For perhaps the first time this year, presidential candidates from both parties will speak to the same audience on Friday morning in Fort Lauderdale. The setting is the National Urban League’s annual meeting, taking place at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center — but the hottest politician in the U.S. –- Donald Trump, won’t be there.
Former first lady, New York senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont independent U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley are the Democrats who will be in attendance. Jeb Bush and Dr. Ben Carson, both Florida residents, are the only two Republicans out of the now-17 member field who address the Urban League delegates.
Mark Morial, chief executive of the National Urban League, said at a new conference earlier this week that that the group did send an invite to Trump, before his controversial remarks regarding Mexicans. “He did not respond, so he saved himself from being fired,” Morial quipped.
The Urban League sent out invites to all presidential candidates who have appeared in reputable national polls over the past six months, Morial said, adding that a number of candidates could not attend for scheduling reasons, and others simply never bothered to reply.
It could be argued that the GOP candidates – with the exception of Bush and Carson — aren’t doing themselves any favors by shunning the event. Bush is backing up his talk that he intends to campaign everywhere, including in places that Republicans don’t usually appear.
In anticipation of Bush’s speech before the Urban League, the Center for American Progress highlighted Florida’s controversial Stand Your Ground law in a report titled, “Jeb Bush’s License to Kill.” It highlights a speech at the NRA earlier this year where the former Florida governor described the legisation as a “sensible law that other states have adopted.”
As of this past February, 24 other states had enacted such laws. The report says that “reality is that the legacy of his leadership on this issue has left a dark footprint on the country. It has led to an increase in homicides in states that have enacted these laws, as well as a racially skewed application that results in white perpetrators more frequently being relieved of liability for killing black victims.”
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has already stepped on her own lead when it comes to her Urban League speech. On Wednesday her campaign announced that she would also be giving a speech at Florida International University at 11 a.m. on Friday, where she will call for an end to the 50-year-plus economic embargo on Cuba.
This will be Bernie Sanders’ first appearance in the Sunshine State since becoming a presidential candidate.