John Kasich Archives - Page 3 of 28 - Florida Politics

What’s the deal? Voters cheer, jeer, shrug off GOP pact

Kathy Hiel said she hadn’t made up her mind to vote for Donald Trump — until the billionaire businessman’s two Republican White House rivals formed an extraordinary political non-aggression pact to stop him.

“I’ll have to support him now,” said Hiel, an Elizabeth, Indiana, resident who designs cabinets for a home interior company.

While the political world waits to see if Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich‘s alliance proves brilliant or desperate, some voters in the three states most affected applauded the move while others panned it. But many were still struggling to understand what, if anything, it will mean for them.

Kasich says he won’t compete in Indiana, where Cruz is boasting he’s “all-in,” while the Texas senator said he will cede contests in Oregon and New Mexico to Kasich — an agreement both candidates hope will keep Trump from winning the 1,237 delegates needed to secure the GOP presidential nomination at the party’s national convention in Cleveland beginning July 18.

Hiel was first in line to see Cruz at an ice cream parlor he visited in Columbus, Indiana, on Monday, and aggressively pressed the Texan as he stepped off his campaign bus on the convention’s delegate-selection process.

She said she was a Ron Paul delegate to the 2012 Republican convention, and that she had doubts about Cruz because he’s lately been more focused on winning delegates to Cleveland than wooing voters around the country. Then came word late Sunday of Cruz’s agreement with Kasich — and Hiel said that sealed her decision.

“I never did fully trust Ted,” she said.

But 28-year-old Iraq war veteran Michael Thielmeier, who attended an earlier Cruz rally in Borden, Indiana, called the agreement “smart, calculated, knowledgeable.”

He said he didn’t expect to see such a cooperative deal between two rivals since Cruz has built his career in the Senate and his presidential campaign around being a troublemaker who has infuriated the establishment in both parties.

Thielmeier said he still supports Cruz, because he doesn’t see the pact with Kasich as an insider political move.

In Oregon, 66-year-old Craig Herman said the agreement “doesn’t bother me at all.”

“It’s all theater,” said Herman, from Oregon City. “I think they all do this for drama and put out press releases.”

The deal may not hold together long term since Kasich said his supporters in Indiana should still vote for him. At a pizzeria in Greenwood, Indiana, where Cruz also stopped Monday, some voters asked him to autograph a mailer his campaign sent out before the agreement that made Kasich look soft on guns. A few attendees wondered aloud what it meant since the pair were now supposed to be friends.

Donald Trump didn’t provide much clarity, blasting the deal as collusion while also gleefully saying it showed how weak Cruz and Kasich are.

Denise Lombardo, a registered nurse who attended a Trump rally Monday at a hockey arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, said she plans to vote during Tuesday’s state primary for the first time in her life — for Trump.

“I feel that Cruz and everyone else is just jealous because he tells it like it is,” Lombardo, from West Pittston, Pennsylvania, said of Trump.

Langston Bowens, a student at the University of New Mexico, said he was planning to vote for Kasich and said of the deal with Cruz: “I think we can stop (Trump) before we get to the nomination process.”

Ed Kasados, a 78-year-old resident of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico, said he’ll likely vote for Kasich, but will ultimately support whoever is the Republican nominee. He summed up the Cruz-Kasich pact in a single word: “Silly.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Poll shows 73% of Florida Latinos view Donald Trump unfavorably

Although Donald Trump has said that “the Hispanics love me,” a poll taken of 400 registered Florida Latinos that was released last week shows that’s not the case.

A survey by the political opinion research group Latino Decisions shows that 73 percent of Florida Latinos view the GOP presidential front-runner as “very unfavorably.”

An additional 11 percent view him as “somewhat unfavorably.”

In a Trump-Hillary Clinton general election scenario in Florida in the fall, the real estate mogul fares extremely poorly, with Clinton taking him 69 percent to 18 percent.

The numbers shouldn’t be surprising, as Trump has consistently fared horribly with the growing demographic since he kicked off his presidential campaign last June by declaring that, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

His anti-Latino remarks have cost him several business partners since then, including NBCUniversal, which aired Trump’s reality show “The Apprentice” and co-owns the Miss Universe Organization.

In comparison, 45 percent of Florida Latinos view Ted Cruz unfavorably; 37 percent of Florida Latinos view Hillary Clinton unfavorably; 36 percent of Florida Latinos view John Kasich unfavorably, and 35 percent of Latinos in Florida view Bernie Sanders unfavorably.

When asked what are the most important issues in the race, Florida Latino voters ranked the economy/jobs first at 47 percent,  immigration second at 24 percent, terrorism at 14 percent, health care at 13 percent , and education at 11 percent. However, when asked “what are the most important issues facing the Latino community that you think Congress and the President should address?, Florida Latino voters ranked immigration first at 34 percent,  followed by the economy/jobs (33 percent), health care (15 percent), education (11 percent), and anti-Latino or anti-immigrant discrimination (9 percent).

“For us this election has been very different than previous elections—this year voter education is much higher, said Serena Perez, Organizing Coordinator of New Florida Majority, in a conference call organized by the group American Voices last week (American Voices commissioned the poll). “Latinos know who these candidates are, they have a clear understanding of what is at stake and why they want to register to vote. The enthusiasm to vote that we see in the polling data is apparent on the ground. This campaign cycle more than any other has inspired anxiety, especially among young people, that the little that the community has gained through DACA and potentially DAPA, could be taken, and that has been extremely frustrating and mobilizing for the thousands of voters we’ve registered.”

Latino Decisions says that their poll of 400 interviews in Florida was conducted April 3-April 13, and carries an overall margin of error of 4.9%.

Interviews were conducted in English or Spanish, according to the respondent’s choice. Surveys were completed using a blended sample that included online surveys, and live telephone interviews on landlines and cell phones. It was part of a larger, 2,200 registered Latino national survey taken by the group.

Donald Trump bristles at Ted Cruz-John Kasich collaboration

Donald Trump says an extraordinary collaboration between Ted Cruz and John Kasich aimed at unifying the anti-Trump vote in some remaining primaries is a desperate move by “mathematically dead” rivals.

Such collusion would be illegal in many industries, the Republican presidential front-runner said, but it’s illustrative of “everything that is wrong in Washington and our political system.”

Under the arrangement outlined Sunday, Kasich, the Ohio governor, will step back in the May 3 Indiana contest to let Cruz bid for voters who don’t like Trump. Cruz, a Texas senator, will do the same for Kasich in Oregon and New Mexico.

The arrangement does not address the five Northeastern states set to vote Tuesday, where Trump is expected to add to his already overwhelming delegate lead. Yet the shift offers increasingly desperate Trump foes a glimmer of hope in their long and frustrating fight to halt the billionaire’s rise.

Trump said in a statement the Cruz-Kasich compact joins two “puppets of donors and special interests” who have no path to the nomination.

Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe, said in a statement explaining the new plans that Trump would be soundly defeated by the Democratic nominee, whether it’s Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. “Having Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in November would be a sure disaster for Republicans,” he said.

Added Kasich’s chief strategist, John Weaver, “Our goal is to have an open convention in Cleveland, where we are confident a candidate capable of uniting the party and winning in November will emerge as the nominee.”

The announcement marks a sharp reversal for Cruz’s team, which aggressively opposed coordinating anti-Trump efforts with Kasich as recently as late last week. And the agreement applies only to Indiana, Oregon and New Mexico — three of the 15 states remaining on the Republican primary calendar. As Kasich backs out of Indiana, Cruz promised he would not compete in Oregon on May 17 and New Mexico on June 7.

Trump campaigned Sunday in Maryland, which will vote on Tuesday along with Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

Speaking to several thousand people in an airplane hangar in Hagerstown, Maryland, Sunday evening, Trump stressed repeatedly that he expects to win the 1,237 delegates needed in the first round of voting in Cleveland to stave off a contested convention.

“I only care about the first,” he said. “We’re not going for the second and third and fourth and fifth.”

As recently as three days ago Kasich’s campaign announced investments in Indiana, including the opening of two offices and the creation of a campaign leadership team. His campaign on Sunday night canceled a town-hall meeting and gathering in Indianapolis scheduled to watch the results of Tuesday’s primaries.

Both campaigns encouraged allied super PACs and other outside groups to “honor the commitments.”

On the Democratic side Sunday, underdog Sanders rallied thousands of voters in two New England states and offered mixed signals on how hard he would push his differences with the commanding front-runner, Clinton.

The Vermont senator largely steered clear of Clinton at a Rhode Island park, but hours later delivered a sharp critique before more than 14,000 supporters in New Haven, Connecticut. Sanders reiterated his call for Clinton to release transcripts of lucrative Wall Street speeches she delivered after leaving the State Department in early 2013.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

 

GOPer: Rules change would prevent ‘dictatorial’ convention

A member of the Republican National Committee trying to revamp GOP rules for nominating a presidential candidate says without the change, party leaders could exert “almost dictatorial power” at this July’s nominating convention.

The criticisms by Solomon Yue, RNC committeeman from Oregon, were the latest broadside in an internal GOP battle over the rules that will help decide the party’s standard-bearer for the White House. The comments, included in an email he sent Monday that was obtained by The Associated Press, come two days before party leaders gather in Hollywood, Florida, to discuss whether to propose changing bylaws for the convention.

The fight pits Yue and some allies against GOP Chairman Reince Priebus and other top party officials. It underscores the high stakes as the convention in Cleveland, Ohio, looms as the first in four decades that may begin without a presumptive presidential candidate.

The RNC said Monday that Priebus will oppose any effort to change the convention’s rules at this week’s Florida RNC meeting. The RNC can recommend convention bylaws, but only the convention’s 2,472 delegates can adopt them.

Priebus believes “the rules of the convention should be decided by the delegates elected by Republican grassroots voters,” the RNC said in a statement.

With Priebus and other top party officials arrayed against him, Yue could face an uphill battle.

Henry Barbour, RNC committeeman from Mississippi, said he sees little support for “a change three months before what would be the first open convention in 40 years. Nobody wants to look like they’re trying to give an advantage to one candidate or another.”

Yue wants the convention to use Roberts Rules of Order, which would let delegates block the convention’s presiding officer from allowing the nomination of fresh candidates for president. GOP conventions have long used House of Representatives’ rules, which give the presiding officer more unfettered power to run each day’s session.

“I believe in democracy and majority rule of the delegates and am concerned that almost dictatorial power the House rules give the chairman of the convention will lead to confusion, chaos, manipulation and revolt at the convention,” said Yue’s email, which he sent his 55 colleagues on the RNC’s rules committee.

Yue wrote that Oregon Republicans want him to “stop the D.C. establishment from parachuting in their favorite candidate as a ‘fresh face’ into the convention.” He said the party is in “a period of mistrust.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is expected to be the convention’s presiding officer. He has said he wouldn’t accept the presidential nomination, but others have held out hope that he or another fresh candidate could emerge as the candidate.

Many in the party want businessman Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, the leading contenders, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who trails, to be allowed to battle it out without facing a new rival who’s not run for president this year.

In an interview, Yue declined to predict whether he would prevail when the GOP’s rules committee considers his proposal this week. He said if his plan is rejected, he will push for its approval by the full RNC and then at the July convention, where he said he believes the delegates will look more favorably at it.

“The anger is from outside the party, the grassroots,” Yue said. “They don’t want to see the chairman of the convention get absolute power.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Jac VerSteeg: GOP devolving into the party of, um, jerks

As a preacher’s kid who grew up in the South, I value politeness. Yes, sir. Yes, ma’am. Let me get that door for you.

It is a given that, when you encounter a governor in a coffee shop, you do not yell, “You are an a**hole!”

Nevertheless, Cara Jennings’ crude outburst in a Gainesville Starbucks provides an insight that if taken to heart might benefit the Republican Party, whose presidential frontrunners are Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

The party has an a**hole problem.

It is nominating, electing and otherwise advancing too many people for whom the Jennings epithet is appropriate.

Now, I do not like to throw that insult around casually. But even my Context Florida colleague Martin Dyckman – one of the most thoughtful columnists in America – reviewed Gov. Rick Scott’s record and concluded that Jennings had pretty much hit the nail on the head.

It’s not just a matter of policies. It includes the bullying attitude and tactics that led Scott’s apologists to respond to Jennings’ verbal assault with an equally low-class attack ad.

I checked the thesaurus to come up with a more family friendly term of disparagement. Many of the synonyms are just as rude as the original. I think the printable word that captures it best is “jerk.”

Scott is a jerk. Trump is a jerk. Cruz is a jerk. There are jerks on the Democratic side – Florida senatorial candidate Alan Grayson seems like one – but for the most part, Democrats portray themselves as a nicer bunch. You might disagree with their policy stances, but they have better manners.

And when they don’t have better manners – for example the Bernie Sanders supporter who referred to “corporate Democratic whores” – they usually suffer fits of guilt and quickly apologize.

But Trump revels in being a jerk, whether it’s threatening to spill the beans about Cruz’s wife or inciting crowds at his rallies who are angry at protesters to “Get ’em outta here!”

Cruz also has an entire “Jerk” heading on his resume. In fact, it’s just about the only thing on his Senate resume, from shutting down the government because it will boost his name recognition to calling Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, a “liar.”

The great thing about being a GOP jerk is that there apparently are a lot of Republican primary voters who are excited about the opportunity to vote for a jerk. I only can conclude that those voters also are jerks. But it seems unlikely to pay off in the general election.

As a recent Washington Post story detailed, both Trump and Cruz have very high negatives, with Trump racking up very, very high negatives. Both, for example, are less popular than Mitt Romney was at this point in the 2012 campaign.

Of course Hillary Clinton also has high negatives. But I don’t think it’s because she’s viewed as a “jerk.” She’s primarily viewed as being dishonest. (In part because she’s been relentlessly attacked by jerks.)

We know from the Scott re-election in 2014 that having very high negatives does not mean you will lose the election. Trump or Cruz might be able to beat Clinton or Sanders.

But in terms of party-building for the future, having Trump or Cruz win might be the worst thing that could happen to Republicans. The mood of the country is very much turning away from jerks. The rhetoric about gay people, immigrants, women and Muslims is not popular among younger voters and growing demographic segments of our population. Republican kowtowing to big money doesn’t help.

The GOP base simply has a higher percentage of jerks than the population at large.

Republicans had the opportunity to nominate a candidate who – while their policies might be similar to those of Cruz and Trump – did not come off as such a jerk. Marco Rubio, Ben Carson and John Kasich just seem nicer. But the jerks who were voting have opted instead to advance the died-in-the-wool jerks who were running.

The “establishment” in the Republican Party itself seems to recognize this problem. But they don’t know how to solve it. In the House, Speaker Paul Ryan – an apparent non-jerk who swears he won’t be drafted for the presidential ticket – hasn’t been able to corral the Tea Party folks – aka, the jerks – to pass a budget.

For some reason Senate Majority Leader McConnell has decided to act like a jerk and refuse to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. I assume he hopes that by acting like a jerk he can lure a few more GOP jerks to the polls next November.

Again, it might work in the short run. But it isn’t going to work in the long run. The GOP has to get its hard-core jerks under control. That’s what the leadership is trying to do by desperately seeking a way to pick anybody but Trump at this summer’s convention.

Good luck. Do that, and the jerks are going to rebel.

Cara Jennings didn’t have the best manners. But she summed up in one word everything wrong with Scott’s and the GOP’s arrogant, I-don’t-care-about-you approach to governing. That attitude is even more sneering and aggressive in Trump and Cruz.

The last three Republicans elected president were Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. What did they have in common? They were affable. Their party is re-branding itself with a different seven-letter word that begins with “A.”

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Jac Wilder VerSteeg is a columnist for The South Florida Sun Sentinel, former deputy editorial page editor for The Palm Beach Post and former editor of Context Florida. Column courtesy of Context Florida.

How Donald Trump can lock up GOP nomination before the convention

To all the political junkies yearning for a contested Republican convention this summer: not so fast.

It’s still possible for Donald Trump to clinch the nomination by the end of the primaries on June 7. His path is narrow and perilous. But it’s plausible and starts with a big victory Tuesday in his home state New York primary.

Trump is the only candidate with a realistic chance of reaching the 1,237 delegates needed to clinch the nomination before the July convention in Cleveland. His rivals, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, can only hope to stop him.

 If Cruz and Kasich are successful, politicos across the country will have the summer of their dreams — a convention with an uncertain outcome. But Trump can put an end to those dreams, and he can do it without any of the 150 or so delegates who will go to the convention free to support the candidate of their choice.

What comes next isn’t a prediction, but rather, a way in which Trump could win the nomination outright on June 7.

To be sure, Trump will have to start doing a lot better than he has so far. He gets that chance starting Tuesday, beginning the day with 744 delegates.

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NEW YORK

There are 95 delegates at stake in the Empire State, and it’s important for Trump to win a big majority of them. It won’t be easy.

There are 14 statewide delegates and three delegates in each congressional district.

If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the statewide vote, he gets all 14 delegates. Otherwise, he has to share them with other candidates.

If a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote in a congressional district, he gets all three delegates. Otherwise, again, he has to share.

Trump leads statewide in the most recent preference polls, with right around 50 percent. New York is a large and diverse state, so he probably won’t win all the congressional districts.

Let’s say Trump does make it to 50 percent, but Kasich or Cruz wins five congressional districts; Trump will take 77 delegates on the night.

Trump’s running total: 821 delegates.

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APRIL 26

Five states have primaries on April 26, with 172 delegates at stake: Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland and Rhode Island.

Pennsylvania could be trouble for Trump. The state has a unique system in which 54 delegates — three from each congressional district — are listed by name on the ballot, with no information for voters to know which candidate they support.

That means even if Trump wins Pennsylvania, he’s only guaranteed to claim 17 of the state’s 71 delegates.

Connecticut awards 13 delegates to the statewide winner and three to the winner of each congressional district, for a total of 28. The New York real estate mogul needs to win his neighboring state. If he does well, he could get 22 delegates.

Delaware’s 16 delegates are winner-take-all, increasing the importance of this small state. If Trump loses Delaware, he has to make it up elsewhere.

Maryland awards 14 delegates to the statewide winner and three to the winner of each congressional district, for a total of 38. Recent polls show Trump with a significant lead. If he does well, he could get 32 delegates.

Trump can afford to lose Rhode Island, which awards its 19 delegates proportionally.

In all, it’s a day on which we’ll say Trump claims 93 delegates.

Trump’s running total: 914.

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MAY

Five states hold contests in May, with a total of 199 delegates at stake: Indiana, Nebraska, West Virginia, Oregon and Washington State.

Indiana’s May 3 primary is important for Trump. The state awards 30 delegates to the statewide winner and three delegates to the winner of each congressional district, for a total of 57. If Trump can win the state and a majority of the congressional districts, he could collect 45 delegates.

West Virginia is another unique state in which voters elect 31 delegates in the May 10 primary. In West Virginia, however, the delegates will be listed on the ballot along with the presidential candidate they support. If Trump does well here, he could pick up 20 or more delegates.

Nebraska’s 36 delegates are winner-take-all. But if Nebraska is like its neighbors Kansas and Iowa, two states Cruz won earlier in the race, Trump can’t count on these delegates.

Oregon and Washington state award delegates proportionally, so even the losers get some.

We’ll give Trump 70 delegates for the month.

Trump’s running total: 984.

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JUNE 7

This could be Trump’s D-Day. Or his Waterloo.

Five states vote on June 7, with 303 delegates up for grabs. The biggest prize is California, along with New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana and New Mexico.

The only state Trump can afford to lose is New Mexico, which awards 24 delegates proportionally.

New Jersey, South Dakota and Montana are winner-take-all, with a total of 107 delegates.

California is more complicated, with 172 delegates at stake. The statewide winner gets only 13. The other 159 are awarded according to the results in individual congressional districts.

Each of the state’s 53 congressional districts has three delegates. You win the district, you get all three.

For Trump to clinch the nomination on June 7 — the last day of the primary season — he has to win a big majority of California’s congressional districts. If he wins 39 districts, he gets 130 delegates.

On the last voting day of the primary campaign, we’ll say Trump wins 242 delegates.

Trump’s running total: 1,226 — or 11 delegates short of the magic number.

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OH, WAIT!

Missouri has certified the results of its March 15 primary, with Trump beating Cruz by 1,965 votes. If the results survive a potential recount, Trump wins Missouri and another 12 delegates.

Trump’s total: 1,238.

Cue the balloons.

***

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

For some Marco Rubio supporters, the answer is still ‘Only Marco’ in 2016

Marco Rubio may have ended his presidential bid, but his supporters aren’t ready for him to entirely give up his presidential hopes.

Since suspending his presidential campaign in March, two websites have popped up in hopes of convincing Republicans to nominate Rubio in a contested convention. OnlyMarco.com went live in March; while NominateMarco.com launched Wednesday.

Both campaigns have the same goals: Stop Donald Trump and convince Republicans to nominate Rubio.

Rubio suspended his campaign on March 15 after a bruising defeat in his home state. Rubio came in second behind Trump in Florida, with 27 percent of the vote. Trump received nearly 46 percent.

The Only Marco campaign launched two weeks later. Nate Fietzer, one of the founders and the campaign’s digital grassroots director, said the response was incredible, with hundreds of people waiting for the launch to see how they could support the movement.

The website is reminiscent of Rubio’s official campaign site. It features Rubio campaign videos, all of which are available on YouTube, and even has a similar font. Fietzer said the group wanted a professional looking site so supporters knew they were serious.

“We wanted to compliment what Rubio has already done,” said Fietzer.

The site is “not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.” However, Kim Carroll, the campaign manager and spokeswoman for Only Marco, said she’s heard from some of the senator’s family members who “are very excited” by the effort. Carroll served as a regional chair for Rubio’s campaign in Florida.

“I love Marco,” she said.

The campaign has several priorities, but one real goal: “Our first goal is to help stop Trump from getting the number of delegates required,” she said.

That means educating Republicans on how to vote strategically to block Trump. The group uses public polling to determine who has is catching up to Trump in the remaining primary states, and encourages Rubio supporters to vote for that candidate.

For example, supporters in New York are being asked to vote for John Kasich when they head to the polls on Tuesday. Recent polling averages show the Ohio governor in second place in The Empire State.

But if you’re going to try to block Trump’s pathway to the nomination, you need to have a plan for a contested convention. And for Rubio supporters, the Miami Republican remains the most qualified man for the job.

The Only Marco team has asked supporters to sign a letter to Rubio asking him to unsuspend the campaign. As of Wednesday, the organization reported that 2,182 people had signed the open letter.

“It’s been incredible,” said Fietzer.

The Only Marco team isn’t the only group trying to rally support for Rubio ahead of the July convention. More than 2,600 supporters have signed a petition on Change.org started by the Nominate Marco movement.

That petition calls on the Republican Party to request “any and all unbound delegates elect Marco Rubio as our nominee; and be it further resolved the party remove any and all barriers and suspend or eliminate any and all rules that interfere with such ability of said unbound delegates to vote for Marco Rubio as the nominee.”

James Lamb, the spokesman for the Nominate Marco movement, launched NominateMarco.com Wednesday. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Lamb is a transportation consultant who bundled donations for Rubio’s presidential bid.

Fietzer called Lamb a good friend, and said their visions are similar. Both groups are hopeful that if there is a brokered convention there will be enough support for Rubio to be the nominee.

“If you listen to all the candidates and the stance of the issues, Marco was the one who was the most reasonable, but he was still a strong conservative,” said Carroll.

If Rubio can’t snag the nomination through a contested or brokered convention, the Only Marco team would “support a conservative candidate with the support of Marco Rubio that can unify the GOP and the American people.”

But Fietzer isn’t ready to give up yet. He hasn’t talked to Rubio about the movement, but said he thinks Rubio wants to hear from the voters. And Fietzer is ready to back him if he decides to get back in the race.

“I’ve always been a huge supporter,” he said. “I think the greatest thing about Marco Rubio is he inspires me.”

Outside groups deal themselves in for GOP delegate game

After burning through millions of dollars in a mostly failed attempt to sway Republican primary voters, big-money outside groups opposing Donald Trump have turned to a far smaller target audience: the delegates who will actually choose the presidential nominee.

Our Principles, which is devoted to keeping Trump from winning, and super PACs backing Ted Cruz and John Kasich are spending their time and money researching the complex process of delegate selection and reaching out to those party insiders. None of the groups have put up ads for Tuesday’s New York primary.

Delegates are the people – typically longtime Republicans and state party activists – who will have their say at the GOP convention this summer in Cleveland if Trump does not lock up the nomination first in the remaining voting contests.

The hot pursuit of such low-profile people by outside groups is yet another unprecedented twist in a history-defying presidential primary season.

The delegate focus comes after the groups’ earlier efforts turned out to be money not particularly well spent. GOP-aligned groups spent at least $218 million on presidential television and radio ads, according to advertising tracker Kantar Media‘s CMAG. In one example, last month Our Principles put $2.3 million into ads trying to persuade Florida voters to ditch Trump, but he won the state anyway.

“At this stage, the delegate fight is the most important part of the race,” said Tim Miller, a spokesman for Our Principles. “The work we’re doing on it is how we get the biggest bang for our buck.”

The Trump, Cruz and Kasich campaigns all pay specialists to help them with their own delegate strategy. Yet the outside groups can’t resist crafting a role for themselves. By law, candidates cannot direct their helpful super PACs on how to spend money on paid communications. However, candidates and the outside groups keep a close eye on what the others are doing.

At a donor event last weekend at the Venetian casino resort in Las Vegas, pro-Cruz super PAC officials explained to a rapt audience how they are diving into data about Republican delegates. That super PAC event took place on the same floor as a Cruz campaign finance event, which delved into similar material.

Douglas Heye, a former communications director for the Republican National Convention, said the organizational nature of a potential delegate fight plays into Cruz’s strengths. The Texas senator has cultivated relationships with conservative leaders across the country. Now they’re helping him woo delegates.

“Cruz hasn’t done things in haphazard fashion,” said Heye, who opposes Trump but is otherwise unaligned. “It takes a real team and the hard work of surrogates and coalitions to succeed at mastering the process in all 50 states.”

New Day for America, a super PAC backing Kasich, is “executing a delegate outreach strategy,” said spokeswoman Connie Wehrkamp. She declined to give details.

THE FREE AGENTS

There are two phases to this fight for delegates. The first involves free agents in states where voters don’t have a say. Each time an anti-Trump delegate is selected, it gets a little harder for the front-runner to reach the 1,237 he needs to avoid a contested convention.

Our Principles has keenly focused on these delegates, who hail from North Dakota, Colorado and Wyoming.

The group began reaching out via online advertising back in February, Federal Election Commission filings show. It then worked the phones and mailed literature. Finally, at the state convention site in Colorado Springs last weekend, three of its paid employees and about a half-dozen volunteers distributed “voter guides” likening Trump to President Barack Obama.

In both Colorado and North Dakota, Trump was shut out of delegates. Wyoming selects delegates this weekend.

POTENTIAL CONVERTS

If Trump can’t win outright, most of the delegates who are initially pledged to him by state rules gain the freedom to vote at the convention for whomever they choose. That’s why the three candidates are looking to make friends with them.

Incidentally, there are few rules limiting the ways candidates and outside groups can influence the delegates, Republican election lawyers say. So it’s easy to imagine a deep-pocketed super PAC paying for delegates’ accommodations in Cleveland and giving them other perks.

Our Principles’ Miller said the group is assessing what it will do in this second phase of the delegate hunt.

Another Trump opponent, the Washington group Club for Growth, has also at least temporarily stopped its TV ads. Spokesman Doug Sachtelben said that while it hasn’t done anything with delegates yet, “nothing is off the table.”

Pro-Trump forces are also keen to get into the game.

“We’re running ads and a data program to fill as many delegate slots as we can with delegates who like Trump,” said Jesse Benton, a spokesman for Great America PAC.

The group has reported to the FEC its plans to spend more than $1 million in ads across the country – some aiming to whip up anger about a potential contested convention.

“Donald Trump will have the most delegates by a wide margin, but the GOP establishment is determined to deny him the nomination in any way possible, even if it means a contested convention,” a narrator says in one. Callers are asked to give money to the super PAC as a show of support for Trump.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Guest lineups for the Sunday news shows

Guest lineups for the Sunday TV news shows:

ABC’s “This Week” — Not immediately available.

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NBC’s “Meet the Press” — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders; Paul Manafort, convention manager for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump; New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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CBS’ “Face the Nation” — Sanders; Republican presidential candidate John Kasich.

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CNN’s “State of the Union” — Sanders; Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

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“Fox News Sunday” — President Barack Obama.

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Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Planned Parenthood official tells crowd it’s guilty only of helping women

Planned Parenthood has never been under fire (sometimes literally) as they have been in the past year.

The reproductive rights organization has had to contend with a series of blows that began last summer with a series of secretly recorded videos purporting to show its officials trying to profit illegally from selling fetal tissues.

“As you know, it took America by storm, and we started to fight for our lives, and actually it began this small progression of horribles that we’re experiencing today,” Barbara Zdravecky said Tuesday in Tampa. Zravecky is the longtime president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

The graphic video images depicted by the group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress stunned the nation, and catapulted the Republican-led Congress in Washington to attempt to bar the group from receiving federal funding.

Despite that intense negative publicity, public opinion polls continue to show support for the venerable organization. A Wall Street Journal/NBC poll released last September showed that 61 percent of Americans said that they opposed cutting funds to the organization.

Plus, in Houston earlier this year a Texas grand jury investigating accusations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood for those videos instead indicted two abortion opponents who made undercover videos of the organization. Zravecky proudly proclaimed, “The only thing that Planned Parenthood was guilty of was taking care of women in this country,” eliciting a huge cheer from the packed house at Maestro’s restaurant in the Straz Performing Arts Center.

The occasion for her speech was the “Tampa Bay Choice Affair,” the Planned Parenthood luncheon fundraiser held annually in Tampa. A sellout crowd of over 250 people came to celebrate and contribute to the organization. Zravecky said the goal was to raise $10,000 from the lunch.

Republican efforts to quell the organization didn’t occur only on the federal level. Gov. Rick Scott got into the act as well, when his Agency for Health Care Administration filed charges against Planned Parenthood centers in St. Petersburg, Fort Myers and Naples. He contended the clinics were performing abortions within the second trimester, which they are not licensed to do. With the case set to go to trial this month, the state recently dropped the charges. Zdravecky said the case isn’t over for Planned Parenthood, however, because they have spent more than $150,000 in legal expenses to defend themselves in that case. They’re going back to court to get those legal fees paid, she said.

Then there’s HB 1411, the omnibus anti-abortion bill signed by Governor Scott last month that requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The U.S. Supreme Court is now reviewing the same requirement in a Texas case involving a law passed in 2013. Critics say that it will force abortion seekers to travel long distances, ultimately making the procedure risky. It also blocks money for preventive medical care at the same facilities where privately funded abortions occur. The new law also prohibits Planned Parenthood from working with public health departments.

There was also the incident in Colorado Springs last November, where a gunman killed a police officer, two civilians, and wounded nine others at a Planned Parenthood facility.

“We opened our door the next day because we were determined to take care of women, no matter what,” Zrvadecky said.

The organization honored Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman for their years of support for the group. Kriseman was unavailable to attend, but he was singled out for showing up at the Planned Parenthood center in St. Pete the day after the Colorado killings.

“That’s the kind of guy he is,” said Sally Everett, his legislative and intergovernmental affairs director. “He wants to be there when people are hurting (and) when they need reassurance.”

Buckhorn is married to Dr. Catherine Lynch, the associate vice president of the USF College of Medicine’s OB/GYN program. He jokingly referred to himself as “Mr. Dr. Lynch.”

“The last person she needs between her and her patients is somebody like me, or worse, somebody in Tallahassee who doesn’t understand that the relationship between a patient and their physician has no room for a politician,” he said. He then made a partisan pitch for a Democratic takeover in two years, though whether that means he might be running for a statewide office remains unclear.

“We’ve got to make sure that we’ve got to elect a president that understands, that is supportive, that can stand in the way of bad legislation, and in 2018, we’re going to change that regime in Tallahassee that has caused so many problems …,” he said, as the crowd roared in support.

“Hasn’t this been an outrageous year?” Tampa Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor asked the crowd, referring to her GOP colleagues in Washington. “They went to the brink to shut down the federal government over funding of Planned Parenthood last summer.”

Castor brought up the “vitriol” expressed by former GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina when it came to the Center for Medical Progress videos. “Even after she was PolitiFacted and FactChecked to death, she, in essence, lied,” Castor said.

She then called the investigative panel investigating Planned Parenthood being led by Tennessee Republican Marsha Blackburn as a “Benghazi-style” committee. She also blasted the three remaining Republican presidential candidates for their stance on abortion, including Ohio’s John Kasich, who Castor called “one of the most radical governors in Ohio when it comes to freedom of choice,” though she did credit him for expanding Medicaid.

“I never believed I would see a week in which a major candidate for president, would talk about punishing women for exercising their constitutional rights,” added Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen. 

It’s always a busy year for Zravecky and her staff as well on the administrative level. That’s because the Planned Parenthood Southwest and Central Florida office merged recently with the Planned Parenthood chapters from Naples and Orlando.

“We are truly stronger together,” she said of the merger, though she could have been referring to the community support the group has received in the wake of such extreme opposition.

Peaceful pro-life demonstrators stood outside the Straz Center on Tuesday, distributing literature protesting abortions.

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