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Jim Gilmore blasts “fascist talk” on immigration among Republicans

How little respect has Jim Gilmore received in his quixotic bid for the presidency this year? Well, when your poll numbers are considered to be so paltry that you’re not even invited to the early non-prime time GOP presidential debates, that’s a pretty good sign about what the party thinks of you.

But the former Virginia Governor and RNC Chair is indefatigable, and there he was on Saturday at shortly before noon addressing hundreds of Florida Republicans at the Sunshine Summit at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel in Orlando.

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, Gilmore shifted the majority of his 20-minute speech to how he dealt with terrorism as Governor of Virginia in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

But his most interesting remarks were when he said that the Republican party was making a mistake with their harsh rhetoric regarding immigration during the current campaign.

“We as a Republican Party seem to be on the attack against the Latino community, and of Latinos who live among us,” he said, preceding that remark by saying he wasn’t sure the audience would welcome them. “We seem to be expressing attacks on the Constitution, when we threaten to take away birthright citizenship from people in this country.”

Gilmore said he didn’t think much of Donald Trump‘s call this week for a “deportation force’ to drag millions of undocumented immigrants out of the U.S. “To rip up our society at the very time that we need unity in the face of these challenges. I want you to know, this is fascist talk. It is unworthy of the great Republican Party of the United States. It may be acceptable to some people, but it is not acceptable to me.”

There was some scattered applause, but not much.

Later on in a Q&A with reporters, Gilmore said that though it may be “fashionable” to speak so disparagingly about Latinos in the GOP circa 2015, but he won’t do it.

“I reject it. I think it’s bad for the party. I think it’s unacceptable for the Republican Party, and frankly, it’s bad public policy for the United States,” he said, adding that he does believe that the U.S. needs to bulk up on border security and does not believe in granting a pathway to citizenship for those who broke the law in crossing the Southern border.

He questioned whether a deportation force could even be assembled in a constitutional fashion now. “Load people up on buses and trains and send them someplace, ripping families apart? That is awful policy, and a terrible message for us to be sending.”

Gilmore added that the tough rhetoric employed by Trump, Ted Cruz and others is going to be a problem for the GOP in states like Florida, California, Texas and other states with large Latino populations. “The Republican Party is going to have a real challenge being elected to the presidency in 2016 if we kept sending this message and nobody stands up and contradicts it.”

Gilmore may be struggling in the polls, but his stance echoes Jeb Bush and John Kasich in looking more toward a general election strategy in discussing immigration — but doesn’t appear to be what GOP primary voters — including in Florida — really want to hear now.

Jeb Bush tells Sunshine Summit that leadership is listening, learning, not talking trash

An optimistic Jeb Bush delivered a, yes, energetic speech before a largely supportive crowd at the Sunshine Summit in Orlando Friday afternoon. The former Florida governor always notes the time he led the Sunshine State, but threw in even more references to his accomplishments in office for the home state crowd.

The message is that he accomplished a lot between 1998-2006, and that he can replicate that on the federal level.

Twice during the speech he took veiled shots at Donald Trump, saying that leadership is about listening and learning.

“Leadership traits, by the way, that are grossly underestimated in the world we’re in today where you’ve gotta be the big guy on stage and talk trash and talk in a way that disparages people. Listening and learning is the way that you lead,” he said with emphasis.

After discussing the lives of vulnerable Floridians that he’s encountered during his political career, he told the crowd he was telling them about those residents because they’re what it’s all about: the people, and not the slick speakers; again a shot at the GOP front-runner.

“It’s not about the big personalities on the stage. It’s not about who can give the great quip. It’s not about that. It’s about building a society that is loving, that is caring, that is aspirational. Where people believe again in the American dream. Where they have the tools to achieve earned success their own way.

“The most vulnerable in our society need to be in the front of the line,” he said. “We need to be on their side.”

He took plenty of shots at Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and “the left” overall, making the argument that liberalism is about giving up on people and trusting too much in Big Government.

“Hillary was a United States Senator for eight years. You know how many bills she sponsored that became law? Three. Naming a highway, naming a post office, and naming a monument,” Bush said, before comparing it to his record in Florida of “taking on very powerful interests,” specifically the teacher unions when he implemented his education reforms that included school vouchers.

“Should I be president of the United States, I promise you I won’t be a divider in chief,” he said, knocking Obama. “I won’t be an agitator in chief. I’ll be a commander in chief, because that’s what we need.” Some in the crowd particularly enjoyed that line.

Bush said he would fight for a balanced-budget amendment, implement a six-year lobbying ban on elected officials after they leave office, and propose a version of a line-item veto system. He also said he’d freeze federal employment, “just like we did in Florida.”

The question remains, though, whether the GOP primary electorate cares what Jeb Bush did in Florida a decade ago. He believes they ultimately will.

Al Cardenas worries about drift of current Republican Party

Al Cardenas is disturbed about what’s going on with the Republican Party in 2015.

A former Republican Party of Florida chairman for two terms and head of the Washington-based American Conservative Union from 2011 to 2014, he’s backing Jeb Bush this cycle, but also maintains ties with Marco Rubio.

Cardenas spoke at the RPOF’s Sunshine Summit on Friday afternoon, but the comments he made to a few reporters in a hallway offstage were as interesting as anything he said in his speech.

Asked about the state of the national GOP, Cardenas sounded somewhat alarmed.

“I’m a firm believer that’s all’s well that ends well. That continues to be my hope. All is not well now. I don’t think the Republican Party as a brand for a long term future can be successful, given what I’m watching,” he said.

“To be successful, you gotta appeal to people’s higher instincts, not lower instincts. You have to inspire people to be better, not to be mad or angry. And you’ve gotta convince them that you can lead them to a better tomorrow, rather than to get even with the bad guys.

“And if our party is unable to do that, through our eventual leadership, then our party is going to face some long term consequences.”

Noting the Republican Party’s success nationally since President Barack Obama took office in 2009 – 816 Democratic lawmakers have lost their jobs in state legislatures and the GOP has taken control of the U.S. House and Senate – Cardenas said the contrast is stark when it comes to executive leadership in Washington.

“My hope is that whomever we select as our nominee can get the party nationally to meet up with the bar we’ve set up with the states,” he said, adding that he’s not certain at this time that Donald Trump or Ben Carson could beat Hillary Clinton.

When asked about the report that Right to Rise, Jeb Bush’s super PAC, may spend millions (perhaps tens of millions) to go after Rubio, Cardenas said that shouldn’t be surprising, since politics always comes down to going after your opponents.

“I don’t talk to Mike Murphy (Right to Rise’s strategic leader), as the top-tier gets redefined and we get into next year, all four or five top-tier candidates are going to begin contrasting with each other. Trump’s doing it, Ted Cruz has begun doing it with Marco, Ben Carson has tried to stay out of the fray, but I don’t believe that will last for long. … I think all of them will get into that contrasting business, and I think the only reason you’re paying a lot of attention to it is because of their relationship. If it wasn’t for that, you’d think of it as, ‘Hey, everybody is going to be involved with that.'”

In Orlando, Mike Huckabee takes shot at Disney over foreign workers

Discussing immigration Friday at the Republican Party of Florida’s Sunshine Summit in Orlando, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee took a shot at the nearby Disney organization for its involvement in an embarrassing situation regarding foreign workers.

“Let’s not have an immigration policy that displaces Americans,” Huckabee said during the middle of his speech. “For example, under the H-1B process, it wasn’t long ago that Disney – yes, I know that I’m in Orlando, I know it’s the happiest place on Earth – but it wasn’t very happy for the Disney workers who were replaced by foreign workers under an H-1B visa because they were willing to work for a lot less money, and to add insult to injury, the Disney workers were required to train their foreign replacements, before they were ultimately shoved out the door. America can treat its people better than that!”

The incident he mentioned took place last fall, when about 250 Disney employees were told that they would be laid off, many of them told their jobs were transferred to immigrants – on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers – brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India. During the next three months, The New York Times reported, some Disney employees were required to train their replacements to do the jobs they had lost.

Only 85,000 H-1B visas – designed so foreigners with specialty skills could fill job vacancies left by a domestic skills gap – are granted each year. But critics – including Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson – have complained that U.S. employers exploit loopholes in the system to hire cheaper labor from abroad at the expense of American workers. They also say there has been talk in Congress about scaling back the program.

In a Q&A period with reporters after his speech, Huckabee disagreed with the notion that the GOP is hurting itself with the intense recent rhetoric about immigration.

“I think the American people want to make sure that we have control of our borders,” he said. “A country without borders isn’t much of a country anymore, and so it’s not a matter of being more conservative, it’s a matter of being more practical and having more common sense to recognize you have to manage your borders. It’s not so much because you want to keep people out, it’s that you want to make sure that the people that you are allowing in are coming to help make your country better.”

He also disputed the notion that he was out of the running to win the nomination, despite his low poll numbers that have relegated him to the early “kiddie-table” debates. He repeated the well-documented fact that Herman Cain was leading the GOP presidential race at this time in 2011, as was Rudy Giuliani in 2007.

Ted Cruz’ attacks on immigration puzzle Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio says he and Ted Cruz have similar stances on immigration, which is why the Texas senator’s shots at his record on that volatile subject the past few days have surprised him.

“I’m puzzled and quite frankly surprised by Ted’s attacks, since Ted’s position on immigration is not that much different than mine,” Rubio told a crowd of reporters in Orlando at the Republican Party of Florida’s Sunshine Summit.

“He’s a supporter of legalizing people who were in this country illegally,” the Florida senator said at a news conference immediately after he spoke at the event. “If he’s changed that position, then he certainly has the right to change his position on that issue, but he should be clear about that.”

Rubio then said that on other immigration issues Cruz has gone further than he has in trying to accommodate undocumented immigrants.

“He wanted to double the number of green cards. He wanted a 500 percent increase in the number of HB-1 visas, so everybody running for president on the Republican side, in one way or shape, supports some form or fashion the legalization of people who are in this country illegally.”

Rubio said the question now is what’s the most responsible way to deal with the issue. He then repeated his stance since he began distancing himself from his support as one of the “Gang of Eight” bipartisan Senate group who wrote a comprehensive immigration reform bill that the Senate passed in summer 2013, but that former House Speaker John Boehner never brought before the House.

Rubio’s stance is that there needs to be tighter border security to get the illegal immigration situation under control before there can be any discussion about what to do with the undocumented.

He blames the migratory crises of the summer of 2014 and President Barack Obama‘s executive actions a year ago in trying to shield millions from deportation as being the major obstacles against the current Congress working on immigration reform. “The biggest lesson from 2015 for me was how little trust there is in the federal government to enforce the law. Once you prove it to people that it’s working, than I think you’re going to have the support and political space that you need to move forward on modernization and ultimately on dealing realistically with those who are in this country for a significant period of time,” which Rubio says should be about 10 years.

For his part, Cruz isn’t backing down one bit in the verbal battle, telling conservative talk show radio host Mike Gallagher earlier  Friday, “From Day One I led the fight against the Gang of Eight amnesty bill, stood shoulder to shoulder with Jeff Sessions … and we defeated it.”

Regarding Islamic terrorists, Lindsey Graham says he’d “kill every bastard he could find”

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham gave an extremely low-key speech at the Sunshine Summit in Orlando on Friday afternoon, concentrating on foreign policy and his concern that the Republican Party could be blowing the Hispanic vote with candidates’  tough talk on immigration.

Graham isn’t going anywhere in the GOP presidential race, and he essentially acknowledged that in his speech, talking more about how the Republican Party can win the presidency, not how he can personally.

He spent a considerable amount of his 21 minutes on stage blasting Hillary Clinton‘s tenure as Secretary of State, specifically about her role in the Benghazi controversy.

“A commander in chief is supposed to comfort the families … not lie to them,” he said in reference to how Clinton spoke with the families of the four Americans who died in Libya on Sept. 11, 2012 about a disturbing anti-Islamic video. It’s since been reported that she was emailing daughter Chelsea and two foreign governments that it was a terrorist attack.

“The world is falling apart,” Graham warned. “I’ve never seen more danger than I do today. The last thing you want to do is continue the foreign policy of Barack Obama. The the worst possible outcome is to promote Hillary Clinton, because when people needed her, she should have had their backs, but she was not there.”

He added that while some people think Benghazi doesn’t matter, he disagrees. “It matters a helluva lot. The next president of the United States needs to know what they’re doing or we’re all going to pay a heavy price.”

In speaking about radical Islamic terrorists, Graham talked tough.

“I would kill every one of those bastards that I could find,” he declared, speaking quietly and receiving tepid applause. He said that if elected he would call the Ayatollah in Iran and cancel the recent nuclear deal, and called Iranian leaders “religious Nazis.”

On the domestic front, Graham said he worries about the GOP losing the Hispanic vote in 2016, and said the country needs to increase its legal immigration numbers, because of a declining U.S. population.

“I don’t think we’re going to deport 11 million people,” he said in a direct rebuke to Donald Trump. He then went on to tout how religious and anti-abortion Hispanics are, and why they should be welcomed to the Republican Party. “To those who say Republicans need to be socially liberal to win an election, you don’t know what you’re talking about, but we have to reach out to faith-based minorities. I intend to do that.”

Whether he does that as a leading U.S. senator whose profile has grown in his far-flung run for the presidency is unknown. Also unknown is how long he’ll remain in the race before Iowa caucus voters go to the polls in February.


Jim Norman raises $100,000 for commission race in 2 months

When Jim Norman began making the media rounds in late August to lay the groundwork for his political comeback, his advocates saying the formerly disgraced Hillsborough County commissioner would be stronger than ever going into the 2016 District 6 countywide race, predicting he had $100,000 in contributions already in the bank by the time he declared his candidacy Sept. 1.

That wasn’t exactly the case when fundraising totals for the month of September were released in October, but it wasn’t unimpressive: a total of $83,475.

Combine that with the $16,650 he raised this past month, and Norman is the $100,000 man now, having raised $100,125 in the campaign. That’s substantially more than any other candidate in the countywide seat to be vacated by a term-limited Kevin Beckner next fall. The largest contribution came from taxi cab lobbyist Louis Betz, who kicked in $1,000 last month.

Democrat Brian Willis has raised $66,502, the next highest amount.

The only other viable Republican in the District 6 race, Lightning Capital Consulting president Tim Schock, raised $8,750 in October, and has raised $34,100 overall.

Rick Scott adds $425,350 to PAC in October

Gov. Rick Scott, who may or may not be running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson three years from now, continues to add hundreds of thousands of dollars to his political action committee, Let’s Get Back to Work.

Last month, $425,350 flowed into the PAC.

The biggest contributors were U.S. Sugar Corp., which gave $100,000 on Halloween, the final day in October to donate money. Also kicking in $100,000 is Consulate Health Care, a Tampa-based nursing home company.

All told, Scott has raised more than $3.8 million with Let’s Get to Work in 2015.

Bloomberg group to air ads targeted Pam Bondi for challenging Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is financing his super PAC about $10 million in television ads targeting Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and three other attorneys general for their opposition to the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan.

“Despite the overwhelming evidence of the clean power plants progress and the lives we’ve saved, the 4 attorney generals in Florida, Michigan, Missouri and Wisconsin are now directly interfering with the public interests in their state,” said Howard Wolfson, a senior adviser with Independence USA PAC. That’s Bloomberg’s political action committee that’s spent hundreds of millions of dollars on various progressive causes since its creation two years ago.

In August, Bondi announced she would file a lawsuit arguing rules governing the carbon emissions during startup, shutdown and malfunctioning of power plants overstep the federal government’s authority. The EPA’s proposed rules aim to drastically reduce or eliminate coal-based energy generation by reducing carbon dioxide emissions at existing power plants by an average of 32 percent by 2030

“We will not step aside while the EPA, through heavy-handed federal overreach, threatens to upend a system that the EPA has approved multiple times and has provided a consistent, reliable framework to safely provide electricity to millions of Floridians across the state,” Bondi said in a statement in August.

While the Clean Air Act gives the federal government authority to set standards regarding harmful pollutants, Bondi said it remains the states’ responsibility to determine how to implement those standards.

Independence USA PAC says it will be airing eight-figure ads targeting Bondi and the attorneys general of three other swing states, Bill Schuette of Michigan, Chris Koster of Missouri and Brad Schimel of Wisconsin, beginning this weekend.

There are 27 states in all suing the EPA.

Wolfson said that his group is targeting Bondi and the other three AGs because Florida, Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin are all states that are relatively swing-states not dominated by one political party over another.

In 2011, the Sierra Club began its Beyond Coal campaign, funded in part by at least $80 million through Bloomberg Philanthropies, which has donated at least $80 million to the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign. Since that time, the club claims that more than 200 of the nation’s 523 coal fire powered plants have been shut down.

“These decisions were not made because of EPA rules,” former Sierra Club President Carl Pope said of  the plants that have shut down in recent years. “They were made by citizens who lived in those states, by public utility commissions, appointed to protect the interests of consumers in those states, and by the utilities themselves … but now we have a group of attorney generals  who have decided that they can stop the future, they can hold back the tide using taxpayer money and slow down the process of planning for America’s energy future.”

“Attorney generals in many states are frequently relatively unknown, relative to governors and senators and mayor, that often operate under the cover of darkness, ” said Wolfson on a conference call on Friday. “They think they can take decisions that are at odds with the interests of their constituents without anyone really noticing, and we want to make sure to shine a very bright light on the activities on these attorney generals to make sure that constituents in all four states know exactly what they are up to.”

Florida Politics contacted Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office for comment. We’ll add that to this story when provided.

Idaho’s Jim Risch becomes the 3rd GOP Senator in three days to back Marco Rubio for president

U.S. Senator Jim Risch of Idaho became the third Republican senator this week to endorse Marco Rubio on Wednesday.

Risch says he’s been impressed with Rubio’s communication skills and understanding of serious issues while working together in the Senate.

His endorsement comes a day after Rubio received a similar voice of approval from Montana Senator Steve Daines. On Monday, Colorado’s Cory Gardner became the first of Rubio’s colleagues to back him in his quest for the GOP presidential nomination.
The 72-year-old Risch has served in the Senate since 2008, when he won the seat that had previously been held by Larry Craig.
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