Hillary Clinton Archives - Page 7 of 127 - SaintPetersBlog

Rio2016, Election2016, PokemonGo top global Twitter trends

The Rio Olympics, the American presidential election and Pokemon Go were the top global trends on Twitter in 2016.

The social media site says Rio2016 was the most tweeted-about topic around the world, followed by Election2016 and PokemonGo. Euro2016, Oscars, Brexit, Trump and BlackLivesMatter also made the top 10.

A Spanish gamer known as elrubius originated the year’s most popular tweet: It reads “Limonada” (lemonade) and was retweeted more than 1.3 million times. One Direction’s Harry Styles had the second most-repeated post — quoting a Taylor Swift song — with more than 700,000 retweets. A postelection tweet from Hillary Clinton encouraging little girls to recognize their power and seize opportunities was the third most popular of the year with 634,560 retweets.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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

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

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

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

Really?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In other news..

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

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

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

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

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Joe Henderson: Not just papers; it’s #LoveMyWebsite day, too

On Sunday afternoon, a man carrying an AR-15 assault rifle walked into a popular pizza place in northwest Washington D.C. and began shooting.

No one was hurt, thank goodness and the gunman was arrested.

What he said after being taken away, though, should be a warning to us all. He said he came to “self-investigate” whether Hillary Clinton was using the restaurant as a front for a child sex trafficking ring. Just before the election last month, that story had made the rounds among crazy people who frequent conspiracy-theory websites and believe what they read.

Normally, such a thing would be limited to charter members of the Tinfoil Hat Society. But after the ironically named “fake news” became real news for its impact on the recent elections, I guess we can’t afford to assume people can tell the difference – although I do think a few well-publicized libel judgments against sites that deliberately lie on the scale we just saw might give these miscreants a moment of pause.

I mention this because the hashtag #LoveMyNewspaper was trending Monday on Twitter. That gives me a warm feeling. I worked for about 45 years in the newspaper industry, including nearly the last 42 at the Tampa Tribune before it was bought and closed in May by the Tampa Bay Times.

This is not to lament that day because my attitude is to look forward, not backward. Besides, we know the business side of the newspaper industry overall sucks. The website newspaperdeathwatch.com lists 15 large papers that have closed since 2007 and details cutbacks and layoffs at many others, including the venerable New York Times.

Let’s all just take a deep breath, though. The need for detailed and accurate information doesn’t go away – maybe now more than ever, as the story in Washington shows. That’s where legitimate media comes in.

No matter your political persuasion, you can’t disagree that America is entering uncharted waters. Reporters have always been basically under siege from readers and politicians who don’t like their work, but as the recent national election proves they are more necessary than their enemies would like to admit.

So, I would add to the love for newspapers with another hashtag: #LoveMyWebsite – at least the ones like this one where readers go looking for real information and find it.

Reporters for SaintPetersBlog, FloridaPolitics.com and the Times perform their craft with distinction. They find out things people need to know and they understand the difference between fact and fantasy. That’s what we’re all after.

The Times revolutionized the game eight years ago when it launched PolitiFact, but probably never guessed the Pulitzer Prize-winning site would have to be used, as it was Nov. 4, to debunk the sex-trafficking story with a “Pants on Fire” rating.

And if you a frequent visitor to this site, you understand what a valuable tool it is to help stay abreast of the goings-on in Tallahassee, Tampa Bay and around the state.

When someone is willing to play that kind of mind game to dupe the nation that we see on the splinter sites, you need to ask what else they are willing to do.

The only way to combat that is with inconvenient truths known as facts. That is where reporters come in. That’s where newspapers with resources and willingness to shine a light in dark places are most needed. That’s where websites willing to cover local races with the same vigor as a governor’s race are most needed.

So yes, love your newspaper.

And love your website.

We’re all in this together.

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Steve Schale: Florida early vote, a retrospective

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here are the toplines:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Toplines versus basic assumptions:

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

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

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

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

Benchmarks

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

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

Hillsborough

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

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

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

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

I-4 Corridor

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

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

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

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

Volusia (Daytona)

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

Seminole — suburban Orlando

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

Orange (Orlando)

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

Osceola — heavy Hispanic suburban Orlando.

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

Imperial Polk — between Tampa/Orlando

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

Hillsborough (See Above)

Pinellas (Clearwater/St. Pete)

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

South Florida

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

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

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

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

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

Palm Beach

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

Broward

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

Miami-Dade

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

#DUUUUVAL

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

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

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

Final Thoughts

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

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

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

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

Here’s why.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jon Hunstman Jr. in late running for secretary of state

President-elect Donald Trump, still mulling key Cabinet positions, attended a lavish costume party Saturday night hosted by some of his biggest donors at their palatial Long Island mansion.

Trump, who did not sport a costume, reveled with guests at the Mercer family estate for the annual Christmas party; the theme was “Villains and Heroes.” An invitation to the annual December party is a coveted ticket in Republican circles, never more so than this year. Several strategists who helped engineer Trump’s upset win were attending, including incoming White House senior counselor Stephen Bannon and senior aide Kellyanne Conway.

Both Conway and Bannon have close ties to Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of hedge fund manager Robert Mercer. The younger Mercer became Trump’s leading and most influential donor and urged him to bring Bannon and Conway into the campaign in August.

Rebekah Mercer, who ran a pro-Trump Super PAC, had compared the electoral race between Trump and his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton to an “apocalyptic choice,” so the night’s “Villains and Heroes” theme was perhaps fitting.

Trump’s sojourn to the party was his only expedition on Saturday outside the Manhattan skyscraper that bears his name. He is expected to lie low the remainder of the weekend, before returning to transition meetings in New York on Monday and the next stop of his “thank you” tour in North Carolina on Tuesday.

Trump is also still mulling his choice to lead the State Department, one of the most powerful and prominent Cabinet positions.

According to two people close to the transition, Trump is moving away from two of the front-runners for the job, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee. Giuliani’s international business ties and public campaigning for the job are said to have rankled Trump. And while Trump has met twice with Romney, he’s said to be aware of the risks of angering his supporters by tapping a Republican who was among his fiercest critics.

Former CIA director David Petraeus is still in the mix, though both people close to the transition said Trump’s prolonged decision-making process has left the door open to other options.

One of the sources said Trump was open to expanding his short list of secretary of State prospects. Among the possibilities: Jon Huntsman, a former Republican Utah governor who also served as the ambassador to China and speaks Mandarin.

The people close to the transition insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the private process publicly.

Trump also made no mention Saturday of his decision to speak on the phone with Taiwan’s leader, a breach of long-standing tradition that risks enmity from China.

Trump’s conversation with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen drew an irritated, although understated, response from China, as Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Saturday that the contact was “just a small trick by Taiwan” that he believed would not change U.S. policy toward China, according to Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV.

Chinese officials said they lodged a complaint with the U.S. and reiterated a commitment to seeking “reunification” with the island, which they consider a renegade province.

After the phone conversation Friday, Trump tweeted that Tsai “CALLED ME.” He also groused about the reaction to the call: “Interesting how the U.S. sells Taiwan billions of dollars of military equipment but I should not accept a congratulatory call.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Jim Davison erupts at Luis Veira after Trump joke during second District 7 debate

The relative comity between Tampa City Council District 7 candidates Luis Viera and Jim Davison exploded about fifteen minutes into their second debate on Wednesday night, when Viera criticized a Davison proposal that would keep the idea of New Tampa seceding from the rest of the city  on the table when negotiating for more services to come to the district.

“That is a proposal that is adversarial, that is nonproductive and it is a nonstarter,” Viera said while speaking at the Babe Zaharias Golf course clubhouse in the Forest Hills section of North Tampa. “The next thing you know, we’re going to hear Jim say, ‘Hey, listen. I’m going to build a wall and make South Tampa pay for it.’ “

The line generated laughs from members of the audience, but Davison didn’t find it funny.

“Luis, that was uncalled for,” he responded. “You were trying to compare me to Donald Trump. And what the commissioner said beforehand that this was a nice, congenial campaign. You just destroyed that. I am not Donald Trump, and you are not Hillary Clinton. Alright? The bottom line is, if you want to get down to it, we can debate our character, right here, right now.”

The two candidates are running in the District 7 run-off election taking place next Tuesday, succeeding Lisa Montelione, who left her seat for an unsuccessful run for the Florida House.

The fiery exchange revolving around New Tampa seceding from the rest of the city was discussed at the candidates debate on Tuesday night at the New Tampa Regional Library. That’s where Davison said that while he wouldn’t push for the concept, he wouldn’t remove it either as a means of gaining leverage in calling for more services to come to New Tampa, an issue that both candidates agree doesn’t get the attention it deserves from City Hall.

Earlier on Wednesday, Davison said that it was only when New Tampa leaders like Joe Caetano began talking about secession in 2000 that the area received crucial transportation improvements. “We were not getting out fair share,” he said.”So as soon as we started talking about secession, and started forming and organizing ourselves to the New Tampa Transportation Task Force and the New Tampa Community Council, all of a sudden we started getting road improvements, money for recreation, money for pools, money for fields, all of those things. You never want to give away any leverage that you have in negotiations. And I’m not alienating anybody.”

But according to Gregory Wilson, Viera’s political consultant, Davison’s comments had alienated Mayor Bob Buckhorn. “You said you didn’t want to alienate the mayor, but you did, because yesterday, when the mayor wasn’t involved with this race at all, to this afternoon, he is now endorsing and supporting your opponent,” he said (Viera later said that a statement from Buckhorn announcing his endorsement would be released on Thursday). It should be noted that Viera and Buckhorn are Democrats, Davison is a Republican.

The debate was moderated by former Hillsborough County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, who now leads the Tampa Innovation Alliance, an economic organization charged with lifting the economy in the USF area, which is part of the district.

Viera has called for a Community Redevelopment Agency for the University area, which he called a unique tool (there are seven such CRA’s throughout Tampa, where tax revenues stay within the district to pay for projects there).

As a strong advocate for mass transit in the community, Sharpe also kept the focus on transportation, which dominated parts of the forum. Although both opposed the Go Hillsborough proposed sales tax that never came before the voters last month after being voted down by the Board of County Commissioners, they differ on their opposition. Viera said there wasn’t enough transit in the plan, but Davison is much more energetic in his opposition, saying that County Administrator Mike Merrill, Buckhorn and other advocates were “lowballing” how much it would ultimately cost the taxpayers.

“If you’re going to vote on a half-cent sales tax, you have to know the truth,” Davison said. “That’s all I’m asking, that the City Council be honest with the people in this district.”

Davison says he does support light rail, but says that instead of a proposed transit hub in Westshore that would go Tampa International Airport, there would be a greater economic impact for a so-called “starter line” to have it run from downtown Tampa to USF.

On an aesthetic level, it wasn’t the smoothest debate to watch. The candidates weren’t given a time limit on their responses, and frequently Davison would go on for several minutes citing financial figures that at times seemed to make the audience grown numb.

The two were asked about the idea of allowing major cities like Tampa to have the power to tax their citizens on transportation issues. Florida law allows counties to do so, but not cities, a distinction that Viera described as “arbitrary.” Although plenty of Democrats ran for state legislature this year saying they would make that they would advocate for the change, there is no indication at all that the GOP-led Legislature will pass such a measure.

“I think the voters should have a choice in a democracy,” Viera said. Davison said he wasn’t opposed per se, but he said he simultaneously wanted “expenditure limitations stuck into your budget,” which he said is currently the case in Wisconsin.

Davison’s overriding thesis of his campaign is that the people of District 7 are “tired of being forgotten.”

“They don’t believe the people downtown on Jackson Street cares,” he said, referring to where City Hall is located in downtown Tampa. “A lot of the issues out in New Tampa could be remedied if they got back that they think is their fair share,” and referred to the fact that there is only one recreation center from the city in a district containing 65,000 people.

“People here in Forest Hills, I think they’re tired about having streets that aren’t lit, about having property crimes committed,” he said. “Some of their streets are flooding, and the only solution they got was a fee that isn’t going to directly solve the problems to begin with?”

“North Tampa is not getting its share of respect from the city of Tampa,” Viera agreed. He related an anecdote about speaking to a woman who lived on Busch Boulevard, who upon hearing that he lived in Hunter’s Green, said, “You shouldn’t have to live behind a gated community to have access to a park.”

Montelione, who has endorsed her fellow Democrat Viera in the race, commented during the Q&A portion of the debate with the audience that while transportation had dominated the discussion, the fact was that two-thirds of the city’s budget goes towards the police and fire departments, which “doesn’t leave a whole lot of money for a lot of other things.” Speaking directly to Davison, she also mentioned how more than 700 city jobs were cut during the Iorio administration to deal with the recession.

“I’m not sure how much more you can cut from city government without sacrificing city services,” she said pointedly.

Wednesday’s debate was the second and last one-on-one debate between Viera and Davison before voters go to the polls on Tuesday. Early voting starts today in the district.

 

 

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Steve Schale reflects on a ‘race-to-the-bottom’ election year

Democratic political strategist Steve Schale realized that Donald Trump would win Florida 45 minutes after the polling places closed.

“Going into Election Day, I thought that Hillary Clinton had a 200,000 vote lead,” Schale, who managed Barack Obama’s Florida campaigns in 2008 and 2012, but sat out 2016, told the Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee Wednesday.

“By comparison, Barack Obama had a 150,000 vote lead going into Election Day in 2008. Donald Trump would have to win Election Day by nine points. Mitt Romney won Election Day by five points.”

In fact, Schale said, Trump won the day by 13 points.

As the votes came in, at 7:15 Schale thought Clinton had the election “in the bag.”

“By 7:45, I knew it was over,” based on heavily GOP Panhandle counties that were yet to report vote counts. “There were just not enough (Democratic) votes out there for it to play out.”

That’s how finely balanced Florida is politically, Schale said.

Since 1992, when Florida became a swing state, voters here have cast 50 million presidential election ballots, with Democrats enjoying an 18,000-vote advantage in that time — a 0.4 percent difference.

“It’s important not to over-read this election. Even though Trump won, Democrats won governorships in places like North Carolina,” Schale said.

“This was basically a race-to-the-bottom campaign. And, frankly, my party does not win races to the bottom. There are more Republican voters who vote in every election than Democrats. So when you get into a race to the bottom, we don’t win. We have to inspire people, as Barack Obama did in 2008.”

Florida is a “huge, massive place,” Schale said. Miami represents the world’s 32nd largest economy. Tampa ranks No. 57. Orlando’s GDP equals Kuwait’s. Voting patterns reflect the states of origin of Florida’s people, and the I-10 corridor is the fulcrum.

“Hillary Clinton did better in Tampa and Orlando than Barack Obama,” he said.

“Where she lost was in these places that between 7:15 and 7:45 came in and reported. Places like Pasco County, Barack Obama lost by 7,000 votes in 2008, she lost by 53,000.”

It was the 10th closest election in American history, Schale said, and Clinton won the popular vote by at least 2.3 million.

“We’ve not seen this kind of instability in American politics since the 1890s. Our politics are more unstable today than during two world wars, the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Era. It’s Americans calling out, crying out, ‘Please, Washington, be functional. Do something.’ ”

Getting there might be difficult. “The problem is, in both parties, the primaries have become so insane,” Schale said.

“My friends in Bush world, I remember asking them early on, ‘How are you going to win a primary when 60 percent of your primary voters in Iowa believe Barack Obama’s a Muslim from Kenya?’ On my side, same thing.

“That’s the challenge. These primaries are making the candidates more extreme than the country is. Until one of the parties or the other figures it out, we’re going to keep going back and forth.”

As evidence of consensus, he cited gun control. People get hot about it, yet 75 percent of the public supports banning weapons sales to people on the no-fly list, he said.

“Both parties continue to misread these back-and-forth elections as a complete repudiation of the other party and a complete endorsement of something else,” he said.

“One of these days, somebody’s going to figure out that you can run for office on a fiscal conservative, socially liberal message that appeals across party lines, and is going to win 400 electoral votes.”

Clinton supporters should not hope the Electoral College might deny Trump the presidency, Schale said.

“One thing about electors, they’re picked by the candidates. While there have been faithless electors over time — one or two, maybe, at most — you will not see any change in the Electoral College this year. They are slates that are delivered by the campaigns to the state.”

And Schale wishes Trump would shut up about nonexistent voter fraud.

“This voter fraud thing that’s out there right now is absolutely abysmal,” he said. “Not only because it’s a lie. It’s because it plays into the basic cynicism people have about institutions. All of us in the process, we all have a responsibility to defend the institutions.”

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Clinton team sees recount effort as waste of resources

Hillary Clinton’s aides and supporters are urging dispirited Democrats to channel their frustrations about the election results into political causes — just not into efforts to recount ballots in three battleground states.

The former Democratic presidential candidate and her close aides see the recount drive largely as a waste of resources, according to people close to Clinton. The effort is being fueled by Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who’s formed an organization to try to force recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

“Believe me if there was anything I could do to make Hillary Clinton the next president of the United States I would,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a longtime Clinton supporter. “But this is a big waste of time.”

Aides say Clinton is focused on moving past her unexpected defeat and has devoted little attention to the recount or thinking about her political future. She’s been spending time with her grandchildren and going for walks near her Westchester home. Sightings of Clinton hiking with her dogs and shopping at a Rhode Island bookstore went viral on social media.

“There have been a few times this past week where all I wanted to do was curl up with a good book and our dogs and never leave the house again,” Clinton said in an emotional speech at a gala for the Children’s Defense Fund, her one public appearance since her loss.

Former President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, has been poring over the election results, second-guessing decisions by top campaign aides and intensely trying to figure out how his wife lost the white working-class voters who were the base of his electoral coalition, say people familiar with the campaign.

Clinton’s team was aware of possible discrepancies soon after the election, telling top donors on a conference call four days after the election that they were looking into potential problems in the three states. But while many campaign staffers believe Russian hacking influenced the outcome of the election, blaming foreign actors for incursions into campaign and Democratic National Committee emails, they’ve found no evidence of the kind of widespread ballot box tampering that would change the results of the race — or even flip a single state.

Still, some dejected Clinton supporters have been unwilling to accept the results. Stein has raised $6.5 million for her recount campaign, according to a count posted on her campaign website on Tuesday. That’s nearly double the roughly $3.5 million she raised during her entire presidential bid.

Some former Clinton aides have asked frustrated supporters to donate their dollars to what they view as more constructive causes, like state parties or the Democratic candidate in Louisiana, where a Dec. 10 runoff will be the party’s last chance to pick up a Senate seat this year.

“I wouldn’t give a dollar to Jill Stein,” said Adam Parkhomenko, a longtime Clinton aide. “Volunteers, supporters and Democrats, they want to pick themselves up and get back out there. The best vehicle to do that is the Louisiana Senate race.”

Clinton’s team conducted an exhaustive investigation into the possibility of outside interference in the vote tally, tasking lawyers, data scientists and political analysts to comb over the results. They contacted outside experts, examined the laws governing recounts and double-checked all the vote tallies.

The campaign found no “evidence of manipulation,” wrote Marc Elias, the general counsel for Clinton’s campaign, in an online essay. But, he said, Clinton agreed to minimal participation in Stein’s effort, largely to make sure that her interests are represented. They put out a call for volunteers to monitor the proceedings and are relying on local lawyers to handle filings and other legal matters.

Clinton is under pressure to participate from her supporters, some of whom have struggled to accept the election results given her lead in the popular vote, which has grown to more than 2.3 million in the weeks after the Nov. 8 election.

“Now that a recount is underway, we believe we have an obligation to the more than 64 million Americans who cast ballots for Hillary Clinton to participate in ongoing proceedings to ensure that an accurate vote count will be reported,” Elias wrote.

Clinton’s lawyers filed motions with a Wisconsin judge on Tuesday looking to join Stein’s lawsuit demanding that Wisconsin officials recount ballots by hand. The state elections commission will formally began the recount on Thursday.

Stein’s organization has also filed for recounts in six of Pennsylvania’s largest counties and says it plans to file a petition Wednesday demanding a Michigan recount.

“It’s election law malpractice to not have your lawyers sitting around the table with Jill Stein’s lawyers,” said Adam Ambrogi, elections program director at the bipartisan Democracy Fund. “It is just due diligence.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Donald Trump drama rolls on: Disputes, falsehoods hit transition

The drama, disputes and falsehoods that permeated Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign are now roiling his transition to the White House, forcing aides to defend his baseless assertions of illegal voting and sending internal fights spilling into public.

On Monday, a recount effort, led by Green Party candidate Jill Stein and joined by Hillary Clinton‘s campaign also marched on in three states, based partly on the Stein campaign’s unsubstantiated assertion that cyberhacking could have interfered with electronic voting machines. Wisconsin officials approved plans to begin a recount as early as Thursday. Stein also asked for a recount in Pennsylvania and was expected to do the same in Michigan, where officials certified Trump’s victory Monday.

Trump has angrily denounced the recounts and now claims without evidence that he, not Clinton, would have won the popular vote if it hadn’t been for “millions of people who voted illegally.” On Twitter, he singled out Virginia, California and New Hampshire.

There has been no indication of widespread election tampering or voter fraud in those states or any others, and Trump aides struggled Monday to back up their boss’ claim.

Spokesman Jason Miller said illegal voting was “an issue of concern.” But the only evidence he raised was a 2014 news report and a study on voting irregularities conducted before the 2016 election.

Trump met Monday with candidates for top Cabinet posts, including retired Gen. David Petraeus, a new contender for secretary of state. Trump is to meet Tuesday with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who is also being considered more seriously for the diplomatic post, and Mitt Romney, who has become a symbol of the internal divisions agitating the transition team.

Petraeus said he spent about an hour with Trump, and he praised the president-elect for showing a “great grasp of a variety of the challenges that are out there.”

“Very good conversation and we’ll see where it goes from here,” he said. A former CIA chief, Petraeus pleaded guilty last year to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.

Vice President-elect Mike Pence, who is heading the transition effort, teased “a number of very important announcements tomorrow” as he exited Trump Tower Monday night.

Pence is said to be among those backing Romney for State. Romney was fiercely critical of Trump throughout the campaign but is interested in the Cabinet position, and they discussed it during a lengthy meeting earlier this month.

Other top Trump allies, notably campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, have launched a highly unusual public campaign to warn the president-elect that nominating Romney would be seen as a betrayal by his supporters. Conway’s comments stirred speculation that she is seeking to either force Trump’s hand or give him cover for ultimately passing over Romney.

Three people close to the transition team said Trump had been aware that Conway planned to voice her opinion, both on Twitter and in television interviews. They disputed reports that Trump was furious at her and suggested his decision to consider additional candidates instead highlighted her influence.

Conway served as Trump’s third campaign manager and largely succeeded in navigating the minefield of rivalries that ensnared other officials. Trump is said to have offered her a choice of White House jobs — either press secretary or communications director. But people with knowledge of Conway’s plans say she is more interested in serving as an outside political adviser, akin to the role President Barack Obama‘s campaign manager David Plouffe played following the 2008 election.

The wrangling over the State Department post appears to have slowed the announcements of other top jobs. Retired Gen. James Mattis, who impressed Trump during a pre-Thanksgiving meeting, was at the top of the list for Defense secretary, but a final decision had not been made.

Trump was also considering former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani for Homeland Security secretary, according to those close to the transition process. Giuliani was initially the front-runner for State and is still in the mix. But questions about his overseas business dealings, as well as the mayor’s public campaigning for the job, have given Trump pause.

Those close to the transition insisted on anonymity in commenting because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the private process.

Even as Trump weighs major decisions that will shape his presidency, he’s been unable to avoid being distracted by the recount effort. He spent Sunday on a 12-hour Twitter offensive that included quoting Clinton’s concession speech, in which she said the public owed Trump “an open mind and the chance to lead.”

His final tweets challenging the integrity of an election he won were reminiscent of his repeated, unsubstantiated assertions during the campaign that the contest might be rigged. Those previous comments sparked an outcry from both Clinton and some Republicans.

Clinton lawyer Marc Elias said the campaign has seen “no actionable evidence” of voting anomalies. But the campaign still plans to be involved in Stein’s recount to ensure its interests are legally represented.

Trump narrowly won Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan. All three would need to flip to Clinton to upend the Republican’s victory, and Clinton’s team says Trump has a larger edge in all three states than has ever been overcome in a presidential recount.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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