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Mitch Perry Report for 11.11.15 – The return of Rand Paul to the GOP presidential race

The odds were stacked against him last night, and there were many who were writing him off before last night’s debate. And yet he had a breakthrough performance at the GOP’s 4th presidential debate in Milwaukee.

Jeb Bush? No, Rand Paul.

Paul’s been down so far this election cycle that the only stories you seem to read about him these days are when he’s going to quit and concentrate on being re-elected to the Senate in Kentucky. But for one night, anyway, Paul revived his campaign by being the iconoclast in the GOP that made Time magazine dub him “the most interesting man in politics” just a little over a year ago.

Sure, Rand lost his exchange with Marco Rubio when it came to discussing how much we should spend on the military — similar to how his father, Ron Paul, got shouted down for saying the same thing during the 2007-2008 debates. And the GOP primary crowd is actually into spending more on defense. That’s been a theme among GOP voters and the candidates all year long — that Barack Obama is weak on foreign policy and has allowed our military to deteriorate. And it was Paul who schooled Donald Trump on the little fact that China is not a partner in the Trans Pacific Partnership.

OK, so how about the others?

Two weeks ago, we wrote that Marco Rubio was the hands down winner of the debate in Boulder, but would that translate in the polls? To answer the latter, no, he really hasn’t soared that much overall. But his reputation among the political cognoscenti only continues to get bigger. In some quarters, he’s already been designated as the nominee, despite the fact that he is substantially behind Trump and Ben Carson everywhere.

Rubio got lucky last night — he avoided questions on immigration, and moderator Maria Bartiromo grooved one right down the middle of the plate when she asked him to compare his candidacy against Hillary Clinton. He’ll always impress in debates, but he was less impressive last night.

And Jeb Bush? Look, among all the various problems that Jeb has had in this campaign, poor debate performances were never at the top of the list. But after his attempted takedown against Rubio in Boulder went awry, that’s what the narrative became in his campaign. So yes, he was better, definitely. The media coach helped. But a game changer? Not even the biggest Jeb fans are going to go that far this morning.

Trump and Carson were very unimpressive. It was interesting to see him combat the attacks from Bush and John Kasich.

No more GOP debates until 10 days before Christmas. However, debate junkies, don’t despair. CBS will broadcast a two-hour Democratic debate from Iowa this Saturday night.

In other news …

Dick Greco talked the other day about the novelty of voting of people he didn’t know personally, speaking about last week’s St. Pete election.

After reading a New York Times story about how Jeb Bush’s super PAC is ready to uncork tens of millions of dollars going off Marco Rubio, Team Rubio released a web ad showing Bush in clips praising the hell out of his Miami neighbor.

Meanwhile, NARAL Pro-Choice America was delighted to hear that Bush was going to go off on Rubio’s abortion record. Said it was time to get the popcorn and kick back.

Some fundraising news: Rick Scott added more than $400,000 last month to his PAC.

Tampa attorney Brian Willis continues to lead in fundraising among Democrats in the District 6 Hillsborough County Commission contest. And Kevin Beckner leads everyone in fundraising in the Clerk of the Court race in Hillsborough County.

David Jolly leads Patrick Murphy, 44-43% in a would-be matchup of Senate candidates in Florida for 2016, according to a new survey. However, that survey never mentions Alan Grayson, Ron DeSantis or Carlos-Lopez Cantera.

Tampa City Councilwoman Lisa Montelione is trying to move on up, announcing yesterday that she’s now a candidate for the House District 63 seat currently held by Republican (and former City Councilman) Shawn Harrison.

And Fight for 15 rallies to raise the minimum wage were held in 20 cities in Florida on Tuesday, including in Tampa.

Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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