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Mitch Perry Report for 9.8.16 — The reality of our binary choice for POTUS

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

To begin with today, props to the Tampa Bay Times’ Anastasia Dawson for her portrayal on the very short life of Levonia Riggins, the 22-year-old black man shot and killed last week by a white Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputy because … well, because they said he went for a gun when he was confronted in his bedroom at 8 a.m. by said sheriff deputy (Riggins was unarmed). And the reason why a SWAT team was banging down his door in the first place? Because twice before sheriff’s officials had purchased pot from Riggins, and they “thought” he was armed.

Back to politics.

I won’t bash NBC’s Matt Lauer today, since everyone else on the Internet has already done so regarding his performance as monitor of last night’s discussions on national security with Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump. But let me add my two cents to where these two candidates came up woefully short last night.

After watching Clinton speak in Tampa on Tuesday, I wrote that while her speech had been labeled for days as major address on national security issues, she actually spent a very short time talking about what she would do to contain ISIS, and then fired off a series of (pretty funny) ripostes on how lame Trump’s policies were (such as “His secret plan to defeat ISIS? The secret is, he has no plan.”).

What it showed, however, is that so much of what Clinton is selling is less an affirmation about her own candidacy, but how bad the other guy is. True, many candidates do that all the time (look at the Rubio vs. Murphy matchup), but Clinton’s inability to talk about her own plans was apparent when she violated the rules set down by Lauer and started bashing Trump last night. With less than 30 minutes available to talk about her foreign policy acumen (and 10 of those minutes stuck focusing on her damn emails), why did she have to resort to bashing Trump there? It looked like a lack of confidence in her own plans — which shouldn’t be the case if she’s one of the most “qualified people ever” to run for office.

As far as Trump’s performance? I’m sorry, but I thought it was nauseating to hear him praise Vladimir Putin the way he did. It was disrespectful by itself to praise the Russian leader while ripping on America’s president, but I get that Trump, like Clinton, is all about bashing his opponents. But praising Putin for having an 82 percent approval level in Russia? Wasn’t Saddam Hussein‘s poll ratings in the 90’s back in the 1990s? Embarrassing.

And his quote that “Our generals have been reduced to rubble”?  Nice.

In other news …

The man Pam Bondi defeated for attorney general six years ago, Democrat Dan Gelber, says the AG should hire an independent investigator to check out the real story behind her office’s decision not to prosecute Trump University.

The ground game for Donald Trump in Hillsborough County is finally started to emerge.

Who says there’s no bipartisanship in Florida? Patrick Murphy and David Jolly teamed up on a bill to congressional leaders on Wednesday, calling on them to end the madness and find a way to pass a bill for more funding to combat the Zika virus.

A coalition of activists want to take Amendment 1 down in Florida this November, calling it a “sham” concocted by the utility companies to turn out the light on solar power expansion in the Sunshine State.

The entire seven-member Tampa City Council has endorsed David Singer, a fellow Democrat, in the House District 60 race against Jackie Toledo.

The LIBRE Initiative is going all out in advocating for Marco Rubio‘s re-election to the U.S. Senate this fall.

And meet John Houman, aka “Mr. Manners” and the man standing between Darryl Rouson and a seat in the Florida state Senate next year.

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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