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Adam Goodman and Steve Schale agree that a Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton race could be formidable

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Florida Democratic Party strategist Steve Schale and (mostly) Republican media guru Adam Goodman both agreed at a Suncoast Tiger Bay luncheon in St. Petersburg on Wednesday that a Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump general election match-up will be a hotly contested encounter.

Much has been made about the wide enthusiasm gap between Republican and Democratic voters through the first six weeks of the 2016 electoral contest, with GOP turnout up an astounding 60 percent from 2008, and the Democrats down nearly 30 percent.

But Schale says that what’s pushing Republican turnout currently, could be the same factor that drives Democrats to go to the polls in big numbers in the fall.

“I suspect that Donald Trump will be the greatest thing Hillary Clinton’s ever had when it comes to motivating Democrats,” he said. But he has two words for  his Democratic friends who are convinced that Trump is unelectable in November – Rick Scott.

Goodman called Trump “a party of one” who is speaking to the angst, anger and impatience of the American voter. And he’s critical of talk amongst GOP insiders to deny the Manhattan business mogul the nomination at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland this July.

He also said that this is only “Act One,” for Trump, and that his second act will be his transition into a general election candidate in the fall. That theory isn’t shared by other analysts, who believe Trump is incapable of behaving in any other fashion than what he’s displayed on the national scene over the past year.

“I think that Donald Trump, if he’s going to be the president of the United States, by the time we hit November, will be seen as a different kind of Donald Trump, or he will not be the president of the United States,” Goodman concluded.

When pressed by Pinellas County school board member Linda Lerner if he would support him in the fall, Goodman said that he suspects that the Republican Party as whole will be supporting Trump, “and so will I.”

The two men mostly agreed on their opinions, and we’re passionate in denouncing phony pundits who clog the cable news airwaves. While Schale has been offering such commentary for years, Goodman only recently has become a regular fixture on Fox News. He said he got involved because he was grew weary of watching too many mediocre voices on the air.

“Hopefully we can help elevate the conversation to the intelligence that is truly necessary about what’s going on,” Goodman said.

“There’s reason why the NFL doesn’t have fantasy football owners making commentary during football games, ” quipped Schale. “Because it’s a different thing if you’ve actually played a game.” Schale jokingly says he’s pushing for the networks to put consultants to put up win-loss records of the political consultants when they’re offering their opinions.

One note of disagreement was regarding President Obama’s selection of a Supreme Court Justice (the event was held shortly after Obama announced that he was nominating Merrick B. Garland, a centrist appeals court judge, in hopes he will be considered by Senate Republicans.

Schale says he’d run ads against wavering Republican Senators who oppose an up or down vote on the Obama pick, while Goodman said he feared politicizing the high court more than it already has been.

Goodman sounded like Bernie Sanders in denouncing the 2010 Citizens United decision, calling it the “worst decision for our democracy” in years, though admitting it’s been a boon for Republican candidates in particular.

The two also weighed in on possible VP selections. Goodman likes Ohio Governor John Kasich to fill out the GOP ticket. Schale mentioned Virginia Senator Tim Kaine or Housing and Urban Development Director (and former San Antonio Mayor) Julian Castro. Goodman added that he thought that Clinton needed someone with some personality on the ticket, and mentioned New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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