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Party like a politician: Where to find the candidates on Election Night

Election night parties will be raging across the state Tuesday. For some, it’s a chance to pop some bottles and celebrate. For others, it will be a somber event, marking the last hurrah of a long, hard-fought campaign.

Want to party like a politician? Here’s a rundown of where candidates will be as the polls close.

U.S. Senate

It was one of the most-watched U.S. Senate races this election cycle. And on Tuesday night, both Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Patrick Murphy will be toasting the crowd in South Florida.

Rubio will attend an election night party at the Hilton Miami Airport, 5101 Blue Lagoon Drive in Miami. The party is expected to begin around 6:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Murphy will be in Palm Beach Gardens. The Democrat is set to attend an election night party at the Palm Beach Gardens Marriott, 4000 RCA Blvd. in Palm Beach Gardens. The doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Rubio has consistently led in the polls since announcing his re-election bid in June. Outside groups have poured millions of dollars into the race to re-elect Rubio; Murphy had the backing of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

U.S. House

CD 2 — Republican Neal Dunn will hold an election night part at the Holiday Inn Panama City, 2001 N. Cove Blvd. in Panama City. The Panama City surgeon faces Democrat Walter Dartland and Libertarian Rob Lapham.

CD 5 — Democrat Al Lawson will hold his election night party at The Moon, 1105 East Lafayette St. in Tallahassee. The party kicks at 6:30 p.m. He faces Republican Glo Smith.

CD 6 — Rep. Ron DeSantis will hold his election night party at Daytona International Speedway, 1801 W. International Speedway Blvd. in Daytona Beach. The party kicks off at 6 p.m. DeSantis faces Democrat Bill McCullough.

CD 7 — Democrat Stephanie Murphy is holding her election night part at 7 p.m. at the Sheraton Orlando North Hotel, An Tobar Irish Pub, 600 North Lake Destiny Dr. in Maitland. She faces Republican Rep. John Mica.

CD 12 — Rep. Gus Bilirakis will hold his election night party at the St. Nicholas Cathedral Center, 348 N. Pinellas Ave. in Tarpon Springs. The fun begins at 6:30 p.m., and will include a visit from Shalyah Fearing, a semi-finalist on NBC’s “The Voice.” Bilirakis faces Democrat Robert Matthew Tager in the general election.

CD 13 — Rep. David Jolly will hold his election night party in the grand ballroom at The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club, 501 5th Ave. N.E. in St. Petersburg. The fun begins at 6 p.m. Jolly faces former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democrat, in the general election

CD 18 — Republican Brian Mast will hold his election night party at Spoto’s Oyster Bar, 131 S.W. Flagler Ave. in Stuart. The party kicks off at 6 p.m. Democrat Randy Perkins is holding his party at Big Apple Pizza, 2311 S. 35th St. in Fort Pierce. Perkins’ party is expected to begin around 7 p.m.

CD 19 — Republican Francis Rooney will hold his election night party at Bistro 41, 13499 Cleveland Ave. in Fort Myers. The party begins at 6 p.m. Rooney faces Democrat Robert M. Neeld in the general election.

CD 22 — Rep. Ted Deutch will hold his election night party at Miller’s Ale House, 1200 Yamato Road in Boca Raton. The party begins at 7 p.m. Deutch, a Democrat, faces Republican Andrea Leigh McGee.

CD 26 — Democrat Joe Garcia will hold his election night party at La Carreta Restaurant, 11740 S.W. 88th St., in Miami. Garcia faces Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who unseated Garcia in 2014.

State Senate

SD 8 — Democrat Rod Smith will hold his election night party at the Gainesville Woman’s Club, 2809 W. University Ave. in Gainesville. He’ll be co-hosting the party with Ken McGurn, a Democrat running in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District. Smith faces Republican Rep. Keith Perry in Senate District 8, while McGurn faces Republican Ted Yoho.

SD 13 — Republican Dean Asher is holding his election night party at Sheltair Orlando Air Center, 3024 E. Amelia St. in Orlando. The party kicks off at 7 p.m. Asher faces Democrat Linda Stewart.

SD 16 — Sen. Jack Latvala will hold his election night party at Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 N. McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater. If one Latvala isn’t enought, Rep. Chris Latvala will also be hosting his party at Ruth Eckerd Hall. The fun begins at 7 p.m. Sen. Latvala faces Katherine Perkins, a write-in candidate; while Rep. Latvala faces Democrat David Vogel in House District 67.

SD 18 — House Majority Leader Dana Young will hold an election night party at Pane Rustica, 3225 South MacDill Ave. in Tampa. Young faces Democrat Bob Buesing and no party affiliate candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove.

SD 37 — Rep. Jose Javier Rodriquez will host his election night watch party at Ball & Chain Restaurant, 1513 S.W. 8th St. in Miami. The fun begins at 7 p.m. Rodriguez faces Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla.

SD 39 — Sen. Anitere Flores will hold an election night party at 8470 S.W. 8th St. in Miami. The party starts at 8:30 p.m., and Flores will be joined by Senate President designate Joe Negron and other election officials. Flores faces Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

State House

HD 9 — Democrat Loranne Ausley will host an election night party at 7 p.m. at The Southern Public House, 224 E. College Ave. in Tallahassee. Ausley faces Republican Jim Messer.

HD 49 — Democrat Carlos Guillermo Smith will host his election night party at 7 p.m. at The Abbey, 100 S. Eola Drive in Orlando. He won’t be partying alone: Democrat Beth Tuura is also holding her festivities at The Abbey. Smith faces Shea Silverman in House District 49; while Tuura faces Republican Rep. Mike Miller in House District 47.

HD 63 — Democrat Lisa Montelione will host her election night party at Mr. Dunderbaks, 14929 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in Tampa. The event is free and open to the public, and kicks off at 6:30 p.m.

HD 69 — Rep. Kathleen Peters will host an election night party at Middle Grounds Grill, 10925 Gulf Blvd. in Treasure Island. The party begins at 6:30 p.m. Democrat Jennifer Webb will hold her election night party at Punky’s Bar and Grill, 3063 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. The party begins at 6:30 p.m.

HD 70 — Former St. Petersburg City Councilmember Wengay Newton will host an Election Night Watch Party for his campaign beginning 6:30 p.m. at The Hangar Restaurant & Flight Lounge in downtown St. Pete. The Hangar is located at the Albert Whitted Airport Terminal, 540 1st St. S.E., Second Floor in St. Petersburg. RSVP at 727-823-PROP. Newton faces Republican Cori Fournier.

HD 114 — Democrat Daisy Baez is holding her election night party at Pinch Me Gastrobar & Market, 216 Palermo Ave. in Coral Gables. The fun begins at 7 p.m. Baez faces Republican John Couriel.

Candidates aren’t the only one partying. Local party officials and supporters of ballot initiatives will also be partying hard Tuesday night:

— The Republican Party of Pinellas County holds its Election Night Watch Party at the St. Petersburg Hilton, 950 Lake Carillion Drive in Clearwater. Doors open at 6 p.m., with a cash bar.

— United for Care, the group behind the medical marijuana ballot initiative, will host its election night party at a hotel in downtown Orlando. The event kicks off at 6:30 p.m.


Americans for Prosperity spends more than $2.5 million to defeat Patrick Murphy

Patrick Murphy frequently bashed Marco Rubio on the campaign trail this fall as a “puppet of the Koch Brothers,” citing the 98 percent grade he received from Americans for Prosperity, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit political advocacy group considered the political arm of Charles and David Koch.

In fact, AFP’s Florida chapter announced Monday they knocked on more than one million doors and spoke to over three million people on the phone in their effort to defeat Murphy’s bid for U.S. Senate. They also launched a website, along with TVdigital, and mail ads to try to ensure the Treasure Coast Democrat doesn’t win tonight’s U.S. Senate race against Rubio. It’s unusual in the respect that the group is best known for working on legislative issues at the state level, and has rarely become involved in Florida electoral politics.

“The majority of our work is not that world at all,” admits Andres Malave, a spokesperson for AFP-Florida. He hints that may be changing in the future, however.

“We usually focus on state issues, and as we in Florida continue to grow, we’re now, I think, at a point where we’re going to start doing a lot more work to try to impact the work of our federal delegation, and certainly the senators,” he said, but admits that when it comes to a direct advocacy campaign such as what they’ve employed against Murphy, “we have not partaken in it a lot.”

One exception was in 2012, when the group spent money in direct advocacy in Florida against the re-election of President Obama. 

Andres said the same issues AFP-Florida opposes in the state were obvious targets against Murphy, referring to opposition to a “pay-to-play attitude,” corporate welfare, and acceptance of the Affordable Care Act. “All of those boxes Patrick Murphy checked. And for us it was just an opportunity to rally our base and make them understand why it was so critical to keep him out.”

AFP-Florida was one of more than 50 outside groups to spend money in the U.S. Senate campaign. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Americans for Prosperity had spent more than $2.5 million into the Florida Senate race.



It’s likely to be a close election in Florida, again

Another close election in Florida? Count on it.

Through Friday, 2,268,663 Democrats and 2,261,383 Republicans had cast ballots by mail or at early voting sites – a difference of 7,280 in favor of Democrats. Overall, more than 5.7 million Floridians have voted, or nearly 45 percent of those registered. That far surpasses 2012 totals, when 4.8 million Floridians cast ballots before Election Day.

As early voting was set to end in 51 of Florida’s 67 counties Saturday, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump once again were campaigning in the Sunshine State. Their running mates Tim Kaine and Mike Pence and other top surrogates have been frequent visitors in the state that’s a must-win for Trump’s presidential campaign.

“How many of you have already voted?” Clinton asked a crowd in Broward County. The response was enthusiastic cheers. “OK, so that means you’ve got time to get everybody else to get out and vote, right?”

Earlier in Tampa, Trump told supporters at a rally that 66 of the state’s 67 counties supported him in Florida’s primary last March.

“Florida is just a place I love – my second home, I’m here all the time. I might know Florida better than you do,” Trump said. “I see maybe more enthusiasm right now than I did (in March).”

Florida’s 29 electoral votes are the biggest prize in Tuesday’s presidential election among states that could swing to either candidate. In 2000, Florida set the standard for close presidential elections when George W. Bush beat Al Gore by 537 votes out of about 6 million cast. It took five weeks to call the election in the state that determined the presidency.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was campaigning across north Florida Saturday, starting with an event at a Pensacola Beach bar. He’s being challenged by Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

Unlike Murphy, Rubio has avoided campaigning with his party’s presidential nominee. While he supports Trump, he has condemned his words and behavior.

Murphy attended a Broward County rally with Clinton and later planned to attend a St. Petersburg concert with singer Jon Bon Jovi and Kaine.

While only 16 counties will continue early voting on Sunday, they are some of the state’s largest, including Democratic strongholds of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach. Democrats were planning “souls to the polls” events encouraging African-American churchgoers to take advantage of the last day of early voting in the counties where polls will be open.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Marco Rubio is confident heavy Latino turnout will help him win Senate race

BRANDON — Although Marco Rubio is a clear favorite to win re-election to his U.S. Senate seat tomorrow night, he wasn’t doing a victory lap when he made a visit to the Hillsborough County Republican Party headquarters in Brandon Monday morning.

“Two-hundred and seventy-five thousand Republicans who requested a mail ballot have not returned it yet,” he told the crowd who surrounded him inside the small lobby area of the office. “We’re going to have to start guiding them, because if they have a ballot and haven’t put it in the mail yet, they’re not going to be able to vote unless they show up with that ballot, so we gotta walk ’em through that process.”

“Please come out and vote,” he implored the crowd. “What if this race comes to down to 100 votes? Whether it’s for president, senator or Congress, what if it’s one of those years? Do you want to be one of those 100 people that decided not to vote?”

Rubio has led his Democratic rival, Patrick Murphy, in virtually every poll taken between the two Senate candidates in Florida all year long. However, the Murphy camp was playing up a SurveyMonkey poll released Monday that actually shows him up by a single point, 49 percent to 48 percent. A Quinnipiac survey, however, showed the norm, with Rubio up 50 percent to 43 percent.

An emerging story that has come out of the past two weeks of early voting in Florida has been the explosion of Latino voters. Rubio has always held a substantial lead Murphy with that key demographic in polls of the Senate race, and the Cuban-American legislator said he’s earned the support of the Hispanic community.

“I don’t think anyone understands the issues in the Hispanic community better than I do,” he said. “I live in the community — my wife is from the community as well, so for me these are not political issues when we discuss them, they are things I’ve lived. It’s my life.” Rubio said there’s no one one in the Senate who has worked harder or spent more time on Latin American issues than he has. He added that it’s the beginning of a new era in politics if the much-vaunted potential of a strong Hispanic vote actually takes place this year. “I’m glad they’re voting, because that means from here on out, every candidate for statewide office and for president is going to have to care about the Hispanic community in Florida, and that’s a good thing,” he said.

There have been anecdotal reports that some in the Latino community are splitting their ticket in Florida: voting for Hillary Clinton as a statement against Donald Trump for president, but then coming back and supporting Rubio in the Senate contest. This morning marked yet another time when both Trump and Rubio were campaigning in Florida — separately, however, and not at the same event.

“We want everyone’s vote,” Rubio said. “I don’t want Hillary Clinton to be president, but people are going to have to make their own decisions. “

Dover GOP House District 59 Republican Ross Spano introduced Rubio to the crowd. Spano backed Rubio in the presidential primaries earlier this year until he dropped out after his devastating loss in the Florida primary to Trump, where he won only Miami-Dade County.

“We need men and women like Sen. Rubio to represent us,” said Spano, calling him “one of the brightest, strongest political figures that have come on the stage in several decades.”

Spano is himself running in what could be an extremely close race for re-election, against attorney Rena Frazier. Unlike Spano, however, Frazier never went up on the air with a television ad.

Meanwhile, Rubio refused to comment on whether or not he supported Amendment One, the solar power initiative which comes heavily funded from the public utility industry in Florida. He did say once again he is opposing Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative, saying, “if they want to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes they should go through the FDA process to be approved just like any other medicine, but I’m not in favor of the way it was drafted and where I think it will take Florida.”

New Florida poll shows Marco Rubio at 50%, Patrick Murphy at 43%

Sen. Marco Rubio has a big lead over Rep. Patrick Murphy in Florida’s U.S. Senate race.

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Rubio leads Murphy, 50 percent to 43 percent. The poll found 7 percent of respondents said they were either voting for someone else or didn’t know.

The latest poll of 884 likely Florida voters was conducted from Nov. 3 through Nov. 6. It has a margin of error of 3.3 percent.

Rubio has the backing of 93 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of independent voters, and 8 percent of Democrats. The survey found 48 percent of respondents who said they already voted backed Rubio, compared to 46 percent who said they voted for Murphy.

Murphy has the backing of 88 percent of Democrats, 39 percent of independents, and 3 percent of Republicans.

The Miami Republican has led in nearly every poll since he announced he was running for re-election in June. Three polls conducted since June 25 showed the two men tied, according to RealClearPolitics. Rubio led in all of the other polls used by RealClearPolitics to calculate the polling average.

Mike Hill: We must demand a commander in chief and Senate fit to serve

Rep. Mike Hill (YouTube)
Rep. Mike Hill 

I am proud of my service in the United States Air Force, and I know firsthand the honor it is to serve this great nation. I also know the complete trust we in the military must place in our commander in chief.

Our nation’s armed forces serve at the call of duty, at the orders of the commander in chief. The commander’s duty is to make calculated decisions that protect our troops, our citizens and our world.

Hillary Clinton’s actions on the night of the terrorist attack in Benghazi prove her to be unfit to be the commander in chief of the United States of America, period.

When Secretary Clinton was speaking with embassy officials during the siege, she should have had the understanding that those men needed help, they needed backup and they needed it immediately. It never came.

Clinton’s careless recklessness has not stopped, as the recent re-opening of her FBI investigation shows.

That’s not the sort of leadership we need in Florida, or our nation, and we certainly don’t need someone backing Clinton unquestioned.

Yet, here in Florida, we are not only choosing our next commander in chief, but we have a critical Senate race on the ballot as well.

In that Senate race, we have two stark choices: Patrick Murphy, who has campaigned on Clinton’s coattails, reiterating, despite the re-opening of an FBI investigation, and Marco Rubio, a proven leader on foreign policy, who fully grasps the threats the United States is facing today from around the globe.

Like Clinton, Murphy is now getting his own association with an FBI investigation, as news reports are beginning to expose an FBI investigation tied to an alleged straw donor scheme tied to Murphy.

Despite all of this, Murphy trusts Clinton. Still.

So, I have some news for Murphy: turning a blind eye to the gross miscalculations of a President is not the job of the United States Senate, no matter what party is in office. The job of the United States Senate is to serve as a check and balance on the executive office, to ensure our nation is represented by balanced interests; it is not to provide complacent support of whatever the executive office sees fit.

In contrast, we have the opportunity to re-elect Sen. Marco Rubio, who understands the dangers our nation faces abroad, dangers that are real, and incredibly serious. Marco has been unafraid throughout his career to stand up for what is right, no matter who it may offend. I’ve seen it firsthand and it’s a character trait that assures me he has our nation’s best interest at the forefront of his mind always, not a political party.


Pensacola Beach Republican Mike Hill represents District 2 in the Florida House of Representatives.

Joe Biden, Jimmy Buffett to hold GOTV rally in St. Petersburg on Monday

Jimmy Buffett has a message for Floridians: Get out and vote.

Buffett is scheduled to perform at a get out the vote rally for Democrats Hillary Clinton, Patrick Murphy, and Charlie Crist on Monday. The Florida music icon will be joined by Vice President Joe Biden and Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife. The event comes just one day before Election Day, and is meant to encourage voters to get to the polls.

Murphy and Crist are also expected to attend. Murphy faces Sen. Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race, and trails Rubio in the polls an average of 3.2 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics. Crist, the former governor of Florida, is hoping to unseat Rep. David Jolly in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

The addition of the Bidens to the roster shows just how important Florida is to the presidential race. Clinton has an average lead of 1 percentage point over Donald Trump in the Sunshine State, according to RealClearPolitics. The margin isn’t much larger nationwide, where RealClearPolitics shows she has an average lead of 1.8 percentage points.

The vice president and his wife will attend a rally at 1:15 p.m. at Florida A&M University, 1668 South Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Tallahassee before heading to St. Petersburg.

Buffett is expected to perform a short set of songs with Country Music Musician of the Year Mac McAnally. The event is schedule for 5 p.m. at Albert Whitted Park, 480 Bayshore Drive SE in St. Petersburg. The event is free, but tickets are required.

Marco Rubio makes closing argument in new TV ad

Sen. Marco Rubio is making his closing arguments in his final TV spot.

According to the Rubio campaign, 30-second spot, called “Debt,” is meant to discuss each generation’s “debt and duty to the next.

“America is the greatest country in the world, and keeping it that way is every generation’s debt to the next,” he says in the advertisement. “Today, our country is more divided than ever and our challenges are growing more grave, threatening who we are and everything we hope to be.”

He goes on to say the upcoming election “is about the future, and about keeping America the one place in the world where any dream can still come true.”

Rubio faces Rep. Patrick Murphy in the Nov. 8 general election. The Miami Republican has led in almost every poll since announcing his re-election bid. According to RealClearPolitics, he has an average 3.2 percentage point lead over Murphy.

Rubio is hitting the trail this weekend to rally support in the final weekend of early voting. He is expected to attend three get out the vote events Saturday, starting the day with a rally at the Sandshaker Lounge in Gulf Breeze. From there, he’ll attend a rally at RV Connections at Panama City, before wrapping up his North Florida swing at the Republican Party of Florida’s Jacksonville Beach Victory Office.

More than 5.7 million Floridians have already voted, according to the state Division of Elections. State records show nearly 2.3 million Democrats and nearly 2.3 million Republicans have voted by mail or in person during the early voting period. Democrats have edged out Republicans on early vote totals by a margin of more than 7,000 votes.

Outside groups spent $8.6 million on Florida’s U.S. Senate race last week, mostly helping Marco Rubio

Outside groups spent more than $6.3 million last week alone to support Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio‘s re-election campaign, while other groups spent $2.3 million last week trying to help Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy defeat him.

Much of that spending is leading to advertising that will run through the weekend and into early next week’s eve of Tuesday’s election.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a political committee run by Republican senators, led the way, spending $3.2 million last week mostly to buy TV commercials supporting Rubio or attacking Murphy. The Florida First Project, a super PAC specifically created to support Rubio, tossed in $1.4 million last week to buy attack ads against Murphy.

That’s according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission by the independent expenditure groups since Oct. 26, and analyzed by

Other big spenders on Rubio’s side included the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action ($319,000 spent last week), the American Future Fund ($212,000), the Women Speak Out PAC ($122,000), and the Club For Growth’s PAC ($110,000).

Murphy lost a big outside supporter last month when the Senate Majority PAC — the Democrats’ answer to the Senate Leadership Fund — pulled out of Florida. The Democrats’ PAC hadn’t been helping Murphy much anyway, compared with the kind of money the Republicans’ PAC was spending to help Rubio.

So Murphy’s big supporter in the past week was the Floridians for a Strong Middle Class, which spent $1.1 million to buy advertising attacking Rubio; and the For Our Future PAC, which spent $500,000 last week to support Murphy. Murphy also received backing in the past week from the Center Forward PAC ($210,000), and the Immigrant Voters Win PAC ($169,000).

Americans For Prosperity, the Koch brothers-created group that had vowed in September to make Rubio’s race a top priority this fall, spent little last week.  AFP had spent big earlier this year to support Rubio, but not much for the last few days.

Overall this year, the Senate Leadership Fund has spent more than $13 million in Florida. Among other Rubio supporters, the National Republican Senatorial Campaign — the official political committee of Senate Republican leadership — has spent $5 million this year in Florida. Americans For Prosperity has spent $4.3 million in Florida; the NRA’s PAC and the American Future Fund, $2.8 million each; the LIBRE Initiative, also associated with the Kochs, $1.7 million; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, $1.5 million.

On Murphy’s side, the Florida First Project’s total for the year is about $4.1 million; the Senate Majority PAC spent $3.4 million; Floridians for a Strong Middle Class, $1.7 million; the American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees political committee $1.4 million; and the Immigrant Voters Win PAC, $1 million.

All totaled, outside groups have spent $48.3 million in Florida trying to influence the U.S. Senate election, while the official campaigns of Rubio and Murphy have combined to spend just $30 million, according to a report released Friday by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan Washington group that keeps close tabs on campaign finance.

Overwhelmingly, that spending has been to support Rubio or oppose Murphy. According to the Sunlight Foundation’s report, outside groups have spent $36.9 million in Florida for the Republican side in the U.S. Senate race, and $11.4 million for the Democratic side.

Rubio also is outspending Murphy through official campaigns, according to the Sunlight Foundation. It reported Rubio’s campaign spending at $16.2 million, and Murphy’s at $13.6 million.

Yet outside spending in Florida is small compared to what’s happening in some other states, particularly Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, and Nevada. Independent expenditures in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race has topped $115 million, and in New Hampshire and Nevada has topped $85 million, according to the Sunlight Foundation’s report, “The final stretch: Spending in key Senate races tops $800 million.”


President Obama taught Donald Trump a political lesson in Jacksonville

President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Donald Trump both made plays in the Jacksonville media market Thursday.

Each man gave a speech; Trump in the early afternoon, then President Obama later on.

One man looked presidential. The other was left gasping for air.

Donald Trump gave a speech intended as a blasting indictment of Hillary Clinton, yet the optics under-delivered.

There are those who say entry was closed at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center, where the speech was held.

Maybe that was the case. But there was plenty of standing room in the back of the house, and even room to sit up top.

And though the front of the house was packed and looked that way in photographs, the crowd was a fraction of Trump’s previous Jacksonville rally in August, which saw the candidate filling the Veterans Memorial Arena downtown.

As has been the case during all of Trump’s rallies, the crowd began to leave halfway through the speech; as if they saw the spectacle and wanted to beat the traffic.

And, though he tried, he couldn’t quite get the local color right: he talked up JAXPORT, but called it “Jack Port.”

Soon after, President Obama gave a speech across town at the University of North Florida.

Here’s a measure of how good a politician he is: he started off the speech with the UNF Osprey “swoop,” which has become iconic in recent years, but never more so than Nov. 3, 2016.

The 6,000 seat UNF Arena: packed, with a line of people outside who couldn’t get in, and an overflow room.

Yes, there were people who got to the Trump event before the break of dawn.

That was true for the Obama event, where at least one reporter commented that students started lining up at 1 a.m.

Obama, who gave essentially the same speech he did in Miami earlier in the day, hit all of the buttons.

He promoted early voting at both, giving the nearest location for that task.

He talked up Hillary Clinton as the continuation of his legacy.

And — very importantly in the Jacksonville market, where the Patrick Murphy campaign didn’t play seriously — he talked up his chosen candidate against Marco Rubio.

In both locations, the president delivered a version of these remarks.

“You just got to be willing to work. You just got to care enough about other people and making sure everybody has got a fair shot. And if you do that — if you do that, then you’re a patriot, and you can contribute to this country that you love. And you can go as far as your dreams can take you. That’s what makes this place special,” Obama said.

“That’s what drove patriots to choose revolution over tyranny; to found this nation. And that’s what led GIs to liberate a continent. That’s what led women to march to get the ballot. That’s what led marchers to cross a bridge in Selma to win their rights. That’s what allowed workers to organize for collective bargaining and better wages. That’s what’s made America exceptional. That’s what’s always made America great. We’ve never been about just doing for ourselves. It’s been about what we can do together,” Obama added.

These are the rhythms of hope, the cadences of change, delivered flawlessly, with just a bit of the Southern drawl because, after all, Jacksonville is a Southern town.

Unlike Donald Trump, Barack Obama is able to switch up his accent based on geography. The president has that gear. The would-be president does not.

In Jacksonville, Obama noted — regarding Republicans — that “now that it looks like their nominee might lose,” the GOP has promised “‘years’ of investigation,” and of hearings, of shutdown, of obstruction, of repeal Obamacare votes.

Steve Schale noted earlier today Duval “is a place where African-American turnout is a little low, about 25 percent to date (compared to about 30 percent statewide). But this is also a place where African-American turnout rises in the final weekend and into Election Day, so the president is right on time.”

Hillary Clinton is not a great candidate, unsuited to Northeast Florida. But she doesn’t have to win here, Schale said. All she has to do is keep it close.

Barack Obama will get people to the polls. Expect the next few days to see bigger turnout with African-American voters, young voters, and those NPAs who may not agree with Barack Obama on everything policy, but who love the man’s swagger and embodiment of the American spirit.

Trump may have projected that once upon a time. But for those outside of the GOP tent, that’s not the case in 2016.

Ric Flair used to have an expression before the end of his matches: “Now, we go to school!”

In Jacksonville, President Obama was the teacher. Donald Trump got the drop slip.

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