dec. 1 for new and renewal policies, the fallout from two damaging Florida Supreme Court decisions, Castellanos and Westphal.

A rate increase this big, this sudden, hurts Florida’s competitiveness and employers large and small. Many businesses will be forced to delay hiring — or even cut existing staff — to cover this leap in their workers’ comp premiums.

The increase is also a direct blow to Florida’s business-friendly climate and jeopardizes the 62 consecutive months of private-sector job growth we’ve experienced.

Let’s rewind back to 2003. At that time, Florida had the second-highest workers’ comp rates in the United States. These rates were threatening our state’s competitiveness. In response, the Florida Chamber of Commerce joined with then-Gov. Jeb Bush to pass a series of commonsense legislative reforms.

These reforms have become a national success story. Since enactment, Florida’s workers’ comp rates dropped approximately 60 percent, while at the same time injured workers got the care they needed more quickly and were able to return to work an average 10 days sooner than in the past.

But the Supreme Court rulings, issued earlier this year, have jolted job creators and threaten to unravel all the great progress our state has made over the past 13 years.

The most damaging of the two court rulings overturned reasonable attorney fee caps established to stop trial lawyers from using often minor workplace injuries as a means for suing businesses in hopes of hitting the jackpot on fee awards.

Florida’s insurance regulators had little choice but to approve the sudden rate hikes we’re seeing now because they forecast that the court’s approval of runaway legal fees is retroactive and will set off a tidal wave of trial lawyers refiling old cases and concocting new ones.

The worst part of this mess is that it isn’t about improving safety or care for injured workers. It’s been thoroughly documented that the 2003 reforms succeeded in getting workers well and back to work faster, while eliminating unnecessary legal costs. The only group benefiting from this ruling is the trial lawyers.

In fact, in Castellanos, the trial lawyer argued for $38,000 in attorney fees in a case in which the injured worker was awarded only $800 — and the Supreme Court now says those fees are acceptable.

We urgently need a legislative solution to address this looming crisis. Our goal must be to ensure injured workers continue to receive access to quality care and the court system, while providing job creators cost controls and the benefits of reining in outrageous attorney fees.

The Florida Chamber is actively leading the charge to help lower workers’ comp rates once again. Our Workers’ Compensation Task Force has been engaging Florida’s highest elected leaders, working with the brightest legal minds and coordinating with other states to develop the right solution. We are also working closely with business leaders and local chambers throughout the state to ensure Florida’s success story does not unravel and become a nightmare again.

Putting injured workers and job creators first, not trial lawyers, is the right thing to do to keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working.


Mark Wilson is the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and can be reached at

Democrats throughout Florida call on GOP opponents to denounce #TrumpTapes vulgar comments

A newly released videotape showing Donald Trump making crude comments about a married woman he tried to seduce is sending shock waves throughout Florida politics.

“I’ve said some foolish things,” the Republican presidential nominee said overnight Friday in a taped apology posted on Facebook. “But there’s a big difference between the words and actions of other people. Bill Clinton has actually abused women.”

But Florida Democratic candidates statewide are not letting Trump off the hook so easily. Nearly all of them are calling for the Republican nominee — as well their opponents who support him — to either clarify their position or withdraw from the race.

U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy released a statement Saturday calling Trump’s comments “disgusting,” blasting his opponent, incumbent Republican Marco Rubio, for giving a tepid response.

“While prominent Republicans like Senators Mike Crapo and Kelly Ayotte have already withdrawn their endorsements,” Murphy writes. “Marco Rubio issued a tweet with empty rhetoric and continues to stand by his choice for President.”

“Donald Trump’s comments are sickening, inexcusable and dangerous,” Murphy said. “They contribute to a culture that devalues women and makes our society unsafe … Trump is an unhinged misogynist who has no place anywhere near our country’s highest office.”

Murphy points out Rubio claims he ran for re-election to serve as a check on the next president, even if that president was Trump.

“But how can he serve as a check on a Trump presidency if he won’t even hold Trump accountable as a candidate?” Murphy concluded. “If Senator Rubio cannot withdraw his endorsement after this latest sickening news, then he should withdraw from the race.”

Randy Perkins, who faces Republican Brian Mast in the race for Florida’s 18th Congressional District, says that his opponent has regularly ignored the regular flow of Trump’s “crude comments about women.”

In a statement, Perkins accuses Mast of continuing to support Trump, despite frequent comments the GOP nominee made about women, including calling them “fat pigs … dogs … and slobs” and talking about prenuptial agreements as, “There are three types of women, all gold diggers.”

“I am deeply disturbed and disgusted, not only as a husband and a father, but as a human being,” Perkins said. “Bragging about groping women is never acceptable, and this type of language can never be tolerated or condoned.

“This is why I’m calling on Brian Mast to officially revoke his endorsement of Trump’s candidacy for president,” he added. Many prominent Republicans, including Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney, have had the courage to denounce Trump’s vile rhetoric toward women, but, unfortunately, Brian has yet to take their lead.”

Perkins concludes with a question: “Whose side is Brian on, the people of District 18 or Trump?”

David Singer, the Democratic candidate for Florida House District 60, calls it a simple issue of “right versus wrong.” He also demanded Jackie Toledo, his Republican opponent for the Hillsborough County-based seat, to immediately denounce Trump’s remarks.

“As a husband and the father of two young daughters,” Singer said in an email. “I am horrified at Donald Trump’s comments. What he described as his normal behavior with women is criminal sexual assault, plain and simple.

“Anyone who seeks public office should immediately condemn him and call for him to drop out of this race as he is unfit to serve. This is not an issue of left versus right. This is an issue of right versus wrong. This does not reflect the values of our community.

“I am joining Democrats, Independents and Republicans across the country who are calling on him to leave this race. I hope that Jackie Toledo would immediately disavow him as well and join with us in opposing his candidacy.

“At the very least, I would hope that she will finally state that she will not vote for him. If she won’t reject Donald Trump’s candidacy after this, she should tell us what it would take.”

Former Broward County Commissioner Ken Keechl refers to the release of the video — now trending on Twitter as #TrumpTapes — as the “Moraitis Moment.”

Keechl, a Democrat running for House District 93, was referring to his Republican opponent, incumbent state Rep. George Moraitis, who took to the stage last month to introduce Trump in Broward County.

“He is the kind of President that I want,” Moraitis had said at the rally.

Keechl is demanding an apology.

“The country, and world, now have seen what many Republicans, Democrats and Independents have known for so long — Donald Trump is offensive and demeaning to women and his words on the video released yesterday only show how disgusting and hurtful he is,” Keechl said in a statement. “If my opponent stays silent — or worse — continues to endorse and support Donald Trump, then he not only condones Donald Trump’s words and action, but he too will owe Broward residents an apology.”

Jeb Bush: ‘No apology can excuse’ Donald Trump’s vulgar comments

Former Gov. Jeb Bush joined scores of Americans outraged by vulgar comments made by GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump in a 2005 video uncovered this week by The Washington Post.

“As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump’s reprehensible comments degrading women,” the once-presidential candidate tweeted Friday evening.

Talking with Billy Bush, who was then a host of “Access Hollywood,” Trump was heard on the three-minute long video describing attempts to have sex with a married woman and bragging about women letting him kiss and grab them. Billy Bush is Jeb Bush’s cousin.

“When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything,” he said. “Grab them by the p—-. You can do anything.”

Trump was preparing for a cameo appearance on the daytime soap opera “Days of Our Lives.” According to the New York Times, the video was discovered by “Access Hollywood” producers, scanning archival footage for past interviews with Trump. NBC News, part of the same corporation as “Access Hollywood,” acquired the tape; the Post also obtained a copy to the video.

Trump responded with a statement calling the exchange: “locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course – not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”


State issues final order for workers’ comp cost increase

As expected, state insurance regulators have issued a final order jacking up the price of worker’s compensation insurance by nearly 15 percent.

The order was published Thursday.

The decision approves the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) request “for an overall combined statewide average rate increase of 14.5 percent,” the Office of Insurance Regulation said in a press release.

The rate hike, which applies to new and renewal policies, is effective Dec. 1. The increase continues to be bitterly opposed by business groups.

The bulk of the increase is blamed on two Florida Supreme Court decisions, both authored by Justice Barbara Pariente. 

One struck down a provision in state worker’s comp law limiting the time injured workers can get temporary disability benefits, saying such payments should last five years, not two. Another invalidated the law’s cap on legal fees as unconstitutional.

The U.S. Labor Department, in a new report this week, is calling for “exploration” of federally mandated minimum benefits.

According to NPR, the report says changes in state workers’ comp law have resulted in “the failure of state workers’ compensation systems to provide [injured workers] with adequate benefits.”

In Florida, opponents have criticized the 2003 changes put in place by Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature, saying they were draconian and favored employers at the cost of injured employees.

Companies said the new system cut costs, which helps businesses grow jobs. And the changes also were intended to reduce lawsuits over benefits.

For more information about the public hearing and rate filing, visit the “NCCI Public Rate Hearing” webpage.

To view or download a copy of the NCCI rate filing, go to the I-File Forms & Rates Filing Search System and enter File Log #16-12500 into the “Quick Search” function.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.6.16 — Do you want to live forever?

On the campaign trail last year, an ebullient Jeb Bush used to talk about how we were on the verge of the greatest time to be alive ever, with a limitless future ahead.

“We’re on the verge of where my little boy Jack, my four day-old Jack is going to live until he’s 130 years old,” Bush told hundreds of Republican activists at a New Hampshire Republican Party summit in April of 2015. Later, he moved it up to 150 years.

Jeb sounded like he had found common cause in believing in The Singularity, the moment when humans — with the aid of technology — will supposedly live forever.

One scientist, David Sinclair, a co-director of a lab on aging at Harvard Medical School, recently predicted that yes, the first person to live to 150 has already been born. “Over the last 10 years, my lab and many others around the world have shown that it’s not just possible to delay aging, but to reverse aspects of it,” he said last year.

Maybe so, but a new study made public yesterday suggests there is a natural limit to human lifespan of about 115 years old.

Jan Vijg, Xiao Dong, and Brandon Milholland, from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have produced a new report saying that — after looking at demographic data from the last century — they believe human lifespan has a hard ceiling at around 115 years.

As The Atlantic reports, between the 1970s and early 1990s, our maximum age rose from around 110 to 115 — and then stopped after 1995. Despite sanitation, antibiotics, vaccines, and other medical advances, the stats show the oldest living people simply aren’t dying any later. They’re unlikely to either, the Atlantic reports, regardless of calorie restriction, drugs like rapamycin, and all of our other efforts to slow the flow of sand through the hourglass. “In science, you never know,” says Vijg. “But I’ve not seen anything that I think would break through the ceiling.”

“There’s no question that we have postponed aging,” says Judith Campisi from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. “But to engineer an increase in maximum lifespan, we’ll probably have to modify so many genes that it won’t be possible within our lifespan—or even our grandchildren’s lifespan.”

So maybe Jeb’s grandson Jack won’t make it to 150, or 130.

Most importantly for all of us, though, is how long we can in a vigorous state, right? What’s the point of living to be 110 if the last 20 years amount to sitting on a couch?

In other news …

As they prepare to debate today in St. Petersburg, David Jolly joined with Charlie Crist in calling for an additional early voting site in South St. Pete. Jolly’s statement came after a Crist-led press conference in South St. Pete.

A new report from the Center for American Progress expresses concern about Florida’s voting machines, but the secretary of state’s office says many of those same counties have had upgrades since the 2014 election.

Hillsborough County Commissioners approved a six-month moratorium on the creation of any medical marijuana dispensaries. County staff will work on creating a regulatory framework for such entrepreneurs to get into the local market, as Floridians prepare to vote for Amendment 2 regarding medical pot next month.

Tampa City Council District 7 candidates have differing opinions on that major $251 million, 30-year stormwater tax approved last month by the current council.

Meanwhile, two of the candidates in that race — Luis Viera and Jim Davison, announced some new endorsements.

We spent a few minutes chatting up AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka when he was in Tampa earlier this week.

Former GOP Senate candidate Todd Wilcox has formed a new Super PAC, called “Restoring American Leadership.”

Jeb Bush to teach, lecture at Harvard this fall

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be spending some time at Harvard University this fall.

Harvard’s Kennedy School announced on Tuesday that Bush, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination, will be a visiting fellow in the Program on Education Policy and Governance.

Bush plans to serve as a guest instructor and presenter on education issues during several visits to the Ivy League university during the fall term. He is the founder and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education.

Bush is scheduled to deliver the annual Edwin L. Godkin Lecture at Harvard on Thursday. The school says he will discuss problems with economic and social mobility in the U.S. The more than century-old lecture series is named for the founder of The Nation magazine.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Mitch Perry Report for 9.27.16 — The ‘what difference does it make?’ debate

Was it as good as you hoped it would be, America?

For months, people have talked about how they could not wait to watch Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump battle it out in their first presidential debate. We all know that excitement wasn’t because of Clinton’s sterling debate style. No, it was because of the unknown about how The Donald would perform.

And … ?

Let’s put it this way: Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, just said on MSNBC this morning that Clinton failed to deliver the knockout punch. Absolutely true; so is that how we’re grading this thing?

Look, under any which way you score a debate, Mrs. Clinton had the winning hand. But as Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush can tell you, traditional scoring points don’t necessarily mean much in debating against Donald J.

Conservatives are upset at the question selections offered by moderator Lester Holt — no Benghazi, no Clinton Foundation, no immigration. But as some said about the criticism of NBC’s Matt Lauer after the “Commander in Chief” forum, if you’re complaining about the moderator, you’re probably losing.

Many of the questions did put Trump in a vise — his explanations for not disclosing his income taxes felt hollow (where he boasted about not paying them), and his attempt to blame Sidney Blumenthal and Patti Solis Doyle regarding where Barack Obama was born seemed weak.

On style, it was interesting to see how long Trump would stay relatively subdued before he became the more blustery, bombastic candidate who dominated most of the Republican presidential debates in 2015 and early 2016.

The momentum has been moving Trump’s away in the past two weeks. Does that get stalled now? Does Clinton pick up some of the undecided voters, or Berniebros flirting with Jill Stein and/or Gary Johnson?

So many questions. My favorite line this morning, though, is the phrase “this really doesn’t change much.”

Then why all the hype in the first place?

In other news …

House District 68 Republican JB Benshimen insists he’s still in it to win in in his race against Democrat Ben Diamond, but his poor fundraising numbers aren’t encouraging.

Dover Republican Ross Spano’s House District 59 seat is one Democrats are targeting this fall. He tells us what he’s done in office since his 2012 election.

Former Pasco County DEC Chair Alison Morano is now leading a group targeting Marco Rubio for his past statements regarding Social Security.

Today is National Voter Registration Day, and various Latino advocacy groups are working on signing up people to vote in advance of Florida’s Oct. 11 deadline.

And Dana Young gets the firefighters unions in Tampa and Hillsborough County’s endorsements in the Senate District 18 race.

Florida primaries eyed: Representation of few, or the many?

It took just 14,496 votes to win his closed Democratic primary for one of Florida’s 27 congressional seats. Now Darren Soto is virtually assured of going to Capitol Hill, unlikely to face a strong Republican challenge this November in his safely Democratic district.

The state senator snared the votes of just 2 percent of the Orlando area district’s 750,000 residents, beating three other candidates in last month’s closed-party, winner-takes-all primary. Only registered Democrats could cast ballots in Soto’s race and the small percentage of them likely decided the contest before the general election.

It’s a scenario repeated regularly in Florida’s state and congressional races in districts firmly controlled by one or the other of the two major parties. Now such outcomes are prompting calls to reform Florida’s primary system so more voters have a say in who represents them.

“That’s a question that comes up often,” said Pamela Goodman, president of the Florida League of Women Voters. Her group is studying the primary system and will make recommendations next year to lawmakers on broadening the electoral process.

Florida is one of only nine states with a strict closed primary system, which prevents independent and minor party voters from casting primary ballots. Proponents say political parties should have the sole say in who they nominate, but critics say closed primaries exclude a large swath of voters, particularly as the number of independent voters grows.

Until 16 years ago, Florida primaries weren’t even over until a candidate won a ballot majority. If no primary candidate received at least 50 percent plus one vote, the top two met in a runoff to decide who reached the general election.

But then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush eliminated the runoff in 2002, a year he was seeking re-election and two years after his brother George W. Bush carried the perennial swing state by 537 votes in a famously chaotic presidential election. Jettisoning the primary runoff was part of reforms aimed at making Florida elections run more smoothly.

The impact on Sunshine State politics was immediate.

In 2002, political newcomer Bill McBride won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination over former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno by 0.4 percentage points in a three-way race. Many believe Reno would have defeated McBride in a runoff and gone on to face Bush. And in 2010, now Gov. Rick Scott won the Republican nomination with only 46 percent of the vote though a runoff could have overturned the results.

And this year, state Rep. Matt Gaetz is a lock to represent northwest Florida in Congress after capturing just 36 percent of the vote in a seven-way Republican primary, meaning 64 percent of voters wanted someone else in Washington from their firmly GOP district. It’s a decision that essentially excludes Democrats and independents.

It was a runoff that helped primary runner-up Bob Graham into the governor’s office in 1979.

Eventually a three-term U.S. senator, Graham avidly supports resurrecting the runoff primary. He said the current system often encourages election of the most extreme candidates among both major parties. He said primary reforms could make representation more moderate, in line with the views of most voters.

“The question ought to be not whose convenience are we serving, but what makes democracy work best and gives the people the opportunity to have persons in office who represent the broadest consensus,” said Graham, who now runs a University of Florida center for greater citizen engagement with government.

Only 11 states still have some form of a runoff primary, mostly in the Deep South. Louisiana, California and Washington state have all-inclusive primaries where the top two vote earners advance to the general election, 15 states have open primaries and nine states allow independent voters to choose which primary they’ll vote in.

People are increasingly open to changing primary systems because they don’t like current options that contribute to partisan extremes in Washington, said Rob Richie, executive director of FairVote, a non-partisan Washington-area group that seeks to make voting more representative.

“There are different approaches that make sense for different states. There’s more openness in the reform world to not have a one-size fits all model,” he said.

Ion Sancho, elections supervisor in Leon County that includes Florida’s capital of Tallahassee, was first elected in 1988 aided by a primary runoff.

He agreed more voters should have a say in who’s elected, but isn’t espousing a return of the second primary. Instead, he said all candidates should be put on a primary ballot regardless of party and all registered voters, including independents, should be allowed to vote. The top two candidates would face off in November.

That notion doesn’t appeal to Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell, who chairs the House committee that considers election issues. He prefers the idea of voters picking their first two choices in a crowded primary. If no candidate wins a majority, then the second choice of voters are weighed to determine a winner.

Changing Florida’s primary system would require legislative action or a change in the state constitution through a ballot initiative.

“I’m not afraid to try to tinker with it,” Caldwell said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Charles Canady on Donald Trump’s Supreme Court wish list

Former lawmaker and current Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady now is on the final list of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump‘s “potential Supreme Court picks.”


Canady, one of two conservatives on the state’s highest court, and 20 others are jurists that Trump on Friday said “he would consider as potential replacements” for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February.

“The freedoms we cherish and the constitutional values and principles our country was founded on are in jeopardy,” Trump said in a statement. “The responsibility is greater than ever to protect and uphold these freedoms and I will appoint justices, who like Justice Scalia, will protect our liberty with the highest regard for the Constitution.

“This list is definitive and I will choose only from it in picking future justices,” he added. “I would like to thank the Federalist Society, The Heritage Foundation and the many other individuals who helped in composing this list of 21 highly respected people who are the kind of scholars that we need to preserve the very core of our country, and make it greater than ever before.”

Canady, 62, had no comment Friday, Florida Supreme Court spokesman Craig Waters said in an email.

The justice, a Lakeland native, got his undergraduate degree from Haverford College in 1976 and his law degree from Yale Law School in 1979, according to his official biography.

He has been in private practice, including with the Holland and Knight firm, and served three terms in the Florida House of Representatives (1984-90) and four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives (1993-2001), rising to chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution.

He became general Counsel to Gov. Jeb Bush, who later appointed him to the state’s 2nd District Court of Appeal, based in Lakeland, in 2002, the bio says. Gov. Charlie Crist then named him to the Supreme Court in 2008.

Canady also served as the court’s chief justice in 2010-12. He is married to Jennifer Houghton, and they have two children.

Others on Trump’s list include Supreme Court of Texas Justice Don Willett, Supreme Court of Georgia Justice Keith Blackwell, and U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno of Miami.

U.S. Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a Republican who once clerked for conservative Justice Sam Alito, is also on the list, but his spokesman told POLITICO he wasn’t interested in the job.

Scalia was a stalwart conservative who authored the court’s 2008 D.C. v. Heller decision that affirmed individuals’ right to possess and use guns under the Second Amendment.

He “used his keen intellect and missionary zeal in an unyielding attempt to move the court farther to the right after his 1986 selection by President Ronald Reagan,” the AP reported in its obituary.

Standing room only for Bill Weld town hall in Jacksonville

On Thursday evening, in front of a standing room only crowd of 300 people at Jacksonville University, Libertarian Vice-Presidential candidate William Weld expounded the message of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism.

For those looking for an alternative to the two major parties, the Libertarian message – and Mr. Weld himself – provided it.

Weld told the story of how he got into the race at the town hall.

Presidential nominee Gary Johnson, like Weld a former libertarian Republican governor, called Weld earlier this year with a straightforward proposition: “what about running together?”

Johnson was about to go into an extended pitch, but it wasn’t needed.

The candidates met in Las Vegas.

They had a four hour conversation.

Then, Weld related, they “agreed” to run together, “shook on the deal, and had a steak dinner.”


That straightforward approach is a world away from the calculated nature of the major party tickets; two candidates who like each other, who align ideologically, and who saw an opening for their “true blue fiscal conservative” brand.

As governors, they walked the walk, moving their respective states to the right on fiscal and tax policy.

But they did so, Weld said, as “Jeffersonian liberals” who “don’t bully people” in the way of Donald Trump or, Weld added, the post-1994 GOP.


Much of the coverage of this ticket, thus far in the campaign, has been of a few varieties.

Some reporters have treated the Johnson/Weld ticket as a novelty act – a perception embellished by Johnson’s “what is Aleppo” gaffe.

And some others have reminded voters that presidential elections in America are binary choices.

In making those decisions in framing stories, media avoids the actual policy positions that drive Johnson and Weld to run.

Those positions were on offer, writ large, during Weld’s hour-long town hall in Jacksonville.


On immigration, for example, the Libertarian ticket deviates from the bipartisan consensus.

“Gary Johnson and I think the current amount is too low,” Weld said.

Weld believes that work visas should be “dramatically increased,” and he estimates that 60 percent of the current illegal immigrants in the country simply overstayed their visas.

The Johnson/Weld solution?

Not a great, big, beautiful wall, but something more prosaic: a Canadian style guest worker program, with safeguards such as background checks built in, so this population is not “living in the shadows.”

On trade, as well, the Libertarians deviate.

“We support the Trans Pacific Partnership vigorously,” Weld said, adding that while there might be a loss of “low wage jobs at the margin,” that attrition would be made up for in high wage jobs and taking advantage of America having the highest per-capita worker productivity in the world.

The Weld/Johnson affinity for the TPP is driven by pragmatic geopolitical concerns – bilateral relations with eleven Asian nations, none of them being China.

“Trump didn’t know China wasn’t a member of the TPP,” Weld said, drawing raucous laughter from throughout the room.

Weld had a rejoinder for Hillary Clinton as well.

“I’m disappointed in Mrs. Clinton,” Weld said, as she “turned her back on TPP and NAFTA,” deviating from her husband’s legacy, and forsaking the opportunity for an economic “beachhead in Asia.”

It’s that kind of optimistic pragmatism that distinguishes the Libertarian ticket from the two major parties in this cycle, Weld believes.

The “negativity out of both parties,” Weld believes, is designed to make voters “feel terrible about the U.S. now.”

In contrast, Weld says, he and his running mate are “professionally optimistic … happy warriors.”


On NATO, Weld hewed to an internationalism befitting his longtime status as a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Weld took particular issue with Trump’s willingness to sacrifice Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

“We have to keep our word,” Weld said.

“I can’t tell you how many alarm bells it sets off” around the world, Weld said, when Trump threatens to “abrogate treaty obligations.”

And on military spending, Weld broke with Libertarian orthodoxy, saying that the U.S. has to be engaged globally.

If America were to abandon the Arab world, it would be “left to the tender mercies of Iran.”

And the Pacific presence, likewise, is non-negotiable.

“If one carrier group moved its anchors ten feet, it would be a topic in every cabinet meeting” in the capitals of our Asian allies.

“Military supremacy,” especially in the air and on the waters, is essential to America maintaining its position. As is the ability to demonstrate “crushing force.”

However, there are limits: Weld believes that land wars in Africa and Asia are bad for America. As is a regime change policy.

And regarding Afghanistan, Weld believes that American troops should be brought home.

There is, Weld contended, “some woolyheadedness in our desire to be the world’s policeman.”

On domestic policy, Weld likewise espouses the politics of reasonable expectation.

Regarding Social Security, Weld believes the retirement age should be increased, and a means test should be applied to benefits.

The worry that millennials have, Weld said, is that the program won’t be there when they retire.

And that, Weld said, is “dangerous.”

Also dangerous: Clinton and Trump vowing to not adjust entitlements.

These are “political statements to avoid exposure to the question,” Weld said.


Likewise disingenuous, said Weld: Republicans that run on the platform of repealing Obamacare.

In perhaps the most surprising moment of the town hall event, Weld lampooned young conservatives, given talking points by the RNC, who say “I will repeat Obamacare.”

The moment was surprising not because of the sentiment … but because Weld mocked them using a falsetto voice, a few octaves up from his whisky-weathered Brahmin baritone.

The Johnson/Weld administration would support the individual mandate, while allowing for common sense solutions like being able to import pharmaceuticals from Canada (an indication of the ticket not getting Pfizer money).

As well, they would likely move toward mandating only catastrophic insurance, “not cradle to grave” healthcare.


Weld also had strong words regarding Black Lives Matter, which he said was a resounding “yes,” rejecting the Trumpian “dog whistle” politics of “all lives matter.”

The “all lives matter” canard, Weld said, was part of a pattern from Trump, who he alleged “retweeted a picture of George Lincoln Rockwell – the founder of the American Nazi Party.”

If meaningful moves aren’t made to redress the inequities – mass incarceration, police shootings, awful schools – visited on African American men, Weld predicted the emergence of a “gunpowder class of young black males.”

The treatment imposed on African-American young men, Weld said, is a “national disgrace.”


Also a national disgrace: the debt crisis.

“We can’t go on the way we’ve been going,” Weld said, adding that if Clinton wins, ¾ of the new debt would be from her administration.

“She’s adopted much of Sen. Sanders’ platform,” one that Weld said was undergirded with the false premise that “everything is free.”

Weld believes, contra to that, the budget must be balanced.

“The debt crisis hits us in the solar plexus of jobs and the economy,” Weld said.

Before this event started, was able to conduct an extended interview with Weld: a function of a lack of other media showing up to ask questions much deeper than “what do you think of Jacksonville.”

Some of the more interesting bits included Weld expressing the belief that if the ticket’s name ID moves up from 30 to 50 percent, there would be a commensurate rise in “ballot preference,” perhaps into the 25 percent range.

As well, when we noted that Weld wasn’t exactly the first choice of the party regulars, he said that was an “understatement.”

“I don’t know if I’m winning over the party regulars,” Weld said, but they “probably like being at 10 t0 13 percent in the polls instead of 1 percent.”

As well, despite the theatrics seen by many at the Libertarian Party convention, Weld believes that the “hardcore” members are “20 percent max.”

“My internationalist view doesn’t offend everybody,” Weld said.


Of course, there was expectation in some quarters that Weld’s inclusion on the ticket would build a bridge, perhaps, to endorsements from Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.

Those aren’t happening.

Weld believes that they had their “fingers singed” and “had enough of the presidential race.”

“Gary and I have to do this by ourselves,” Weld said.

“We want to send a friendly message, not a hateful one.”

When asked if the ticket had underperformed hopeful expectations in some quarters that Weld would offer a conduit to the donor class, the candidate got defensive, noting that between the campaign and the “victory fund,” over $10 million had been raised.

“It’s still September,” Weld said, and in the last cycle, the campaign raised “between two and three million in total.”

Much of that money, Weld added, was on the web – in modest increments, such as $7, $15, and $35.

That money adds up.

And maybe it does. But we wondered why the Koch Brothers hadn’t come through for the Johnson/Weld ticket.

Weld, at first, was evasive, saying euphemistically that the deep pocketed donors were “sticking to the Senate” and “not everybody can do everything.”

Then Weld got real.

“Nobody could be friendlier to the Koch Brothers’ economic interest than we are … I know David quite well,” Weld said, but “Charles is making most of the decisions.”


Weld, vis a vis the GOP that historically was his home, is in a position analogous to Ronald Reagan, who famously said of the Democrats that he didn’t move away from the Democratic Party, but the party moved away from him.

“I didn’t change. I was always a social liberal,” Weld said, “but the Republican Party did move to the right” and “in Cleveland,” the platform became more “mean spirited.”

“I would have stayed happily in the tent,” Weld said, “but I got a call from Gary.”

And, speaking of Johnson, there are some that have suggested the ticket would work better with the polished Weld on top.

Weld rejects that proposition.

“I heard that from a lot of people, and all of them live in Massachusetts and New York,” Weld said.

“West of the Mississippi,” Weld said, Johnson gets “mobbed at airports.”

“Gary has a rat trap mind,” Weld said, with deep “analytical ability” and unlimited stamina … a proposition which might be news to the folks at Morning Joe, but we let it stand.


Of course, for this campaign, the big enchilada is getting into at least one debate.

Weld recited the litany of campaign propaganda: they were at 13 percent in two recent polls, and the polls in which they do worst are only calling landlines, and are excluding millennials, setting up “math that hurts the poll results.”

With independents, Weld said, the ticket is at 31 percent – and, he adds, independents are 42 percent of the electorate.

And, Weld added, the ticket is running first with military voters, both active and veteran.

“This is a year when voters have to think for themselves,” Weld said.


If by thinking for themselves, that means being receptive to the Libertarian message, then there are positive auguries.

Drawing hundreds of people to a room on the Jacksonville University campus – in fact, exceeding turnout for the Congressional District 4 and Congressional District 5 primary debates – is a strong indicator that the Johnson/Weld message is getting traction.

Will it be enough to where the campaign is at 25 percent by the end of October? History indicates that’s a tremendous longshot.

But history has, not since the Bull Moose Party, encountered a ticket with this kind of resonance … a ticket running against the two most unpopular major party candidates since the advent of universal suffrage.

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