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Kathy Castor says she’ll work with Donald Trump and GOP majority in Congress ‘If there’s an opportunity’

Kathy Castor says the voters in Florida’s 14th Congressional District re-elected her to get things done in Washington and, when she can, she’ll work with the Donald Trump administration and GOP Congress. But she’ll also resist them, depending on what policies they propose.

“People elected me to solve problems and if there’s any opportunity to do that with President Trump and a Republican Congress, that’s what I’m going to do,” she said Monday. “But I’m not going to compromise the values that this community holds dear. Whether that’s taking our Dream Act students and not deporting them, or fighting for higher wages, the Democratic Party is the party of working people and I’m going to continue to stand up for their interests against the system.”

Yet despite that perception, Hillary Clinton’s failure to win rust-belt states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan in the election has led to the accepted perception the Democrats have lost their way with working people.

In Boston on Sunday night, Bernie Sanders said the party has to return its focus to the working class.

“The working class of this country is being decimated — that’s why Donald Trump won,” Sanders said. “And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people, who understand that real median family income has gone down.”

“All I know is that every week when I’m in Washington D.C. we’re standing up to moneyed special interests and for some reason that’s not being communicated,” Castor says. “For example, they want to give massive tax breaks to big corporations and the top one percent. That’s not going to help working class people or working people, and what I’m afraid is that the Congress that has passed draconian budgets and tried to keep all the benefits for the wealthiest in the country, that they kind of play on Trump and take advantage of him and the people who elected him. We’re going to be pointing these things out.”

Next week Castor and her Democratic colleagues will vote on whether to retain Nancy Pelosi as their leader, or go in a different direction. Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan has announced his candidacy to challenge Pelosi, the 76-year-old San Francisco congresswoman who leads the Democrats in the House of Representatives.

Castor said she is undecided, but said there’s value in having a female leader.

“The party needs different leaders,” she acknowledges. “It’s time for a younger generation of leaders to run for local office, to get involved in local issues and state issues. But there is one consideration about who is going to be in leadership in Washington. President Trump, Chuck Schumer, Sen. McConnell, Paul Ryan. What do they have all have in common?”

She then answered her own question. “There is a lot of value in having a female leader,” before insisting that she hasn’t made a final decision on who should lead the caucus.

Speaking in Peru Sunday, President Obama said he was reticent to “meddle” in party votes while still in office, but went on to say that he “cannot speak highly enough” of the woman who a decade ago became the first female House speaker. “She combines strong progressive values with just extraordinary political skill, and she does stuff that’s tough, not just stuff that’s easy,” Obama said of Pelosi.

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Mitch Perry Report for 11.15.16 — The non-voters speak out

Mike Evans is feeling the heat today — and so is his employer, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Evans decision to sit during the playing of the national anthem before Sunday’s game at Raymond James Stadium versus the Chicago Bears to protest the election of Donald Trump as president is predictably receiving negative reviews in Tampa — the home of MacDill Air Force Base — and the country.

Among those critics is Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, who says he’s “tired of it.”

Since this was the first time Evans has done this, I’m assuming the legislator is referring to other incidents of NFL players sitting or kneeling down for the anthem this season, beginning with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. 

Their motivations are different, of course; Kaepernick wanted to shine attention on protest brutality and racial injustices. Evans’ issue is with Trump, whose appeal to black voters during the campaign was “what the hell do you have to lose?” in comparison to backing Democrat Hillary Clinton.

One thing both men didn’t do last week was take the time to vote, which has angered some folks who are sympathetic to their flexing of their First Amendment rights. In that respect, they’re not a minority, as roughly 100 million eligible Americans also chose not to exercise their franchise last week.

Although some folks disturbed by that number have made suggestions that could improve that figure — like holding elections on a Sunday (like many other nations do and Louisiana does with their primary) or automatically restoring voters. The fact is that shy of making it mandatory, some Americans — even those who say they care about the process — often choose to blow it off, for whatever reason.

Kaepernick makes $19 million this year; Evans a little less than $4 million, which might make it a little easier to think that whomever is elected, it’s not really going to affect their livelihood. Kaepernick said Sunday it would have been hypocritical for him to vote.

“I said from the beginning I was against oppression, I was against the system of oppression,” he said. “I’m not going to show support for that system. And to me, the oppressor isn’t going to allow you to vote your way out of your oppression.”

When it was revealed last week that Kaepernick hadn’t voted, noted ESPN talking head Stephen A. Smith went off and said Kaepernick was a hypocrite.

“After all this noise that you made, even though you didn’t intended to do so, by offending our military service men and women, and pointing out about how you wanted to bring attention to racial injustices and beyond in this country, to turn around and not even take your behind to the polls to vote for a particular candidate, it is shameful! Absolutely shameful!”

In other news …

The Progressive Democratic Caucus of Florida wants Florida Republicans to denounce the appointment of former Breitbart News Executive Chairman Steve Bannon to Donald Trump’s administration.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz is calling on her Democratic colleagues to wear a safety pin on their clothes to demonstrate solidarity with those fearful of Trump being in power.

A spokesman for St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman says the door is open for Trump to visit his city, a year after he (jokingly) tweeted he wasn’t welcome.

Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans’ decision to sit down during the playing of the national anthem on Sunday to protest Donald Trump’s election isn’t going down in some quarters, including with state Sen. Jack Latvala.

Vern Buchanan has contacted Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, pushing for serious tax reform under the Trump administration

Former State House District 59 Rep. Ed Narain is the latest name being bandied as the possible next chairman of the Florida Democratic Party.

Cyril Spiro is endorsing Jim Davison over Luis Viera in that special Tampa City Council District 7 seat runoff.

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Vern Buchanan writes GOP congressional leaders to push for tax reform

Sarasota Republican Congressman Vern Buchanan is hoping when the GOP-led Congress returns for a new session in January with President Donald Trump ensconced in the White House, congressional leaders will push hard to reform the tax code.

“Tax reform will help Americans get a job, make more money and spend less time doing their taxes,” Buchanan writes in a letter issued Monday to House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “It’s time to give the American people a break — we have suffered together through years of slow growth. In fact, the Obama presidency did not see economic growth higher than 3 percent at any time.”

Buchanan serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, and has introduced legislation that would would ensure small businesses never pay a higher tax rate than corporations. Called the Main Street Fairness Act, it calls for removing income earned by so-called passthrough businesses from the individual tax code and treat this income like business income earned by corporations.

Trump’s plan for tax reform includes reducing the seven federal tax brackets to three, with top rate falling from 39.6 percent to 33 percent. He’s also called for increasing the standard deduction from $6,300 to $15,000 for single filers and from $12,600 to $30,000 for married couples filing jointly, while ending personal exemptions. And he’s called for repealing the alternative minimum tax and the estate tax (aka “the death tax”).

The last time there was a serious reform of the tax code was in 1986, a bipartisan bill worked on between President Ronald Reagan’s administration which worked closely with New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bill Bradley. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 raised the maximum tax rate on long-term capital gains to 28 percent from 20 percent at the same time it reduced the maximum rate on ordinary income to 28 percent from 50 percent.

Here’s Buchanan’s letter to Ryan and McConnell:

Dear Speaker Ryan and Leader McConnell:

I write to urge that Congress capitalize on the historic opportunity to fundamentally overhaul the U.S. tax code and jumpstart the economy.

President-elect Donald Trump as well as House and Senate Republicans support reforming the tax code, presenting a rare and golden moment for tax reform.

The tax code punishes ordinary Americans and suffocates business growth. It’s time to fix the economy by simplifying the tax code and reducing rates on individuals and businesses.

People have been looking at their bank account balance with a knot in their stomach for too long.

Tax reform will help Americans get a job, make more money and spend less time doing their taxes. It’s time to give the American people a break — we have suffered together through years of slow growth. In fact, the Obama presidency did not see economic growth higher than 3 percent at any time.

Small businesses — which account for 94 percent of all businesses in America —  deserve serious attention. The principles of my Main Street Fairness Act, which would ensure that small businesses never pay a higher tax rate than large corporations, should be a prominent feature of any tax code changes. I was very encouraged when my bill was included in the House Republican blueprint for tax reform and am hopeful that that blueprint will serve as a starting point for tax reform.

The concept behind my bill is also part of the tax cut package pushed by President-elect Donald Trump. It’s clearly time that Washington stopped punishing small businesses and started helping them. The businesses that would be helped by my plan account for more than 68 million jobs.

Significant changes to our tax system that put money in the pockets of Americans and save them time and headaches when filling out their taxes need to happen quickly.

Congress needs to take advantage of this rare opportunity to pass sweeping tax reforms.

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Donald Trump names Reince Priebus White House chief of staff

Donald Trump named Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus his White House chief of staff, elevating one of his loyal GOP advisers with a deep expertise of the Washington establishment Trump has vowed to shake up.

Priebus, a close ally of House Speaker Paul Ryan, called the appointment “an honor” and predicted the billionaire “will be a great president for all Americans.”

Trump also named Stephen Bannon, his campaign CEO and executive on leave from conservative website Breitbart, to be the president-elect’s chief strategist and senior counsel.

With Vice President-elect Mike Pence as transition chief, the trio was expected to organize the incoming administration, according to a statement from the Trump camp.

There was much to steady. The appointments came after a day in which Trump’s tough-talking plan to rein in illegal immigration showed signs Sunday of cracking, with the president-elect backing off his vow to build a solid wall along the southern U.S. border and Ryan rejecting any “deportation force” targeting people living in the country illegally.

After Trump told CBS’ “60 Minutes” that his border wall might look more like a fence in spots, the combative billionaire took to Twitter to settle some scores.

During a four-hour spree, Trump savaged the New York Times and gloated about the GOP stalwarts lining up to congratulate him, bragging that staunch critics and GOP rivals John Kasich, Mitt Romney, and Jeb Bush had sent attaboys. Former presidents George W. and George H.W. Bush also had sent their “best wishes on the win. Very nice!” The New York Times, Trump wrote to his 14 million followers, is “dishonest” and “highly inaccurate.”

As Trump revenge-tweeted, threats flew between power brokers, and protests across the country continued.

The president-elect retreated from the campaign promise that had inspired his supporters chant “Build the wall!” at Trump’s massive campaign rallies.

Would he accept a fence in some spots on the border? In an interview to be aired Sunday, Trump told “60 Minutes”: “For certain areas, I would, but certain areas, a wall is more appropriate. There could be some fencing.”

Excerpts of the interview were released in advance.

Trump also had vowed to immediately deport all 11 million people in the country illegally. But in the interview, he said he’s focusing first on ousting or incarcerating 2 million to 3 million “that are criminals and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers.” Trump emphasized that securing the border is his very first immigration priority.

On that, Ryan agreed. But on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Ryan rejected the kind of “mass deportations” Trump had championed during the campaign.

“We are not planning on erecting a deportation force,” he said.

More tension emerged Sunday when Trump’s campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid should be careful in a “legal sense” about characterizing Trump as a sexual predator. When asked whether Trump was threatening to sue Reid, Conway said no.

But Adam Jentleson, Reid’s deputy chief of staff, said Trump is “hiding behind his Twitter account and sending his staff on TV to threaten his critics.”

Meanwhile, another Trump aide — Rudy Giuliani — suggested the president-elect should have a “blind trust” to run his global empire to avoid potential conflicts of interest. But he said three of Trump’s adult children should probably have a hand in that trust.

“There’s no perfect way to do this,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union.” ”You have to have some confidence in the integrity of the president.

Also on Sunday, Republicans backed off decades of investigating Clinton. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said on “Fox News Sunday” that GOP-led congressional Republicans will focus on policy and leave any probes of Clinton to law enforcement.

Ryan, meanwhile, tried to calm the nation by suggesting that “people should just really put their minds at ease, we are pluralistic, we’re inclusive.” Acts of hate, he said, had nothing to do with the GOP.

“People who espouse those views, they’re not Republicans and we don’t want them in our party even if they’re thinking about it. And I’m confident Donald Trump feels the same way,” the Wisconsin Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

But at least on Sunday, Trump seemed to prefer to relish his election win.

At one point, he noted that Gov. Kasich, who refused to endorse him, “of the GREAT, GREAT, GREAT STATE OF Ohio called to congratulate me on the win.” Trump pointedly did not return the congratulations or offer thanks to Kasich. “The people of Ohio were incredible!” he tweeted.

He later attributed his win to his performance in the presidential debates against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“The debates, especially the second and third, plus speeches and intensity of the large rallies, plus OUR GREAT SUPPORTERS, gave us the win!”

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Donald Trump takes triumphant tour of Washington, has cordial meeting with Barack Obama

President-elect Donald Trump took a triumphant tour of the nation’s capital Thursday, holding a cordial White House meeting with President Barack Obama, sketching out priorities with Republican congressional leaders and taking in the majestic view from where he’ll be sworn into office.

Trump’s meeting with Obama spanned 90 minutes, longer than originally scheduled. Obama said he was “encouraged” by Trump’s willingness to work with his team during the transition of power, and the Republican called the president a “very good man.”

“I very much look forward to dealing with the president in the future, including his counsel,” Trump said from the Oval Office. He’ll begin occupying the office on Jan. 20.

While Trump noted that he and Obama had never met before, their political histories will forever be linked. Trump spent years perpetrating the lie that Obama was born outside the United States. The president campaigned aggressively against Trump during the 2016 campaign, warning that his election would put the republic at risk.

But at least publicly, the two men appeared to put aside their animosity. As the meeting concluded and journalists scrambled out of the Oval Office, Obama smiled at his successor and explained the unfolding scene.

“We now are going to want to do everything we can to help you succeed because if you succeed the country succeeds,” Obama said.

From the White House, Trump headed to Capitol Hill for meetings with House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky to discuss the GOP legislative agenda. Ryan, who holds the most powerful post in Congress, was a sometime critic of Trump and never campaigned with the nominee.

Emerging from the meetings, Trump sketched out priorities for his presidency.

“We’re going to move very strongly on immigration,” he said. “We will move very strongly on health care. And we’re looking at jobs. Big league jobs.”

If Trump makes good on his campaign promises, he’ll wipe away much of what Obama has done during his eight years in office. The Republican president-elect, who will govern with Congress fully under GOP control, has vowed to repeal Obama’s signature health care law and dismantle the landmark nuclear accord with Iran. He’s also vowed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

First lady Michelle Obama met privately in the White House residence with Trump’s wife, Melania, while Vice President Joe Biden was seeing Vice President-elect Mike Pence later Thursday.

Obama and Trump met alone, with no st Melania Trump aff present, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters afterward.

“The two men did not relitigate their differences in the Oval Office,” Earnest said. “We’re on to the next phase.”

Trump traveled to Washington from New York on his private jet, breaking with protocol by not bringing journalists in his motorcade or on his plane to document his historic visit to the White House. Trump was harshly critical of the media during his campaign and for a time banned news organizations whose coverage he disliked from his events.

As scores of journalists waited to be admitted to the Oval Office to see Obama and Trump together, they saw White House chief of staff Denis McDonough walking along the South Lawn driveway with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law. A handful of Trump aides trailed them.

The show of civility at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue contrasted with postelection scenes of protests across a politically divided country. Demonstrators from New England to the heartland and the West Coast vented against the election winner on Wednesday, chanting “Not my president,” burning a papier-mache Trump head, beating a Trump pinata and carrying signs that said “Impeach Trump.”

More than 100 protesters held a sit-in outside Trump International Hotel just blocks from the White House. The mostly student protesters held signs saying “Love Trumps Hate,” a phrase Democrat Hillary Clinton often used during the campaign.

Trump’s advisers, many of whom were stunned by his unexpected victory over Clinton, plunged into the work of setting up a White House and staffing government agencies.

Officials at the Pentagon and State Department said they had not yet been contacted.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the agency stood ready “to work with the incoming team once that team is designated and arrives here. But we don’t have any firm word as to when that will be.”

Trump was expected to consider several loyal supporters for top jobs, including former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani for attorney general or national security adviser and campaign finance chairman Steve Mnuchin for Treasury secretary. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker were also expected to be under consideration for foreign policy posts.

As president-elect, Trump is entitled to the same daily intelligence briefing as Obama — one that includes information on U.S. covert operations, information gleaned about world leaders and other data gathered by America’s 17 intelligence agencies. The White House said it would organize two exercises involving multiple agencies to help Trump’s team learn how to respond to major domestic incidents.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Elizabeth Warren proposes truce with Donald Trump

The Latest on the U.S. election:

3:25 p.m. — Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is proposing that she and President-elect Donald Trump “put aside our differences” and work together to rebuild the American economy for working people.

A favorite of liberals, Warren has waged bitter wars of words with Trump. She’s called him a “pathetic coward” and worse on Twitter. He’s nicknamed her “Pocahontas” — a reference to claims she made about being part Native American.

As recently as Monday, Trump called Warren a “terrible person,” ”a terrible human being” and a “terrible senator.”

In a statement Wednesday, Warren said the integrity of U.S. democracy is more important than an individual election. She said she hopes Trump will fulfill the role of president “with respect and concern for every single person in this country, no matter who they are.”

3:15 p.m. — White House spokesman Josh Earnest says President Barack Obama has congratulated the Senate’s top Republican about his party’s success in maintaining its majority in the Senate.

Earnest said Obama and Mitch McConnell discussed priorities that should be taken up as lawmakers meet before a new Congress takes office. They spoke Wednesday, the day after the election.

While he did not have details about the issues discussed, Earnest said Obama will continue to encourage Republican leaders to take up a massive trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He said the president believes the trade pact will benefit the U.S. economy. President-elect Donald Trump strongly opposes the deal.

Earnest says the president also hopes to talk with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

3:05 p.m. — The White House says the President’s Daily Brief and other intelligence materials are now being made available to President-elect Donald Trump, Vice President-elect Mike Pence and other members of Trump’s transition team.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it’s a courtesy that former President George W. Bush extended to President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and a few aides as they were preparing to take office.

The President’s Daily Brief is a classified document delivered to the president each morning. Until his victory Tuesday, Trump had received some classified briefings but not as extensive as what he’ll now be receiving.

Earnest says it’s part of Obama’s efforts to ensure a smooth transition.

3 p.m. — The Senate’s top Republican isn’t interested in rehashing contentious comments President-elect Donald Trump made about Hispanics during the campaign.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky wouldn’t say whether he thought Trump’s remarks have caused lasting damage to the Republican Party with an important demographic group. Trump has called some Mexicans rapists and criminals and had claimed that a judge might be biased against him because of the judge’s Mexican heritage.

Several months ago, McConnell publicly worried that Trump could push Hispanics from the party as Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater had done with blacks in the 1964 election.

McConnell said: “We should look forward and not backward and rehash and re-litigate the various debates we had both internally and with the Democrats over the past year.”

2:45 p.m. — White House spokesman Josh Earnest is disputing the notion that Thursday’s meeting between President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump will have an air of insincerity about it given the harsh things they’ve said about each other.

Earnest said “I’m not saying it’s going to be an easy meeting.” But he said the president is sincere about fulfilling a basic responsibility he has to ensure a smooth transition of power.

Earnest said the success of America’s democracy depends on all citizens setting aside their partisan affiliations and political preferences, and rooting for the success of the American president.

During the campaign, Obama had called Trump unfit and unqualified.

2:25 p.m. — Donald Trump is spending the day after winning the presidency holed up in Trump Tower, where sleep-deprived aides appear jubilant as they come and go.

The usually buzzing lobby of Trump’s residence and campaign headquarters is currently closed to the general public, though an impersonator of the famous “Naked Cowboy” — wearing a robe — was at one point spotted strolling through.

The scene outside is chaotic, with protesters and a mass of press gathered in penned-off area. Curious onlookers are clogging foot traffic as they pause to take in the scene.

The east side of Manhattan’s busy Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th is also closed to the public with dump trucks filled with dirt forming a protective barrier outside the building’s lobby.

1:58 p.m. — White House spokesman Josh Earnest says President Barack Obama’s top priority following Tuesday’s election is not his legacy.

Earnest says the president is focused on the 20 million people who gained health insurance after the Affordable Care Act went into effect.

Earnest is taking questions from reporters about how the election results will affect Obama’s legacy on issues such as health care and climate change.

Earnest says the president is also concerned about the prospect of protections being stripped from millions of Americans who benefit because health insurers are not allowed to discriminate based on pre-existing health conditions or impose a lifetime cap on expenses.

Earnest says the tearing away those protections would negatively affect a lot of people, and “that’s something Republicans will have to consider moving forward.”

1:50 p.m. — Officials hope to unveil Donald Trump’s repaired star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame as soon possible now that he’s been elected president.

The star along a well-traveled block of Hollywood Boulevard remains blocked off and covered in plywood two weeks after a protester took a sledgehammer to it. The man was charged with felony vandalism.

Vivian Kish with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce says the star has been mostly repaired, but still needs to finish drying and then be polished. She said it usually takes about two weeks to complete the process.

About two dozen Trump supporters reveled at the site after the election, snapping photos until police asked them to move on.

Trump’s star was dedicated in recognition of his work on NBC’s “The Apprentice.”

1:45 p.m. — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he has spoken to U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and has already received an invitation to meet.

Netanyahu said Trump invited him to meet “at the first opportunity” in a phone call Wednesday.

A statement from Netanyahu’s office said the Israeli leader congratulated Trump on his win and said that “the U.S. has no better ally than Israel.” It described their conversation as “warm” and said they spoke about regional issues.

Israel and the U.S. are close allies but relations were often tense between Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, mainly over Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians and concerns over the U.S.-led nuclear deal with Iran.

Netanyahu and Trump are friendly and ties are expected to improve.

Netanyahu met with Trump and Hillary Clinton in September.

1:40 p.m. — A close presidential vote pushed many people past their bedtimes, including President-elect Donald Trump’s 10-year-old son, Barron.

The youngest of Trump’s five children stood next to his father during his victory speech in New York early Wednesday. Television cameras caught the younger Trump fighting through heavy eyelids during his father’s remarks.

The internet took notice with many posting clips of boy, noting that his appearance mirrored those of many at home struggling to stay awake.

1:05 p.m. — Republican Donald Trump won the presidency fueled by a surge of working-class whites across a band of Midwestern states. Those are the kind of voters who had helped anchor Democratic presidential victories for a generation.

Trump won states such as Pennsylvania and Iowa that had twice backed Barack Obama.

Exit polls and unofficial returns reflect deep racial, gender, economic and cultural divides across the region and nationally.

Trump’s support Tuesday skewed older, more male and overwhelmingly white. His supporters said they are deeply dissatisfied with the federal government and eager for change. That’s according to the exit polls conducted by Edison Research for national media outlets.

Democrat Hillary Clinton’s support was anchored in cities, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Trump’s advantages in small towns, rural areas and many suburbs.

1 p.m. — A prominent Republican critic of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is giving the Democrat high marks for her concession speech.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said in a statement Wednesday that Clinton should be congratulated for “doing her part to bring about healing of our nation.”

Unimpressed with either candidate, Graham quipped in September that the choice “makes me want to move to Canada.”

But a day after the election, Graham said Clinton struck the right tone.

Graham said, “all Americans should follow her counsel and try to work with our next president.”

He said Trump “will need all the help he can get given the many challenges we face as a nation.”

12:55 p.m. — Another former president Bush is congratulating Donald Trump on winning the race for the White House.

George W. Bush said in a statement that he called Trump Wednesday. He said he and his wife, Laura, wished the president-elect and his family “our very best as they take on an awesome responsibility.”

Bush added: “We pray for the success of our country and the success of our new president.”

A spokesman said Bush and his wife didn’t vote for Trump when casting early ballots for Tuesday’s election.

Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, also called and congratulated Trump on Wednesday.

12:50 p.m. — President Barack Obama says he could not be prouder of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Obama said Clinton’s candidacy and nomination sent a message to daughters all across the country that “they can achieve at the highest levels of politics.” Clinton lost to Republican Donald Trump in Tuesday’s election.

Obama was speaking Wednesday in the White House’s Rose Garden. He said he is confident that Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton will continue to do great work for people around the world.

12:40 p.m. — President Barack Obama says he was heartened by President-elect Donald Trump’s call for unity.

Speaking Wednesday at the White House, Obama said the campaign was long and hard fought and that while a lot of Americans are feeling exultant, others are not.

He said everyone is sad when their side loses an election. But, resorting to sports analogies, Obama said “we’re actually all on one team” and we’re in an intramural scrimmage.

He said all Americans should want what’s best for the country.

In his acceptance speech, Trump called for the country to “bind the wounds of division.”

12:35 p.m. — President Barack Obama says he’s instructing his team to make sure there is a peaceful transfer of power to Donald Trump.

Obama spoke Wednesday in the White House’s Rose Garden following Trump’s upset victory in Tuesday’s presidential election.

He noted that he and Trump have had big differences. Trump promises to repeal many of Obama’s achievements over the past eight years. Obama had warned voters that if Trump were to win, “all that progress goes down the drain.”

Now, Obama said, “we all want what’s best for this country.” He said the point is that we all go forward with a presumption of good faith in all citizens. He says that’s how the country has moved forward and he’s confident that the incredible American journey will continue.

12:05 p.m. — Hillary Clinton says America “is more deeply divided than we thought,” but she is urging her supporters to accept the outcome of the presidential election.

In a speech Wednesday conceding the presidency to Republican Donald Trump, Clinton said, “I still believe in America, and I always will.”

She noted that “our responsibility as citizens is to keep doing our part to keep building that better, stronger, fairer America.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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Hillary Clinton lining up policy priorities for 2017, if she wins

Hillary Clinton‘s advisers are crafting a domestic policy agenda for the opening months of a potential presidency that is centered on three issues with some level of Republican support: an infrastructure package that emphasizes job creation, criminal justice reform, and immigration legislation — with the promise of quick executive action if a bill fails in Congress.

Clinton’s campaign aides and transition team have been emphasizing the trio of priorities in conversations with lawmakers and advocacy groups, according to several people involved in those discussions. While Clinton has spoken frequently about each subject in campaign appearances, her advisers’ discussions provide new insight into how the Democrat might approach her first months in the White House, should she defeat Donald Trump on Nov. 8.

People with knowledge of Clinton’s planning insisted on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the private conversations publicly. Clinton campaign officials would not comment on the emerging agenda, saying Clinton is focused squarely on defeating Trump and helping Democrats take control of the Senate, which would improve her chances of securing passage of her policy priorities.

“Anyone who thinks that our candidate or the campaign is focused on the transition is mistaken,” said Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director. “Hillary Clinton is superstitious.”

Clinton has led national and battleground state polls in recent weeks, though Trump sees a new FBI email inquiry as an opening to overtake the Democrat in the election’s closing days.

If Clinton wins, immigration is expected be among the most complex domestic policy issues she hopes to tackle in 2017. Some Republican leaders, desperate to boost their party’s appeal with Hispanics, have backed legislation, but the party’s right wing keeps resisting, and may be more emboldened by the popularity of Trump’s hardline immigration policies with some GOP voters.

Clinton’s team has actively looked for ways to avoid the traps that have sunk President Barack Obama‘s bid for an immigration overhaul in 2013. Sweeping legislation that included a path to citizenship for millions of people illegally in the U.S. passed the Senate that year, but Republican leaders in the House refused to put the measure up for a vote.

Advocacy groups have discussed with Clinton aides the prospect of pushing the House to act on immigration first this time around, testing the will of a chamber that is expected to stay in Republican hands.

However, that approach is largely contingent on Paul Ryan remaining speaker of the House. The Wisconsin lawmaker has spoken favorably of the need to address the nation’s fractured immigration laws. But he may face an internal revolt that forces him out of his leadership post, given the anger among some House Republicans over his lukewarm support for Trump during the general election.

Asked whether Ryan would be willing to work with Clinton on immigration legislation, spokeswoman AshLee Strong said: “Speaker Ryan is focused on beating Democrats in November, including Hillary Clinton.”

In another break from Obama’s immigration strategy, Clinton aides have signaled plans to wield the threat of executive action more aggressively during the legislative process. Obama spent years insisting only Congress could change immigration laws, though he later took executive actions to keep millions of people in the U.S. illegally from deportation.

“We’re long past time when a president can simply say, I really supported (immigration reform), but Congress didn’t do it,” said Clarissa Martinez De Castro of the National Council of La Raza, a group that advocates immigration reform.

Some of Obama’s executive actions on immigration have been challenged in the courts. The Supreme Court, which is down one justice, deadlocked 4-4 on a decision about the legality of the executive actions. If Clinton is elected, she would presumably nominate a ninth justice inclined to uphold the measures.

Beyond the pitched battle potentially ahead on immigration, it’s clear Clinton’s team is looking for ways she could court bipartisan support for other policies.

Clinton aides have been telling Democrats that she plans to push swiftly for a package of criminal justice reforms, seizing on an issue with broad Republican backing. She could ask lawmakers to pick up a package of reforms that stalled in the Senate earlier this fall, legislation aimed at reducing mandatory minimum sentences for some non-violent offenders and reducing the money the U.S. spends on incarcerations.

“There’s going to be a very important effort for bipartisan cooperation together on this,” Clinton said of criminal justice reform in a radio interview Thursday.

Advisers say Clinton does not view gun control, a more politically risky issue even among some Democratic members of Congress, as part of a criminal justice package.

Clinton’s other main priority should she win appears to be moving swiftly on a multibillion-dollar infrastructure package aimed at boosting economic growth and creating jobs. She’s proposed spending $275 billion on new road, sewer and other infrastructure projects.

Republicans are broadly supportive of infrastructure investments. But as with the numerous fiscal fights between Obama and congressional Republicans, paying for the spending bill could become a point of contention.

Clinton’s plan states that “business tax reform” would finance her agenda, which would include $250 billion in direct funding over five years and $25 billion to seed an infrastructure bank. While the details of the tax reforms are unclear, New York Sen. Chuck Schumer has said the money could come from letting companies pay a lower tax rate on their overseas earnings.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Mac Stipanovich: Win or lose, Never Trump movement remains proud

With Donald Trump still down in the polls with a week to go, the edifice of excuses designed to justify his potential defeat is being hurried to completion.

To the foundation stones of voter fraud and a mainstream media conspiracy his campaign manager recently added treason, alleging that if Trump loses it will be, in large part, because he was stabbed in the back by the Never Trump renegades in the GOP.

That is a baldfaced lie. Never Trump did not stab Trump in the back. They stabbed him in the front.

Because Trump is a Republican only in the same sense that the Visigoths who sacked Rome were Romans, a relative handful of actual conservatives in the GOP adamantly opposed him from the moment he descended from on high, riding his Trump Tower escalator, armored in ignorance and spewing venomous bigotry and public policy nonsense.

They would not collaborate in pursuing what they believe would be a Pyrrhic victory, both for the GOP and for the country, if Trump is elected president.

Instead, to their honor and to the shame of all those who did collaborate — all the sycophants, front-runners, apologists, ambition-addled, and faint-of-heart — they resisted.

And they lost. Then they lost some more.

Some, like George Will, Mary Matalin, and Sally Bradshaw, long-time pillars of the GOP, gave up and left the party altogether, disgusted and demoralized. But others, like Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Mike Lee of Utah, soldiered on.

Here in Florida, Hispanic leaders like U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo from Miami are unflinching in their opposition to the Trump candidacy for obvious reasons, and they are seconded by others around the state made of similarly stern stuff, like Will Weatherford, former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, and Rick Wilson, a longtime Republican political consultant, just to name two among many.

But compared to the swollen ranks of right-wing populist true believers, Hillary-haters, and reflexive Republicans, all marching in lockstep behind Trump, the front line of Never Trump warriors is thin indeed. The fact is, Never Trump acting alone are too few to deprive Trump of the 90-plus percent of Republican votes he must have to win.

They are not alone, however. Behind them in the shadows are the Mumblers.

The Mumblers are all those elected Republicans who, horrified by Trump’s nomination but too fearful to publicly swim against this year’s fast-running tide of right-wing populism, mumbled once when asked where they stood, “I will support the nominee,” and then disappeared, never to be seen on the presidential campaign trail.

You could hold a Trump rally in the front yard of just about any Mumbler in America with Ivanka standing next to her father and be confident the Mumbler would not be home that day, or on any other day Trump is in the same ZIP code.

Obviously, the Mumbler contribution to the Never Trump cause is passive, but it is nevertheless important. While the broader resistance to Trump by GOP big feet, including the Bush family, Mitt Romney, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, John McCain and others, signals wavering Republicans that it is all right not to vote for Trump, the collective inertia of the Mumblers dampens voter intensity and makes rank-and-file Republicans not caught up in the mass psychosis that is the Trump phenomenon less likely to buckle on their swords and go to war on his behalf, or to even vote.

Then there are the Ditherers, exemplified by Sens. Marco Rubio, Kelly Ayotte, and Deb Fischer, as well as House Speaker Paul Ryan.

Too frightened to resist Trump openly and too frightened to embrace Trump fully, the Ditherers fall squarely between the two stools, pleasing no one, and surely embarrassing their families and friends in addition to their constituents. But even so, their public agonies of indecision and inconsistency speak ill of Trump, and, thus, they too aid the effort to defeat him by calling into question his fitness for office.

Intentionally or inadvertently, many in the GOP have contributed their mite to stopping Trump, but none have contributed more than Never Trump, the point of the Republican anti-Trump spear.

Far from being a cowardly stab in the back, the long, dogged battle that Never Trump has fought against Trump has been face to face and out in the open for all to see.

And, win or lose, in that their glory lays.

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Mitch Perry Report for 10.21.16 — Rick Scott in 2020?

Forget about Marco Rubio in 2020, what about Rick Scott?

Troy Kinsey from Bay News 9 reports that “some GOP operatives are floating him as a potential presidential contender in 2020, should Trump lose in November.”

Kinsey then quotes all of one lone such operative in his story. But it does make for a good headline.

Now, what about Marco Rubio? The Florida lawmaker made news this week when he declared in his debate against Patrick Murphy, “I’m going to serve in the Senate for the next six years, God willing.”

Even if Rubio does break that pledge, will the GOP primary voters in 2020 become warmer to his candidacy than they were this year? Well, a Bloomberg poll of 404 Republicans nationally taken last week doesn’t even put Rubio in the top five contenders for 2020.

Mike Pence, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan and John Kasich finished in the top five, with five percent listed as “other,” including, presumably, some Rubio fans.

Meanwhile in South Florida yesterday, the President of the United States continues to enjoy his freewheelin’ campaign style in the waning months of his tenure, slamming Rubio mercilessly for his continued support of Trump.

“How can he call him a con artist and dangerous, and object to all the controversial things he’s said, but then say, ‘I’m still going to vote for him?’,” Obama said at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens.

“C’mon, man,” he said.

“That is the sign of someone who will say anything, do anything, pretend to be anybody just to get elected. If you’re willing to be anybody just to be somebody, man, you don’t have the leadership that Florida needs in the United States Senate.”

Closer to home, a quick correction to Patrick Manteiga’s column in today’s La Gaceta. Patrick reports Lisa Montelione has “failed to receive any endorsement of her peers on Tampa City Council” in her House District 63 race versus Republican Shawn Harrison.

Au contraire. Mike Suarez and Harry Cohen did announce their endorsement earlier this week.

The Cubs thrashed the Dodgers last night, and are looking pretty up 3-2 going back to Chi-town tomorrow night. I may be the only man in the Tampa Bay area rooting for the Dodgers, which is really weird. I mean, I’m a Giants fan, for heaven’s sake.

And the Bucs travel to San Francisco, Santa Clara this weekend to play Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers. Will any Bucs take a knee in solidarity with the now nationally famous activist?

In other news …

Victor Crist is calling for an emergency meeting next week of the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission to deal with the negative fallout of recent press reports.

Speaking of which, newly released emails show PTC executive director Kyle Cockream communicated freely with officials of taxicab and limousine companies his agency is supposed to be regulating.

After getting his column on the more unseemly side of the Clintons spiked, Chris Ingram quit the Tampa Bay Times.

Republican Eric Seidel continues his campaign against Democratic incumbent Pat Frank for the clerk of the court.

Sarasota U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan hopes to get federal assistance in cleaning up Sarasota and Manatee County’s red tide problem.

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Mitch Perry Report for 10.12.16 – Is there still no crying in baseball?

It’s painful today for me, folks.

I stayed up past midnight this morning to see the Chicago Cubs come from behind with four runs in the top of the ninth inning to defeat the San Francisco Giants, 6-5, and advance to the National League Championship Series this weekend, where they’ll play either Washington D.C. or Los Angeles.

When I was a kid in the 1970’s, baseball was my favorite sport, just like it was America’s. But over the course of the past four decades, the game has been superseded by football, and for my tastes, also by basketball.

Spring training is a great diversion because it’s in wonderful weather, where people can kick back with a beer and a dog and chat with friends. But nobody cares who wins the darn game. The MLB regular season is interminably long and frankly, pretty tedious.

But the post-season? There’s nothing quite like it.

You know the story about the Joe Maddon-led Cubs, who haven’t won a World Series since 1908, and haven’t been in one since 1945. They have been by far the sport’s greatest team through all of 2016, and the big story going into October was – how can they not win it all?

Well, there was some serious gnashing of teeth late last night, as it appeared the Giants were going to take the best-of-five series back to Wrigley Field on Thursday night for a climactic fifth game. Fans everywhere (but especially in Cubs World) were beginning to fret: will “The Curse” continue?

Maybe it would have, if the Giants had at least a competent, high-school level quality of relief pitching. But they don’t. And after (former Tampa Bay Ray) Mike Moore’s brilliant performance after eight innings and 120 pitches, it was time to bring in the relief staff. Yet no one on that staff could get anybody out, and the Cubs had their miracle win, topped off by bringing in badass reliever Aroldis Chapman to strike out the side in the bottom of the ninth.

So, congrats to Maddon, Ben Zobrist and the city of Chicago. I predicted a month ago that the L.A. Dodgers would upset the Cubs in the playoffs, and that scenario could still happen, though it likely won’t.

After the Barry Bonds – Giants blew a 3-2 lead against the California Angels and lost the 2002 World Series, I thought I’d never live long enough to see them win one in my lifetime. They then peeled off three championships in the past six years, which means I’ll still die a happy man when it comes to my baseball interests. Will Cub fans of a certain age get to same the same thing later this month?

In other news…

Bill Clinton came to Safety Harbor last night. Our report.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn loves Hillary Clinton and is doing all he can to get her elected, but he says she’s dead wrong in opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.

Hillsborough County GOP Chair Deb Tamargo spoke to RealClear Politics Tom Bevan yesterday as well, and said that the folks calling her office are pro-Donald Trump, and against Paul Ryan.

Less than four weeks before Election Day, top Republicans in the state are being awfully shy in expressing their opinions on Amendment Two, the medical marijuana initiative.

The Republican Party of Florida is very intent on keeping the House District 60 seat in Hillsborough County in GOP hands, as they’re spending major money on Jackie Toledo’s campaign.

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