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Mitch Perry Report for 8.3.16 – How many GOP candidates still “not there yet” on Trump?

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New York Representative Richard Hanna yesterday became the first Republican in Congress to say that not only could he not support Donald Trump for president (he said that months ago), but he now says he’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton in the fall.

“While I disagree with her on many issues, I will vote for Mrs. Clinton,” Hanna wrote in an op-ed. I will be hopeful and resolute in my belief that being a good American who loves his country is far more important than parties or winning and losing. I trust she can lead. All Republicans may not like the direction, but they can live to win or lose another day with a real candidate.”

President Obama attempted to persuade more Republicans to dump Trump (which will probably have an opposing effect, knowing how much they’re going to rely on his advice) yesterday. “There has to be a point,” the president said, “at which you say, ‘This is not somebody I can support for president of the United States, even if he purports to be a member of my party.’”

The question now is: how many Republicans will follow?

The answer isn’t clear this morning. Yes, Meg Whitman, somewhat of a GOP powerbroker, is also for now for Hillary, but what about other lawmakers or candidates?

Not much happening there, except for the proverbial, “I’m not there yet,” which was Paul Ryan‘s statement to Jake Tapper months ago, before he got there, as it were, and backed his party’s standard bearer.

Our own David Jolly in Pinellas County has also adopted the “not there yet,” phrase when asked if he could back Trump in November.

In a somewhat rich bit of irony, Trump told the Washington Post that he’s “not there yet” when it comes to supporting House Speaker Paul Ryan in his bid for reelection. “I like Paul, but these are horrible times for our country,” the Manhattan business mogul told the Post’s Philip Bump. “We need very strong leadership. We need very, very strong leadership. And I’m just not quite there yet. I’m not quite there yet.”

Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens, as conservative a voice as there is in popular commentary, wrote Tuesday that Clinton is pretty bad, but she is not “the apotheosis of evil,” and “not a sociopath.”

Would it matter if polling showed that it would be beneficial for Republicans down the ballot would prosper more if they disavowed Trump? Because surely that could move hearts and minds.

It is early August, so there’s plenty of time for Trump to pour arson on the fire in terms of his candidacy, which is never, ever about policy (why not attack an economy which had only 1% growth last quarter), but is aways about lashing out at perceived injustices uttered at the nominee.

In other news…

With his strong support for the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership, Bob Buckhorn (and the Mrs.) got himself on the guest list for last night’s State Dinner at the White House with the Prime Minister of Singapore, one of the 12 nations on the pact.

Hillsborough County is now offering a diversion program for teenagers busted for possessing weed.

Well, that proposed meeting on new rules and regulations for ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft didn’t go very far yesterday in Hillsborough County.

Unlike that other constitutional amendment on solar power that Floridians will vote on in November, everybody loves the solar amendment measure known as Amendment Four this August, right? No, not exactly.

The Florida Democratic Party is taking sides in some competitive primaries this month. One candidate who isn’t being favored by the FDP says she’ll rely on grassroots power to win her contest.

C.J. Czaia is making some strong claims regarding the transparency of the endorsements that have gone to Wengay Newton and not himself in the HD 70 race. Not everyone agrees with him.

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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