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Mitch Perry Report for 3.14.16 – The circus return to Tampa

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Welcome to the first working day of Daylight Saving Time, a/k/a the crankiest Monday morning of the year.

Welcome to the return of true humidity to the Sunshine State, and welcome back to Donald Trump, who brings his campaign to Tampa this afternoon for a “town hall” event at the Convention Center. Note that it’s not a rally. Theoretically, in a town-hall, the public gets to ask questions. I’ve not seen that happen in the four previous Trump events on the trail, so we’ll see what looks like.

Activists protesting against the Manhattan real estate mogul will be convening at 10:30 a.m. at MacDill Park along the Riverwalk.

While the nation considers what to make of Trump, the fact of the matter is the voters in the remaining Republican Party primaries and caucuses still has the power in their hands to deny him the nomination, beginning Tuesday in Florida.

But there’s no indication that with a four-man field, anyone can top the 35-40 percent that he consistently generates among the GOP electorate.

There are a lot of party figures who believe Trump is bad for the party, none more eloquent than South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who spoke to four hundred Pinellas County Republicans at their Lincoln Day Dinner in St. Petersburg on Saturday night.

“I know Donald Trump,” she said on Saturday night. “I’ve met him. He’s been a supporter of mine. But his judgment is off. You don’t divide people against each other in this country. You don’t divide by race, or religion or anything. We need someone to bring us together. We’ve got terrorists that will divide enough of this world, that we need to be united in this country.”

As I wrote in my original piece, only when she mentioned foreign terrorists did the audience emotionally react.

True, Haley was there pitching on behalf of Marco Rubio, who certainly didn’t have all the love in the room. But the lack of response to Haley’s denunciation of Trump shows that the folks in that room are divided, if maybe not more pro-Trump than any other candidate still standing.

So how will Rubio do tomorrow night? The polls aren’t encouraging. Rubio blanketed the Tampa Bay area on Saturday with four separate stops in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Polk Counties. His appearance in Tampa was notable for the simple fact that he’s probably been in this city less than a handful of times in the five years he’s been representing Florida in the U.S. Senate.

And …

Barack Obama‘s approval numbers are up — is it in reaction to what the next commander in chief might look like?

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Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the 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. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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