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Bob Buckhorn disappointed that TPP is dead

Donald Trump made it official earlier this week: The Trans-Pacific Partnership is DOA in his upcoming administration.

“On trade, I am going to issue a notification of intent to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a potential disaster for our country,” Trump said on Monday in a brief video outlying his first 100 days that was posted on YouTube. Instead, he said, he said he would “negotiate fair bilateral trade deals that bring jobs and industry back”.

The TPP, a 12-country Pacific Rim trade agreement signed in 2015 but not ratified, did not have a lot of support in Congress, at least not while Barack Obama remained in power. It certainly had its supporters in the U.S., including farmers and ranchers. The TPP had promised to slash tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods in large markets such as Japan and Vietnam, as well as eliminate agricultural subsidies that gave competitors in the trade bloc an edge.

Several world leaders say without U.S. participation, the deal is completely dead.

Among those disappointed by the decision is Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who was chair of the TTP task force with the U.S. Conference of Mayors. His unbridled support entitled him to an invitation to a White House State Dinner in August when the Prime Minister of Singapore came to Washington. Singapore was one of the signatories to the pact.

Speaking to SPB last week, Buckhorn said he was disappointed that Trump would not commit to the agreement, largely because he says the U.S. can’t retreat from competing in a global environment.

 “We have relationships, we have alliances we want to reduce barriers, we want to reduce tariffs we want to engage and produce made in America products all over the globe. That’s good for America, that’s good for American jobs,” he said.

The TPP was opposed by labor group groups in the U.S. and their champions in Congress like Bernie Sanders. But Buckhorn says it’s wrong to think that trade agreements cause the economic dislocation that has so negatively hurt American workers.

“It’s the technology that is changing the way that American workers are working,  and so to hear the demogogery on both sides of the aisle over trade, was disappointing, because I don’t think that’s  reflection of American values and the way that America has competed around the globe,” Buckhorn said. “We need to be the leader, because if we don’t, then other people will, and if certainly in the case about TPP. The void by our absence will befilled by China, and the TPP criteria, whether it was on intellectual capital,whther it was on labor, whether it was on unions, the environment,  will not be nearly to the standard that the TPP would have been. So yeah, for me that’s disappointing and I hope it’s only a temporary condition in America.”

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Donald Trump auditions Cabinet prospects high above Manhattan

Donald Trump held court from his perch high above Manhattan on Monday, receiving a line of former rivals, longtime allies and TV executives while overseeing a presidential transition that at times resembles a reality show like the one he once hosted.

Trump met with nearly a dozen prospective hires, all of whom were paraded in front of the cameras set up in the Trump Tower lobby as they entered an elevator to see the president-elect. Out of public view himself, he fell back on his TV star roots by filming a video that touted his legislative goals once he takes office.

Trump; did not immediately announce any appointments after the meetings, which came on the heels of a two-day whirlwind of interviews at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Unlike his predecessors, who often spoke with Cabinet candidates under a cloud of secrecy, Trump has turned the search into a very public audition process. The extraordinary exercise took on a routine feel on Monday: First, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown stepped off the gold-plated elevator into the marble-coated lobby after his meeting to declare to waiting reporters that he was “the best person” to become Veterans Affairs secretary.

Next, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a candidate for interior secretary, did much the same, striding off the lift to say she had “a wonderful discussion” with Trump. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry declined to speak to reporters, but he did take time for a photo with the Naked Cowboy, the underwear-sporting, guitar-strumming New York institution who is normally a fixture at Times Square but has spent recent days camped out at Trump Tower singing about the president-elect.

Democratic Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who resigned her post on the Democratic National Committee after endorsing Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, also met with Trump but entered and exited out of sight. She later defended crossing party lines to meet with Trump about U.S. involvement in Syria, saying in a statement she would never “play politics with American and Syrian lives.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a longtime Trump ally, also arrived with his wife, Callista, and told reporters that he indicated to Trump that he was interested in being a “senior planner” to coordinate long-term political efforts among the Republicans in control of all three branches of government.

Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said of the visitors, “Not all of them will be in his Cabinet and his federal government, but they are all incredibly important in offering their points of views, their experience and certainly their vision of the country.”

No one was saying whether Trump would announce more appointments before heading to Florida for Thanksgiving. He was planning to leave Tuesday or Wednesday to spend the holiday at his Mar-a-Lago estate, while Vice President-elect Mike Pence will spend Thanksgiving in Mississippi, where his Marine son is stationed.

Trump has largely remained out of sight since winning the election, save for a flurry of brief public appearances over the weekend, often with Pence at his side, to flash thumbs-ups and provide quick updates on his progress in building a government. He remained in the upper floors of his skyscraper Monday, seeking counsel on the phone and interviewing candidates all while keeping an eye on the cable news coverage of the day’s events.

He appeared in a two-and-a-half minute video released late Monday in which he pledged to the American people that he was appointing “patriots” to his administration and reiterated a number of his campaign promises, including plans to renegotiate trade deals, scrap excessive regulations and institute a five-year ban on executive officials becoming lobbyists.

The video — which made no mention of key pledges to build a border wall with Mexico or repeal the Affordable Care Act — continues the president-elect’s practice of trying to go over the heads of the media and take his case directly to the American public. Since Election Day, he has twice ditched the group of reporters designated to follow his movements and has so far eschewed the traditional news conference held by the president-elect in the days after winning.

Trump has not held a full-fledged news conference since July.

But the media were clearly on his mind as he met with executives and on-air personalities from TV networks. He frequently singled out the media — declaring them “so dishonest” — for criticism during the campaign, but it’s not unusual for presidents to hold off-the-record meetings with journalists when trying to promote policies or programs.

Among the attendees were NBC anchor Lester Holt and “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, ABC’s “Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos and anchor David Muir, CBS’ “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and several executives at the networks.

None of the attendees would discuss the meeting with reporters in the lobby, though Conway said it was “very cordial, very productive, very congenial.”

Those Trump met with over the weekend included former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a former critic now being considered for secretary of state; retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, who Trump dubbed an “impressive” prospect for defense secretary, and billionaire investor Wilbur Ross, who is under consideration for Commerce secretary.

“We’ve made a couple of deals,” Trump said Sunday. He gave assurances that “incredible meetings” would be bringing “incredible people” into the government.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Mitch Perry Report for 11.20.16 — Bill de Blasio’s big moment?

In New York City today, Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to give a “major speech” on the presidential election’s impact on the city. De Blasio wants help from the feds to pay for the additional security costs in dealing with the fact that the president-elect’s home is literally in the heart of Midtown Manhattan.

The NYPD has already put about an additional 50 officers on each shift during daytime hours to manage the flow of traffic in the immediate area of Trump Tower, de Blasio said Friday, and he wants Washington to help pay for overtime costs.

Although being mayor of New York already presents a huge national platform, de Blasio’s profile could grow larger as a dominant liberal voice in opposition to the new Donald Trump administration, along with the usual suspects (Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, etc.)

“The mayor has an enormous opportunity to stand up on behalf of New Yorkers and our values. Lots of New Yorkers are afraid of Trump and the mayor can be their voice,” political consultant Howard Wolfson, who advised Michael Bloomberg and served on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign team, told the NY Post on Sunday.

It also may help him as he begins his quest to be re-elected in 2017.

If you’ve followed de Blasio’s tenure to date so far, you know it’s been somewhat checkered, to say the least, following 12 years under Bloomberg. Scorned by conservatives, he hasn’t exactly fired up his own liberal base, and his poll numbers have been pretty average throughout his first three years.

A Quinnipiac poll released last week shows the populace split in half as he received a 47/47 percent approval rating. However, that was his BEST rating since January and up from a negative 42/51 percent approval rating in August.

However, that same poll shows that by a  49-39 percent margin, NYC voters say they don’t support his re-election. To date, no major players have surfaced to challenge the mayor, but there’s still nearly a year for a serious opponent to surface.

Another big mayoral election will take place a year from now in St. Petersburg, where Rick Kriseman’s poll numbers have been solid, though he could be vulnerable if a strong challenger emerges.

In other news …

Local reporters/pundits discussed the 2016 presidential election at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club on Friday.

Donald Trump has been busy nominating men for his Cabinet, including Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general. Bill Nelson says he’s withholding judgement on his Senate colleague.

Eckerd College president Donald Eastman is one of 110 college presidents to pen a letter to president-elect Trump on the need to speak out against violence being committed in his name.

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Local media figures dissect the 2016 presidential election at the Tampa Tiger Bay Club

While some parts of America are ecstatic and others scared in the wake of Donald Trump’s shocking presidential victory earlier this month, most others are simply thankful the whole long, ugly, divisive campaign is history.

Then there is the political class, who in opinion pieces and discussions on cable news, continue to chatter about what led to perhaps the biggest political upset in modern U.S. history.

The Tampa Tiger Bay Club hosted their debriefing of the election on Friday with four local reporters and or/pundits to break it all down.

“This election had nothing to do with James Comey, WikiLeaks, nothing to do with the lack of Latino turnout,” declared Peter Schorsch, the proprietor of SaintPetersblog.com and FloridaPolitics.com (i.e. the owner of this website who pays this reporter’s salary). “Do you want to know why Donald Trump won? Go back and watch ‘The Big Short,’ he said, referring to the 2015 adaptation of the Michael Lewis authored tome from 2010 depicting different players who understood how the financial market was ready to collapse in 2008.

“People lost their 401K’s. They lost their retirement. They lost their houses. They lost trillions of dollars worth of wealth. That’s why Donald Trump won. All the other stuff is basically window dressing.”

Schorsch and Patrick Mantegia, the editor and publisher of Tampa’s La Gaceta trilingual weekly newspaper, were by far the most opinionated of the four media figures asked to weigh in. WFLA Newschannel 8 anchor Keith Cate and Tampa Bay Business Journal reporter Janelle Irwin, on the other hand, tried hard to not stray too far into opinion during the hour long forum held a the Ferguson Law Center in downtown Tampa.

Mantegia, a lifelong Democrat who says his paper’s editorial slant looks at events through “Hispanic-colored lenses,” said the fact that Hillsborough County is becoming more Democratic and more Hispanic means it will probably no longer maintain its status as one of the preeminent bellwether counties when it comes to presidential elections in the future. “I don’t think we will represent the nation in voting as much as we used to,” he surmised. Hillary Clinton won Hillsborough County by seven percentage points on Election Night, while Trump took Florida by 1.2 percent.

Cate talked about having the privilege of being able to cover much of election in person, beginning in Iowa in January, through the political conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia and deep into the fall. “I got to watch the fascination with Donald Trump, the fascination with Bernie Sanders. They were the stars of this campaign.” Clinton, on the other hand, struggled to draw large crowds. “I don’t want to say she couldn’t draw a crowd,” he said, but in comparison with Trump and Sanders, “you can see she had some work to do.”

Manteiga admitted that while all of his close friends and family members supported Clinton, there was zero excitement for her campaign.

“There are some who think this will be a whiter, ‘Christian-er’ America,” the La Gaecta editor said regarding what the election results mean. “I think that there are people who want simple solutions to our complex problems. And they are complex problems,” he said, referring to solving issues with health care, Social Security and Medicare. “Making America Great Again was a great way of coming up with simple solutions to difficult problems, and I think that people just wanted something to happen.”

“I think it was more of a feeling,” added Cate. “I just think it was a feeling: Let’s do something else. There were feelings that were thrown out more than there were issues thrown out, so I would say it was an issue change election.

The mainstream media has been blasted from all angles in the wake of the election upset, and Trump’s shaking off of the presidential “pool” reporters during the campaign and this past week in New York City has alarmed much of the media, concerned that Trump won’t play by the established rules in working with the Fourth Estate.”

“There are very legitimate questions whether or not he’s going to continue that practice once he’s in the White House,” Irwin continued. “Are White House press correspondents going to have press access  the way that they traditionally have always have ? There is no law saying that they have to. In that sense, there’s something to worry about.”

Irwin also says that the disdain and contempt for reporters that was expressed by Trump and his supporters at nearly every one of his rallies has her concerned.

“We were demonized, and it wasn’t just the people who were covering the campaign, it wasn’t just the press pool, it was a sweeping generalization of all media, and now you have a constituency of people who are following Donald Trump and listening to his words as if they’re some sort of biblical mandate that the media is bad.,” she said, adding she worries what might happen now when people don’t like the content of a reporters’s story. “Is that going to come back and hurt us from the stance of being safe? That’s my concern.”

Cate said he believed that there is bias in the media “that leans left,” but stressed that “it doesn’t mean you can’t hold people accountable from both sides.”

Schorsch said he believed that there would now be a “horrible overreaction” by the media after missing out on the election’s ultimate results. “They’re going to want to interview every angry white guy over and over again for the next 18 months in a quixotic attempt to figure out what went wrong because they didn’t listen to them before.”

Mantiega said that it may not productive to spend too much time trying to understand the ramifications of the election because of the singularity of Trump.

“Maybe John Morgan can be come the next governor in the state of Florida,” he contemplated, referring to the Orlando attorney, major fundraiser and biggest proponent financially in getting medical marijuana legalized in Florida.”An outspoken Democrat who can speak the truth and be for the little guy even though he’s a rich guy driving a limousine. I really don’t know if you can learn from him.”

Both Manteiga and Schorsch said the Florida Democratic Party needs to look hard at themselves and the people they keep hiring to get the same poor results.

“We’re not doing something right,” Manteiga said. “We continue to have these people there, where it seems it’s okay to lose. You still get the same paycheck.”

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Bob Buckhorn says it’s a time for soul searching in the Democratic Party

Lifelong Democrat Bob Buckhorn admits it’s been rough adapting to a world where Hillary Clinton won’t be the next president. The Tampa mayor went all-out for the party’s presidential nominee, including a weekend winter trip to New Hampshire just days before the first primary in the nation last February. And while Clinton did take Hillsborough County (along with the other major metropolitan areas of Florida), she lost the exurban and rural areas big time in ultimately losing to Donald Trump by just 1.2 percent in the Sunshine State last week.

Both the national and state Democratic party are in crisis, with the Democratic National Committee and Florida Democratic Party to decide on new leadership in the coming months. Like so many other Florida Democrats, Buckhorn has been here before.

“Obviously anytime you have a loss like this, there’s going to be a lot of teeth gnashing and soul searching,” the mayor said Tuesday.

“There will be a debate at the national level as to whether or not you move to a more progressive agenda, with people like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders; or do you try to come back to the center a la Bill Clinton in 1991 and 1992 to drive a message that the middle class mattered, that those rural white working class folks that he could talk to so well have got to be included in the discussion, that it’s not just driving up minority participation but have a message that resonates with everybody.”

Although he didn’t tip his hand as to where he comes down to the different approaches that will no doubt be debated by Democrats going into the holiday season, the mayor historically has come down on the centrist side, and has previously argued that is the only way to win statewide in Florida.

Buckhorn says the conversation needs to begins now among party members in Florida if they’re going to successfully defend Bill Nelson’s Senate seat (Rick Scott admitted on Wednesday what everyone has assumed is a given — he’s looking at running for Nelson’s seat). There’s also the potential to pick up a cabinet seat (or more) with with all four state office positions — governor, attorney general, chief financial officer, and agriculture commissioner — all open seats in 2018. “We need a message that resonates, not just in the cities, but everywhere in the state of Florida,” he said.

Inevitably, any conversation with Buckhorn about politics leads to his own potential participation for one of those seats in 2018 — specifically governor.

Although one-term Congresswoman Gwen Graham has virtually declared her candidacy and there’s a movement afoot to draft Orlando attorney and Democratic fundraiser John Morgan, Buckhorn isn’t showing his cards just yet, but admits he’ll need to decide by early 2017.

“Like a lot of people who are contemplating the future, you have to sort of sift through the carnage of last Tuesday and see what the landscape is, see whether or not there’s a path for victory for Democrats there, whether I’m the guy that can carry that torch, that I can inspire people to follow my lead,” he said, adding, “ultimately it’s gotta come down to whether in my gut whether this is something that I want to do.

“I’m lucky that I’ve got a job that I love coming to work everyday, and if I choose not to do this, I’m going to be perfectly happy, because I get to finish out an opportunity here as mayor that I have worked for my entire life. It’s a good position for me to be in. I do think the state needs new leadership, I think we need a regime change in Tallahassee. And I think that the Tampa renaissance is going to be a pretty compelling story to tell.”

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Yolie Capin blasts Democratic Party as elitist in wake of Trump victory

Democrats around Florida and the country awoke Wednesday in shock over the election of Donald J. Trump as president, and the recriminations quickly began.

For Tampa City Councilwoman Yolie Capin, the fault lies with the Democratic Party, and the Democratic National Committee.

Although she prefaces her comments by saying she thinks Hillary Clinton is “brilliant” and that she desperately wanted her to win the presidency, Capin says that the fact that Clinton couldn’t defeat Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination in 2008 when she was a much-better-known quantity should have been a heads-up to the party establishment that there was a resistance to her that was ignored.

“So then we fast forward to 2016 and the Democratic establishment rigs the convention and the thing is, they got caught and the sad, sad part is that everybody was OK with it!” Capin said, referring to the thousands of leaked WikiLeaks emails that showed DNC disdain toward Bernie Sanders and support for Clinton long before any votes were cast.

Capin said Clinton had a messaging problem and said the Democrats “gave lip service to the working class, and people just didn’t believe it.”

“I know people who voted for Trump. (Some of them) were Ph.D.’s, OK?” Capin says. “It’s mind boggling. Let them keep saying it’s the ‘yahoos and the hillbillies.’ Let them keep doing that,” she says of what she calls the elitism of the Democratic Party leadership. “That’s exactly what the people felt, (that) you feel that you’re more intelligent, more informed. But you don’t listen.”

Capin is also one Democrat who isn’t fond of FBI Director James Comey‘s bombshell announcement 11 days before the election that the agency was investigating another batch of emails “that appear to be pertinent” to the Clinton email server situation that was found on Anthony Weiner’s computer. On Sunday Comey reaffirmed his original decision in July to recommend against charging Clinton, but Capin says that with people already voting early during those nine days, “that had to be damaging.”

The city councilwoman says she does find one silver lining out of the results, and that is that “the progressives are going to be emboldened now to revamp that Democratic party, and it needs it.”

“They wanted who they wanted and they pushed her through,” she says of the Democratic Party’s establishment support of Clinton. “She’s brilliant, but there were too many people that didn’t care for her, as in 2008,” she says, reciting the line that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting a different result.

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Mitch Perry Report for 11.8.16 — Getting the results before the polls close

The last presidential contest I really didn’t pay that much attention to was back in 1980, but I do remember this: I was in high school, and I had the TV on but the sound down when Jimmy Carter came out at around 6:15 PST to announce he was conceding the election. It was pretty early in the evening, but it was obvious Carter wasn’t going to catch up to Ronald Reagan that night.

Although Carter wanted to get the misery over with, his early concession speech angered people in California on the West Coast, where there were still hours before the polls closed. Every election since then (except for those that went into overtime), have not been declared by the networks and the Associated Press until 11 p.m. Eastern, when all the polls are closed.

That is supposed to change tonight.

As reported by POLITICO on Monday, “Slate and Vice News have partnered with Votecastr, a company helmed by Obama and Bush campaign veterans, to provide real-time projections of how the candidates are faring in each state throughout the day. They expect to begin posting projections at 8 a.m. Eastern time on Election Day — a dramatic departure from current practice, where representatives from a consortium of news organizations (The Associated Press, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News, and NBC News) huddle in a quarantine room without cell phones, poring over the earliest exit poll data but declining to release anything that points to an election result until all the polls have closed.”

POLITICO also will be working with Morning Consult to conduct a survey of voters after they have cast ballots. Voters will complete the interviews over the internet, beginning one hour after the polls open in their state. Respondents will be asked whether they have voted, and how they voted: either using early voting, by mail or on Election Day in person. POLITICO and Morning Consult will report on some of the results during the day.

I don’t know what any of this means, but let’s face it: in recent elections, people sit around most of the day on Election Day, with nothing to do with polls being meaningless (“the only poll that matters is on Election Day”) but no returns to review until the early evening.

There is some of that infamous exit poll research the networks will start reporting on after 5 p.m. but we all learned after 2004 not to take them too seriously, right, President Kerry?

Personally, I’ll be interested in some House races in Hillsborough County which could go either way — in House Districts 59, 60, and 63.

Have a great day.

In other news …

HART CFO Jeff Seward is going to the International Climate Change Conference in the U.K. next spring, the first representative from a North American transit agency to be invited to the annual event.

On the eve of a Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission meeting on a temporary agreement with Uber and Lyft, a limousine company based in Tampa says they want to become a ridesharing company as well, and is going to court to challenge the agency.

Marco Rubio made a last-day campaign appearance in Brandon yesterday, where he said he thinks the increase in Latino voters in the early vote bodes well for his chances tonight.

Eric Seidel is thinking he can peel off some wayward Democrats in his bid to defeat Pat Frank in the Hillsborough County Clerk of the Courts race tonight.

In a Vice News interview last night, Debbie Wasserman Schultz said the Bernie Sanders campaign made her into a “bogeyman” for her role at the DNC.

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Donald Trump talks up his support from blacks and Latinos in Tampa speech

Looking over the thousands of adoring fans who had waited for hours to see him speak, Donald Trump kicked off his 50-minute speech at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa on Saturday morning by comparing his audience to Hillary Clinton’s campaign appearance with two of the biggest celebrities in America on Friday night in Cleveland.

“We don’t need Jay Z to fill up arenas,” he said as the crowd cheered. “I actually like Jay-Z but you know, the language last night? Ohhhh. Ohhhhh.”

According to press reports, the famed New York City rapper repeatedly used the n-word and dropped the f-bomb as he performed “F—WithMeYouKnowIGotIt” and his hit “Dirt off Your Shoulder” song at the Cleveland rally – which also featured his wife, Beyonce.

“I like them both,” Trump said of the celebrity couple. “But he used language last night that was so bad, and then Hillary said, ‘I did not like Donald Trump’s lewd language.’ I’ll tell you what, I’ve never said what he said in my life. But that shows you the phoniness of politicians and the phoniness of the whole system, folks.”

That dismissal of the system, or what Trump and his fans call “draining the swamp,” is something what his supporters say they love about him as the end of the 2016 campaign grows near.

“I’m not that political. But seeing what was going on with Hillary, all that WikiLeaks stuff that’s coming out, all the corruption that she’s been doing. You have to get involved,” said Altamonte Springs resident Orisis Register. “It comes to a point where you have to say’ enough is enough.’ And you have to start getting involved.”

Trump’s 10:00 a.m. scheduled speech in Tampa (he actually hit the stage at 10:20 a.m) was the first of four scheduled appearances for the day, with later events scheduled in Wilmington, North Carolina, Reno and a 9:30 p.m. local time appearance in Denver, nearly 12 hours after he began his day.

Hillary Clinton, conversely, had only one scheduled appearance on Saturday, in South Florida. That skimpy schedule was duly noted by Trump. “I’m doing five or six of these a day, and Hillary goes home, she goes to sleep,” he said. “She doesn’t have the energy to do it, believe me.”

What Clinton does have that Trump doesn’t however, are star surrogates, like Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and on occasion, first lady Michelle Obama, in addition to running mate Tim Kaine, who was also in the Tampa Bay area on Saturday, appearing in Sarasota in the afternoon and with rocker Jon Bon Jovi in a get-out-the vote effort at the State Theater in St. Petersburg.

Regarding policy issues, Trump pushed hard in his address on the recently announced increase in premiums for a certain percentage of people getting their health care insurance from the Affordable Care Act.

He also criticized Clinton’s support of trade deals like NAFTA, the WTO and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (which she no longer supports) as something that he’ll reverse when elected, and listed companies that have suffered job losses in the past year, saying that Florida has lost one in four manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was signed in 1994.

Although there is just hours left before Election Day, 30 million Americans have already voted as of Saturday morning, more than five million of them in Florida. There have reports in a large increase in Latino voters, a trend that could portend bad things for Trump, considering that the group Latino Decisions said on Friday that they estimate that 79 percent will vote for Clinton, and only 18 percent for Trump.

“Hispanics for Trump, “Women for Trump,” and “Blacks for Trump” signs were distributed to those entering the arena to hear Trump on Saturday, prompting him to talk up his support for the black and brown community.

“That’s turning out to be story of this election: the African-American vote,” he said, though the story of that demographic to date in terms of the mainstream media coverage is how their voting numbers are down in the post Obama-era.

“How many Hispanics do we have here?” Trump then asked. “That’s another story that’s turning out to be very big. The Hispanic vote is turning out to be much different than people thought,” he said somewhat ambiguously.

Trump went on to familiar tropes, including his criticism of Clinton’s support for wanting to bring more Syrian refugees into the country.  “Her plan will import generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism into your schools and throughout your communities. When I’m elected your president, we will suspend immediately the Syrian refugee program,” he said to cheers, adding, “And we will keep radical Islamic terrorists the hell out of our country.”

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi kicked off the morning’s activities as the M.C.. A number of other speakers followed, including 80’s Saturday Night Live cast member Joe Piscopo, former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz and Polk County area Representative Dennis Ross, who’s expected to win another two-year term in Congress on Tuesday.

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“I did not get elected to surrender this White House to a crook!” said an overly excited Ross, who said the nation’s Second Amendment rights “would be taken away from us” with a Clinton victory on Tuesday.

T-shirts such as “Trump that bitch” and “We’re going to need a bigger basket” could be prominently seen in the audience.

Longtime Miami Beach political activist Bob Kunst stood in the fairgrounds parking lot with “Trump vs. Tramp” and “Hillary: Liar – Traitor” signs propped in front of his car as early attendees made their way into the arena. A registered Democrat, Kunst said he broke ranks with Hillary a few years ago when she “got in bed with Obama” when it comes to dividing the city of  Jerusalem. He’s critical of the Iranian nuclear deal, but he also admitted that Trump is a wild card when it comes to how he might implement any of his policies. But he said it was worth voting for him.

“On the other hand, we know where we’re at right now, which is no future, no hope. A disaster. One scandal after another,” he said. “Anybody who could go with this woman is just unbelievable.”

Kunst says he’s been to 38 Trump rallies around the nation. “This is mishmash of people who wouldn’t sit in the same room with each other in normal occasions,” he said. “The country is in trouble. People are concerned, they’re all freaking out. Where are we going with this thing? It seems to be collapsing before our very eyes.”

Brockville resident Pat Pimm said he’s been backing Trump since last November. Pimm said the number one issue he believed Trump would address is energy, specifically to maintain oil, natural gas and coal into the mix of energy sources for years go to come.

“You gotta get those folks back to work,” he said of coal workers. “That’s a huge part of our economy. It’s wonderful if we have this green economy, but we’ve got to have the entire works. We can’t put the coalminers out of work for the sake of a little green energy. We need it all. It’s going to take a long time to transition to green stuff.”

When asked if he believed in climate change, Pimm said “The climate’s been changing. The climate will always be changng. But I don’t think it’s changed anymore because of industrialization.”

Although Trump is going out west for part of this weekend’s campaign activities, he’ll be right back in the Tampa Bay area on Monday, with a just announced event taking place at Robarts Arena in Sarasota at 11 a.m.

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Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump use whatever they’ve got in the final push

Knock on every door. Marshal every volunteer. Lob every attack.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are opening the final weekend of a marathon campaign by pulling out every tool they have to get their supporters to vote. Polls show critical battleground states may still be up for grabs ahead of Tuesday’s election.

Clinton and her allies rushed to shore up support among African-Americans, acknowledging signs of weaker-than-expected turnout in early vote data. That has raised a red flag about diminished enthusiasm that could spell trouble for Democrats up and down the ballot.

The Democrat was due to campaign in Pennsylvania and Michigan on Friday, states long considered Democratic strongholds. She’s been pounding Trump for his record on race, accusing him of tacitly encouraging support from white supremacists.

“He has spent this entire campaign offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters,” Clinton said at a rally in Greenville, North Carolina.

The Democrat got a boost Friday in the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report which showed the unemployment rate declined to 4.9 percent while wages went up in October. It’s the sort of news that might nudge voters to continue current economic policies, as Clinton has promised.

But this campaign has rarely seemed to hinge on policy. The big personalities on both sides have overshadowed more nuanced questions. Heading into the final days, both campaigns are presenting the choice as a crossroads for democracy.

For Trump, that means zeroing in on questions about Clinton’s trustworthiness and a new FBI review of an aide’s emails. Trump warned Thursday that never-ending investigations would prevent his Democratic opponent from governing effectively, speaking directly to voters who may be reluctant Trump supporter but are also repelled by the possible return to Washington of Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

“Here we go again with the Clintons – you remember the impeachment and the problems,” Trump said Thursday at a rally in Jacksonville, Florida. “That’s not what we need in our country, folks. We need someone who is ready to go to work.”

In spite of a close race in national polling, Trump’s path to victory remained narrow. He must win Florida to win the White House, which polls show remains a neck-and-neck race. Early voting has surged in the state. The number of early voters so far, 5.26 million, has already exceeded the overall early voting figure for 2012, and voting will continue this weekend. Republicans have a very narrow edge in ballots cast.

North Carolina also has emerged as critical state for Trump – in part because of early signs that African-American turnout there is lagging.

Both campaigns are so focused on the two states, the candidate and allies have been nearly running into each other at airports. Trump tweeted about gazing at Air Force One at the Miami airport Thursday, using the moment to rip President Barack Obama for campaigning instead of governing.

Both candidates are leaning on surrogates to help carry their message. While Clinton rallies voters in Pittsburgh and Detroit, Obama was to campaign Friday in North Carolina. Bill Clinton was headed to Colorado and Vice President Joe Biden was due in Wisconsin, both states Clinton was believed to have locked up weeks ago. Clinton planned to end her day at a get-out-the-vote rally in Cleveland, using hip-hop artist Jay-Z to draw young people to her cause.

On Thursday, she campaigned with former primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders and pop star Pharrell Williams.

Trump was set to headline events Friday in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Ohio, while running mate Mike Pence is visiting Michigan, North Carolina and Florida.

While Trump’s children, Eric and Ivanka Trump, hit the trail Thursday, his wife, Melania, made her first speech in months. She vowed to advocate against cyberbullying if she becomes first lady, although she made no reference to her husband’s frequent use of Twitter to call his opponents “liars” and “crooked.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Mitch Perry Report for 11.2.16 — Hillary Clinton returns to the oldie but goodies in Dade City speech

Remember when Hillary Clinton would invoke Michelle Obama‘s phrase when dealing with Donald Trump that, “When they go low, we go high?”

That was so, oh, I don’t know, October-like.

In Pasco County yesterday, the Democratic presidential nominee spent considerable time tearing apart Trump, invoking his greatest hits of insults as she tries to rally the base in the final week of the campaign.

Clinton dug deep, referring to how The Donald boasted on Howard Stern’s show about how he used to go backstage at beauty pageants to barge in on the women while they were getting dressed.

“He said he did that — he said he did that to ‘inspect’ them. That was his word — and he said, ‘I sort of get away with things like that.’ And sure enough, contestants have come forward to say, ‘Yes, that’s exactly what he did to us.’ Now, as bad as that is, he didn’t just do it at the Miss USA pageant or the Miss Universe pageant. He’s also been accused of doing it at the Miss Teen USA pageant. Contestants say that Donald Trump came in to look at them when they were changing. Some of them were just 15 years old. We cannot hide from this. We’ve got to be willing to face it. This man wants to be president of the United States of America and our First Lady, Michelle Obama, spoke for many of us when she said Donald Trump’s words have shaken her to her core.”

Obviously, talking about policies has never been at the forefront of this campaign, but undoubtedly this will probably be the nature of her oratory over the next six days. Not exactly the soaring rhetoric her team could have intended to be her message in closing out this interminable campaign.

There are reports this morning that Team Clinton and their allies are freaking out about the black vote not being as robust for Clinton so far in early/absentee voting, in comparison to 2008 and 2012.

Message to the rest of planet Earth — Nobody every thought it could be. Barack Obama‘s name on the ballot was revolutionary in 2008, and though much less so in 2012, it still brought out the black vote in unprecedented ways. Did anybody seriously think Clinton was going to match that number?

Clinton remains strong with older blacks, but millennials have never bought into her to the same extent. A friend of mine yesterday questioned the entire premise that Clinton was so popular among blacks. He said, wasn’t that what “they” said took her over the top over Bernie Sanders?

That wasn’t an opinion; that was a fact. Clinton dominated the black vote — a huge demographic in Democratic primaries — over the Vermont-based socialist senator. I’ve argued that if he had made stronger inroads with the African-American community to any extent prior to his unlikely rise over the past year, he might have had a fighting chance at the nomination.

But Clinton, and certainly Sanders, were never going to get a comparable black vote in 2008 or 2012. Not going to happen.

In other news …

One interesting trend in Florida with less than a week before the voting ends is the record vote from the Latino community to date.

SD 18 Democrat Bob Buesing has gone up on TV with his final ad (he says).

David Jolly isn’t giving up on trying to take part of the black vote in St. Petersburg away from Charlie Crist. The CD 13 Republican is airing a new ad that once again goes back in time to the era when his Democratic opponent was known as “Chain-Gang Charlie.”

Former Florida Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham held a conference call yesterday to detail his problems with Amendment 1, the solar power initiative. Graham said its passage could neutralize the Amendment 4 solar power measure that passed by 73 percent in August. A spokesperson for the measure strongly disagrees with him.

Civil engineer Wael Odeh hopes to win a Temple Terrace City Council seat next week, despite a hate-filled letter spread to households in the city last month regarding his character because he is a Muslim.

Newly leaked WikiLeaks emails indicate that while former DNC head Debbie Wasserman Schultz was all about Hillary Clinton, the feeling among some of her staffers absolutely wasn’t mutual.

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