Fourteen Republican candidates for president met last night at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. It was the equivalent of political speed-dating, and none of them on stage were named Donald Trump. (By the way, do those things happen anymore? I did it twice in the early aughts, and what I remember from the experience was how weary I was after standing up and moving to another table every three minutes.)
Upshot? From this reporter’s perspective sitting on a couch in Tampa’s V.M. Ybor neighborhood, I say John Kasich is somebody who is going to continue to improve in his poll numbers in the coming weeks. The Ohio governor didn’t take the bait toward the end of the debate when the moderator essentially asked him to criticize his fellow Republicans. Since there are some conservatives (such as Eric Ericsson) who loathe Kasich and are poised to call him this year’s version of Jon Huntsman at a moment’s glance, Kasich knew better than to walk into that trap. But he essentially answered the question indirectly, saying that too many in his party haven’t looked out for the disadvantaged. I may be wrong, but I think he’s got some “upside,” in Mel Kiper Jr. parlance.
By the way, did any of the GOP candidates read the famous RNC “autopsy” report written by RNC members (like Florida’s Sharon Day) in 2013? The whole idea of reaching out to Latinos seems to be out the window. Call it the Trump effect, but the GOP candidates seem to be doubling down on discussing border security, with the exception of Jeb Bush. Well, check that, yesterday Bush delivered a six-point plan for immigration, one of his perceived vulnerabilities with GOP base voters.
Chris Christie said he wasn’t washed up. The New Jersey governor is lucky to make the top 10 for Thursday night’s debate, but it’s sort of sad to see a man of such energy and intensity look so, well, small in the post BridgeGate world.
I was sort of hoping that the moderator would have asked some of the Republicans who went out to Southern California to hang with the Koch Brothers network of donors over the weekend how they felt about the fact that a few millionaires can now essentially bankroll some campaigns, but I don’t think that came up.
In other news..
Citizens from Seminole and Tampa Heights will crowd the County Center chambers tonight for an important meeting by the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, where they’ll discuss the controversial Tampa Bay Express project.
Hillary Clinton begins airing her first TV ads of the campaign season, beginning today in Iowa and New Hampshire.
The League of Women Voters wants the Florida Legislature to hold every meeting on redistricting later this month in front of the public’s view.
And Craig Latimer announces he’s running for re-election as Hillsborough County supervisor of elections.