Donald Trump leads nationally in a new Fox News poll released on Tuesday with 24 percent support, but Ben Carson is right behind him at 23 percent. Ted Cruz is third with 10 percent.
Dr. Ben Carson has been getting hammered in recent days for some of his outlandish comments on the campaign trail. Both the New York Times‘ Charles Blow and the Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson have slammed the GOP presidential candidate for his comments on what he would do if confronted by a mass killer who wanted to shoot him, as well as his invoking Nazi Germany when talking about gun control.
Carson has dismissed such complaints, and on The O’Reilly Factor on Monday night, host Bill O’Reilly defended him, saying, “There’s something about you that really annoys the secular-progressives.”
But it’s not just liberals who are scrutinizing the retired pediatric neurosurgeon, who has remained in the top tier of GOP candidates right behind Donald Trump in most national and statewide polls in the Republican presidential contest.
On a conservative website called the The American Mirror, blogger Kyle Olson breathlessly reports that Carson never affiliated with the Republican Party until he changed his voter registration in Palm Beach County on October 31, 2014. He goes on to writes that Carson was previously affiliated with the Independence Party of Florida, and prior to moving to Florida, he had been registered as an independent in Maryland since 2001 and had not voted in any primaries through the next 10 years.
However, Carson has never been shy about admitting that, though he was once a Republican, he left the party decades ago before registering again with the GOP last October in Palm Beach County, where he currently lives.
“It’s truly a pragmatic move because I have to run in one party or another. If you run as an independent, you only risk splitting the electorate,” Carson told The Washington Times in an interview last fall before he made the change. “I clearly would not be welcome in the Democratic Party, and so that only leaves one party.”
Carson says he grew up as a Democrat but switched his party affiliation to Republican in the 1980s after listening to Ronald Reagan. However, he left the party and switched to being an independent about 15-20 years ago after getting a “sour taste” watching Republicans go after Bill Clinton regarding the Monica Lewinsky affair. “I just saw so much hypocrisy in both parties,” he told the Times.
So, after the Republicans (led by Donald Trump) have seized the country’s attention with their presidential contest so far in 2015, the five Democrats (sans Joe Biden) running for president get their shot in a two-hour debate from Las Vegas on CNN at 9 p.m. Eastern.
There will be some intriguing things to watch for — such as how Bernie Sanders will make his pitch for the black vote.
A CNN/ORC poll in South Carolina released yesterday was very troubling for the Vermont independent socialist — he gets just 4 percent support from blacks there, which is a problem where the majority of Democratic primary voters are black.
The fact of the matter is, though Sanders is doing well in the early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton is dominating him in South Carolina and Nevada, and nationally in the polls. This contest isn’t really that competitive if you take a broad look at it, so not only does Sanders need to break out tonight, but obviously, so do the other three white guys that most of America is barely aware that they’re running.
This is Martin O’Malley’s time, though whether the 52-year-old former Maryland governor can seize it is obviously up to him. O’Malley has seemingly spent half of his time that the national media accords him to complain about the lack of debates — and that’s a legitimate concern, especially the way that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has handled the situation. But there’s no more time to whine — O’Malley is going to have plenty of time to make his case before the nation tonight.
Before the campaign began, he was the guy considered to be the possibly anti-Hillary candidate. But then Freddie Gray and Baltimore happened, and O’Malley’s policies on crime that had earned him plaudits in the late ’90s and early aughts went up in smoke — a serious problem when allegations of egregious police actions against blacks have become a major story in the country.
Averaging probably around 2 percent, you can bet he’ll take shots at Clinton and Sanders, and he needs to score a lot of points to get in the game — if it’s not too late.
Jim Webb has barely surfaced on the campaign stage, but he’s a fascinating man with some unorthodox views from your average Democrat. You might expect him to hit President Obama harder than any of the other candidates when it comes to talking about foreign policy.
And Lincoln Chaffee? Well, there is the metric system that he wants the U.S. to adopt. And he’ll undoubtedly criticize Clinton for her vote on the Iraq war, something that she’s repeatedly apologized for.
And Joe Biden? It’s somewhat shocking that he hasn’t announced what he’s going to do yet; now the story being peddled is that he believes he has until the end of this month, but that’s ludicrous. He really does seem to be watching to see how Hillary does tonight and at her Benghazi hearing net week before making his ultimate decision.
Although everyone wants to see sparks in this debate (and in every debate), there will be many issues in which the candidates probably all agree, which will make it not as exciting. Trump’s ability to insult and not fear being politically correct has made the GOP debate must-watch TV, and that simply ain’t going to be the case tonight. But that should be okay, though. The point of this whole process is to determine, after all, who is the best person to lead this country (and the world) in 2017-2021.
In other news..
Or in related news — there’s a couple of debate parties we can tell you about taking place tonight on both sides of Tampa Bay.
Over the past month or so, rumors have percolated that Bob Buckhorn was having second thoughts about pursuing a run for governor in 2018. But the Tampa mayor says he’s still “looking at” the possibilities of taking a shot at higher office.
How effective are body cameras for law enforcement agencies? According to a new study published by USF and the Orlando Police Department, the results say they are very effective.
Rick Homans has been selected to succeed Stuart Rogel as the head of the Tampa Bay Partnership.
Sad news — Jeb Bush’s top campaign strategist, David Kochel, has been diagnosed with leukemia.
Avik Roy, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and opinion editor of Forbes, has joined the Marco Rubio presidential campaign.
Earlier, Roy tweeted to his followers that he was now on Team Rubio.
Roy became a frequent face on cable news four years ago, when he served as a healthcare policy adviser to Mitt Romney. He is the founder of Roy Healthcare Research, an investment research firm, and previously was an analyst and portfolio manager at Bain Capital and J.P. Morgan.
Roy is the principal author of The Apothecary (the Forbes blog on healthcare policy and entitlement reform), as well as author of Transcending Obamacare: A Patient-Centered Plan for Near-Universal Coverage and Permanent Fiscal Solvency (2014) and How Medicaid Fails the Poor (2013). His research interests include the Affordable Care Act, universal coverage, entitlement reform, international health systems, veterans’ health care, and FDA policy.
Roy had been working on Rick Perry’s presidential campaign. Perry dropped out of the race last month.
Good morning….Well, it’s Columbus Day, one of those weird federal holidays which most people in the private sector don’t enjoy (similar to next months’ Veterans Day). In typical fashion, our Congress is not only taking the day off to make the holiday, but the entire week. This, despite the fact that the House GOP is supposed to be in crisis because they don’t have a leader in the pipeline ready to replace John Boehner.
Any baseball fans out there? I have to admit that in recent years, the grand ‘ole game has lost a lot of its luster – not because of the steroid era, but what’s come afterwards – a sport in which pitching dominates, with more shutouts, no hitters and strike-outs than ever before (Actually, I subscribe to the theory that the removal of allowing players to take amphetamines has had a bigger negative affect). But there is something about October playoff baseball that still excites the pulse. And so if you’re a fan, you better relish today, where for the last time in 2015, will include four games with meaning throughout the day, starting at 1 p.m. eastern in Houston. That’s where Lance McCullers Jr., the Jesuit High grad from Tampa, takes the mound against the Kansas City Royals.
But let’s face it for local baseball fans – it’s a very mixed deal watching the Chicago Cubs in their series with the St. Louis Cardinals. That’s because the iconic Joe Maddon is just two games away from leading his Cubbies to the National League Championship Series, the first time the Cubs will have advanced that far in 12 years.
Watching the Cubs over the weekend with one major Tampa Bay Rays fan, one hears about the conflicting emotions about watching the former Rays skipper in blue pinstripes. It’s been less than a year from when the popular manager exploited a loophole in his contract when executive Andrew Friedman took off to L.A. to run the Dodgers that Maddon seized the day to advance his career.
It’d be great to see Maddon and Friedman’s teams face each other in the next round of the playoffs – and what a series the Dodgers-Mets already has become in just two days. Will Chase Utley win his appeal on being suspended for two games after his tough (but in my eyes, fair) slide into second base on Saturday night that broke the leg of the Mets shortstop and dramatically changed that game?
Back to Maddon: The Cubs are America’s team this post-season, with those who don’t have an affiliation with any other squad in the playoffs rooting hard for the longtime losers. What a story it would be if it were to happen this year, and why not? If you’re a Rays fan, however, it’s hard not to be wistful about what could have been.
And since we’re doing a quick wrap-up of sports, it was another big weekend of college football here in the Sunshine State. The Florida Gators are one of the stories of the year with their 6-0 record and number eight ranking in the AP top 25.
And even USF finally won a game, defeating Syracuse.
Both local dailies are featuring the Bucs victory over lowly Jacksonville. Can you imagine the headlines if they had lost that game? My respects to any Jacksonville readers.
In other news,
David Jolly is being aggressive in advocating the virtues of his Florida colleague Daniel Webster as the GOP House conference waits on what Paul Ryan will decide to do.
And he waited until late on a Friday afternoon to do it, but Sam Rashid finally tendered his anticipated resignation from the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority. In an update to our initial post, we should note that Rashid was not the first minority to serve on the agency. Florida Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner earned that distinction back in 1991.
Seemingly every House Republican wants Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan to succeed John Boehner as Speaker of the House.
However, Ryan is playing coy, telling his colleagues on Friday that he wanted to consult with his family this weekend and watch his beloved Green Bay Packers before making any decision.
If Ryan won’t pull the trigger, David Jolly really, really wants his colleagues to consider Daniel Webster, his colleague in the Florida House delegation, and a man already deemed the choice of the House Freedom Caucus, the Tea Party wing of the Republican conference.
“Dan has the experience, temperament and judgement to make the House work again, where every member, from the most junior to the most senior, commands a seat at the table,” Jolly writes in a letter to his fellow House Republicans to be issued on Monday.
Referring to Webster’s former stint as Speaker in the Florida House of Representatives back in the mid-1990’s (when he became the first Republican speaker in 122 years in Florida) while Democrat Lawton Chiles was governor, Jolly writes that, “Dan successfully delivered conservative results for our state, as well as major reforms within the House.”
However, Webster may not even be in the House of Representatives after next year after Judge Terry Lewis’ ruling on Friday in the state redistricting case. In choosing a map preferred by the League of Women Voters, Webster’s CD 10 seat would move from having a 4-percentage-point advantage for Republicans over Democrats among registered voters to an 18 percentage-point Democratic advantage.
Nevertheless, clock is ticking, as Boehner is scheduled to leave Congress at the end of this month (though he now says he’ll stay on until House Republicans choose his successor). And instead of just tooting his own horn, Webster now has an active advocate in Jolly to make his case.
Harvard Law professor and Democratic presidential candidate Lawrence Lessig is up with his first television ad, and in it he slams Marco Rubio’s alliance with major corporations that are backing his candidacy for president.
Lessig’s odds of capturing the nomination may be more remote than Martin O’Malley’s, but because he began raising money this summer before he officially became a candidate, he already has a war chest of over $1 million that he collected from 10,000 donations. Running as a “referendum president,” he vowed to run if he raised $1 million by Labor Day.
Though he may not be recognized by the Democratic National Committee to participate in the party’s first presidential debate next week, his financial prowess allowed him to spend $150,000 to air the 15-second ad in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The ad begins with the question, “Who owns Marco Rubio?” before segueing to a picture of the Florida senator adorned with logos of contributors including Wells Fargo, Honeywell, Goldman Sachs, KKR and other financial services companies.
Last week, a number of Democrats in the Florida Legislature took “The Minimum Wage Challenge,” a week-long attempt to live on what a minimum wage worker earns and endures to show empathy and solidarity with the Fight for 15 movement.
That’s the effort led by the Service Employees International Union in Florida to have fast-food workers, daycare and home health care workers and adjunct professors get a raise to $15 an hour. Miami Democrat Dwight Bullard in the Senate (SB 6) and Orlando Democrat Victor Torres (HB 109) have filed legislation to raise the current minimum wage of $8.05 an hour in Florida to $15, but it’s not expected to get any traction under the GOP-led Legislature.
“It makes you really appreciate the financial position that you’re in now, as opposed to the plight that too many Floridians (have) living on minimum wage, ” said Bullard, who was participating in the challenge for the third straight year. He says he’ll keep on doing it until the state hikes up the minimum wage.
“The challenge I met with all my heart,” said Rep. Torres, who thanked some minimum wage workers who were on the call. “The message has to be sent out there, and we need to get everybody’s sponsorship on the House bill, and I’m honored to be with Sen Bullard, fighting the fight.”
“This movement is inspiring on its own,” said Clint Cuyler, an Orlando area fast-food worker. “For our legislators to take the time out and walk a day and a week in our shoes, is what this campaign needed to keep the ball rolling, and to continue to make progress.”
Although as many as 18 such Democrats were scheduled to participate, not all did. SEIU officials hosting a conference call late Tuesday afternoon said that there will be two other weeks coming up in which they can engage in the challenge if they so desire.
“I do know that there were some people who signed up for the challenge who just felt it too difficult and didn’t complete, but they did sign up to participate,” said Orlando Democratic state Sen. Geraldine Thompson.
No Republicans took up the challenge, which Sen. Bullard said was very disappointing, considering how many of their constituents are struggling financially.
“It’s important for you to understand the everyday part of your constituency,” he said. “And so it was my hope that there be more Republicans to stepping up to the challenge.”
Bullard added that he hoped some GOP members of the Legislature could participate in the upcoming minimum wage challenge weeks, which will start on October 12 and October 26.
A Public Policy Polling survey released Tuesday night showed that 54 percent of all Republican voters support raising the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour. Only 26 percent support keeping it where it is right now.
It was billed as “The Great Debate” with two of the most prominent Tampa residents on the issue of Cuba, Al Fox and Ralph Fernandez, duking it out on whether the United States should end the 54-year-old economic embargo against the Castro-led government.
Hundreds jammed into the historic Centro Asturiano building in Ybor City for a 90-minute forum hosted by the Tampa Tiger Bay Club on Monday night, and judging by the laughs alone, were thoroughly entertained by these two passionate advocates when it comes to Cuba.
The 63-year-old Fernandez was born in Cuba but moved to Tampa in 1961 at the age of 8, and has long been the man when local or national media want a hit from an anti-Castro perspective in Tampa. He’s defended a number of Cuban dissidents in the United States.
While for years, Fox was a lonely voice in Tampa in advocating for business and political leaders to get active in reestablishing relations with the Cuban government.
And though they frequently clashed during the debate, there were several issues when the men realized they were on the same page, such as in opposing the decades-old “wet foot, dry foot” immigration policy with Cubans.
“No one addresses the Cuban exemption,” barked Fernandez. “And it serves a lot of people. And it risks lives, and more than that it creates a draw for people to come to this country and engage in the grow house businesses and the clinic businesses and the tax of our businesses and rape the system as a whole!”
They also agreed that for national security reasons, the U.S. government should not give up the Guantanamo naval base. That’s significant, as Cuban President Raul Castro has said that the U.S. must return the property before the two nations can fully restore relations. “Raul Castro can put that on the table all he wants to,” said Fox. “We’re not going to give it up, certainly not anytime soon.”
But there were some moments of tension, such as when Fox referred to the fact that when he ran for Congress in Hillsborough County in 2006, Fernandez printed signs that read,”Give Fidel Castro a voice in the U.S. Congress: Vote Al Fox.”
“That was below the belt, I thought,” said Fox. “But you seem tonight to be somewhat moderating your strident, in-your-face positions, and I gotta tell you that in the spirit of Dr. [Martin Luther] King and Jose Marti, I truly welcome it. I really do.”
“It is true that I said some things which I felt were true that I do not regret,” Fernandez replied. “It is true that he has been lightning-rod for criticism. It is true that he was not successful until now, and he took great pride today in indicating in the Tribune article that he had won,” referring to how the debate– at least in Tampa, seems to be decisively in support of the rapprochement with the Communist island. “But I think he understands, as many, that what we’re trying to do is analyze the Cuban situation and see how we can avoid the mistakes that this country made in the past, so that we don’t make ’em again in the future.”
Fox lived and worked in Washington, D.C., for 41 years, and cited the Beltway in terms of personal/political feuds. “In Washington you have professional assholes. We’re amateurs down here,” eliciting large guffaws.
In their concluding remarks, Fernandez addressed a topic that neither moderator Jeff Patterson from WFLA-News Channel 8, nor the three media representatives — La Gaceta’s Patrick Manteiga, The Tampa Tribune’s Paul Guzzo, and yours truly — had addressed: the idea of a Tampa hosting a Cuban consulate.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Fernandez said. “It would bring conflict to this area, and there may be a reaction from people that you would understand.”
Although the majority of the Tampa political and business establishment is supportive of Fox’s efforts to renew relations with Cuba, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn remains resolutely off-board. The mayor has said he’s neutral in the discussion over bringing a consulate to Tampa, but Fox says the mayor needs to come around.
Citing a newspaper story that quoted Buckhorn saying that out of respect for Cuban exiles living in Tampa who disdain the Castro regime he would continue to oppose greater relations with Cuba. “The mayor is wrong, he’s not providing any leadership,” he said.
Sometimes Fox and Fernandez failed to answer direct questions, as they were intent on responding to what the previous speaker had said. At times Patterson seemed ready to just throw his hands up in resignation. Afterwards, Fernandez thanked the time-keepers (Tiger Bay Club officers Don Kruse and Gregory Wilson) for being the stars of the evening.
Fox also said he’s been persecuted for political views, citing his DUI arrest in 2013 where his blood alcohol level was tested at 0.0. (Fox went to jail, but prosecutors declined to pursue the charge given the lack of evidence. He then sued the department). He also said the U.S. Treasury Department sent him a letter earlier this year saying that he’s been fined over $1 million.
Both men say they’ll keep on pushing their points of view.
Blaise Ingoglia and the Republican Party of Florida’s big Sunshine Summit is looking a lot better than it was a couple of weeks ago.
That’s when only native sons Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio had committed to the mid-November fundraising event for the RPOF, creating the possible scenario of the majority of Republican presidential candidates not getting placed on the state’s presidential primary next March.
But after the party announced the criteria for the candidates to get on the ballot, those candidates are now flocking to attend. On Monday the party announced that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul have joined the growing roster of candidates who will be present at the event taking place next month at the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel from November 12-14.
Last week, Donald Trump, South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced their participation.
“With eight candidates announced to attend, and more to come, the Sunshine Summit is turning out to be the can’t-miss event of the primary election,” said Ingoglia in a statement.
Two weeks ago, the RPOF received a backlash of criticism when word leaked that Ingoglia was floating the idea of not allowing the GOP presidential candidates to get placed on the March 15, 2016, ballot if they didn’t participate in the summit.
They then amended that plan, announcing that they were giving the candidates an option of paying a $25,000 filing fee to RPOF or file a petition with signatures of 3,375 registered Republicans, including 125 from each congressional district.