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Pinellas County GOP head Nick DiCeglie to run for head of state chairs

After successfully leading his county to go red in last month’s presidential election, newly re-elected Pinellas County Republican Party Executive Committee Chairman Nick DiCigle is thinking ‘bigly’ for 2017. At next month’s state party meeting in Orlando, he intends to run for the Chairman’s Caucus Chairman, the leader of all 67 county GOP leaders from across the state.

“My goal – if successful – is to share what worked for us here in Pinellas County with the other chairmen in the state of Florida,” DiCeglie said last week in an interview at the Pinellas GOP’s offices in Clearwater last week.

Initially elected in 2014 and re-elected on Monday night, DiCigle says that unlike many other county chairs across the state, he has the luxury of being in a large county with a substantial donor base and other resources that he’s been able to adroitly tap into.

“I want to be able to share not on my successes and our successes here in the party, but to share those successes, so that collectively we can come together as a group of chairmen, (so) when these folks go back to their counties, they’re more knowledgeable, they’ve  learned something, and they can improve what their doing locally, that’s the ultimate goal,” DiCigle says.

The Long Island native has been active with the Pinellas Republican Party since 2009. After a stint as vice chair, he was elected chairman of the REC in 2014 when he defeated two other challengers to take the reigns of the local party. His biggest accomplishment to date was leading Pinellas to go red for Donald Trump in last month’s presidential election, a significant development in comparison to 2012, when Barack Obama defeated Mitt Romney by nearly ten percentage points in the county.

DiCeglie is aware that some of the migration to the local Republican party in 2016 emanated directly from those attracted to Trump, and that some of those voters don’t necessarily have that strong of an allegiance to the GOP. His goal is to make them want to stay in the party.

“I think this is an opportunity for Republicans,  and we have a responsibility as a local party as well to change minds, and as we change minds, and as things improve in this country, we’re going to be able to not only register Republicans as voters, we’re going to bypass the Dems by significant margins,” he says, adding that one of his goals over the next to years is to “identify, engage, communicate and motivate this new electorate.”

The next big thing in Pinellas when it comes to elections is the St. Petersburg Mayor’s race, taking place next November. And while Rick Kriseman has been struggling at City Hall regarding  his handling of the sewage crisis, he still doesn’t appear to be in danger for re-election unless Rick Baker were to leave the private sector and run for the job he held from 2000-2009.

DiCeglie acknowledges that the list of potential challengers to Kriseman begins with Baker, but says if he doesn’t pull the trigger “there are other Republicans that we’re going to be engaging, though he says he can’t say who those people are just yet. He grows impassioned when discussing what he says has been a distressing lack of leadership at City Hall.

The GOP leader scoffs at the idea that the mayoral race is nonpartisan. “Tell that to Rick Kriseman,” he says. “He made that race extremely partisan four years ago,” referring to the tens of thousands of dollars that the Florida Democratic Party contributed to his campaign in 2013.

“We certainly want to play a role,” he says about the municipal election, where four City Council seats will also be on the ballot. “We don’t know exactly what that’s going to be, but there’s a significant concern about the direction about the city of St Petersburg, and we’re firm believers that any leader of mayor, who focuses on limited government and fiscally conservative values is certainly better than what we’re seeing right now.”

Regarding the election for state party chair, DiCeglie is a Blaise Ingoglia man, but says he’s friends with his challenger, Sarasota state Committeeman Christian Ziegler. “They’re both great people, and either way, we’re going to have a very strong party coming into this next cycle, no question about it.”

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Ahead for Michelle Obama? Figuring out what comes next

It’ll be one of the most watched midlife career changes in recent memory. What does Michelle Obama do next?

After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month.

In this photo taken Oct. 18, 2016, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama waits to greet Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and his wife Agnese Landini on the North Portico for a State Dinner at the White House in Washington. What does Michelle Obama do next? After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Just as the first lady’s role is undefined, with each woman molding it to her personality, interests and comfort level, there is no script for what comes after the first lady finishes the job.

The widowed Jacqueline Kennedy remarried and became a New York book editor. Laura Bush continues her advocacy for literacy, women in Afghanistan and preservation issues. Hillary Clinton launched her own political career with her bid for the U.S. Senate, even before her family left the White House.

Here’s a look at what Mrs. Obama is likely to do, or not do, when at 53 years old she becomes a private citizen again on Jan. 20.

LIKELY TO DO:

R & R

President Barack Obama says he’s taking her on a “really nice vacation, because she deserves it. She’s been putting up with me for quite some time.” (Twenty-four years of marriage, to be exact.)

WRITE A MEMOIR

FILE — In this Oct. 27, 2016 file photo, first lady Michelle Obama takes the stage with then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, during a campaign rally at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. What does Michelle Obama do next? After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Practically all first ladies do. As the first black woman in the role and as someone who has said little publicly about her private life in the White House, book publishers would offer to pay millions for the rights to Mrs. Obama’s insider account. Clinton got an $8 million advance for her 2003 memoir, “Living History.”

SET UP HER FAMILY’S NEW HOME

Breaking from post-presidential tradition, the Obamas plan to stay in Washington so their 15-year-old daughter, Sasha, can finish high school. Presidents usually leave Washington when they leave office, but the Obamas are renting a home in the wealthy Kalorama neighborhood, near what will be the official residence of Vice President-elect Mike Pence. The home is large enough to be a hub of social activity, but it’s far from clear whether Mrs. Obama will become Washington’s new power hostess. Ex-presidents tend to keep a low profile in the first year or so after they leave office.

The Obamas also still own a home in Chicago.

STICK WITH HER INITIATIVES

FILE — In this Oct. 5, 2016 file photo, a new paver etched with markings “White House Kitchen Garden” is seen at the entrance to the White House Kitchen Garden at the White House in Washington. What does Michelle Obama do next After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Mrs. Obama has said she’ll stay engaged in public service and will keep working on the issues she focused on during her tenure. They included childhood obesity and education for girls around the world.

“I’ve always felt very alive using my gifts and talents to help other people. I sleep better at night. I’m happier,” she told Vogue for an interview in the fashion magazine’s December issue. “So we’ll look back at the issues that I’ve been working on. The question is: How do I engage in those issues from a new platform? I can’t say right now, because we can’t spend that much time really doing the hard work of vetting offers or ideas or options because we’re still closing things out here.”

COULD DO:

JOIN SPEAKER’S CIRCUIT

Mrs. Obama put her oratory on display with a well-received speech on opening night of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. She followed up with a series of campaign speeches criticizing Republican Donald Trump, now the president-elect, as unsuitable for the nation’s highest office. Her friend, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, said the first lady will be “one of the most in-demand speakers” as a result of her convention performance. “That speaking fee just quadrupled,” Winfrey joked during an interview with The Associated Press.

Clinton earned millions of dollars giving paid speeches after she stepped down as secretary of state. Laura Bush also keeps a robust public speaking schedule.

In this photo taken Dec. 1, 2016, first lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama watch the musical performances at the 2016 National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Ellipse near the White House in Washington. What does Michelle Obama do next? After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

HOST A TELEVISION TALK SHOW

Mrs. Obama has demonstrated a knack for talk-show banter, and an ease in front of the TV cameras. She co-hosted “The View” before the 2008 election and recently co-hosted Ellen DeGeneres‘ hourlong gabfest. Roy Ashton, head of television at the Gersh Agency in Los Angeles, says Mrs. Obama would be a “no-brainer” to have a show of her own.

“She could pick up where Oprah left off, or something else,” Ashton said. “I think Michelle Obama has a ton to say.”

SERVE ON CORPORATE BOARDS

She has some experience with corporate America, but she’ll want to choose carefully. Mrs. Obama resigned from the board of a food supplier for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in 2007, shortly after her husband announced his presidential bid. He had been a critic of the retail giant. Mrs. Obama had cited the increased demands of the campaign for leaving the board of Illinois-based TreeHouse Foods Inc.

“It will be fun to see what she actually does,” said Kimberly Archer, head of the Washington office of Russell Reynolds Associates, an executive search and assessment firm. “Wherever she does decide to focus, I would say, ‘Lucky them.'”

LIKELY WON’T DO:

RUN FOR PUBLIC OFFICE

FILE — In this April 5, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama, accompanied by first lady Michelle Obama and daughter Malia Obama, reads “Green Eggs and Ham”, as they hosted the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. What does Michelle Obama do next? After eight years as a high-profile advocate against childhood obesity, a sought-after talk show guest, a Democratic power player and a style maven, the first lady will have her pick of options when she leaves the White House next month. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

Both the president and first lady repeatedly have said she will not run for president — despite pressure from Democrats wowed by her campaign speeches challenging Trump.

Obama has said she doesn’t have “the patience or the inclination” to be a candidate and is “too sensible to want to be in politics.” Mrs. Obama said “No, no. Not going to do it,” when asked earlier this year about following in her husband’s footsteps.

RESUME PRACTICING LAW

Mrs. Obama, a Harvard Law School graduate, practiced at a Chicago firm but abandoned a legal career after the deaths of her father and a close friend. She entered public service, working for the city of Chicago and running an AmeriCorps service program before she joined the University of Chicago Medical Center as a vice president for community and external affairs. It was the last paid position she held before become first lady.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Pinellas GOP, Democrats poised to elect party leaders this Monday night

When it comes to drama with their upcoming party reorganization meetings taking place next week, Pinellas County Republicans and Democrats have nothing on their Hillsborough County brethren.

This coming Monday night, the local executive committees for the Republican and Democratic Parties in Pinellas County will be voting for their party leaders, and in both cases, it doesn’t appear to be many changes at hand – at least not yet.

Pinellas Democratic Executive Committee Chair Susan McGrath is running to serve a second term, after defeating Mark Hanisee in a contentious election back in 2014. She has no competition at the moment. Amos Miers are running for vice chair, Wanda Schwerer, who is running for state committee woman, and Rick Boylan, who is running as state committee man. That meeting will take place at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater at 7:00 p.m.

“We are fortunate to have some solid unity and forward momentum in Pinellas with 4 of 7 people running for December PCDEC Board positions who are new, 3 of which are Berniecrats (Bonnie Agan for Secretary) and two who were Bernie Delegates (Wanda Schwerer for re-election to State Committee Woman and myself running for Vice Chair for the first time ever),” Miers said on Saturday.

Over in the Republican world, incumbent Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee Chair Nick DiCeglie is also running unopposed for a second term this Monday night as well. A former vice chair, DiCeglie defeated Lee Pilon and George Farrell for the top position two years ago.

Todd Jennings is also running again as vice chairmanThe Pinellas GOP meeting takes place at the Feather Sound Country Club in Clearwater at 7:00 p.m.

While there is little competition in the local party elections, there is a definite rivalry between McGrath and DiCeglie.

McGrath boasts that the Democratic Party leads the GOP in terms of registered voters, and that that the “two most important seats that local parties include, the Board of County Commissioners and Florida’s 13th Congressional District went to Dems,” despite the turnout advantage for the Republicans last month.

The Democratic Party took control of the Board of County Commissioners for the first time in decades after the 2014 election and maintained it last month, while Charlie Crist defeated David Jolly in the CD 13 contest.

DiCeglie concedes the Pinellas Democrats have retaken the lead in voter registration, but says his party took the real prize when Pinellas went for Donald Trump last month over Hillary Clinton, after Barack Obama had taken Pinellas by nearly ten percentage points four years ago.

“The minute a president wins an election and caries that county, this is now a Red county,” he says.

The relative no-drama party elections are in stark contrast with the R’s and D’s across the bay in Hillsborough.

Although Ione Townsend won re-election as Hillsborough Democratic party chair this past week with no opponent, some local Democrats are still cross with her after Monday night’s controversial meeting which resulted in the locally elected Democrats being told that the by-laws of their DEC banned them from participating in the race.

The Republican Executive Committee of Hillsborough County doesn’t get together until Tuesday, December 20, but that could be interesting. Incumbent chair Deborah Tamargo, who defeated former chair Debbie Cox-Roush for the top role two years ago, is being challenged by Jonny Torres.

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Chief of staff Reince Priebus? Some Donald Trump loyalists still dubious

When President-elect Donald Trump tapped Reince Priebus as his chief of staff, Republican leaders cheered the prospect of a close ally having a top White House job.

But as Priebus tries to wield his influence and bring more structure to the president-elect’s freewheeling political organization, he’s frustrating some longtime Trump allies who see him as too conventional a pick for an unconventional president. Others fear being left behind as Priebus fills out West Wing jobs.

The dismay over Priebus stems in part from a belief among some Trump loyalists that the outgoing Republican National Committee chairman expected Trump to lose the election. They resent the president-elect “rewarding people who thought he wasn’t going to win,” according to one top adviser.

Still, Priebus appears to have Trump’s trust. He’s been given wide authority to name senior White House staff, according to people involved in the transition, and in shaping the decision on who will succeed him at the RNC, though deliberations over that post continue.

“Reince Priebus has done an outstanding job,” Trump said in a statement to The Associated Press. “All you have to do is look at all of the Republican victories and one in particular.”

If Trump runs his White House like past presidents — and that’s hardly a sure thing — Priebus, 44, could hold enormous sway over what issues reach the Oval Office. Chiefs of staff also typically control who has access to the president — no easy task given Trump’s penchant for consulting a wide network of associates before making key decisions.

Priebus, a Wisconsin native and father of two young children, comes to the White House with no significant experience in foreign and domestic policy. He has close ties with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other GOP congressional leaders. And he’s seen by those who have worked with him previously as a well-organized manager with little appetite for drama.

“One of the things he’ll bring to the White House is an ability to work well with people, to be inclusive, not to get in to intrastaff squabbles,” said Henry Barbour, an RNC member and Priebus ally.

Yet internal squabbling and competing factions are a hallmark of Trump’s political and business organizations. He cycled through three campaign managers during his White House run, with the feuds that led up to each shake-up playing out messily in the media.

In tapping Priebus as chief of staff, Trump appeared to be setting up another rivalry. He put Steve Bannon, the controversial conservative media executive, at the White House as a senior adviser and called him an equal partner with Priebus. Trump’s influential son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is also weighing a White House role, but will remain a personal power center even without a formal position.

Transition officials say Priebus and Bannon have a respectful relationship, and there’s no outright control struggle underway. But Trump’s deliberation over whom to name as secretary of state is seen as an indicator of a tug-of-war, with Bannon among those said to be against Mitt Romney. Priebus is seen as an advocate for Romney and was notably the only adviser who joined Trump for a private dinner with the 2012 GOP presidential nominee.

Several Trump advisers described Priebus’ role only on the condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly about the chief of staff.

Josh Bolten, who served as President George W. Bush‘s final chief of staff, said he was concerned by the description of Bannon as Priebus’ equal. While presidents usually have multiple influential advisers, Bolten said, it’s imperative for the lines of authority to be clear.

“If that were to mean that there’s more than one chief of staff, that’s a recipe for disaster,” Bolten said.

Bolten is among several former chiefs of staff Priebus has consulted since the election. He’s spoken at least twice with Denis McDonough, President Barack Obama‘s chief of staff, as recently as last week.

Priebus was frequently by Trump’s side in the final weeks of the campaign. After the release of a videotape in which the businessman was heard bragging about predatory behavior with women, Priebus stood by Trump and made clear the RNC would not abandon the party’s nominee.

But some Trump advisers contend Priebus and the RNC believed he would lose the election. Indeed, on the Friday before Election Day, top party officials told reporters their data showed Trump falling short by about 30 electoral votes.

Some Trump advisers have also blamed Priebus for the messy spectacle around the president-elect’s interview with The New York Times. Trump accused the Times of changing the terms of the interview and tweeted that he would cancel. Then the Times said the terms had not changed, and the interview was back on.

One person involved in the situation said it was Priebus who incorrectly led Trump to believe the Times had changed the terms of the interview.

“No matter how loyal the overall collection of personalities is to the president, there are always internal rivalries and tugging and pulling,” said John Sununu, who served as chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush and has spoken with Priebus in recent weeks. “It’s up to the chief of staff to deal with all of that.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Mitch Perry Report for 12.6.16 – “Run, Joe, Run” was so 2015, wasn’t it?

One of my favorite sections of Bernie Sanders interview with Matt Taibbi in the current Rolling Stone is when the curmudgeonly Vermont Senator bitches about the corporate establishment media.

“They live in a bubble, talk about their world, worry about who’s going to be running 18 years from now for office,” he says. “Meanwhile, people can’t feed their kids. That’s something I knew.”

I write that as a prelude to the stories that floated yesterday that Joe Biden made some offhanded remark about perhaps running for president in 2020.

Really?

“I’m going to run in 2020. For president. So, uh, what the hell, man,” the departing vice president told reporters Monday with only a slight smile on his face. He then took it back. Slightly.

Asked if he was joking, he said: “I’m not committing not to run. I’m not committing to anything. I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that, “based on those remarks, Jon Cooper, who was national finance chairman for last year’s Draft Biden effort to coax the vice president into the 2016 presidential campaign, purchased a series of web domains including draftbiden2020.com, biden2020.net and runjoerun2020.com.”

Is this the time we mention that the 74-year-old VP will be 78 in 2020?

The obsession in this country with who will be president is so complete that when Donald J. Trump actually takes the oath of office in January 20, there will be some (maybe even the President) who are bored with the fact that there will be at least a year’s moratorium on speculating on who is running in 2020 – unless issues of impeachment come up.

We can’t forget that, since there were certainly Republicans hinting that they would go after Hillary Clinton if she were elected in the ugliest presidential election of our lifetime.

Look, from all the reports, Biden though hard of running for office as last as September of last year. There was considerable concern in Democratic circles that the FBI investigation into Clinton could result in an indictment, and then who’s your backup? But not only was Barack Obama firmly “with her,” but so was the entire Democratic Party establishment -embodied by the leadership of Debbie Wasserman Schultz at the DNC. There was no path for Biden, as much as he wanted to pursue the presidency for a third time.

So we should let Biden spout off – it’s something he’s done a lot in his professional career, which spans 46 years. But let’s not take it too seriously. There’s enough going on in the world today.

Meanwhile, Democrats at a local level are having their issues. We were at last night’s Hillsborough Democratic Executive Committee meeting – and our story on that event will be up by 8:30 a.m. today. Check it out.

In other news..

Rick Scott is staying mum about the proposal that would repeal the law he signed in 2014 that allows for undocumented immigrant students qualify for in-state tuition for Florida colleges and universities.

The Governor was in Tampa on Monday, championing the men and women who work in state law enforcement and hyping his proposal to give them a raise.

Early and voting by mail totals favors Democrats in the Tampa City Council District 7 race taking place tonight.

North Carolina GOP Governor Pat McCrory finally gave up his month-long quest to save his job, and Equality Florida couldn’t be happier.

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Steve Schale: Florida early vote, a retrospective

It is time for one last big data piece on Florida 2016.

For about 18 hours a day over 2+ weeks, I found myself living and breathing early voting data. So now that all the data have been reported from counties, I wanted to look back at some assumptions, and compare them to the actual voting data.

Before I begin, there are five things to keep in mind:

1. Every time I talk in percentages, those percentages are relative to the two-party, i.e., Donald Trump versus Hillary Clinton numbers. I have no use or interest in playing the “what if” questions around third-party votes, so the data in here is just the two-party vote. For what it is worth, this is standard for my blogs.

2. I compiled this data over the entire month of November, often by pestering counties to provide data they don’t have on their website. Some of the data came before the final, final certified versions, so there might be exceptionally slight variances — like tens of votes in a county — from the state final counts. However, there is nothing that happened so significant to change any findings.

3. When I talk about early voting, that is both in-person and vote by mail combined, unless I specify otherwise.

4. For the sake of interpreting the data, everything that wasn’t an in-person or traditional vote by mail ballot was allocated to Election Day. So this means that there are likely provisional from in-person early, and VBM, as well as late military ballots in Election Day. I don’t think the impact of this is significant, but I’m flagging it regardless.

5. We know how people voted on Election Day, but we do not know yet who voted on Election Day. In terms of firm lessons and take-aways, some of that should wait.

And since I was wrong about the outcome, before we get started, here were some of my macro-assumptions going into Election Day.

When early voting started, I thought presidential turnout would fall about 9.2 million votes. Because of early vote turnout, and based on who was left to vote on Election Day — namely voters who voted on Election Day in 2012, I modified that projection to 9.5 million late during the second week of early voting, and assuming 3 percent of those would vote for someone else, this meant slightly over 9.2 million would vote for either Trump or Clinton.

I was assuming going into Election Day, we were at about 67-68 percent of our total turnout, and while the Democrats had a 96,000 lead among registered voters heading into Election Day, I was operating from a place that her lead was between 3-4 percent, largely due to the overwhelmingly diverse nature of the NPA vote, which would put her raw vote lead between 180-250K votes.

This meant Trump had to win Election Day, on the low-end by about 5.8 percent to upper end of 8 percent, just to break-even. Both numbers are above Mitt Romney’s Election Day win in 2012 (I can’t remember John McCain, but I suspect it is above McCain as well).

Here are two other things baked into my assumptions: Republicans had about 100,000 more “certain” voters left to vote, though when you looked at just 2012 voters, the number was about 40K.

So worst-case scenario, Democratic turnout struggled and only the certain voters turnout. the R versus D lands about even for the entire election, and the early vote strength combined with a more diverse NPA vote would carry the day. I think my final memo pegged her winning Florida by about 1.5 percent, which was about 130K votes, meaning on the more optimistic view of Clinton’s early vote lead, Trump could still win Election Day by more than Romney, and she’d still win.

Since Trump is a golfer, I described his challenge on Election Day in golf terms: a 250 yard shot over water.

So here are the toplines:

— 9.42 million Floridians cast a ballot for President. For what it is worth, 9.58 million Floridians cast a ballot, though it was only 9.3 million in the Senate race.

— 9,122,861 Floridians voted for either Trump or Clinton in 2016.

— Trump’s margin was about 113K votes, or roughly 1.2 percent out of the two-party voters.

— 69.3 percent of the vote was cast before Election Day.

— Of the VBM/early vote, Clinton won by just over 247K votes — roughly a 4 point edge (she won both VBM and early vote)

— On Election Day, Trump won by 360K, or a roughly 13 point margin over Clinton.

Toplines versus basic assumptions:

Turnout on Election Day was slightly lower than I expected, by about 80-100K votes. Given that my projection was based largely on the number of 2012 voters who had yet to vote, it was almost certainly lower because some share of 2012 Election Day Democrats didn’t show up, and, more than likely, another share voted for Trump. This is the big question I will be looking at when the state updates the final 2016 voter file.

Clinton’s nearly 250K vote lead was actually at the upper-end of my projections. Honestly, this surprised me. I suspected some of my optimism in the numbers leading up to the election was misplaced, and honestly thought as I put numbers into Excel, that we’d see she had gone into Election Day with a narrower lead. However, almost everything was landing right on target for her to win. As I get more into this, and look at some of the benchmarks I tracked throughout, you can see the pattern for my optimism going into Election Day.

However, Trump just crushed Election Day. There is no other way to look at it. And as I discussed in the first look back at the numbers, it really happened in just a handful of places: namely the Tampa and Orlando media markets. For example, his two-party vote share was 8.39 percent higher on Election Day (56.44) than Early Vote. (48.05), but in Tampa it was up 8.92 percent (51.5 percent EV, 60.42 ED), and Orlando was up 9.08 percent (48.8 percent EV, 57.88 percent ED). Less than 3 million voted for Bush or Clinton on Election Day, yet he won the day by 360K votes.

How big is that? Bush won Florida in 2004 by landslide for Florida proportions: 380K votes — out of 7.6 million cast. Trump’s Election Day margin almost matched it.

Benchmarks

For most of early voting, I tracked a variety of benchmarks, namely Hillsborough (the only county that voted for Bush and Obama both times), the I-4 corridor counties, South Florida and #Duuuval county.

So, for the sake of this exercise, let’s start there:

Hillsborough

Clinton went into Election Day with about a 29K partisan advantage among early voters, or a partisan lead of about 6.8 percent.

When the votes were cast, she carried the early voting period almost 44,000 votes, or almost 11 percent of the two-party vote. Trump won Election Day by just under 2 points, or right at 3,000 votes, so when all was done, Clinton carried the county by 41,000 votes. The final percentage margin, 6.8 percent was almost the same as Obama, and her raw vote win was about 5,000 votes larger.

The county was a little below where it should have been for turnout. Hillsborough is typically about 6. percent f the statewide vote, but it landed at 6.3 percent, largely because its Election Day share was down — only 29 percent of Hillsborough votes came on Election Day.

Long and short of it, Hillsborough could have been a little better, but that number is right at what a win for Democrats looks like.

I-4 Corridor

Hillary Clinton won the I-4 counties by almost 162K votes, but here the Trump surge on Election Day is very evident. She won these counties by almost 200,000 votes in the early/vbm phase, yet Trump won Election Day by almost 35,000 votes. Overall, Clinton won the early phase with 56.3 percent of the two-party vote, though only won 47.3 percent of the Election Day vote — a surge which exceeded his statewide average.

When you look at the Volusia and Polk numbers, you can see the seeds of how Trump won on Election Day. Compared to the state, both saw their Election Day turnout levels exceed Early Vote — with 34 percent of the Volusia vote coming on Election Day, and over 40 percent for Polk. Once fairly Democratic Volusia has been the canary in the coal mine for a few cycles — there is a reason I’ve highlighted it in blogs for years. If I was going to do qualitative research into 2016, I’d start with focus groups in Volusia.

Pinellas is a slightly different kind of animal, but his Election Day performance is probably indicative of late deciders breaking almost exclusively for Trump. Had the FBI Director not chosen to insert himself into the campaign with a week to ago, I suspect Clinton would have carried Pinellas (albeit very narrowly).

In total, 24.1 percent of the statewide vote came from these counties, of which 70.6 percent of the vote came before Election Day. Another way to look at it: while only 29.4 percent of the total vote from these counties came in on Election Day, 33.4 percent of Trumps’ vote total from these counties came in on Election Day. I suspect when Election Day voter data comes out, we will see a cratering of minority participation.

Volusia (Daytona)

Final early vote party spread: 39.6 R, 37.1 D, 23.3 NPA R + 4,302
Actual early vote spread: Trump +8.88 percent (+14,754 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +22.28 percent (+19,162 votes)
Results: Trump +33,916 (54.3-41.4 percent). In 12, Romney was +2700 (+1.15 percent)

Seminole — suburban Orlando

Final early vote party spread: 41.0 R, 35.0 D, 24.0 NPA R +10,316
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +1.84 percent (+2,989 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +12.36 percent (+6,518 votes)
Results: Trump +3,529 votes (48.1-46.5 percent). In 12, Romney was +13,500 (+6.5 percent)

Orange (Orlando)

Final early party spread: 45.8 D, 29.5 R, 24.7 NPA D +67,155
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +29.71 percent (+116,949 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +13.49 percent (+17.729 votes)
Final spread: Clinton +134,678 votes (59.7 percent-35.4 percent). In 2012, Obama was +85,000 (+18.2 percent)

Osceola — heavy Hispanic suburban Orlando.

Final early vote party spread: 47.1 D, 26.2 R, 26.7 NPA D + 22,625
Actual Early Vote spread: Clinton +29.71 percent (+30,645 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +13.98 percent (+4,512 votes)
Results: Clinton: +35,157 votes (60.4-30.6 percent). In 2012, Obama was roughly +27K (+24.4 percent)

Imperial Polk — between Tampa/Orlando

Final Early Vote Party Spread: 39.6 R, 39 D, 21.4 NPA R +1,085
Actual Early Vote Spread: Trump +7.55 percent (+12,424 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +25.01 percent (+27,573 votes)
Results: Trump +13.94 percent (+39,997 votes). In 2012, Romney was +19K votes (+6.8 percent)

Hillsborough (See Above)

Pinellas (Clearwater/St. Pete)

Final early vote party spread: 38.5 R, 38.2 D, 23.3 NPA D +752
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +4.58 percent (+14,460 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +12.72 percent (+19,960 votes)
Results: Trump +1.1 percent (+5,500 votes). In 2012, Obama won by about 26K votes (+5.5 percent)

South Florida

Going into Election Day, there was almost nothing that I didn’t feel good about in South Florida, and here is why: 87.7 percent of the entire 2012 election turnout voted early in Dade. In Broward, it was a respectable 81 percent. In fact, 11.9 percent of all early votes came in from Dade (should be 10.3 percent), and Broward was at 9.65 percent (should have been 8.75 percent).

And then Election Day happened. The issue here was different from I-4. Trump’s share of the two-party vote in Broward and Dade went from 32 percent to 38.7 percent, a growth of 6.7 percent, which while significant, is lower than his statewide average increase of 8.4 percent. What happened on Election Day is people didn’t vote. Statewide, 30.7 percent of the vote came on Election Day — in Broward and Dade, it was 23.2 percent. Another way of looking at it: these two counties made up 21.5 percent of early vote, and only 14.7 of Election Day

That said, these two counties both exceeded their projected share of the statewide vote, as well as set records for vote margins. Democrats cannot blame losing on Broward and Dade not doing their jobs.

On the flip side, I was concerned about Palm Beach County the entire early vote period. Even in my last memo, I called Palm Beach a “red flag” largely due to lagging turnout. While the Democratic margins were good, Palm Beach was only 5.9 percent of the statewide early vote, and it should have been 7 percent. Well it turned out on Election Day — 41.1 percent of the total Palm Beach County vote came in on Election Day, making up 9.5 percent of the total statewide vote, the biggest single jump in the state. And it was a Trump vote that showed up: after running up a 95K vote lead in the early vote, Clinton won Election Day by just over 7K.

When it boils down to it, Clinton won the county by about the same vote margin as Obama in 2012 (which was down from 08), but her vote share was down. Frankly going forward, Palm Beach is a place where Democrats need to up their game.

Palm Beach

Final early vote party spread: 47.3 D, 28.4 R, 24.3 NPA D +74,728
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +24.9 percent (+94,888 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +2.78 (+7,383 votes)
Results: Clinton +15.1 percent (+102,271 votes). In 2012, Obama won by just over 102K (+17 percent).

Broward

Final early vote party spread: 55.4 D, 21.7 R, 22.9 NPA D +212,077
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +41.7 percent (+254,391 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +18.6 (+37,978 votes)
Results: Clinton +34.9 percent (+292,369 votes). In 2012, Obama won by 264K votes (+34.9 percent)

Miami-Dade

Final early vote party spread: 43.9 D, 29.2 R, 26.9 NPA D +114,767
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +34.4 percent (+234,758 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Clinton +26.7 percent (+55,389 votes)
Results: Clinton +29.4 percent (+290,147 votes). In 2012, Obama won by 208.5K votes (+23.6 percent)

#DUUUUVAL

Clinton had one job in Duval, keep it manageable. If you had given the Clinton campaign the option of spotting Trump a 20,000-vote win in Duval in exchange for both campaigns walking away, I would have urged them to take it. After all, this is a county where Bush in 04 won by 61,000 votes, and given that Trump exceeded the Bush 04 margins in most counties, running up a big number here was a real possibility.

But she did her job here, plus some. In keeping Trump’s Duval margins under 6,000 votes, she had the best showing in Duval for a presidential Democratic candidate since Jimmy Carter, and she held Trump well below the Marco Rubio numbers, who won the county by 70,000 votes. If #NeverTrump succeeded anywhere, it was in Duval.

Final early vote party spread: 42.5D, 41.1 R, 16.4 NPA D +4,279
Actual early vote spread: Clinton +1.9 percent (+5.439 votes)
Actual Election Day spread: Trump +8.9 percent (+11,407 votes)
Results: Trump +1.4 percent (+5,968 votes). In 2012, Romney won by 15K votes (+3.6 percent)

Final Thoughts

There isn’t much more to say — Clinton had the race where it needed to be, and Trump won it on Election Day.

First, one quick note on the votes before Election Day. Democrats had about 1.5 percent edge in the voters who had voted either in-person early or a vote by mail ballot, yet she won the early voting period by almost 4 percent. This was likely due to her over-performing with NPAs, given that nonwhite voters made up 37 percent of NPA voters (compared to 33 percent of partisans).

I suspect what we will see when the Election Day voter data comes out that white NPA participation was quite high, balancing out the racial makeup of the NPA voter to look more like the electorate at-large.

So where did Trump really win it? The data from the early vote/Election Day totals confirms my first glance: This was a win primarily in suburban/exurban I-4.

Here’s why.

Start with my favorite analogy, Florida as a scale. The GOP media market buckets (Pensacola, Panama City, Jacksonville and Fort Myers) and the Dem buckets (Tallahassee, Gainesville, West Palm and Miami) largely balance themselves out, and I-4 tilts it one way or the other. This year, in their core markets, Republicans did much better on Election Day than the Democrats, winning them by 188K votes, compared to the Democrats only winning theirs by 70K, carrying a margin of roughly 120K votes out of their core markets.

However, Democrats went into Election Day with a bigger margin, having crushed the Republicans in early vote, by almost 260K votes. In fact, Clinton’s 141K final margin over Trump in the core partisan markets was a few thousand votes higher than Barack Obama in 2012.

Then we get to I-4, and this time, we look at it not as just as the counties on I-4, but every county in the two media markets. Going into Election Day, I-4 was balanced, with Trump holding a 11K vote lead. But on Election Day, Trump won by 242K votes. In other words, 95.5 percent of Trump’s total margin in the Tampa and Orlando media markets came on Election Day. In total, Trump won 59 percent of the two-party vote in the Tampa and Orlando media markets on Election Day.

And of those 242K votes, 200K of that margin came from the nonurban counties in the media market, in other words. Just on Election Day.

And while it is true that Republicans always do better on Election Day, his Election Day “improvement”, particularly in the Tampa media markets, far exceeded Romney.

For example, in Pasco, his vote share was 7.69 percent higher on Election Day than in Early Vote, whereas Romney was 2.59 percent higher, or 5.1 percent greater than Romney. In Polk, he was also 5.1 percent higher, Seminole 5.1 percent, Sarasota 5.4 percent, and Pinellas 7.2 percent. We saw similar things in the outlying counties in the Palm Beach market, where in St. Lucie, his vote share was 11.1 percent higher on Election Day, a 5.2 percent increase on Romney, and in Martin County, where his Election Day improvement was 6.3 percent higher than Romney.

I could keep writing on this, but until we get actual voter data from Election Day back, there isn’t much else to add. I will do a piece on my thoughts on where the Democrats should go from here sometime in the next few weeks, but as I mentioned in my last piece, the Trump loss, at least regionally, looks a lot like the Bush win in 04 — and there is a road map for how to reverse it (see Obama).

And again, I don’t think it is as simple as Republicans had more voters left to vote, because best case scenario, that number was only about 100,000 more voters. No, this almost surely a cratering of Democratic turnout, all Election Day deciders going to Trump, and an Election Day surge contributing to the comeback.

The combination of two disliked candidates, Trump’s success at driving the narrative into the ground, and all the late-breaking issues going to Trump, it ended up being the perfect storm Nov. 8, or in Trump’s case, the perfect 3-wood over water to that green 250 yards away.

And I lied in the first sentence — I’ll be back once we have the full voter file with Election Day voters. Until then, happy holidays, unless you are a Jags fan, because we will surely all get a Gus Bradley extension for Christmas.

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Donald Trump’s inauguration set to test nation’s readiness to heal

One thing you can count on during inauguration season in Washington: People of all stripes will find a reason to show up — whether it’s to celebrate or commiserate.

There are parties and protests to attend, stars to gawk at, receptions to be worked, deals to be done, drinks to be consumed.

Less than two months out from Inauguration Day, there’s a different dynamic surrounding the planning for Donald Trump‘s swearing-in than the unbridled enthusiasm that swirled around the installation of the first black president in 2008.

Crowd expectations are down. Fewer A-list celebrities are likely to descend. Hotels still have rooms to be rented.

But congressional offices are maxing out on ticket requests for the Jan. 20 swearing-in. Trump’s inaugural committee is wooing big donors with candlelight dinners, exclusive luncheons and premier access to balls. Interest groups are lining up sideline events. And among those still mourning Hillary Clinton‘s loss, there is plenty of counter-programming afoot, including plans for a giant women’s march aimed at sending a defiant message to the incoming president.

Before the election, District of Columbia planners set an early estimate of 800,000-900,000 people for this year’s inauguration and they haven’t revised that number yet, according to Christopher Geldart, director of D.C.’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. But there’s scant expectation of replicating the 1.8 million people who descended on Washington for Barack Obama‘s first inaugural.

Nor will Hollywood turn out as it did for Obama, whose two inaugurals attracted the likes of Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Usher, Jamie Foxx, Jay-Z, Oprah Winfrey and many more A-listers.

“More than any election we’ve seen in a very long time, the Hollywood community was really behind Hillary, and a lot of people put their reputations on the line,” says longtime Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman. “Clearly those are people who are going to be taking their Xanax and Valium that day and staying in bed with the covers over them.”

But Bragman said there still will be Republican-leaning celebrities who turn out for Trump — and a larger contingent of Hollywood types who show up for counter events like the women’s march planned for the day after Trump’s inauguration.

While demand for hotel rooms and other venues is slower than at this point four and eight years ago, hoteliers remain “guardedly optimistic,” according to Elliott Ferguson, president of Destination DC, the city’s tourism bureau. Some hotels that set up four-day-minimum inaugural packages are rethinking that model, hoping to capture more business from those headed to Washington for the women’s march.

Hotels are noticing “more rooms being picked up on Saturday than on Friday,” Ferguson says, suggesting strong interest in the march, whose organizers hope to draw 200,000 people to the city.

Be advised: The president-elect’s own Trump International Hotel is sold out.

Still available: For $2.5 million, the J.W. Marriott is offering a package that includes four presidential suites, 325 guest rooms, a craft bourbon barrel tasting reception, special inauguration menus, and a private viewing party on the terrace overlooking the parade route, among other amenities.

There are always more affordable options through rental network Airbnb, which says local bookings for inauguration weekend spiked by 80 percent during the week after the election.

Airbnb host Jade Moore, a video editor and Democrat, doubled her prices to $200 a night for inauguration weekend and says she’s booked both Trump supporters and women marchers for her Anacostia home. Before her inaugural guests arrive, she’ll be removing the toilet paper bearing Trump’s photo and the sign in her bathroom that invites people to “take a dump on Trump.”

“I’m sure we’ll all get along,” says Moore, hopefully. “We don’t even have to bring up politics.”

Not all hosts are that dispassionate.

Another local Airbnb host, who asked that her name not be used to avoid getting in trouble for violating the company’s nondiscrimination policy, says she declined to accept a rental request that looked like it came from a Trump supporter and did accept a request that came from women planning to attend the march.

Interest groups, too, are adapting in different ways.

The Creative Coalition, a bipartisan advocacy group for the arts, has been holding inaugural balls for the past 20 years that typically attract top talent and celebrities. Coalition CEO Robin Bronk says interest in the ball remains strong and she expects it to feature top names once again.

“It’s an event that hopefully will be part of the healing of the nation,” Bronk says. Plus, she adds, “I would venture to say a lot of business gets done at our ball.”

The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights organization that threw an “equality ball” eight years ago, this year is focused on making sure its members get involved in demonstrations, marches and other events on inauguration weekend and throughout the year, says spokeswoman Sarah McBride.

The Latino Victory Project, which four years ago helped mount a huge Kennedy Center gala featuring Eva Longoria, George Lopez and other top Latino entertainers, this time is putting together events that put the Trump administration on notice that Latinos will fight “his hateful rhetoric and policies,” says project president Cristobal Alex.

“I wouldn’t call it a party,” Alex said of this year’s yet-to-be-announced events. “What I would call it is a moment to learn” from the last election.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Poll: Only about 1 in 4 wants Donald Trump to repeal health law

Only about one in four Americans wants President-elect Donald Trump to entirely repeal his predecessor’s health care law that extended coverage to millions, a new poll has found.

The postelection survey released Thursday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation also found hints of a pragmatic shift among some Republican foes of “Obamacare.”

While 52 percent of Republicans say they want the law completely repealed, that share is down from 69 percent just last month, before the election. And more Republicans now say they want the law “scaled back” under the new president and GOP Congress, with that share more than doubling from 11 percent before the election to 24 percent after.

Kaiser CEO Drew Altman said the foundation’s polling experts aren’t quite sure what to make of that finding, and will continue to track the apparent shift in future polls. The organization is a clearinghouse for information and analysis about the health care system.

It could be that some Republicans “got a protest vote off their chests, and they’re done with that,” Altman said. “They now have a more moderate position.”

After branding the Affordable Care Act a “disaster” during an election campaign that saw big premium hikes unveiled in its closing days, Trump has been saying he’d like to keep parts of the law.

On Capitol Hill, Republican leaders are trying to choreograph a legislative dance that would let them quickly repeal “Obamacare,” then allow an interlude to segue to a replacement. The complex undertaking is fraught with political risk, because success is not guaranteed. It could disrupt coverage for millions by destabilizing the law’s already fragile health insurance markets, such as HealthCare.gov.

The poll found some skepticism about that approach. Forty-two percent of those who want the 2010 health care law repealed said lawmakers should wait until they figure out the details of a replacement plan before doing so.

Americans were divided on next steps for President Barack Obama‘s signature law. Overall, 30 percent said the new president and Congress should expand what the law does, and another 19 percent said it should be implemented as is. On the other side, 26 percent said the law should be entirely repealed and 17 percent called for it to be scaled back.

Among Trump voters, 8 in 10 viewed the health care law unfavorably, and half wanted it entirely repealed.

As Republicans start to make changes in health care, potentially revamping Medicare and Medicaid as well, the politics of the issue could turn against them, Altman said. “They are going to go from casting stones to owning the problem,” he said.

The poll found majorities across party lines support many of the health care law’s provisions, but not its requirement that individuals have coverage or risk fines, and its mandate that medium-to-large employers pay fines if they don’t offer health insurance.

Among the provisions with support across party lines:

— Allowing young adults to stay on a parent’s insurance until age 26.

— No co-payments for many preventive services.

— Closing the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap known as the “doughnut hole.”

— Financial help for low- and moderate-income people to pay their insurance premiums.

— A state option to expand Medicaid to cover more low-income adults.

— Barring insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history.

— Increased Medicare payroll taxes for upper-income earners.

The telephone poll was conducted from Nov. 15-21 among a nationally representative random digit dial sample of 1,202 adults, including people reached by landlines and cellphones. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample. For subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Donald Trump’s idea of ‘presidential’ diverges from past presidents

Donald Trump, that most unconventional of presidential candidates, last spring pledged that he would act perfectly presidential when the time was right.

“I will be so presidential that you’ll call me and you’ll say, ‘Donald, you have to stop that, it’s too much,'” he promised during a March television interview.

Less than two months from Inauguration Day, there are growing signs that Trump’s idea of what’s presidential may never sync up with past norms — to the delight of some and dismay of others.

The president-elect has kept up his habit of sending unfiltered tweets, directly challenged the First Amendment right to burn the flag and selected a flame-throwing outsider for a top adviser. He’s shown no hesitation to traffic in unsubstantiated rumors, has mixed dealings in business and government, and has flouted diplomatic conventions to make his own suggestion for who should be Britain’s ambassador to the U.S., a job that happens to already be filled. He’s picked numerous fights with individual journalists, disregarded past practices on press access and dabbled in the name-calling that was commonplace during his candidacy.

Trump’s search for Cabinet nominees has played out like a reality TV show, with a number of candidates engaged in unabashed self-promotion while their assets and liabilities are publicly debated by members of the president-elect’s own transition team. (It’s normally a hush-hush process until the unveiling of an appointee). Trump’s tweet that “Fidel Castro is dead!” had none of the diplomatic subtleties normally associated with such an international development.

Is all of this, then, the “new normal” for what to expect from a Trump administration or a reflection of the growing pains associated with any presidential transition?

President Barack Obama, who knows a thing or two about making the big leap to the Oval Office, has expressed hope that the weight of the office will ultimately have a sobering effect on Trump, cautioning people against assuming “the worst.”

“How you campaign isn’t always the same as how you govern,” Obama said in one of a string of recent comments trying to provide some measure of reassurance to those concerned about the next president. “Sometimes when you’re campaigning, you’re trying to stir up passions. When you govern, you actually have reality in front of you, and you have to figure out, ‘How do I make this work.'”

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, a strong conservative and a Trump defender, said of the transition, “You gotta break a few eggs to make an omelet.”

But Thomas Mann, a longtime scholar of government from the Brookings Institution, said that while people can hope for the best, “There’s no reason to take what’s going on with anything other than great uneasiness and caution about the kind of government that is preparing to take control in the United States.”

“To call this the ‘new normal’ is to make light of the seriousness of what’s going on,” Mann said.

Trump has “got to get some discipline,” said New York University’s Paul Light, another scholar of government. “He’s just got to get on this.”

On the matter of Trump’s tweeting, Light said, “If he’s up at 3 a.m. about to tweet, he should start reading something about his agenda instead. He’s under-informed and so is his staff.”

The concerns extend well beyond matters of style.

— Trump’s out-of-the-blue tweet this week that people who burn the flag should face jail time or a loss of citizenship had Republicans stepping forward to defend First Amendment rights.

— His unfounded charges that millions of Americans voted illegally sow distrust in the integrity of the U.S. electoral system.

— On matters of press access, the idea that the whereabouts of the president or president-elect might be unknown in a time of national emergency has troubling implications beyond mere inconvenience for reporters.

And experts on government ethics say that if the president doesn’t sell off his vast business buildings, he’ll be subject to a never-ending string of conflict-of-interest questions that will cast a cloud over his policy actions.

For all of that, though, polls show Trump’s favorability ratings have ticked up since the election, even if they are still extremely low for an incoming president.

A CNN survey released last week found that Trump’s favorability rating had gone from 36 percent a few weeks before the election to 47 percent 10 days after the vote. A little less than half of Americans said Trump’s actions since the election had made them more confident in his ability to serve as president.

A Quinnipiac poll released last week found that nearly 6 in 10 Americans thought Trump should shut down his personal Twitter account. More than half were concerned that Trump might veto legislation that’s good for the nation if it hurt his business interests.

Trump has offered postelection reassurances that he’ll be “very restrained” in his tweets and more going forward. His actions haven’t always confirmed that.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Donald Trump taps Tom Price to lead HHS, plans 2nd meeting with Mitt Romney

President-elect Donald Trump moved to fill out his Cabinet Tuesday, tapping Georgia Rep. Tom Price to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. Aides signaled that at least one other Cabinet nomination was imminent.

The president-elect appeared to still be torn over his choice for secretary of state. He summoned former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to New York for dinner Tuesday night to discuss the post for a second time. He was also meeting with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who was getting new attention from Trump’s team. On Monday, Trump spent an hour with retired Gen. David Petraeus, another new contender.

Trump’s decision to consider Romney for the powerful Cabinet post has sparked an unusual public backlash from some of his closest aides and allies. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has warned that it would be a “betrayal” to Trump supporters if he selected Romney, who was a fierce critic of the president-elect.

Three people close to the transition team said Trump was aware that Conway planned to voice her concerns about Romney in public and they pushed back at suggestions that the president-elect was angry at her for doing so.

Even as he weighed crucial Cabinet decisions, Trump appeared distracted by outside forces — or eager to create distractions himself. He took to Twitter early Tuesday to declare that “nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag.” He warned that those who do should face “perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”

Trump offered no context for his message. The Supreme Court has ruled that flag burning is protected by the First Amendment.

The president-elect spent the weekend tweeting his opposition to a recount effort in up to three states that is led by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and joined by Hillary Clinton‘s team. He also falsely claimed that millions of people had voted illegally in the presidential election and provided no evidence to back up the baseless charge.

Trump won praise from Republicans Tuesday for his pick of Price to serve as health and human services secretary. A six-term congressman and orthopedic surgeon, Price has been a leading critic of President Barack Obama‘s health care law. If confirmed by the Senate, he’ll be a leading figure in Republican efforts to repeal the measure.

Incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Price “has proven to be far out of the mainstream of what Americans want” for programs that help seniors, women, families and those with disabilities. His nomination, Schumer said, is “akin to asking the fox to guard the henhouse.”

Trump’s team also announced Tuesday that Seema Verma had been chosen to be administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Jason Miller, a transition team spokesman, said at least one other Cabinet post would be announced in the afternoon. He did not elaborate.

Transition aides said Trump was likely at least a few days away from a decision on secretary of state. Romney has supposed from Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is heading the transition efforts.

Romney was fiercely critical of Trump throughout the campaign, including his preparedness for the foreign policy and national security decisions that confront a president. Still, he is said to be interested in serving in the administration and held a lengthy initial meeting with Romney before Thanksgiving.

Other top Trump allies, notably Conway, have launched a highly unusual public campaign against a Romney nomination. Conway’s comments stirred speculation that she is seeking either to force Trump’s hand or give him cover for ultimately passing over Romney.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a loyal Trump ally, was initially seen as the leading contender to helm the State Department. But questions about his overseas business dealings, as well as his public campaigning for the job, have given Trump pause.

Trump is now said to be considering Giuliani to head the Homeland Security Department, according to those close to the transition process.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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