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Mitch Perry Report 2.15.16 – Trump doubles down on Iraq comments about W

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Happy Presidents Day, y’all!

Other than government folks, does anyone else have today off? Just wondering.

Speaking of presidents, this is a crucial week in the 2016 election for both parties, but let’s focus on the Republican election in South Carolina on Saturday.

All polls show Donald Trump with a very solid lead, but a number of pundits are speculating that lead will erode, following The Donald’s performance at the GOP debate Saturday night in Greenville.

“We should have never been in Iraq,” Trump said, not for the first time, during the debate. “They lied, they said there were weapons of mass destruction. There were none and they knew that there were none.”

Whatever you think of Trump, the fact that he’s not following the GOP mantra when it comes to talking about George W. Bush, particularly in military friendly South Carolina, was a demonstration that this man doesn’t play by the same political rules as everyone else.

He elicited boos from the audience, as he did in the previous Saturday night debate in New Hampshire.

As we all know, Trump won by 19 points over every other Republican in the Granite State.

On the Sunday morning shows, Trump doubled down.

“I could be very quiet, I could say, ‘Oh that’s wonderful,’ or I could say, ‘Excuse me, the World Trade Center’” came down during President Bush’s tenure, he said.

His response came after Jeb Bush and others have said that George W. “kept us safe.” Yes, Trump says, after 9-11. It’s just a historical fact that terrible act of terror did occur while Bush was president. Folks, if President Barack Obama was president on that date, you think there would be any controversy about just saying that?

Trump received terrible reviews for the debate performance, while Jeb and Marco Rubio received plaudits.

As we’ve written in this space since the debates began last August, those positive reviews in debates have rarely made much a difference in the polls.

However, the polls mean less than ever now, because Americans are now actually voting.

There’s no doubt that John Kasich‘s impressive debate performance last week in Manchester helped him in part get his second place finish. And that Rubio’s self-acknowledged disaster in that same event hurt him three days later.

So, will South Carolinians rebuke Trump for his provocative comments next Saturday? You have to believe anything is possible, though obviously little that Trump has said or done this cycle has hurt him at all.

“If it does, it does — I have to tell the truth,” Trump said yesterday when asked if his comments would hurt him.

Then again, there’s a reason why Jeb Bush has been struggling in the presidential race to date, and part of that is his brother’s ill-fated entry into Iraq. That’s a fact and you need to talk to some Republicans outside of Florida to hear that anti-Bush sentiment out there.

I did, while at the USF Sun Dome on Friday. Trump was in fine fettle  there, where he free-associated a lot while hitting some of his familiar parts of his stump speech.

Trump’s performance on Saturday night was too much for one RPOF state committeeman, who now is demanding that party Vice Chairman Joe Gruters remove himself from the Trump campaign.

And in other news, Tampa Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor is leading a group of six other members of Congress (three Republican and three Democrats) in Cuba this week.

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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