Chris Christie Archives - SaintPetersBlog

Ridesharing smoothing the roads in Florida

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber; it’s also no secret that I am NOT a big fan of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission, a bully of a governmental entity applying 19th-century thinking to a 21st-century innovation.

The PTC’s blatant quest to stifle ridesharing while clinging to the outmoded taxi and limo industry has been as disgraceful as it is misguided. This should be the final nail in the coffin of the PTC, and, hopefully, the powers in Tallahassee will eliminate the PTC once and for all.

But there’s more involved here than just abolishing an outmoded, cumbersome and shady local commission. Ridesharing is a nationwide trend that extends far beyond just Hillsborough County — and the regulatory solution is one that should be addressed by state lawmakers.

Last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law statewide ridesharing legislation, making it the 38th state in the country to have a statewide framework in place. Florida is already several years behind in embracing ridesharing, and the sad PTC episode shows why it’s high time our Legislature adopted a uniform statewide set of regulations to encourage ridesharing throughout the Sunshine State.

The Hillsborough PTC’s Neanderthal attitude reminds me of the people who used to sell horse buggies — couldn’t believe anyone would fall for the scam of those newfangled horseless carriages. When times changed and proved them wrong, they were done. The taxi industry has behaved the same way, trying to ignore the inevitable. The PTC is a government entity that isn’t supposed to take sides, but it aligned itself squarely with the buggy salesmen.

If each of Florida’s 67 counties tried adopting its own approach to transportation network services, our state would be a hodgepodge of inconsistent regulations. Drivers wouldn’t be able to cross county lines without crashing into a new regulatory scheme, and passengers couldn’t be sure what they could get and where they could get it.

Some forward-thinking Florida legislators have filed bills that would eliminate this risk, by establishing a uniform set of reasonable statewide guidelines. The new rules would protect passengers while giving drivers and the ridesharing companies enough assurances that they would continue to serve the residents and tourists who enjoy their services.

Florida is one of just 12 states that do not have a statewide framework for ridesharing. Passage of this legislation would eliminate the confusing county-by-county patchwork of rules, creating an easier and more effective experience for passengers and drivers alike.

If the wisdom of that approach escapes you, I’ve got a horse and buggy I’d like to sell you.

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Mitch Perry Report for 11.22.16 — The sad story of Chris Christie

There’s no doubt Rudy Giuliani will get some meaty position in the upcoming Donald Trump administration, because the dude was loyal as hell to the president-elect throughout the past year.

Chris Christie, on the other hand, may be looking at bupkes.

The New Jersey governor was one of the first mainstream Republicans to endorse Trump, which he did after he flamed out in the New Hampshire primary. Since that time, reporters have had a field day blasting the one-time fierce (bullying?) New Jerseyite for being a “manservant” to Trump (there even was an unfortunate rumor that Trump had summoned Christie to fetch him McDonalds).

But things have gone downhill for awhile for Christie in terms of where he’s at with the new leader of the free world. Sure there’s been tension forever between him and Jared Kushner, going back to Christie’s days as a federal prosecutor in the aughts sending Kushner’s pop to prison on charges of tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions, but there also were multiple media reports last month that Trump was not pleased to learn what was unearthed during the Bridgegate trial that saw Bridget Kelly, his former chief of staff, be convicted in federal court for her involvement in the scandal, which could send her to prison for 20 years.

And then there was this, from today’s NY Times:

Mr. Christie’s fall in the Trump circle was weeks in the making. There was already grumbling, particularly from former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, and from Mr. Trump’s children. Mr. Christie, they believed, had gone off-message after an “Access Hollywood” tape was released in which Mr. Trump made vulgar comments about women; the governor first canceled Sunday show appearances, then emerged on the radio the next week to call Mr. Trump’s comments “indefensible.”

No, in that crucial time for Donald Trump, Chris Christie wasn’t the loyal foot soldier Trump apparently demands. If you’ll recall, Giuliani was the only surrogate from the Trump campaign to make the rounds on the Sunday morning talk shows less than 48 hours after that story went viral on Oct. 9. Even Kellyanne Conway was MIA from the airwaves that weekend.

But in the case of Christie, maybe, just maybe, he couldn’t look himself in the mirror (or his wife and kids) and try to some how spin anything positive about those stunning remarks, dismissed as “locker room talk” by Trump and his allies.

Team Trump apparently wasn’t too pleased with Christie’s work on the transition pre-Election Day, as many members of that squad were former lobbyists — not the way to start out a new administration from someone who called for “draining the swamp.”

There was also a report of Christie trying to nudge his way into the picture frame when Trump gave his speech after winning the general election, when reportedly he hadn’t been seen helping the campaign for weeks.

So all of that is to say that Christie may not get anything from Trump as he goes about naming his Cabinet. A tragedy? Not really, but still sort of ugly to watch it all play out.

In other news …

Kathy Castor says she will work with President Donald Trump and the GOP Congress if the opportunity presents itself. She’s also mum on whether she’ll vote to retain Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader.

Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg was in Gitmo last week to attend a hearing one of the suspects being held at the U.S. prison in Cuba. He added that the man’s trial is not scheduled for another three years.

And your Florida Legislature is in Tallahassee today — all 160 of them elected earlier this month — if not earlier during the primary season.

Jim Davison blasts the Tampa Bay Times and his opponent in next month’s Tampa City Council District 7 election for its recommendation of Luis Viera.

And Tampa will play host to the National League of Cities annual convention  in 2020.

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Donald Trump may revisit Trump Country during a victory tour

Donald Trump may take a victory tour to states that elected him president, an aide said Saturday, as boisterous protests unfolded outside the tower where he holed up with members of his transition team and fielded calls congratulating him.

While he’s announced one decision — putting Vice President-elect Mike Pence in charge of the transition instead of Chris Christie — Trump must identify other people for top White House jobs and Cabinet posts. The president-elect remained out of sight at Trump Tower, with streets outside swarming with thousands objecting to the results of Election Day.

At one point, documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, a liberal critic of Trump who nevertheless had predicted his victory, entered the tower lobby with a camera crew in tow and asked to see Trump. “I just thought I’d see if I could get into Trump Tower and ride the famous escalator,” said Moore, who did just that until he reached the fourth floor and the Secret Service told him he could go no higher.

Kellyanne Conway, who was Trump’s campaign manager and is almost surely in line for a prominent job in his presidency, told reporters in the tower lobby that Trump’s choice of a chief of staff was “imminent,” though not coming Saturday. Whoever fills that post will set the tone for Trump’s White House and be a main conduit to Capitol Hill and Cabinet agencies.

Trump is said to be considering Steve Bannon, his campaign chairman and a conservative media executive, and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus for the job. Neither has significant policy experience, though Priebus is well-liked in Washington and has ties with lawmakers.

Conway said Trump’s next public appearance was expected “in the next couple of days.” When asked if he’d take a victory tour soon, she said: “It’s possible. It’s possible. We’re working on the schedule.”

She described his day as “meetings, phone calls, conversations, interviews. What you would expect from a normal presidential transition.”

In one gesture of normalcy, Trump pledged to be “very restrained” in the White House with his use of Twitter, “if I use it at all.” But he did not sound convinced that he could leave it behind, when asked in a “60 Minutes” interview to be broadcast Sunday. Some of Trump’s most inflammatory comments, in a campaign loaded with provocation, came in his late-night tweets.

“I have a method of fighting back,” Trump said of social media. He said Twitter is “tremendous” and helped him win races in states where he was vastly outspent. He said he thinks he’s proved that social media can be more powerful than money.

Moments after Moore’s uninvited visit to Trump Tower, Nigel Farage, head of the “Leave” movement that won Britain’s vote to exit the European Union, also arrived. Trump frequently linked his campaign to the Brexit movement.

“It was a great honor to spend time with Donald Trump,” Farage said of his hourlong meeting with Trump, according to a statement from his UK Independence Party. “He was relaxed and full of good ideas. I’m confident he will be a good president. His support for the U.S.-UK relationship is very strong. This is a man with whom we can do business.”

For Trump, who ran on a pledge to “drain the swamp” of Washington insiders, the transition team is strikingly heavy on those with long political resumes.

Another apparent contradiction emerged Friday as Trump, who repeatedly vowed to achieve the repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care law, said he would be open to maintaining portions of it.

Christie was a loyal adviser to Trump for much of the campaign, offered a key early endorsement and came close to being the businessman’s pick for running mate. But Trump ultimately went with Pence, Indiana’s governor and a former congressman with Washington experience and deep ties to conservatives, to take the transition forward.

Christie will still be involved in the transition, joining a cluster of other steadfast Trump supporters serving as vice chairmen: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

In addition, three of Trump’s adult children — Don Jr., Eric and Ivanka — are on the transition executive committee, along with Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband. Kushner was an influential adviser in Trump’s campaign.

The children’s inclusion raised questions about Trump’s ability to sever ties between the administration and the sprawling family business — after the billionaire repeatedly said during the campaign that his grown children would not follow him to Washington but instead run the Trump Organization.

Trump told The Wall Street Journal that after speaking with Obama at the White House, he was considering keeping the provision of the health law that allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance policies until they turn 26. He said previously he may also keep the prohibition against insurers denying coverage because of patients’ existing conditions.

Presidents-elect don’t often appoint their running mates to lead their transition team. Trump and Christie grew apart through the last stretch of the campaign.

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Chris Christie says he ‘can’t control’ Trump campaign

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says he’s just a “surrogate” who’s not “in control” of Donald Trump or his campaign.

Christie, who unsuccessfully ran for president and now supports Trump as GOP nominee, spoke with NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell Monday. The interview ran Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

O’Donnell asked Christie, “Are you proud of the campaign he’s running?”

The two-term governor didn’t answer directly.

“Listen, it’s — for me, the person who needs most to be concerned about the kind of campaign they’re running is the candidate,” Christie said. “Because it’s the candidate’s campaign.

“It’s not my campaign. It’s not Jeff Sessions’ campaign. It’s not Rudy Giuliani’s campaign,” he added. “We’re surrogates. And I’m proud of everything I’ve said and that’s all I can control. The rest of it I can’t control, Kelly.”

When asked about allegations surfacing that Trump “may have made unwanted advances or been aggressive sexually” toward women, he said Trump assured him they were “lies and fabrications.”

“And I think a number of the allegations had been discredited,” he said, not referring to which ones. “We’ll see what happens with the others. I can only take him at his word. And I am. But you know, again, the important things in this election are not being discussed.”

The video of the interview is here: on.msnbc.com/2edNNXx

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Joe Henderson: To catch up, Patrick Murphy needs knockout debate against Marco Rubio

When the candidates in one of the strangest U.S. Senate races in Florida’s history finally meet at 7 tonight in Orlando at the University of Central Florida in their first of two debates, it will come down to this:

It’s the last big chance for Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy to make up what polls say is a considerable gap between himself and incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Here are the stakes:

THE TRAIN IS LEAVING THE STATION

Early voting already is underway. According to the Florida Division of Elections, nearly 500,000 mail-in ballots already have been returned out of 2.4 million requested, with a nearly even split between Republicans and Democrats. The X-factor is about 500,000 ballots specifying either no party affiliation or “other” — candidates who don’t identify with the major parties.

With the latest University of North Florida poll showing Rubio running about seven points ahead, Murphy needs two things tonight: A large, fully engaged, statewide TV audience, and then to convince undecided viewers they should vote for him because Rubio didn’t do the job Floridians elected him for in 2010.

He will hammer on Rubio’s seeming disinterest in his job. It’s an old theme, though. Rubio had one of the worst attendance records in the Senate, but people already know that. Rubio will pounce on Murphy’s distorted resume, which embellished several of his accomplishments. That charge, too, has been out there since the primaries.

For voters still trying to make up their minds, it simply could come down to which candidate comes across better on TV.

THE TRUMP CARD

Expect Murphy to hammer Rubio early and often on his association with presidential candidate Donald Trump. Although Rubio, like nearly everyone, denounced Trump’s recently unearthed lewd comments on a decade-old video, he maintains Trump is still preferable to Hillary Clinton.

Murphy, who has been endorsed by Clinton and President Barack Obama, likely will press Rubio on why he continues to support Trump. With Clinton leading narrowly in Florida polls, Rubio may need a better answer than “Trump may be terrible, but at least he isn’t Clinton.”

THE CHRISTIE GAMBIT

Murphy might try to pull a page from the campaign tactics book of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. In February’s New Hampshire primary debate, Christie torpedoed Rubio with a blistering attack that left Rubio flummoxed and fumbling.

Rubio’s campaign never recovered.

Going that route could be risky for Murphy, though. Rubio learned from that tough night and handled himself better in subsequent debates. While it was a fatal blow to his presidential aspirations for this election, Rubio generally is a gifted public speaker if he stays on script. Knocking him off that may be tough now because Murphy won’t have the element of surprise.

HOW MUCH WILL VOTERS CARE?

The election season has been an interminable grind, and it’s possible many voters will choose the option of changing the channel to something more soothing. Local TV stations generally carry entertainment shows during the 7-8 p.m. hour, when the debate is scheduled.

With Round III of Trump-Clinton scheduled for Wednesday in Las Vegas, it is worth wondering how many potential viewers will decide to pass on the Senate race. The candidates, obviously, must treat this like everyone in Florida is watching, but a lower TV audience probably would be great news for Rubio.

IT’S ALL ABOUT CONTROL

Democrats held high hopes this year of winning this seat on the way to retaking control of the Senate. If Clinton wins the election, they need to pick up four seats to accomplish that. Florida was one of their prime targets.

With Murphy lagging in polls, though, the national Democratic strategy (and money) has shifted to other states where they believe they have a better chance.

A good showing by Murphy could reinvigorate his campaign and convince party bosses he is worth the investment of time and money. With just three weeks left until the election, he can’t just squeak out a win. He probably needs a knockout.

Otherwise, Rubio likely will be too far ahead to catch.

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Mitch Perry Report for 10.17.16 — Will recent experience play a factor in tonight’s U.S. Senate debate?

Floridians will get their first chance to observe Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy in the same room together when they engage in their first debate of Florida’s U.S. Senate contest in Orlando tonight.

Trailing by an average of around five percentage points through all of the polling, Murphy needs to have a big performance in him to begin to narrow that gap, especially with so many people already voting on every day in early mail voting.

First impressions matter — this the first time many Floridians will ever have seen Murphy (other than in commercials depicting him as the worst congressman in the country who lies about his resume). But if he can convincingly portray Rubio as an absentee senator who still isn’t interested in fulfilling a six-year term, he might score some points.

But if you were going to make a prediction beforehand, you’d have to like the Republican Senator’s chances. He’s much more battle tested on the debate stage, having participated in more than a dozen high-stake debates over the past year during his unsuccessful run for president (Yes, OK, there was that one moment in Manchester, New Hampshire with Chris Christie, but let’s forget about that for a moment).

And Murphy’s experience on the debate stage? Not much, lately.

You might recall back in July where Murphy was frustrating his Democratic primary opponents, Alan Grayson and Pam Keith, by avoiding to commit to a debate. After domestic-violence allegations made against Grayson from his ex-wife went public, Murphy said his opponent didn’t deserve “the platform,” and opted to not engage in any debates.

Some people (OK, me, for one) thought that was a bad idea on a number of fronts, one of them being that going ahead and conducting such a debate could help prep him for his ultimate confrontation with Rubio.

He opted out. Was that a mistake? We’ll know more by 8 this evening.

And will there only be two men on the stage in Orlando tonight? Independent candidate Steven Machat is back in court this morning to see if he and the other handful of independents can get on the debate stage in Orlando tonight.

In other news …

At a candidates forum Saturday, two Tampa City Council District 7 candidates got into it on the issue of the police.

The PPP survey released Friday showed Hillary Clinton with just a four-percentage point lead over Donald Trump in Florida, though his favorable/unfavorable rankings are tanking and hers are improving.

The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission has been besieged by for years, but now it’s their boss, Kyle Cockream, making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

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Marco Rubio presidential campaign owes $1.5M in debt

Marco Rubio might be running for re-election, but his presidential campaign is still more than $1 million in the red.

Campaign finance records filed with the Federal Election Commission show Rubio’s presidential campaign had more than $1.5 million in debt as of Sept. 30. The sum includes the costs of telemarketing services, media production, and legal fees.

According to campaign finance records, the presidential campaign owed $570,657 for telemarketing; $315,000 for media production; $167,000 for legal fees; $350,000 for strategic consulting; and $130,000 for web services.

It may seem like a lot, but the campaign has continued to whittle down its outstanding debt each reporting period. Records show the presidential campaign had more than $1.9 million in debt at the end of March.

Rubio ended his presidential bid in March, after he came in second to Donald Trump in Florida’s presidential preference primary. He announced he was running for re-election in June, just days before the qualifying deadline.

It’s not unusual for presidential campaigns to carry debt well after the race is over. In May, the Wall Street Journal reported former presidential hopefuls owed more than $5.4 million.

Paying down the debt could take years. According to the Wall Street Journal, Hillary Clinton, now the Democratic nominee, didn’t pay off debt for her 2008 presidential campaign until 2012.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is still trying to pay down the debt from his 2012 presidential bid. According to the most recent campaign filing, Gingrich still owed $4.6 million for his 2012 campaign.

Rubio isn’t the only 2016 hopeful whose campaign is still carrying some debt.

Campaign finance records filed with the Federal Election Commission show Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign owed $368,063 through Aug. 31; while Bernie Sanders, a 2016 Democratic presidential hopeful, owed $472,011 at the end of August.

Jeb Bush’s presidential campaign owed $250,000, down from $452,065 at the end of February. Bush ended his presidential bid after the South Carolina primary. Meanwhile, Chris Christie’s campaign still owes $170,505; while Rand Paul’s presidential campaign owes $301,107.

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Venturing to Mexico, Donald Trump defends right to build huge wall

On Mexican soil for the first time as the Republican presidential nominee, a firm but measured Donald Trump defended the right of the United States to build a massive border wall along its southern flank, standing up for the centerpiece of his immigration plan in a country where he is widely despised.

Trump, who previously derided Mexico as a source of rapists and criminals, praised Mexicans Wednesday as “amazing people” following a closed-door meeting at the official residence of the country’s president, Enrique Pena Nieto. Trump and the Mexican president, who has compared the New York billionaire to Adolf Hitler, addressed reporters from adjacent lecterns before a Mexican flag.

The trip, 10 weeks before America’s presidential Election Day, came just hours before Trump was to deliver a highly anticipated speech in Arizona about illegal immigration. That has been a defining issue of his presidential campaign, but also one on which he’s appeared to waver in recent days

With political risks high for both men, Trump stayed on script, declining to repeat his promise to force Mexico to pay for a wall along the border between the two countries when pressed by reporters.

While he and Pena Nieto talked about the wall, Trump said they didn’t discuss who would pay for a cost of construction pegged in the billions.

“Having a secure border is a sovereign right and mutually beneficial,” Trump said, reading from prepared remarks. “We recognize and respect the right of any country to build a physical barrier or wall on any of its borders to stop the illegal movement of people, drugs and weapons. Cooperation toward achieving this shared objective — and it will be shared — of safety for all citizens is paramount to both the United States and to Mexico.”

Trump’s presence on Wednesday, his first meeting with a head of state abroad as a presidential candidate, sparked anger and protests across Mexico’s capital city. Former Mexican President Vicente Fox bluntly told the celebrity businessman that, despite Pena Nieto’s hospitality, he was not welcome.

“We don’t like him. We don’t want him. We reject his visit,” Fox said on CNN, calling the trip a “political stunt.”

Pena Nieto was less combative as he addressed reporters alongside Trump. He acknowledged the two men had differences and defended the contribution of Mexicans working in the United States, but he described the conversation as “open and constructive.” He and Trump shook hands as the session ended.

Pena Nieto’s performance came in for immediate condemnation from his many critics in Mexico.

“Pena ended up forgiving Trump when he didn’t even ask for an apology,” said Esteban Illades, the editor of Nexos magazine. “The lowest point of the most painful day in the history of the Mexican presidency.”

After saying during his Republican primary campaign he would use a “deportation force” to expel all of the estimated 11 million people living in the United States illegally, Trump suggested last week he could soften that stance.

But he still says he plans to build a huge wall — paid for by Mexico — along the two nations’ border. He is under pressure to clarify just where he stands in the Wednesday night speech, which had been rescheduled several times.

Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, told CBS earlier in the day that Trump would make clear “that there will be no path to legalization, no path to citizenship. People will need to leave the country to be able to obtain legal status or obtain citizenship.”

The buildup to the speech was abruptly interrupted Tuesday night by the news that Trump would visit Mexico, accepting on short notice an invitation offered last week by Pena Nieto. The newspaper El Universal wrote in an editorial that Trump “caught Mexican diplomats off guard.”

Campaigning in Ohio earlier in the day, Democrat Hillary Clinton jabbed at Trump’s Mexican appearance as she promoted her own experience working with foreign leaders as the nation’s chief diplomat.

“People have to get to know that they can count on you, that you won’t say one thing one day and something totally different the next,” she told the American Legion in Cincinnati. “And it certainly takes more than trying to make up for a year of insults and insinuations by dropping in on our neighbors for a few hours and then flying home again.”

Trump has promised, if elected, to deport millions of immigrants who are in the United States illegally, force Mexico to pay for the construction of a wall to secure the nearly 2,000-mile border and renegotiate the NAFTA trade agreement to make it more favorable to the United States.

Pena Nieto suggested there was room to improve the trade deal, which Trump described as unfair to American workers. The New York businessman promised to promote trade deals that would keep jobs in the Western Hemisphere.

Pena Nieto made his invitation to both Trump and Clinton, who met with him in Mexico in 2014. The inclusion of Trump puzzled many in Mexico, who said it wasn’t clear why their own unpopular president would agree to meet with someone so widely disliked in his country.

Pena Nieto has been sharply critical of Trump’s immigration policies, particularly the Republican’s plans to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it. In a March interview, he said that “there is no scenario” under which Mexico would do so and compared Trump’s language to that of dictators Hitler and Benito Mussolini.

Pena Nieto did not repeat such criticism on Wednesday, but acknowledged Trump’s comments had “hurt and affected Mexicans.”

“The Mexicans deserve everyone’s respect,” he said.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Lady Gaga hits stage for invite-only show for DNC delegates

Lady Gaga hit the stage at an invitation-only concert Thursday for delegates to the Democratic National Convention, covering classic songs from Woody Guthrie, Neil Young, the Beatles and others.

Gaga opened with a jazzy version of Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” and then Young’s “Old Man.” She was introduced by Democratic U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, who called her a star who’s not afraid to speak out about sexual violence and mental health.

She closed out her set with the Beatles’ “Come Together” and then sang Edith Piaf‘s “La Vie en Rose” as an encore.

Lenny Kravitz, who also performed inside the convention on Wednesday night, ended his set Thursday by shouting, “We, the people! We, the people! We, the people!” DJ Jazzy Jeff spun tunes in between their sets.

The show gives Camden, one of the country’s most impoverished cities, time in the Democratic convention spotlight.

George Norcross and Susan McCue, president of General Majority PAC and a former chief of staff to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, hosted the “Camden Rising” event, held hours before Hillary Clinton formally accepts the Democratic Party’s nomination for president.

Norcross is credited with working with Republican Gov. Chris Christie to help in redevelopment efforts in Camden, many partially funded through state grants and tax credits. The insurance executive is a Democratic superdelegate along with his brother, U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross. Both are supporting Clinton.

Clinton delegate Suzanne Perkins, 47, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, said she thinks celebrities can help influence delegates and voters.

After Kravitz’s set, she said Bernie Sanders supporters in her delegation who like his music and politics heard his support for Clinton and might think, “Maybe I ought to open my mind. Here’s a guy whose politics I agree with and he endorsed her.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Joe Henderson: RNC Day 2 – starting to get the message

OK, I think we get the message.

Republicans spent the first two days of their convention in Cleveland trying to get one point across: They hate Hillary Clinton. Check that. To them, she is Satan in a pants suit, but without the charm.

To break it down, they believe she is a godless, soulless, flesh-eating monster who is responsible for every bad thing that has happened on earth, probably starting at the Garden of Eden. We’re still trying to confirm that last item, but I think I heard it on a far right-wing talk radio show and that’s good enough. Either that, or Ben Carson said it.

More on that later.

We will, of course, hear the same stuff directed at Donald Trump next week at the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. I don’t know about you, but I will be glued to Twitter all week just to catch The Donald’s response to all the things they will say about him.

Being a bit of a policy wonk, though, I would imagine Hillary and her supporters will lay out more specifics about what she wants to do if elected. I’m still waiting to find out what Trump would actually do to Make America Great Again!!

We are only halfway through the convention, though, so there is still time. Meanwhile, here are some takeaways from Day 2 of the GOPfest along Lake Erie.

RYAN (SORT OF) GETS ON BOARD:  I wonder how many in the audience were secretly wishing that the speech House Speaker Paul Ryan delivered Tuesday would have been his acceptance of the presidential nomination.

Agree with him or not, but Ryan was forceful, articulate and clearly spelled out a GOP vision. That skill has thus far eluded many other Republicans. His attacks on Clinton were more policy-based, and I guess you could say he endorsed Trump – tepidly.

But, take it however you can get it.

A JOB FOR CHRISTIE: If Trump wins, I think New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wrapped up the job of Attorney General. His rousing prosecution of Clinton was manna for the hungry hordes inside the convention hall – although the repeated chants of “Lock Her Up” are starting to sound more than a little creepy.

Hatred, stoked to the level we have seen in this convention, can do the nation no good going forward. By the way, Democrats, that means you, too.

NOT SO GENTLE BEN: When Ben Carson was a candidate for president, I was far from the only one who though he was this generation’s Chauncey Gardner – the memorable, bumbling character played so well by Peter Sellers in the 1979 movie “Being There.”

Like Gardner, Carson says things that sound deep but upon examination make no sense. He hasn’t stopped. In his speech Tuesday, he went “there” – connecting dots between a thesis that the then-Hillary Rodham wrote while in college about author Saul Alinsky.

Alinsky was an anti-establishment rebel who believed in social change. He had a single reference to Lucifer in his book “Rules for Radicals” where he referred to the demonic one as the original radical. He also hat-tipped Thomas Paine, by the way.

The New York Times read Clinton’s paper and concluded that while she agreed with Alinsky’s very-Republican ideal that antipoverty programs tend to be ineffective and bureaucratic, she said one of his core ideals “ran counter to the notion of change within the system.”

No matter.

That, Carson told the crowd, meant Clinton had in essence endorsed Satan.

“So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?” he asked.

Good grief.

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