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Hillary Clinton aide says Bernie Sanders backers to come around

The Latest on the Democratic National Convention and 2016 presidential campaign. (all times EDT):

7:10 p.m.

A Hillary Clinton campaign adviser says he’s not worried about winning over Bernie Sanders’ supporters.

“Most of them are going to come around.”

That’s what John Podesta thinks.

Podesta says he knows there are some in the Sanders camp who are still “emotional” and wish Clinton didn’t win more votes than the Vermont senator in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination.

But Podesta says most of Sanders’ supporters are looking at the election as a choice between Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

Podesta spoke after some Sanders delegates at the party’s convention wore neon yellow shirts to protest Clinton’s nomination.

6:50 p.m.

Some Bernie Sanders supporters are wearing glow-in-the-dark shirts on the final night of Democrats convention in Philadelphia.

They say it’s a way to remind presidential nominee Hillary Clinton that she hasn’t brought them all on board yet.

For Clinton, the silent protest probably is preferable to the heckling and booing from that marked the early days of the convention.

Sanders delegate Davena Norris says her bright shirt is meant to send a message that more needs to be done to curb the influence of money in politics.

6:45 p.m.

Donald Trump is campaigning in Iowa and largely avoiding the topic that earned him lots of criticism this week.

Only a day ago Trump encouraged Russia to find and make public missing emails deleted by his Democratic presidential opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Trump’s comments raised the question of whether he was condoning foreign government hacking of U.S. computers and the public release of information stolen from political adversaries.

Trump was condemned by Clinton and even some of his fellow Republicans. Running mate Mike Pence warned of “serious consequences” if Russia interfered in the election.

Trump has since insisted he was being sarcastic.

At the Iowa rally, he did say he wanted better relations with Russia and joked that writing letters was more secure than “putting something on a computer.”

5:40 p.m.

Donald Trump says “a lot of lies are being told” about him in the speeches at the Democratic National Convention this week.

The Republican presidential nominee is joking about it during a campaign rally in Davenport, Iowa.

“Boy, I’m getting hit” by Democrats – he says. “I guess they have to do their thing.”

Trump is criticizing Democrats for not talking about terrorism or laying out a plan to aid the economy.

4:25 p.m.

Die-hard Bernie Sanders supporters from Oregon’s delegation say they’re demanding a nationally televised apology at the Democratic National Convention before Hillary Clinton takes the stage Thursday night to accept the presidential nomination.

The matter involves leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee that indicated party officials were biased against the Vermont senator.

The DNC has apologized and the party’s leader, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is resigning her post.

But Melissa Pancurak tells The Associated Press that those steps don’t go far enough. She says the Oregon delegates are part of a coalition of Sanders supporters working to get their demand to appropriate DNC officials before Clinton’s speech.

4:20 p.m.

Donald Trump’s stand on abortion has been inconsistent, but his running says Trump would be a “pro-life president.”

Mike Pence is campaigning in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and he makes clear he opposes abortion. And the Indiana governor tells a town hall rally, “I don’t apologize for it.”

Pence drew the ire of abortion rights advocates in March after he signed a law banning abortions that were being sought because of fetal genetic defects. That law has since been blocked pending the outcome of a court challenge.

Pence says Trump would appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court who would send the Roe v. Wade abortion ruling to the “ash heap of history.”

4 p.m.

“Disrespectful.”

That’s what Elijah Cummings thinks of liberal supporters of Bernie Sanders who chanted an anti-trade slogan during the Maryland congressman’s speech at the Democratic National Convention.

But Cummings says he’s not upset about it because he’s a veteran of civil rights protests and understands the passion that drove the mostly young delegates to shout over his speech Monday.

Cummings says in an interview that most of those who were shouting probably didn’t know he worked with Sanders to draft the Democratic platform and he’s “never voted for a trade bill in 20 years in Congress.”

He says more than 100 people have apologized to him for the outbursts.

2:37 p.m.

President Barack Obama‘s mention of “fascists” and “homegrown demagogues” in his convention speech wasn’t aimed at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

That’s what White House press secretary Josh Earnest is telling reporters the day after Obama argued for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s election over Trump.

Obama said “anyone who threatens our values, whether fascists or communists or jihadists or homegrown demagogues, will always fail in the end.”

Obama had criticized Trump several times before arriving at that particular line in the speech, including saying that American power “doesn’t come from a self-declared savior promising that he alone can restore order as long as we do things his way.”

Trump said in his acceptance speech at last week’s GOP convention that “I alone can fix” a political system he says is rigged.

2:19 p.m.

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani is giving Hillary Clinton credit for her work on behalf of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Giuliani was asked at a Republican Party briefing Thursday in Philadelphia whether he took issue with the Democratic convention speakers who’d been praising Clinton. Giuliani said she was “enormously supportive and helpful.” Clinton was a U.S. senator from New York at the time.

He says Clinton “has a right to tell people that she worked hard on behalf of the 9/11 families.” He adds that, “She did.”

But Giuliani adds that “on all other aspects she fails the test.” Clinton and Democrats, he says, have “not done anything to prevent another attack.”

1:50 p.m.

This time, Bill Clinton will be the adoring spouse, rapt and smiling when the cameras cut away from the candidate in the spotlight.

He’ll be the He in the VIP box watching as She accepts the presidential nomination at the Democratic convention on Thursday.

It’s one small step in the role reversal Americans will need to get used to if Hillary Clinton wins the White House in November.

Already, satires and spoofs are circulating, taking note of Bill’s fashion choices, accessories and hair style. How about that fetching pantsuit! And that nice head of hair! Whose shoes is he wearing?

After all, that’s what political wives have come to expect.

Bill Clinton, utterly comfortable in his own skin, seems to be just fine with trading places with his wife, the former first lady.

10:28 a.m.

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid says the CIA should give Donald Trump “fake intelligence briefings” because he can’t be trusted.

The Nevada lawmaker tells reporters in Philadelphia that “they shouldn’t give him anything that means anything because you can’t trust him.”

Reid was responding to Trump’s call for Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails.

He says he’s sure the agency is aware of his suggestion.

He also says Trump may have violated the Logan Act that bars unauthorized U.S. citizens from negotiating with foreign governments.

9:56 a.m.

The North Carolina Republican Party has removed a tweet criticizing Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine for wearing a pin honoring his son’s military service.

The tweet posted during Kaine’s Democratic National Convention speech Wednesday night said Kaine “wears a Honduras flag pin on his jacket but no American flag. Shameful.”

The pin in question has a single blue star against a white background outlined in red. It’s the same design as the Service Flag, which is reserved for families who have members serving in the military during wartime. The flag of Honduras has five stars against a blue and white striped background. Kaine’s son is a Marine set to be deployed to Europe.

The party hasn’t responded to a request for comment from The Associated Press.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Joe Henderson: DNC Day 3 — organization is everything

Florida Democrats have long since undertaken the groundwork to deliver the Sunshine State to Hillary Clinton in November. In fact, you could say that began in 2008 and continued four years later when Barack Obama carried Florida in both of his presidential campaigns.

The local operatives, so critical in big elections, who turned out the vote for Obama have stayed busy trying to do the same for Clinton.

“They never left,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said. “Some of the players might be different now, but the model is still the same.”

That organization stands in stark contrast now to Republican nominee Donald Trump, who appears to have little visible infrastructure in place here.

Clinton has a major head start on him and that could the difference in what shapes up as a closely contested contest.

The work of turning out the vote will take on a new urgency after the balloons drop at the end of Clinton’s acceptance speech Thursday night. Buckhorn, who has solidly been in the Clinton camp, figures to be an important part of all that.

“Organization is everything,” Buckhorn said. “In Florida presidential races it’s all about the turnout and not so much about TV or radio (ads). Building connections matter. Field organization matters. Gathering data is important. It becomes a combination of analytics and data mining. Marry the two of those and you’ve got something.”

Clinton is popular among Florida Democrats.

In 2008, she received 49 percent of the primary vote to 32 percent for Obama, who by that point was well on his way to winning the nomination. In the March primary this year, Clinton nearly doubled up Bernie Sanders 64 percent to 33 percent.

But Trump received 1.079 million votes in the GOP state primary, nearly as many as Clinton’s 1.1 million.

Even given Trump’s renowned penchant for outrageous and, as Democrats charged after his suggestion that Russia hack more of Hillary’s emails, treasonous behavior, polls show a tight contest between the two for Florida’s 29 electoral votes.

“You never underestimate anybody,” Buckhorn said. “The proof is in the bodies. Organizing means putting those bodies on the road, making those phone calls, knocking the doors. I haven’t seen any evidence of the Trump people doing that (in Florida).”

WEDNESDAY TAKEAWAYS: That was a show of force Wednesday night by the star-packed Democratic lineup.

President Barack Obama, as expected, set Clinton up perfectly to be the right person to accept the baton of leadership from him. I thought former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an independent, took Trump apart on The Donald’s own playing field in the world of business.

But for the star of the night, give me Vice President Joe Biden. Who else but Biden could call Trump’s claims “a bunch of malarkey” and turn it into a rallying cry. The hashtag “malarkey” quickly started trending on Twitter and prompting many clever memes – the best of which was a signature red Trump ball cap with the word “Malarkey” emblazed instead of his “Make America Great Again” slogan.

Sitting through vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s speech was like sitting through a warmup band you don’t really want to hear before the main show begins. I’ll give a tepid thumbs-up to his mocking “Believe Me” impersonation of Trump, but he should have stopped it after one or two times.

I mean, it wasn’t THAT funny.

So it’s all there for Hillary now to see if she can convince the undecided Americans that she is best for the job. Stick to the end for the balloon drop. Balloon drops are cool.

Democratic donors, allies offer reward for Donald Trump tax returns

The wealthy Democratic donors, many of them executives who run complex businesses, know firsthand how revealing tax returns can be. Perhaps that’s why they can’t stop talking about Republican nominee Donald Trump‘s refusal to release his.

In their suites at the Ritz Carlton hotel, where many are staying during this week’s Democratic convention, and at its auxiliary swanky parties, the supporters of Hillary Clinton are sounding the alarm about Trump’s break with decades of presidential campaign tradition.

Clinton put out eight years of recent tax filings last summer, and they lament that voters don’t seem to understand why Trump’s refusal to do the same matters.

Democratic talk of the taxes spilled onto the convention stage Wednesday night. Vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine, mocking Trump, said, “Believe me, there’s nothing suspicious in my tax returns. Believe me!” The crowd laughed.

There’s even a literally a bounty for the Trump documents.

Moishe Mana, a top fundraiser for Clinton, has offered to give $1 million to the charity of Trump’s choice if he makes them public. He joins an unnamed Republican donor working with Clinton ally David Brock who has made a similar offer of $5 million.

“Through his financial documents, we are trying to break into the image that he’s portraying to the American people,” said Mana, a real estate developer in Miami. “He says he’s a successful businessman who wants to do for the country what he did for his company. Well, go ahead, show me the money.”

Trump is unmoved. The billionaire owner of the Trump Organization, an international development company, says the Internal Revenue Service is reviewing his most recent returns and that he’ll release them once that audit is complete.

He reiterated that plan at a news conference Wednesday in Doral, Florida. Asked when he would put out the documents, he said: “I don’t know. Depends on the audit.”

There’s no telling whether that would happen before Election Day, but the IRS says there’s no legal reason Trump can’t make the tax returns public even as they are under review.

The issue has flared up in recent days, in the wake of the hack of emails at the Democratic National Committee that the Obama administration said Wednesday was almost certainly the work of Russia. The group WikiLeaks released the emails on the eve of the convention, a leak its leader Julian Assange has said was timed to inflict political damage on Clinton.

Trump said Wednesday that he has no ties to Russia whatsoever, but that hasn’t stopped Democratic donors in Philadelphia from saying that in the absence of Trump’s tax returns, voters are left to wonder whether there are undisclosed financial ties between Trump and foreign entities.

“Think of what’s gone on just this week and connect the dotted lines,” said top Clinton donor J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire venture capitalist in Chicago. “I’m not sure what’s going on, but it sure doesn’t look good. The question is who his investors are, and whether there are any in China or Russia that are affecting his personal income.”

Mana also wants that answered. If Trump’s elected president, he said, “how much in debt would we be to other countries? This is about the security of the United States. We have the right to make sure he’s not in debt to other countries.”

While information about Trump’s debts has been made public in personal financial disclosures filed with federal election regulators, the Democratic donors say access to his taxes might shed light on previously unknown business arrangements. The returns would also detail for the first time how much he pays in income tax and how much he gives to charity.

“He is obfuscating in order to avoid being discovered as a liar,” Pritzker said.

The 2012 GOP nominee, Mitt Romney, resisted putting out his 2011 tax return until the September just before the election, after being pressed for months about doing so. The documents showed he paid an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent, far lower than the average person, spawning days of bad headlines.

Other presidential candidates, including Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, have been dinged for not giving much to charity.

Bill and Hillary Clinton paid an overall federal tax rate of 31.6 percent between 2007 and 2014, her returns showed. In 2014, they donated almost 11 percent of their income to charity.

In addition to blaming the IRS audit, Trump has said in interviews that it might not make political sense for him to put out his returns.

Romney’s returns were “a tiny peanut compared to mine,” Trump said on “Meet the Press” in an interview that aired last Sunday. There was little controversial in the Romney documents, he said.

Yet the media “made him look bad,” Trump said. “In fact, I think he lost his election because of that.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Hacked emails overshadow Democratic National Convention

Hacked emails threatened to overshadow the Democratic Party’s upcoming celebration in Philadelphia as progressives expressed disappointment Sunday over the presidential nomination process.

As a result, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced Sunday she will step down as party chair at the end of the Democratic National Convention.

Bitterness and frustration among the more progressive wing came after some 19,000 emails were published on the website Wikileaks that suggested the Democratic National Committee played favorites during the primary, when Sanders fell short against Hillary Clinton.

In one leaked email, a DNC official wondered whether Bernie Sanders‘ religious beliefs could be used against him, questioning whether the candidate may be an atheist.

In televised interviews Sunday, the Vermont senator said the emails proved what he knew was true: The DNC planned to support former Secretary of State Clinton from the start.

“I’m not shocked, but I’m disappointed” by the exchanges in the emails, Sanders told ABC’s “This Week.”

Sanders had pressed for Wasserman Schultz to quit immediately. He also suggested Clinton’s choice of running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, was a disappointment and that he would have preferred Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a favorite of liberals.

“His political views are not my political views. He is more conservative than I am. Would I have preferred to see somebody like an Elizabeth Warren selected by Secretary Clinton? Yes, I would have,” Sanders told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The Clinton team worked to portray their party’s convention in a different light from the just-concluded Republican gathering in Cleveland, where Donald Trump accepted the GOP nomination but party divisions flared when his chief rival, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, refused to endorse the billionaire businessman.

Trump cast himself as the law-and-order candidate in a nation suffering under crime and hobbled by immigration, as the GOP convention stuck to a gloom-and-doom theme. Democrats said they wanted to convey a message of optimism and improving the lives of all Americans.

But party disunity also seems to be a factor in Philadelphia, given Sanders’ demands for a new leader and general unhappiness among his many supporters about how the nomination process unfolded. At least one Sanders’ delegate said there was talk of protests during Kaine’s acceptance speech.

Norman Solomon, a delegate who supports Sanders, says there is talk among Sanders’ delegates of walking out during Kaine’s acceptance speech or turning their backs as a show of protest.

Solomon said he believes a “vast majority” of Sanders delegates support these kinds of protests to express their dismay. Sanders’ supporters say they are concerned Kaine is not progressive enough.

Dan O’Neal, 68, is a retired school teacher and delegate from Arizona, said Wasserman Schultz has to be censured.

“We knew they were stacking the deck against Bernie from the get-go, but this type of stuff coming out is outrageous,” he said. “It proves our point that they’ve tried to marginalize him and make it as difficult as possible.”

Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, agreed, saying Sanders’ supporters “have a lot to complain about.”

“The emails have proven the system was rigged from the start,” Manafort told “Fox News Sunday.”

Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, tried to shift blame away from DNC officials to “Russian state actors” who, he said, may have hacked into DNC computers “for the purpose of helping Donald Trump,” the Republican presidential nominee.

How the emails were stolen hasn’t been confirmed.

“It was concerning last week that Donald Trump changed the Republican platform to become what some experts would regard as pro-Russian,” Mook said.

Clinton is within just days of her long-held ambition to become the party’s official presidential nominee.

After the DNC released a slightly trimmed list of superdelegates — those are the party officials who can back any candidate — it now takes 2,382 delegates to formally clinch the nomination. Clinton has 2,814 when including superdelegates, according to an Associated Press count. Sanders has 1,893.

Sanders has endorsed Clinton, but his delegates are pushing for a state-by-state tally. The state-by-state roll call is scheduled for Tuesday.

Also Sunday, Kaine and his wife, Anne Holton, were back at their longtime church in Richmond, Virginia, a day after he made his campaign debut with Clinton.

Kaine, a former choir member at St. Elizabeth Catholic Church, sang a solo during Communion. He later told reporters outside the church: “We needed some prayers today and we got some prayers, and we got some support and it really feels good.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

In Jacksonville, Marco Rubio reiterates support for Donald Trump

Saturday afternoon saw Sen. Marco Rubio hosting a town hall on Jacksonville’s Southbank as part of a two-day swing through the city that included a fundraising event.

The turnout? Maybe 150 people. But for Rubio, this tour of the last week was a re-introduction to the grassroots as a U.S. Senate incumbent, rather than a presidential candidate, and a relaxed Rubio took the stage after an introduction from Duval GOP Chair Cindy Graves and a prayer from Jacksonville City Councilman Sam Newby.

As one might expect, he also was asked to — and did  — vow to support GOP Presidential nominee Donald Trump. Despite not agreeing with Trump on everything, Rubio said he disagrees with Hillary Clinton on everything, and beyond that, there are only two viable candidates on the ballot.

As part of making that case, he talked foreign policy and other issues, while reminding the grassroots he was one of them.

****

Rubio said he was at peace with how the presidential primary election went, before serving up a variety of mainstream conservative policy positions familiar to those who have followed him in national office and in the presidential race.

“That was not what the voters chose. That was not God’s plan for our lives.,” he said.

Then, Rubio had a chance to “reconsider why he got into public service to begin with,” and realized that his commitment to party allowed him to make a difference.

If the GOP loses the Senate?

Chuck Schumer becames majority leader of the Senate.”

This would reap a harvest on the Supreme Court, Rubio said, with a Democratic president nominating “someone who believes it is their job to rewrite the Constitution.”

Rubio believes the next president could appoint up to three Supreme Court justices, which could erode “the rights we hold dear.”

“Ten years from now, 20 years from now,” Rubio said, “there are only two possible outcomes.”

One? “To leave our kids better off than ourselves.”

The other? “History will say we are the first Americans in history to leave our children worse off than ourselves.”

Rubio delivered a traditional small-government, localist Republican message, including “we don’t even need a federal Department of Education,” and qualms about an overly expansive federal government “doing more harm than good.”

Still, there are things the government could do more of, such as military spending for better, newer equipment, a new F-35 program, and “an aircraft carrier stationed here at Mayport.”

The “peace through strength” message Ronald Reagan delivered in the 1980s was on full display.

As well, Rubio noted he had just had an “honest conversation with law enforcement about what’s happening,” saying “nothing justifies the irresponsible rhetoric in the public domain on this issue.”

Rubio, who famously bought a gun last Christmas Eve, restated his dedication to the Second Amendment, and “not just for hunting,” but for self-defense and “sport shooting.”

“You do have a right to protect yourself and your family,” Rubio said.

“These are the challenges we face, and this is why I decided to run for re-election,” Rubio said.

****

 Then the questions.

One: thoughts on the Thursday night speech of Donald Trump, with a grade requested from A to F.

“I don’t know if I want to grade the speech,” Rubio said. “I don’t agree with Donald on everything. I disagree with Hillary on everything.”

Rubio then pivoted back to the speech, addressing concerns that “no one is fighting for them.”

“It also spoke to the insecurity in this country,” Rubio said, including economic and national security insecurity.

“And we have national leaders saying to us that we’ve never been safer? We’ve never been better? There are people in this country … who have been running on a treadmill for 10 years,” Rubio said.

Rubio then went on to balance conservative ideals with “realistic expectations of what can get done,” given the “system that deliberately made it hard for the federal government to pass laws quickly because they wanted the power in the states.”

A pressure the founders never anticipated? The “bureaucracy” and “bringing the bureaucratic state under control.”

Rubio was asked to stand by Trump then, and he did, saying there are “only two people on the ballot with a chance to win.”

To that, he got applause.

****

Rubio reiterated policy staples, including his hard line on Cuba normalization policy, saying that immigrants exploit “wet-foot, dry-foot” by injuring themselves, getting picked up by the Coast Guard, and dropped off at hospitals, where they can stay.

The president gave away the store, Rubio said, and “this deal is a one-sided deal that all it’s done is empower them.”

Since the opening with Cuba, Rubio said, “human rights in Cuba have gotten worse, not better.”

This is part of an “abysmal” record of foreign policy, Rubio added, including the “reset with Russia” and “the deal with Iran.”

“For four years of that,” Rubio added, “Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.”

****

Rubio also discussed Turkey and his “concerns” with Erdogan and the more Islamicist direction he’s taken, “which has had an impact on a lot of things, including our relationship with Israel.”

The coup? “An opportunity to grab more power for himself,” another authoritarian play that “jihadists will takes advantage of” by appealing to disenfranchised “disaffected young people.”

“I worry about that happening in Turkey,” Rubio said, while adding our military dependence on our NATO partner is an issue to consider “for the next president.”

“I am very concerned that if Erdogan uses this attempted coup as an opportunity to become more authoritarian … that Turkey will become a prime space for terrorist recruitment.”

****

The last question came back to mass shootings: specifically, Orlando Pulse.

The questioner wanted “common-sense gun reform that addresses the mentally ill.”

Rubio noted the “stigma” related to mental illness, to be remedied with “more treatment options” and “options for that information to be fed into the existing system.”

“This individual … was also a subscriber to radical Islam … this was a terrorist attack,” Rubio said.

“Let me tell you something about the Muslim community. There were two FBI investigations into this guy,” and one of them was initiated by the Muslim community.

“This guy was born and raised in this country … raised in Florida … benefited from all this greatness in this country … and decided to kill 49 people.”

****

Rubio took press questions after the event, and there were no message inconsistencies in those answers.

Asked again about Trump’s convention speech, Rubio noted that was the “message he won the primary on,” and the convention itself has “got to be better than the Democrats’,” given the DNC “under Debbie Wasserman Schultz … actually questioning Bernie Sanders’ faith” during the campaign.

Given the amount of delegates on hand in support of Sanders, Rubio anticipated an interesting time next week in Philadelphia.

Rubio faced a question about Ted Cruz also, who pointedly deferred endorsement of Trump Wednesday evening.

“Everyone makes their own decision,” Rubio said, but it’s “time to come together as a party.”

Meanwhile, regarding Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, Rubio was complimentary.

“I’ve worked with Tim a lot. I like him. He’s a friend. And I look forward to working with him in the Senate, because Hillary Clinton is going to lose,” Rubio said.

From there, questions went to more local matters, including the primary challenge Rubio faces from Carlos Beruff.

Would there be any debates?

“I just got into the race four weeks ago,” Rubio said, and “I’m not sure any are scheduled.”

The final question worth noting: would Rubio endorse in the 4th Congressional District race?

Short answer: no.

“I usually don’t get involved in primaries. I’ve worked with John Rutherford; I admire him,” Rubio said, noting he also knows Hans Tanzler, who is emerging as the alternative to Rutherford in that race.

However, Rubio added, he is going to endorse Ron DeSantis in Congressional District 6.

****

The crowd was a fraction of the large draws Rubio had in this region ahead of the March presidential preference primary, but those in attendance left happy with what they heard. With operatives from most other Senate campaigns either working for Rubio directly or supporting him tacitly, it’s clear the party will unify behind him in short order, with the pre-March rhetoric an increasingly distant memory.

Hillary Clinton ridicules Donald Trump’s “dark and divisive division” in Tampa speech

(UPDATE: Hillary Clinton chose Tim Kaine to be her VP nominee. That occurred shortly after this post was originally written).

Hillary Clinton did not name her running mate at a rally in Tampa on Friday afternoon. Although that nonevent was probably the most newsworthy part of her campaign appearance late Friday afternoon at the Florida State Fairgrounds, it was also her first time in front of a partisan audience for her to weigh in on the past week of comments from the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where she was bashed nonstop for four days, with several of the speakers participating in chants to “lock her up.”

“Did anyone of you watch that convention in Cleveland,” she asked after getting on taking the stage at 5:45 p.m. While the crowd of more than 3,000 lustily booed, she admitted that the bashing “was kind of perversely flattering.”

Referring to how Texas Senator Ted Cruz was jeered at the RNC for failing to endorse Donald Trump, Clinton said that “something has gone terribly wrong when one speaker says ‘vote your conscience and gets booed.'”

“I mean, I never thought I would say these words. Ted Cruz was right,” as the crowd erupted.

In what sounded like a preview of her acceptance speech next Thursday night in Philly, Clinton said the RNC was all about Trump’s “dark and divisive division,” with fear, anger and resentment being dosed out liberally, but with very few solutions offered.

She also blasted the GOP’s nominee for claiming that he can repair the country’s problems by himself. “I never heard of an American leader, or at least someone who wants to be an American leader, claiming that’s all we need. That’s not a democracy my friends, as I call recall, we had a revolution to make sure we didn’t have someone who said I can fix it alone!”

Clinton also mocked Trump’s comment in his 75-minute acceptance speech that “I am your voice.”

She claimed he didn’t speak for small businesses, for P.O.W’s, or people with disabilities, or immigrants or women or working families.

In some ways, Clinton sounded like Ronald Reagan in the 80’s bashing on Democrats who “blamed America first.” It is Clinton who is the sunny optimist, and Trump who “talks trash about America,” or describes the nation as “dystopian,” as Congresswoman Kathy Castor labeled it in her speech an hour before Clinton hit the stage.

Castor, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Senator Bill Nelson, incoming Florida House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn were the elected officials who warmed the crowd up before Clinton arrived from her earlier stop in Orlando, where she met privately with the families and friends of victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting more than a month after a gunman killed 49 people there.

Wasserman Schultz previewed what will be the theme of the 2016 DNC next week, “Stronger together.”

Clinton said the Democrats vision in Philadelphia will be about “building bridges, not walls between people.” Her biggest cheer came when she said that the county needed to stand for common sense gun control measures.

She also said that she could understand the thoughts of why some voters are supporting Trump, saying that “there’s a lot of angst about all the changes that are happening all over the world,” as she ticked off technology and globalization as two such factors. She said she respected those with such concerns.

The suspense remains regarding her potential VP choice.

Lakeland resident Bill Deveau said he’d love to see Elizabeth Warren on the ticket, but realizes that two older females, both hailing from the Northeast, probably won’t work.

Sean Hayes from Ybor City said he’s good with Tim Kaine, acknowledging that his experience and Spanish language speaking skills will work perfectly.

Clinton will appear at a rally Saturday morning at Florida International University at high noon. We should know by then who will compete against the Trump-Pence ticket in November.

Hillary Clinton looks to steal Donald Trump thunder with VP pick

Hillary Clinton moved closer to introducing her running mate, snatching attention from newly crowned Republican nominee Donald Trump just hours after he closed out his convention with a fiery and foreboding turn at the podium.

Crews were still sweeping confetti from the GOP convention hall floor, as the Clinton campaign signaled an announcement was coming soon. In a tweet Friday morning, her campaign urged supporters to text the campaign to get the first word. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine had emerged as the leading contender, according to Democrats familiar with Clinton’s search.

The news could quickly steal Trump’s thunder. In a 75-minute speech Thursday night, Trump made forceful promises to be the champion of disaffected Americans, capping his convention on a high note for the party, not a moment too soon after shows of disharmony and assorted flubs before the four-day closer.

Speaking to “the forgotten men and women of our country,” the people who “work hard but no longer have a voice,” he declared: “I am your voice.” With that, he summed up both the paradox and the power of his campaign — a billionaire who made common cause with struggling Americans alienated from the system, or at least a portion of them.

The speech was strikingly dark for a celebratory event and almost entirely lacking in policy details. Trump pledged as president to restore a sense of public safety, strictly curb immigration and save the nation from Clinton’s record of “death, destruction, terrorism and weakness.”

“I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves,” Trump said. He shouted throughout as he read off a teleprompter, showing few flashes of humor or even smiles.

Democrats offered a different assessment, with Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta arguing that Trump “offered no real solutions to help working families get ahead or to keep our country safe, just more prejudice and paranoia. America is better than this. America is better than Donald Trump.”

Clinton opens a two-day campaign swing Friday in Florida and is expected to introduce her running mate either at a Friday afternoon rally at the state fairgrounds in Tampa or on Saturday at Florida International University in Miami.

Kaine, 58, appeared to be the favorite for her choice, according to two Democrats, who both cautioned that Clinton has not made a decision and could change direction.

In Cleveland, Trump’s acceptance of the Republican nomination capped his improbable takeover of the GOP, a party that plunges into the general election united in opposition to Clinton but still torn over Trump. Underscoring his unorthodox candidacy, Trump reasserted the hard-line immigration policies that fired up conservatives in the primary but broke with many in his party by expressing support for gays and lesbians.

Ever the showman, he fed off the energy of the crowd, stepping back to soak in applause and joining the delegates as they chanted, “U-S-A.”

It was an altogether smoother — and more scripted — chapter in a footloose convention shocked a night earlier by Ted Cruz’s prime-time speech, a pointed non-endorsement of the nominee by the Texas senator who finished second in the race and came to Cleveland harboring grievances — and future presidential ambitions.

During their convention, Republicans were relentless and often raw in demonizing Clinton. As fired-up supporters at Trump’s acceptance speech broke out in their oft-used refrain of “Lock her up,” the nominee waved them off, and instead declared, “Let’s defeat her in November.” Yet he also accused her of “terrible, terrible crimes.”

“This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction, terrorism and weakness,” he said. “But Hillary Clinton’s legacy does not have to be America’s legacy.”

In a direct appeal to Americans shaken by a summer of violence at home and around the world, Trump promised that if he takes office in January, “safety will be restored.”

He also said young people in predominantly black cities “have as much of a right to live out their dreams as any other child in America.” And he vowed to protect gays and lesbians from violence and oppression, a pledge that was greeted with applause from the crowd.

“As a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said,” he responded.

The Democratic convention in Philadelphia, which starts Monday, is expected to be a more orderly affair. Clinton is, if anything, disciplined.

Kaine has been active in the Senate on foreign relations and military affairs and built a reputation for working with both parties as Virginia’s governor and mayor of Richmond.

“I’m glad the waiting game is nearly over,” Kaine said Thursday.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, a longtime friend of Hillary and Bill Clinton, is still in the mix, according to one of the two Democrats. Both Democrats are familiar with the selection process and spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Kaine’s selection would not be without complication. Liberals have expressed wariness of Kaine for his support of putting the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement on a “fast track” to approval, which both Clinton and primary rival Bernie Sanders oppose. They also note that Kaine recently signed onto a letter asking for less burdensome regulation of regional banks.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Before Trump’s RNC speech, Marco Rubio feels the love in Tampa

Marco Rubio concluded his statewide tour of Florida Friday by appearing at Port Tampa Bay in Tampa.

He actually began his Tampa experience Thursday night, where he made a pop-up appearance at 81 Bay Brewing Company, a cavernous craft brewery off of Gandy Boulevard in South Tampa that the Hillsborough County Republican Party had taken over for an RNC watch party.

A host of candidates running for office in Hillsborough County were invited to speak, though the acoustics were horrible, and some speakers — like Congressional District 14 aspirant Christine Quinn — challenged the audience to quiet down.

Shortly after 7:30 p.m., however, everything changed: that’s when Rubio entered the room. The Florida senator only walked a few feet inside the building before he was swarmed by well wishers, all of whom wanted to take selfies with him.

While Rubio was posing for photos, I asked him if he approved of what Ted Cruz had done the night before in Cleveland. The Texas senator engendered boos in the hall by not endorsing Trump in his speech, whereas Rubio had sent in a one-minute video giving his support to the GOP nominee.

“I wouldn’t have done that …” he said, before being cut off by another supporter. “We have two choices, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and I’m never going to support anything she does.”

He added, “the best thing I can do for the Republican party is to keep the Senate in Republican hands. That’s why I’m staying in Florida; I’m trying to win.”

Although mocked by Democrats and some journalists for his flip-flopping decision to run for re-election after declaring throughout 2015 that he would not do so, Rubio seems to have not suffered that much back on the campaign trail. He has a huge lead over his only major GOP Senate opponent, Carlos Beruff, and has led in every poll against his two potential Democratic opponents this fall, Florida Congressmen Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson.

After posing for photos for another 10 minutes or so, he took to the stage, where he gave a three-and-half-minute speech.

“The time for fighting against each other is over!” he shouted as the crowd — in part buzzed, perhaps by the beer — slowly began to quiet. “It’s time to come together and win in November, because if we don’t win in November, then someone who is unqualified and disqualified will become commander in chief.”

Observing the other candidates in the audience, like Dana Young running for the state SD 18 seat, and Jackie Toledo in HD 60, Rubio said the crowd had to make sure to get out and support the entire GOP ticket on the ballot this fall.

“I will work side by side with everyone else on the ballot so in November we can win the White House, we can keep the Senate, we can keep the House and Senate in Tallahassee, we can keep our conservatives in local government, and we can turn this country around!”

There was more posing for selfies. He then engaged the press, taking a question in English and one in Spanish. Before he bolted, I asked him what he thought about Trump’s controversial comments in the New York Times regarding the NATO alliance. Trump said if Russia attacked a NATO nation, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing if those nations have “fulfilled their obligations to us.”

“Well, I disagree with him on that,” he replied. “I obviously want to see our NATO allies contribute more, but that’s been a longstanding problem. But we can’t put the NATO alliance in doubt. I disagree with him on that. I hope he’ll change his mind. If he pursues that, as a senator I’ll oppose it. I don’t think that’s the right approach on that issue. But I think Hillary’s a disaster. I think she’s worse. I think Hillary Clinton has been a part of the most disastrous foreign policy presidency we’ve seen in a long time under Barack Obama.”

And with that he was off.

Rubio’s appearance in Tampa, a rare one in the entire five-and-a-half years since he was elected, was noted by both the Murphy and Beruff campaigns.

Marco Rubio barely acknowledged Tampa during his six years in the Senate and when it came time to fight for Tampa families on skyrocketing flood insurance rates, he abandoned them almost entirely,” said Murphy campaign Spokeswoman Galia Slayen. “Tampa doesn’t need Marco Rubio showing up now to pander for votes. They need a senator who shows up when it matters and cares enough to fight for them every day.”

“Considering how rarely he’s been in the Tampa Bay region over the last six years, he probably had to allow extra time in case he got lost going to the airport,” said Beruff campaign spokesman Chris Hartline. “An election-year epiphany won’t distract voters from the fact that Marco Rubio has ignored most of the state and ignored his duties as senator for the last six years.”

Hillary Clinton has more cash; Donald Trump forgives loans

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her party entered July with nearly $11 million more on hand than her Republican counterpart’s operations, a strong showing of fundraising as both campaigns dive into the general election.

Republican nominee Donald Trump also zeroed-out more than $47 million in personal loans he’s made to his own campaign since last year. Trump and the Republican Party, which officially selected Trump as its White House contender Tuesday, had $41 million cash on hand compared with Clinton and the Democrats’ $52 million.

New campaign finance reports released Wednesday reveal the state of the 2016 money race as candidates and their supportive groups turn their attention to the November election. Fundraising has historically been a key metric in a campaign’s financial health, with funds paying campaign staffers and pricey TV ads.

Despite being outraised by Clinton, Trump had more appeal among small donors. He raised more than $12.1 million from contributors giving $200 or less, since making his first-ever appeal for online contributions on June 21. That small-donor harvest was about double Clinton’s, despite Trump’s late start.

Trump’s haul comes after a disappointing May report, during which the billionaire’s campaign finished with only $1.3 million to spend. With Trump and Clinton now becoming the official nominees, they’ll be able to make use not only of their campaign funds but also much of the money raised by their respective parties.

On the GOP side, the Republican Party made up about half — or roughly $21 million — of the available cash on hand. For the Democrats, Clinton’s own fundraising accounted for most of the money left in the bank at the beginning of July. She had $44 million to spend.

Clinton is expected to be formally nominated next week at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

As with the 2012 election, “super” political action committees are adding to the financial might of both candidates. Outside political groups backing Clinton reported a money advantage over similar committees behind Trump.

Priorities USA, the main super PAC helping Clinton, had more than $40 million in the bank at the beginning of July after spending nearly $24 million last month, the bulk on advertising targeted at swing-state voters. It received $1 million each from the National Education Association teachers union and Working for Working Americans, the super PAC of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners.

On the GOP side, the National Rifle Association’s political fund, which has been airing ads backing Trump and opposing Clinton, reported $13 million cash on hand at the beginning of July after raising $1.3 million last month. The NRA group also gave $60,000 to the Republican Party last month, including $45,000 for its convention in Cleveland this week.

Rebuilding America Now, a super PAC supporting Trump, raised about $2.2 million in June, nearly all of which came from real estate developer Geoffrey H. Palmer. The majority of that money, about $1.4 million, went toward television ads attacking Clinton. Great America PAC, another group airing ads supporting Trump, brought in about $2.6 million in total.

Make America Number 1 reported about $1.1 million in cash on hand at the beginning of this month, but it took in only $97.86 in revenue — a $25 donation and $72.86 in bank interest. The group was formerly a super PAC backing Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz‘s presidential bid, and also benefited from nearly $14 million in contributions from hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer.

Conservative-leaning American Crossroads received its biggest single donation last month, $1 million, from a trust linked to Joseph Craft of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Craft is the president and chief executive of Alliance Resource Management GP LLC, which oversees coal production.

Democratic donor Tom Steyer, a former hedge-fund manager and climate-change activist, poured $7 million into the coffers of the Clinton-aligned NextGen Climate Action Committee. So far this election cycle, Steyer has given $18 million to the group. NextGen separately reported more than $9.4 million left to spend.

Super PACs like Priorities USA and American Crossroads benefit from the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case. The decision allowed corporations and unions to contribute in unlimited ways to political races, so long as that money comes through super PACs that are not directly coordinated with the candidates.

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Keep track on how much Clinton and Trump are spending on television advertising, and where they’re spending it, via AP’s interactive ad tracker. http://elections.ap.org/content/ad-spending

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Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

Joe Henderson: No surprise Ted Cruz chose not to play it safe

The safe play for Ted Cruz would have been to simply give Donald Trump a less-than-tepid endorsement as the Republican standard bearer for president. Party bosses and worker bees alike would have praised him for uniting Republicans in their holy war against Hillary Clinton.

Even more, Cruz would have been ideally positioned to be the GOP’s choice in 2020 if, as looks more likely every day after this chaotic Republican convention, Trump gets thumped in November.

But Cruz wouldn’t do it. He wouldn’t say it.

Are you surprised? I’m not.

If we know anything about the U.S. senator from Texas, it’s that he doesn’t care if you don’t like him. He uses your loathing as reinforcement that you are part of the problem and must be fixed.

His unwillingness to work with even his own party has made him a pariah to many. Former House Speaker John Boehner called him “Lucifer in the flesh.” He has made a career out of grandstand plays and attacking fellow Republicans (I use that term loosely) for not being ideologically pure.

You think he cares? I think he loves annoying the crap out of people.

And you could just see his diabolical mind working when, for reasons passing understanding, GOP bosses gave Cruz prime-time real estate to speak his mind Wednesday night.

He was warmly welcomed at first — the last holdout coming into the fold and all that — and returned that love by giving a tremendous speech. He laid out his conservative chops so decisively that about halfway through I almost expected those in the arena to demand a recount so they could pick him instead of Trump.

It built to a crescendo as he told everyone watching not to stay at home in November. Yeah. Here it comes. The moment we’ve all been waiting for.

“Vote for ….”

Yes?

“Your conscience!”

Wow!

He got booed out of the arena. Afterward, billionaire Sheldon Adelson wouldn’t let Cruz into the GOP donor suite. Security had to escort Cruz’s wife, Heidi, out of sight, lest she become a target for baffled and agitated delegates.

Well, let us not forget that along with being devious and devilish, Cruz is vengeful. Trump tried to smear Heidi Cruz on her appearance during the campaign. He even suggested Cruz’s father might have had a clandestine role in John Kennedy’s assassination.

So, you betcha! There was some prime-time payback due and Cruz delivered a sucker punch that only added to the image of a convention that has not just gone off the rails, but is now careening down the canyon toward the rocks below.

Cruz is telegraphing to the deep conservative base, which he owns but Trump needs, that even four years of Hillary is worth it if it means he can rescue them in 2020. And just to add one more euphemistically upraised middle finger to the party, Cruz’s speech far overshadowed the coming out party of vice presidential nominee … oh, what’s his name?

Well, Cruz has done it now. The implosion of the Republican party as we know it is nearing completion. Going forward, if the GOP excommunicates him, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Cruz didn’t try to shepherd his ultra conservatives into a third party of constitutional purists. The man loves chaos.

It’s all because he couldn’t, wouldn’t, and convinced himself he shouldn’t, say three words: “Vote for Trump.”

The words Cruz wouldn’t say spoke loudest of all.

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