Jeb Bush to teach, lecture at Harvard this fall

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will be spending some time at Harvard University this fall.

Harvard’s Kennedy School announced on Tuesday that Bush, who unsuccessfully sought the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination, will be a visiting fellow in the Program on Education Policy and Governance.

Bush plans to serve as a guest instructor and presenter on education issues during several visits to the Ivy League university during the fall term. He is the founder and chairman of the Foundation for Excellence in Education.

Bush is scheduled to deliver the annual Edwin L. Godkin Lecture at Harvard on Thursday. The school says he will discuss problems with economic and social mobility in the U.S. The more than century-old lecture series is named for the founder of The Nation magazine.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Mitch Perry Report for 9.27.16 – The ‘what difference does it make?’ debate

Was it as good as you hoped it would be, America?

For months, people have talked about how they could not wait to watch Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump battle it out in their first presidential debate. We all know that excitement wasn’t because of Clinton’s sterling debate style. No, it was because of the unknown about how The Donald would perform.

And … ?

Let’s put it this way: Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, just said on MSNBC this morning that Clinton failed to deliver the knockout punch. Absolutely true; so is that how we’re grading this thing?

Look, under any which way you score a debate, Mrs. Clinton had the winning hand. But as Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush can tell you, traditional scoring points don’t necessarily mean much in debating against Donald J.

Conservatives are upset at the question selections offered by moderator Lester Holt — no Benghazi, no Clinton Foundation, no immigration. But as some said about the criticism of NBC’s Matt Lauer after the “Commander in Chief” forum, if you’re complaining about the moderator, you’re probably losing.

Many of the questions did put Trump in a vise — his explanations for not disclosing his income taxes felt hollow (where he boasted about not paying them), and his attempt to blame Sidney Blumenthal and Patti Solis Doyle regarding where Barack Obama was born seemed weak.

On style, it was interesting to see how long Trump would stay relatively subdued before he became the more blustery, bombastic candidate who dominated most of the Republican presidential debates in 2015 and early 2016.

The momentum has been moving Trump’s away in the past two weeks. Does that get stalled now? Does Clinton pick up some of the undecided voters, or Berniebros flirting with Jill Stein and/or Gary Johnson?

So many questions. My favorite line this morning, though, is the phrase “this really doesn’t change much.”

Then why all the hype in the first place?

In other news …

House District 68 Republican JB Benshimen insists he’s still in it to win in in his race against Democrat Ben Diamond, but his poor fundraising numbers aren’t encouraging.

Dover Republican Ross Spano’s House District 59 seat is one Democrats are targeting this fall. He tells us what he’s done in office since his 2012 election.

Former Pasco County DEC Chair Alison Morano is now leading a group targeting Marco Rubio for his past statements regarding Social Security.

Today is National Voter Registration Day, and various Latino advocacy groups are working on signing up people to vote in advance of Florida’s Oct. 11 deadline.

And Dana Young gets the firefighters unions in Tampa and Hillsborough County’s endorsements in the Senate District 18 race.

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Florida primaries eyed: Representation of few, or the many?

It took just 14,496 votes to win his closed Democratic primary for one of Florida’s 27 congressional seats. Now Darren Soto is virtually assured of going to Capitol Hill, unlikely to face a strong Republican challenge this November in his safely Democratic district.

The state senator snared the votes of just 2 percent of the Orlando area district’s 750,000 residents, beating three other candidates in last month’s closed-party, winner-takes-all primary. Only registered Democrats could cast ballots in Soto’s race and the small percentage of them likely decided the contest before the general election.

It’s a scenario repeated regularly in Florida’s state and congressional races in districts firmly controlled by one or the other of the two major parties. Now such outcomes are prompting calls to reform Florida’s primary system so more voters have a say in who represents them.

“That’s a question that comes up often,” said Pamela Goodman, president of the Florida League of Women Voters. Her group is studying the primary system and will make recommendations next year to lawmakers on broadening the electoral process.

Florida is one of only nine states with a strict closed primary system, which prevents independent and minor party voters from casting primary ballots. Proponents say political parties should have the sole say in who they nominate, but critics say closed primaries exclude a large swath of voters, particularly as the number of independent voters grows.

Until 16 years ago, Florida primaries weren’t even over until a candidate won a ballot majority. If no primary candidate received at least 50 percent plus one vote, the top two met in a runoff to decide who reached the general election.

But then-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush eliminated the runoff in 2002, a year he was seeking re-election and two years after his brother George W. Bush carried the perennial swing state by 537 votes in a famously chaotic presidential election. Jettisoning the primary runoff was part of reforms aimed at making Florida elections run more smoothly.

The impact on Sunshine State politics was immediate.

In 2002, political newcomer Bill McBride won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination over former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno by 0.4 percentage points in a three-way race. Many believe Reno would have defeated McBride in a runoff and gone on to face Bush. And in 2010, now Gov. Rick Scott won the Republican nomination with only 46 percent of the vote though a runoff could have overturned the results.

And this year, state Rep. Matt Gaetz is a lock to represent northwest Florida in Congress after capturing just 36 percent of the vote in a seven-way Republican primary, meaning 64 percent of voters wanted someone else in Washington from their firmly GOP district. It’s a decision that essentially excludes Democrats and independents.

It was a runoff that helped primary runner-up Bob Graham into the governor’s office in 1979.

Eventually a three-term U.S. senator, Graham avidly supports resurrecting the runoff primary. He said the current system often encourages election of the most extreme candidates among both major parties. He said primary reforms could make representation more moderate, in line with the views of most voters.

“The question ought to be not whose convenience are we serving, but what makes democracy work best and gives the people the opportunity to have persons in office who represent the broadest consensus,” said Graham, who now runs a University of Florida center for greater citizen engagement with government.

Only 11 states still have some form of a runoff primary, mostly in the Deep South. Louisiana, California and Washington state have all-inclusive primaries where the top two vote earners advance to the general election, 15 states have open primaries and nine states allow independent voters to choose which primary they’ll vote in.

People are increasingly open to changing primary systems because they don’t like current options that contribute to partisan extremes in Washington, said Rob Richie, executive director of FairVote, a non-partisan Washington-area group that seeks to make voting more representative.

“There are different approaches that make sense for different states. There’s more openness in the reform world to not have a one-size fits all model,” he said.

Ion Sancho, elections supervisor in Leon County that includes Florida’s capital of Tallahassee, was first elected in 1988 aided by a primary runoff.

He agreed more voters should have a say in who’s elected, but isn’t espousing a return of the second primary. Instead, he said all candidates should be put on a primary ballot regardless of party and all registered voters, including independents, should be allowed to vote. The top two candidates would face off in November.

That notion doesn’t appeal to Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell, who chairs the House committee that considers election issues. He prefers the idea of voters picking their first two choices in a crowded primary. If no candidate wins a majority, then the second choice of voters are weighed to determine a winner.

Changing Florida’s primary system would require legislative action or a change in the state constitution through a ballot initiative.

“I’m not afraid to try to tinker with it,” Caldwell said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Purdue transfer looks to lead Gators to 12th straight win over Vols

Austin Appleby will lead the No. 19 Florida Gators head to Knoxville on Saturday to face the No. 14 Tennessee Volunteers. Austin who?

With Luke Del Rio sitting out the game due to the injury suffered in the North Texas game, graduate transfer Appleby is the next man up. Gator Nation has two basic questions.

Where did he come from? Is he any good?

Appleby played his undergraduate football at Purdue. If whether one is “any good” is defined by wins and losses, Appleby comes up short.

Last year he appeared in five games for the Boilermakers, going 1-4 in those games. He lost his starting job at one point.

The only win was against FCS opponent Indiana State. His last victory as a starting quarterback against an FBS opponent was a 38-27 victory over Illinois on October 4, 2014.

During his time at Purdue he threw for 2800 yards with 19 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. He also rushed for nine touchdowns.

To be fair, Appleby performed well enough to win a few more games, but defense was a passing fancy, so to speak, at his former school. Purdue gave up an average of 37 points per game last year and 32 points in 2014.

It is not like an untested freshman will be thrown in front of more than 100,000 fans at Neyland Stadium on Saturday. He has played in some large stadiums in the Big 10.

His last start on November 28, 2015 also came in a rivalry game. On that day he threw for 322 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more scores in Purdue’s 54-36 loss to Indiana.

“It’s next man up,” said Gators’ running back Jordan Cronkrite after Saturday’s game. “We just rely on Austin now and take him under our wing and go out and execute (on Saturday).

Some would be quick to say this is the SEC and not the second division of the Big 10. They would be correct.

Tennessee’s defense is not Indiana’s. But at the same time, Florida’s defense is not Purdue’s. Appleby should not need to put up 35 points on the board.

The Gators are counting on Appleby to manage the game and not take significant risks. In other words, no turnovers and let the defense make a play or two while your offense makes a play or two.

Coach Jim McElwain is keeping it simple.

“We’ll work through (the transition) this week to see what gives us the best chance to be successful,” he said.

After all, Florida has won 11 straight in this series in different ways. They have put up 59 points and won with Tim Tebow. In 2007, while putting 10 points on the board and winning with Treon Harris in 2014.

The Gators seem to always find a way to beat Tennessee or the Vols find a way to lose to Florida.

Despite that, a Tennessee fan launched a GoFundMe page ostensibly to pay for Appleby’s funeral after they get through with him on Saturday. This is an interesting display of confidence for a program that has not beaten Florida since Jeb Bush was governor (and before he became Jimmy Kimmel’s limo driver).

If the Vols do not beat Florida on Saturday, perhaps the GoFundMe creator may need the proceeds for his own services.

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Tom Jackson: Appeal puts poor students under FEA’s boot

Now that the Florida Education Association has chosen to appeal its legal double-drubbing over the state’s scholarship program for students from low-income families, the question that leaps immediately to mind is this:

Why does the teachers’ union hate poor kids?

Seriously. About 92,000 students from modest circumstances are attending private schools through the 15-year-old Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program, but the FEA wants to cut them off and haul them back into a system that, for far too many, is an abject failure.

Think about that. Ninety-two-thousand kids. Meanwhile, Florida public schools are responsible for nearly 2.8 million students. In short, the FEA is losing its mind — and spending a bunch of its membership’s dues in legal fees — over a population that amounts to barely 3 percent of its existing audience. A rounding error.

This is like Wal-Mart going nuts over a local farmers market, or the NFL trying to squeeze websites that stream Division II games. Gnat, meet sledgehammer.

Here’s another raw figure to chew on: In the most recent year, the program spread out just over $490 million, an average of roughly $5,300 per scholarship. That might sound like a bunch of money, but, as in most cases, context is everything.

Know how much K-12 education scored? Round numbers, a state-record $20.2 billion, or $7,178 per pupil. Note the per-pupil differential. That’s not unimportant.

Here’s the irony: If the FEA got exactly what it wanted — the scholarship program killed; all 92,000 beneficiaries sucked back into public schools; and every dime of the scholarship money funneled into the education monopoly — per-pupil spending actually would sink, to $7,158.

I know. This isn’t about the money. (Wink.) It’s about the principle of the thing. (Wink, wink.)

As someone who was once president of a small homeowners’ association, I appreciate the thought. Once you establish a willingness to overlook small infractions, you’ve sacrificed your legal authority to crack down on the big ones.

So, there’s another way of thinking about the FEA: Your friendly neighborhood deed-restriction committee.

Now that we’re feeling all warm and fuzzy, the larger problem for the union bosses and their lawyers is, in its relentless pursuit of education reform — a pursuit that must, necessarily, weaken the FEA’s stranglehold — what the Legislature crafted does not violate, even a little bit, the state constitution.

Oh, sure, lawmakers bungled their first attempt to craft a scholarship/voucher scheme in 1999, the first year of the Jeb Bush administration. In its genesis iteration, money did, indeed, flow from the state budget to pay for scholarships. The state Supreme Court found the arrangement repugnant to the state constitution’s provisions protecting public schools from budgetary intrusions, and it wasn’t even close.

The Legislature anticipated a bad outcome. Even before the justices ruled, lawmakers tackled the project again in 2001 to fix the funding bug. Businesses that donated to certain nonprofit groups would receive a tax credit equal to their contribution; meanwhile, the nonprofits would fund scholarships for students from low-income families.

Just now, the FEA’s problem is standing. That is, it’s been ruled unable to sue. The trial judge ruled, and the 1st District Court of Appeal enthusiastically affirmed, the plaintiffs have demonstrated neither “special injury” nor that the Legislature acted beyond its constitutional powers to tax and spend.

Undaunted — not to mention just a wee bit desperate — the union appealed to the state Supreme Court last week. Give us standing, its lawyers said, and we’ll prove the case against the scholarship plan.

Except they won’t. They can’t. Too many tenuous assumptions are built into their complaint. They can’t prove the Legislature would maintain current tax rates on businesses or, if they did, that the presumed additional revenue would go to schools.

Their other complaint — scholarships set up a competing class of public schools, in violation of the constitution — fails the sniff test.

So why don’t the program’s opponents shift their focus, and instead lobby the Legislature to hold participating private schools to the same standards as public schools?

Simple. Monopolies do as monopolies are. And any monopoly worth its massive, soul-crushing boots knows the path to ruin is hacked out by consumers making informed choices among alternative, disruptive market options.

That’s also why the FEA won’t simply butt out. Never mind that we’re talking about a subset of a subset of a subset, that minuscule portion of kids from families of limited means whose parents care enough about education to go through the application rigmarole.

Any threat, no matter how small, must be squashed. With prejudice.

If it means stomping on 92,000 poor kids. Well, in every war there’s bound to be some collateral damage.

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HART board member Kathleen Shanahan latest to call for abolishing PTC

The Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission’s vote last week to approve new rules that could compel ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft to leave the area has given new life to those who believe the agency should be abolished.

The latest entrant in that camp is HART board member Kathleen Shanahan, who, in a letter published in Monday’s Tampa Bay Times, invokes the U.S. Constitution in arguing why the PTC should not be imposing any rules on the transportation network companies.

“The rationale behind the interstate commerce clause in the U.S. Constitution is to promote fluid commerce between states for those doing business in multiple states,” Shanahan writes. “For the exact same reason, ridesharing companies doing business in multiple Florida counties should be subject to statewide standards, not inconsistent county-by-county rules that potentially impede regional commerce.”

In a letter calling on the PTC to resist passing the regulations (which include Level II background checks which include fingerprinting drivers) last week, Tampa Republican state Representative Dana Young said that the agency should hold off and wait for the state Legislature to address the issue in the 2017 session. A year ago the PTC essential made that decision – they opted not to pass new rules, and also said they would no longer issue citations to Uber and Lyft drivers – until the Legislature dealt with the issue in the 2016 session.

That never happened, however, as talks broke down in committee with bills sponsored by Fort Walton Beach Republican Matt Gaetz in the House and Altamonte Springs’ Dave Simmons in the Senate.

Shanahan was named by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to serve as the City of Tampa representative on the HART board in October of 2014. A former chief of staff to both former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former Vice President-elect Dick Cheney, Shanahan has definitely made her presence felt at HART meetings, particularly in making sure that the agency has fostered good relationships with lawmakers in Tallahassee and Washington D.C. to secure federal and state money for the transit agency.

Shanahan’s call for the PTC to be abolished echoes similar comments made over the years by Buckhorn, as well as Tampa Bay area state Republicans like Senator Jeff Brandes and Jamie Grant.Those two lawmakers have been unsuccessful in recent years in trying to get legislation passed to kill the agency.

“This is a perfect example of government run amok,” Brandes wrote in August of 2015 on his Facebook page after the agency resumed citing Uber and Lyft drivers. “Enough is enough. I’m drafting sweeping legislation to reform the PTC. It’s time our leaders stood up on behalf of our residents, tourists, and businesses to make sure Tampa Bay has the most robust network of transportation options available.”

The PTC is the only agency of its type in Florida. It was created by the state Legislature in 1976 as a Special Act, which means that the Legislature has the power to end it.

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Mitch Perry Report 9.6.16 — Enough nonsense about how “now” the presidential election campaign season begins

My biggest fear of an approaching major storm living here in Tampa is losing electricity, with Florida still in full summer mode here in early September. That’s exactly what happened beginning last Friday in Tallahassee, and there were still some residential homes in North Florida as of yesterday still without power.

Back here in Tampa, Hillary Clinton will give a speech on national security this afternoon, where we’re officially nine weeks away from the General Election, and the first day of our lives post-Labor Day 2016, better known as when political reporters tell us is when the “election campaign really starts.”

Which is nonsense.

Perhaps Labor Day of 2015 was more like when the campaign began.

Seriously, Hillary Clinton officially announced her candidacy on Roosevelt Island in New York City in June of 2015. Donald Trump officially followed suit with his infamous escalator ride at Trump Towers a few weeks later, though both had “unofficially” been running for months.

Over 24 million people watched the first GOP debate 13 months ago. With Trump’s emergence, is there anyone you know in your sphere of friends who aren’t following this presidential race, to whatever extent?

No, the fact about Labor Day is that, just perhaps, we have a sense that this thing will be over in just a few more months, after having begun nearly two years ago (Jeb Bush announced he was “exploring” a run — which allowed him to start up his Right to Rise Super PAC, in December of 2015).

In other national political news, the spit take of the weekend goes to Mike Pence, Trump’s VP, who, with a straight face, told NBC’s Chuck Todd on Sunday that Donald Trump’s position on what to do with the roughly 11 million undocumented nonviolent immigrants in this country has been “consistent.”

Todd said he observed Trump’s position on what to do with nonviolent immigrants isn’t clear.

“I think Donald Trump’s been completely consistent,” Pence countered. “And I think he did answer the question.” PolitiFact rated this false.

Oh, by the way, another reason why the public loathes Congress: Clinton chose Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine to be her running mate July 23.

Today, Congress returns to work. Although Kaine won’t be there, he officially hasn’t missed a day of work in the job he was elected to serve.

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Will Scott Fuhrman become the ‘accidental congressman?’

Could Scott Fuhrman, challenging Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, be this year’s Tim Mahoney? And is there a path for Fuhrman to become 2016’s “accidental” member of Congress that doesn’t involve Ros-Lehtinen having a Mark Foley-like implosion?

Increasingly, the answer to both questions keeps inching toward “yes.” The Cook Political Report recently included CD 27 in its list of 45 seats that moved from the “safe Republican” column to “likely Republican.”

POLITICO likewise featured Fuhrman in an Aug. 19 story about Florida House Republicans’ anxieties over the political risk they face having failed to fund Zika research and response before adjourning for summer recess. Today’s Miami Herald also mentioned the Ros-Lehtinen/Fuhrman race in the context of Zika.

While his personal connection to the Zika crisis — in the form of his six-months-pregnant wife, Lindsay — may be getting Fuhrman’s name in print recently, Zika alone is not taking down a much beloved, 25-year incumbent like Ros-Lehtinen. Mosquitoes aren’t going to force Ileana into an early retirement, but a troll could.

Ros-Lehtinen probably entered the 2016 cycle feeling — in the words of Larry David — pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good. Obama, the only Democrat in generations to win a majority of Florida Cubans, was no longer eligible to run; her longtime ally, Jeb Bush, had amassed an insane war chest and looked like a lock for the nomination. Little Marco was going to fizzle early in his quixotic crusade against his old mentor, Jeb, and eventually run for re-election, helping with election-critical Cuban turnout in Miami-Dade County.

Only the last of those three things came to pass the way Ros-Lehtinen had hoped.

Instead, she finds herself on the ballot alongside a man who she’s been forced to say she’ll “never” vote for; a man whose bigoted rhetoric is driving Hispanic voters to Hillary Clinton in outrageous margins. A Public Religion Research Institute poll of Hispanic voters nationally, released today, showed Trump getting a mere 18 percent of that vote, 10 points less than Romney in 2012.

A May poll of CD 27 showed Clinton winning Ros-Lehtinen’s district by a whopping 23 points. Four years ago, Obama won it in the low 50s, and she won with 60 percent, spending over $1 million against two candidates who spent a combined $0.

Maybe a combination of her longevity and respect in Miami, her #NeverTrump status, and #LittleMarco making ticket splitting fashionable among Cuban Republicans, will save Ileana this November.

Maybe she can defy demography and partisanship and a 20-plus-point Hillary Clinton victory in the 27th.

Maybe the NRCC will have money to spend bailing out an incumbent who they never calculated in a million years would be vulnerable.

Maybe.

And maybe Scott Fuhrman becomes the accidental congressman from Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

The cliché that, “stranger things have happened,” is perhaps more true in this election cycle, in this state, than it has ever been before.

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Mitch Perry Report for 8.25.16 -Is Trump reversing himself on his signature issue of immigration?

Donald Trump was in Tampa yesterday, in case you didn’t hear about it — and he continued to “reach out” to minority communities in his speech. Of course, saying, “I say to the African-American parent, you have a right to walk down the street in the inner city, without having your child or yourself shot” may not be the elixir that persuades anyone to switch sides.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow describes the way Trump is going about it as “urinating on you and telling you to dance in the rain.” Blow says the only people even taking Trump’s outreach seriously are white people.

So does he really think he can get more black voters to his side? The Washington Post reported yesterday Trump has been motivated by a private poll of black voters conducted by campaign adviser Tony Fabrizio.

“The survey found that blacks have a lesser affinity for Hillary Clinton than they did for her husband and that their support dips once they learn about her advocacy for a 1994 crime bill signed by Bill Clinton, according to two people briefed on the poll’s findings,” the paper wrote.

Meanwhile, is Trump “softening” on immigration? Who knows? He did mention he was going to build a wall in his speech in Tampa yesterday, which hardly sounds like he’s backing off. Then again, in the second part of an interview he taped with Sean Hannity on Tuesday that aired last night, Trump’s position seemed to echo that of Jeb Bush‘s — you know, the guy’s whose position on immigration was deemed out of sorts with the majority of the Republican primary electorate last year.

“When I look at the rooms, and I have this all over, now everybody agrees we get the bad ones out,” Trump said. “But when I go through and I meet thousands and thousands of people on this subject … they’ve said, ‘Mr. Trump, I love you, but to take a person that has been here for 15 or 20 years and throw them and the family out, it’s so tough, Mr. Trump.'”

Trump received a large round of applause from the studio audience when he said he would make sure those immigrants who could stick around would have to pay “back taxes.” However, that requirement was something that everybody who talks about comprehensive immigration reform says — pay a fine, back taxes, learn English, etc.

Does it matter? It could affect some of his supporters, despite the contention nothing will deter them from supporting him in the fall. Immigration was perhaps the major issue that allowed Trump to break out of the pack of 17 Republicans last summer. The idea that he would attempt to deport 11 million people has always been considered impractical and unfeasible. But to admit it before the election?

In other news …

Among those on the opening bill before The Donald spoke was his good friend and ally, Attorney General Pam Bondi. To commemorate the occasion, the activist group Progress Florida sent out a petition for people to write to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to investigate Bondi’s refusal to go after Trump University in 2013 after her campaign received a financial contribution from a Trump charity.

A group of immigration activists held court in front of the Fairgrounds before Trump’s speech in Tampa.

Jim Norman became a bit hot when asked about the situation that led to his political exile some six years ago at a candidate forum Tuesday night.

At a forum Tuesday night, the Senate District 19 candidates talked about how they’d be able to get Republicans in Tallahassee to go along with proposals to increase early childhood education.

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Marco Rubio to campaign with Mike Pence, while keeping distance from Donald Trump

Marco Rubio is agreeing to appear with Republican vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence, even as the Florida Senator and former presidential candidate keeps his distance from Donald Trump.

ABC News reports that after several phone conversations, Pence and Rubio could begin campaigning in Florida within the next few weeks. After ending his presidential bid, Rubio is currently seeking re-election to the U.S. Senate.

A statement from the Rubio campaign says that although “Marco has tremendous respect and admiration for Gov. Pence,” no joint events are “scheduled at this time.”

Rubio’s agreement with Pence is seen as the latest move by Republicans to attempt to improve relations with the party’s presidential nominee. Pence had recently met with both John McCain and Jeb Bush privately, and had contacted former presidential candidates John Kasich and Ted Cruz.

During the Republican primary, Trump and Rubio clashed on several occasions, most notably when Trump called the senator “Little Marco” and Rubio responding by mocking the New York billionaire’s “small hands.”

However, after solidly losing the Florida primary to Trump, Rubio said he would continue to back the Republican nominee, but later saying he doubted Trump could be trusted with the nuclear codes. Rubio refused to back down from his earlier comments saying Trump was a “con man.”

“I’ve stood by everything I ever said in my campaign,” Rubio told the Miami Herald.

If re-elected to the Senate, Rubio said he could help keep Trump in check.

Rubio also told reporters he would not be making personal appearances with Trump.

“Not that I’m looking to undermine him,” Rubio said in an interview with CNN in June. “But I think the differences between us on key issues are so significant that I don’t plan — I’ve got to run my own race.”

According to the latest NBC/WSJ/Marist poll, Democrat Hillary Clinton leads Trump in Florida 44 to 39 percent.

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