President Obama Archives - Page 2 of 33 - Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: Donald Trump ‘saves’ Indiana jobs; Eric Newman asks ‘why not us?’

Eric Newman read news reports of the fight by incoming president Donald Trump to keep the Carrier air conditioning company from moving jobs to Mexico and thought, hey, why not us?

Newman owns the J.C. Newman Cigar Company in Tampa and has been fighting the Food and Drug Administration over regulations that Newman says could put his 121-year-old operation out of business.

So when this lifelong Democrat saw what Trump was doing to save jobs in Indiana, he described himself as “cautiously optimistic.”

“If President Trump is true to his word that overregulation is killing small businesses, we are the poster child for that,” Newman said. “It’s still way too early to tell if he can help us, but I feel better about it now.”

At its peak, Tampa was home to about 150 cigar-making companies, but Newman’s is the last such operation in the city. Other companies folded under increased regulatory pressure by the FDA and health concerns about tobacco use.

But, Newman has always argued that cigars are different from cigarettes and shouldn’t be held in the same category as a cancer risk.

“You go outside an office building, and you’ll see people huddled around smoking cigarettes,” he said. “You don’t see them smoking cigars. It’s not the same thing.”

You can’t blame Newman for feeling his government is out to get him, though. In addition to stringent new FDA rules that restrict the development of new product lines, Newman pointed to an executive order by President Obama that benefited Cuban cigar-makers.

The order allows travelers to bring all the Cuban cigars they want into the United States for personal consumption. Those cigars aren’t subject to the same regulations faced by Newman’s company.

“I have no problem competing with Cuban cigars on an equal footing,” Newman said. “But this exemption by President Obama gives such an advantage to the Cuban worker while screwing the American worker.

“We’re not looking for a handout. But one federal agency says cigars are bad for you, while another federal agency – in this case, the president – says it’s OK to bring in all the Cuban cigars you want. This whole thing with Cuba is just wacky.”

There have been attempts in Congress to address this issue, but despite bipartisan support from U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, they haven’t gotten anywhere.

However, as Newman pointed out, “There will be a new sheriff in town.”

The Trump administration likely will mean an overhaul at the FDA and that gives Newman hope that the added fees and testing requirements that he says drives up his cost dramatically will be reduced or eliminated.

“It is supposed to be a government of the people, by the people and for the people,” he said. “It’s not supposed to be screw the people.”

Kathy Castor says she’ll work with Donald Trump and GOP majority in Congress ‘if there’s an opportunity’

Kathy Castor says the voters in Florida’s 14th Congressional District re-elected her to get things done in Washington and, when she can, she’ll work with the Donald Trump administration and GOP Congress. But she’ll also resist them, depending on what policies they propose.

“People elected me to solve problems and if there’s any opportunity to do that with President Trump and a Republican Congress, that’s what I’m going to do,” she said Monday. “But I’m not going to compromise the values that this community holds dear. Whether that’s taking our Dream Act students and not deporting them, or fighting for higher wages, the Democratic Party is the party of working people and I’m going to continue to stand up for their interests against the system.”

Yet despite that perception, Hillary Clinton’s failure to win rust-belt states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan in the election has led to the accepted perception the Democrats have lost their way with working people.

In Boston on Sunday night, Bernie Sanders said the party has to return its focus to the working class.

“The working class of this country is being decimated — that’s why Donald Trump won,” Sanders said. “And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people, who understand that real median family income has gone down.”

“All I know is that every week when I’m in Washington D.C. we’re standing up to moneyed special interests and for some reason that’s not being communicated,” Castor says. “For example, they want to give massive tax breaks to big corporations and the top one percent. That’s not going to help working class people or working people, and what I’m afraid is that the Congress that has passed draconian budgets and tried to keep all the benefits for the wealthiest in the country, that they kind of play on Trump and take advantage of him and the people who elected him. We’re going to be pointing these things out.”

Next week Castor and her Democratic colleagues will vote on whether to retain Nancy Pelosi as their leader, or go in a different direction. Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan has announced his candidacy to challenge Pelosi, the 76-year-old San Francisco congresswoman who leads the Democrats in the House of Representatives.

Castor said she is undecided, but said there’s value in having a female leader.

“The party needs different leaders,” she acknowledges. “It’s time for a younger generation of leaders to run for local office, to get involved in local issues and state issues. But there is one consideration about who is going to be in leadership in Washington. President Trump, Chuck Schumer, Sen. McConnell, Paul Ryan. What do they have all have in common?”

She then answered her own question. “There is a lot of value in having a female leader,” before insisting that she hasn’t made a final decision on who should lead the caucus.

Speaking in Peru Sunday, President Obama said he was reticent to “meddle” in party votes while still in office, but went on to say that he “cannot speak highly enough” of the woman who a decade ago became the first female House speaker. “She combines strong progressive values with just extraordinary political skill, and she does stuff that’s tough, not just stuff that’s easy,” Obama said of Pelosi.

 

Medical marijuana advocates up in arms over Jeff Sessions

The head of a medical marijuana advocacy group is criticizing President-elect Donald Trump’s pick of Jeff Sessions for U.S. Attorney General.

Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access, said in an email Friday that the Republican Sessions “has criticized the morality of cannabis users and has stated that cannabis is more harmful than alcohol.”

Sessions, a former federal prosecutor, once “rebutted (President) Obama’s observation that marijuana is safer than alcohol by citing a renowned expert on substance abuse: ‘Lady Gaga says she’s addicted to it and it is not harmless,’” according to Forbes.

On the other hand, Sherer said, Trump “repeatedly said he supports medical cannabis and that he believes states should be able to set their own policies in this area.”

The president-elect “needs to reassure the more than 300 million Americans living under some sort of medical cannabis law that his attorney general will honor his campaign pledge to respect state medical cannabis programs,” Sherer said.

“Plain and simple, medical cannabis is a critical therapy used by millions of patients to alleviate symptoms of epilepsy, chemotherapy, HIV/AIDS, chronic pain, and more,” she added. 

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have decriminalized medical marijuana under state law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A ballot initiative giving Floridians a state constitutional right to medical pot passed earlier this month with 71 percent of the vote.

But marijuana is still outlawed by the federal government. The Obama administration has given states a pass, saying federal prosecutors should not charge those — particularly “the seriously ill and their caregivers” — who distribute and use medical marijuana under a state law.

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, PayMorePatrickMurphy.com 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.

 

 

Rick Scott decries ‘bureaucracy and politics’ in federal Zika aid

Gov. Rick Scott demanded Tuesday that the Obama administration speed delivery of $1.1 billion in federal money to fight the Zika virus, “to protect pregnant women and their developing babies” in Florida.

Congress approved the spending, which President Obama signed off on in September, but the money has yet to arrive, Scott said in a written statement.

“All year we watched as bureaucracy and politics got in the way of funding for this public health emergency, and the time for bureaucracy is over,” Scott said.

“While Florida continues to work through the bureaucratic and highly complex approval process for federal funding, there should be an expedited award to Florida given the fact that we are the only state currently battling local transmission of Zika through mosquitoes.”

Scott’s demand came about two weeks after state health officials declared a new Zika transmission zone in Miami-Dade County.

The governor also demanded a breakdown of how the money is to be spent.

“The appropriation bill for Zika funding required the Secretary of Health and Human Services to submit a report on the proposed uses of this funding within 30 days, and that report should be made available to Florida immediately,” the governor’s office said.

“While visiting Miami last week, Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the Zika virus will ‘become endemic,’ ” Scott said.

“He also stressed the importance of investing in public health, saying, ‘it pays off.’ That is why Dr. Frieden should absolutely agree that we need the immediate allocation of all available federal funding to Florida.”

The state seeks money for epidemiological research and testing; public health emergency preparedness; pregnancy risk monitoring; and to monitor birth defects related to the virus.

“Our state has been actively engaged combatting Zika since our very first travel-related case in February,” Scott said.

Click here for a timeline of steps Scott has taken against Zika.

“We have committed every available resource, including more than $61 million in state funding, to beat this virus and protect our residents and visitors. We expect every federal dollar possible,” the governor said.

Bob Graham announces his support for fellow Democrat Bob Buesing’s state Senate bid

With just eight days to go before the voting ends in Florida, state Senate District 18 Democratic hopeful Bob Buesing received some welcome news Monday when former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham endorsed him.

“Bob Buesing is the right person to work across the aisle to address Florida’s challenges and get things done for the people of Senate District 18 in Tallahassee,” said Graham in a statement issued by the Buesing campaign early Monday. “I’m endorsing Bob because he’ll be a fresh voice in Tallahassee dedicated to protecting our environment and drinking water, strengthening our public schools, and providing innovative new ideas to grow good jobs here at home in Florida. The people of Hillsborough County can count on Bob Buesing to always put their interests first.”

“I am deeply honored to have earned the endorsement of former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham,” said Buesing. “Gov. Graham’s legacy of service to our state is a testament to all that can be accomplished when you prioritize the needs of the people you are elected to serve and work together across party lines. I am proud to share Sen. Graham’s dedication to putting people first and I will look to his example as a member of the Florida Senate.”

The endorsement from the 79-year-old Democratic icon (who turns 80 next week) could be a boost for Buesing, who is still relatively unknown in local politics as he attempts to defeat Republican Dana Young in the Senate race. Buesing is also being squeezed by progressive icon Joe Redner, a former Democrat turned independent who is polling in double figures in the contest.

Unlike President Obama, who endorsed a number of Florida Democrats running for state legislative seats earlier this month, Graham has been very selective in terms of his endorsements.

In addition to backing Hillary Clinton and Patrick Murphy in the high-profile races for president and U.S. Senate, the only other state legislative Democrat Graham has endorsed this cycle has been Ben Diamond, running in the Pinellas County House District 68 race against Republican JB Benshimen. 

‘Women For Trump’ participants in West Tampa cheer upon news of FBI review of new Hillary Clinton emails

The “Women for Trump” bus tour made a stop at the Trump-Pence headquarters in West Tampa late Friday afternoon.

“Did anyone hear that the FBI just reopened an investigation?” asked Lara Trump, the daughter-in-law of Donald Trump and wife of Trump’s son, Eric.

The crowd erupted in cheers upon hearing that statement, which came about three hours after the news first broke that FBI Director James Comey had written to congressional leaders, saying it is again probing emails that might be related to Hillary Clinton’s private server, reopening a potentially damaging controversy for Clinton just 11 days before Election Day.

Joining Lara Trump was Omarosa Manigault, the breakout star of the first season of Trump’s NBC reality series “The Apprentice,” who was hired in July as the director of African-American outreach for the Trump campaign. She opted not to speak to the crowd, instead chatting briefly with people and taking a slew of selfies.

The other speakers were Lynnette Hardaway and Rochelle Richardson, better known by their stage name Diamond and Silk, the YouTube stars who championed Trump early on in the primary season.

“I’ll tell you, you all look beautiful, the basket of deplorables,” Hardaway began. “OK, so you all know that we are women, we are black, and we are voting for Donald J. Trump!”

Later, it was Richardson’s turn at the mic. “It’s not about ovaries in the Oval Office. It’s about who has the balls to build a wall!”

Needless to say, the crowd erupted in cheers to that statement as well.

Lara Trump said her father-in-law would bring respect back to the country and the White House. She then mentioned President Obama‘s recent trip to China, where authorities failed to initially provide a staircase when he landed.

“We might not agree with his politics, but he is still the president and that is Air Force One and that demands respect!” Trump said. “Do you know what Donald Trump would have done if that was him? He would have said ‘gas it up, we’re going back home.’”

One “Woman for Trump” who was slated to appear but did not was national spokesperson Katrina Pierson.

All told, the event lasted all of 15 minutes or so, after commencing an hour after the scheduled 3 p.m. start.

During the hour interregnum, the presence of liberal activist Kelly Benjamin appeared to unnerve officials, including a security guard who several times asked Benjamin to leave the premises, claiming it was a private event and that he was trespassing. Each time he successfully talked his way into staying, before two Tampa Police Department officers were called in. They ended up walking him out to the front of the sidewalk of the event.

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Then, as the women were just about to reboard the bus, Benjamin and two members of Black Lives Matter unfurled a Black Lives Matter flag, and for a minute or so it became tense, as the Trump supporters started shouting back “all lives matter” to the two activists chants of “black lives matter.” And then it ended.

Bloomberg poll has Donald Trump up by 2 points in Florida, 45%-43%

Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by two percentage points in Florida, 45 percent to 43 percent, in a new Bloomberg poll released Wednesday morning.

Libertarian Gary Johnson gets 4 percent, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein is at 2 percent. The margin is cut to one percentage point lead for Trump, 46 percent to 45 percent, in a tw0-person race.

The survey of 985 Florida registered voters was conducted from Oct. 21-24. The margin of error is at 3.2 percent.

The survey is the first in a long time that shows Trump leading in Florida, but recent polls shows the race tightening. The RealClearPolitics average in Florida as of Wednesday morning shows Clinton with a 1.6 percentage point lead.

“This race may come down to the independent vote,” said pollster J. Ann Selzer, who oversaw the survey. “Right now, they tilt for Trump. By a narrow margin, they opted for Obama over Romney in 2012.” The poll shows Trump leading Clinton amongst independents by a 43 percent to 41 percent margin.

Barack Obama won independents by three points in 2012, though he defeated Mitt Romney by less than one percentage point.

Clinton gets 51 percent of the Sunshine State’s Hispanic vote and 49 percent of those under age 35 in the two-way contest, while Trump has 51 percent of seniors and 50 percent of those without college degrees.

Trump must win Florida’s 29 electoral votes to win the presidency; Clinton does not, if you go by 2012 standards. Although Obama did take the state in 2012, Florida was only declared in his favor four days after he had already gone over the 270 electoral votes on Election Night and had officially won re-election.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.25.16 — DCCC ad linking Trump to Jolly goes away, but has the damage been done?

Attention political junkies: not every voter pays attention to politics until right before the election, which is why that ad by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee “dramatizing” David Jolly standing with Donald Trump was so egregious.

The ad — one of the most controversial of any produced this season in American politics — was immediately denounced by the Jolly campaign, who protested to local television stations to stop airing it. They did not. Nor did his Democratic opponent, Charlie Crist, say anything negative when called to denounce it at the time.

But beware the power of the Tampa Bay Times editorial page. On Monday morning, the Times took shots at that ad, and called for Crist to demand his new political party take those dishonest ads off the air. They also criticized other negative ads being aired against Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober and state Senate District 18 Democratic candidate Bob Buesing.

After reading the editorial, Crist did as the Times demanded and called on the DCCC to drop the ad. In his own words, Crist said he was “moved” by the Times editorial, and expressed contrition that he hadn’t asked the DCCC to take it down earlier.

But the damage has been done, and Jolly wasn’t “moved” by Charlie’s about-face.

“I’ll be blunt: Charlie is a liar, always has been,” Jolly said. “Charlie’s opportunity to be moved was two weeks ago when he was confronted at Eckerd College about the ad and he claimed the First Amendment.”

The question that maybe we’ll never know is: how many voters on the fence in the 13th Congressional District were undecided about this congressional race, but are turned off by Trump and thus were persuaded not to scribble in the circle next to Jolly’s name on the ballot in Pinellas County?

The fact is, we can’t allow any candidate or third-party group in the future to allow for such “dramatizations.” They’re outright lies, and there’s already enough of that on an everyday basis in our politics, and in our campaign ads. Faking pictures is going to a new low, and while it may not be illegal, it shouldn’t be allowed.

In other news …

Donald Trump returned to Tampa last night. We hung out with some of his supporters before he came on the stage.

Hillary Clinton returns to Tampa for her fourth time this year on Wednesday.

Marco Rubio began his Monday in Sun City Center, where he added “liberal” to the other epithets he’s been throwing at Democratic Senate opponent Patrick Murphy.

The Hillsborough County Republican Party recently gave a $1,000 contribution to the lone Republican in the Tampa City Council District 7 race, Jim Davison. However, according to the City of Tampa’s charter regarding nonpartisan races, that’s a no-no.

HART has received $1 million to study a driverless bus in the county.

And what happens if Hillary Clinton wins in November, and Barack Obama passes the TPP in December? Chaos in the Democratic Party? Local guy Frank Sanchez agrees with Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn on supporting the TPP, for what that’s worth.

At Sun City Center, Marco Rubio derides Patrick Murphy as an ‘old-fashioned liberal’

Marco Rubio has been making the case that Patrick Murphy hasn’t accomplished much of anything during his four years in the House of Representatives. Now, with the polls tightening, he’s saying the voting record of his Democratic rival in the U.S. Senate race is also too liberal.

“Why does someone lie about their background, about things that they have done? Apparently because they haven’t done anything,” Rubio told a couple dozen supporters at a golf clubhouse in Sun City Center in South Hillsborough County early Monday morning. “Here’s what’s worse: When he’s not lying, he’s actually incredibly liberal.”

Rubio citied Murphy’s support of the Iran nuclear deal and his support for closing down Guantanamo Bay as evidence that the Jupiter representative is too left for Florida voters.

“I’ve seen this ad the other day. It says he’s an independent voice,” Rubio said, adding, “Not on the issues that count.”

“On the issues that count, he doesn’t just mislead people, he’s a good old fashioned liberal, and Florida cannot afford to have somebody that liberal in the U.S. Senate, particularly on issues of national security,” Rubio said.

“Patrick Murphy is one of the most independent members of Congress and it’s clear that Marco Rubio is desperate,” replied Murphy spokesperson Galia Slayen. “Despite millions of dollars in special interest money being spent against Patrick, we’re tied in the polls, Rubio’s hometown paper endorsed Patrick, and President Obama exposed Rubio for the coward that he is for continuing to support Donald Trump. Marco Rubio is devoid of political courage and lying about Patrick’s record. Floridians deserve better.”

Murphy’s voting record was certainly not considered that liberal to Florida progressives when he first declared his candidacy for Senate in early 2015. Murphy actually was a Republican before switching to become a Democrat, and his votes in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline and for a House committee to investigate Benghazi were frequently invoked by Alan Grayson, Murphy’s top opponent in the Democratic primary.

Campaigning on the first day of early voting in Hillsborough County (and in 49 other counties in Florida), Rubio said while much of the focus is on the presidential race, he emphasized the importance of his Senate race, referring to the power a senator has in approving or rejecting Supreme Court justices. He said if the next nominee happens to be in their mid-50s, they’ll likely be on the court for the next 20-25 years, “which is the equivalent of three eight-year presidencies.”

“That means that for the next 25 years, the very balance of the Supreme Court is at stake,” he added.

With Donald Trump speaking in Tampa Monday night, the Murphy campaign issued out a statement with the headline, “Will Today Be The Day?” asking mischievously if the two could end up on stage together. “We’re not doing presidential events,” Rubio said, not looking pleased to answer the question.

The Florida senator continues to be hammered by members of the media for not disassociating himself from the GOP nominee, who he blasted during the presidential primary season, but is now backing because he says Trump is preferable to a Hillary Clinton presidency.

On “This Week in South Florida” on Sunday, Miami WLPG-TV host Michael Putney blasted Rubio as a “smart, talented guy who earned our respect when he first sought elected office,” but “now it seems he’ll do or say anything to stay in office, even swallow his pride and vote for a presidential candidate he clearly detests, all to advance his own political ambitions.”

Rubio said when it comes to Trump, he’s letting such criticism roll off of him.

“I’ve talked about that race repeatedly. People know how I feel about it,” he said regarding his continuing support for a Trump presidency. “I’m focused on the Senate race. If people want to continue talking about other things, they certainly have the right, it’s a free country. We’re blessed to have such freedoms in this country.”

“We’ve reached this point in America where people hate each other because of who they’re voting for,” Rubio later said, alluding to how divisive the Clinton-Trump race has become. “People hate each other because of what bumper sticker they have on their car. We’ve got to back away a little bit from that. We should feel passionately about our issues, but ultimately we all have to share the same country. There is no scenario where half of us do better and the other half does worse — that’s not a country that works. We can all be better off, and we should be able to disagree on political issues while still working on issues that we agree on.”

Rubio has spoken critically for years about Hillary Clinton, prompting FloridaPolitics to ask the senator if he could work effectively with her if the two of them both won on Nov. 8?

“When she agrees with me,” he immediately quipped. “I’ll look forward to working with her.”

He then went on to say the majority of his major legislation passed in his six years in the Senate have had major buy-in from Democrats, referring specifically to his “Girls Count Act” with New Hampshire’s Jeanne Shaheen (that will direct current U.S. foreign aid to support the rights of women and girls in developing countries by working to establish birth registries in their countries) and proposed higher education legislation with Virginia’s Mark Warner.

“When we agree on something, I enjoy working with people who I disagree with on other issues,” he said.

Rubio was scheduled to then attend a forum on the opioid crisis with Congressman Vern Buchanan in Bradenton.

 

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