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Mitch Perry Report for 12.16.15 – Fear and loathing in Las Vegas

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

With all the Republican candidates gathering at the Venetian in Las Vegas for the last GOP presidential debate in 2015, the question I ask you today is – will the Republican nominee be anyone other than Donald Trump or Ted Cruz?

Trump was his classic self last night, but finally had somebody take it to him in the person of Jeb Bush, who had several well-rehearsed put-down lines that had the Donald mumbling to himself and making absurd faces.

Bush condemned the front-runner as a “chaos candidate ” who would become a “chaos president,” and stood his ground after Trump dismissed him as doing poorly in the polls. “Donald, you’re not going to be able to insult your way to the presidency. That’s not going to happen,” he retorted.

Jeb also brought out that Trump chestnut about who he leans on for foreign policy advice. You might recall when Trump was asked that question by Chuck Todd earlier this summer, he replied that he watches “the shows.” Bush said he didn’t know if Trump was watching Saturday morning cartoons or Sunday morning talk shows.

Meanwhile, the Donald was getting all chummy with Ted Cruz, taking the advice of the conservative talk show hosts who for the first time this year chastised the New York City real estate magnate on Monday for having the temerity to go after Cruz on one of those Sunday shows. Laura Ingraham suggested that Trump and Cruz lay off each other for now, since they are the true anti-establishment Republicans.

Cruz so, continuing to maintain his “bear hug” approach that he told donors in New York City last week.

The Donald followed suit. When asked to repeat his comment from Sunday to Chris Wallace where he questioned Cruz’ temperament to be president, said when asked by Wolf Blitzer, “He’s just fine. Don’t worry about it.”

Trump had also Cruz “a little bit of a maniac,” but backed off, fascinating considering the vitriol he’s spewed over every other Republican who talks some trash about him.

Amazingly, it only took 5 debates for Marco Rubio to be asked directly in a debate about his stance on immigration, as he was last night by CNN’s Dana Bash. The Florida Senator remains extremely vulnerable on this issue for obvious reasons. He took a chance in 2013 in working with Democrats (including the frequently mentioned Chuck Schumer) to be a member of the Gang of 8 to pass the comprehensive immigration reform bill, a bill he ran away from ever since after it became so toxic to the Tea Party and other elements of the GOP.

So forgive me if I wasn’t that riveted about the exchange that Marco had with Ted Cruz on who might have been “weaker” on the issue, or if they might vote for legalization in the future.

The campaigning will begin to slow down a bit as we head toward Christmas next week. Can Rubio and Bush, in most polls 4th and 5th respectively, edge up? It’s not going to be easy.

In other news …

Speaking of the debate, a Pew study says that there’s a tremendous amount of interest in this presidential race, in part due to the debates. The study says more Republican voters feel that way than Democrats.

Hillsborough County Commissioners will vote in mid-February on whether or not to put a half-cent sales tax for transportation on the 2016 ballot.

Florida State University still has a strong connection going with the Charles Koch Foundation of Charles and David Koch fame. A new report says that FSU took in more than $626,000 from the Koch Foundation in 2014.

CD 13 Republican congressional candidate Mark Bircher officially announced his candidacy last night, prompting Charlie Crist to send out a fundraising email alerting his supporters about this “Tea Party” style candidate.

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

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