Rick Scott: Brett Kavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford ‘must receive a fair hearing’

Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, rivals in November, both say Christine Blasey Ford’s allegations should be heard. (Photos by George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, trying to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November, weighed in this morning on Christine Blasey Ford‘s accusation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her as a high school student in the early 1980s.

“Dr. Ford must receive a fair hearing; her allegations are very serious,” Scott said in a statement that also rips California Sen. Diane Feinstein and Nelson.

Nelson and Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio both called Monday for Ford’s allegations to get a full airing by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Here’s Scott’s full statement: “The Judiciary committee needs to seek the truth here. Truth is not partisan, and truth is more important than politics. These very serious allegations should have been investigated months ago. But Democrat Senator Feinstein pulled a slick Washington trick and intentionally hid this from the Senate during the hearings. Dr. Ford must receive a fair hearing; her allegations are very serious. And Judge Kavanaugh deserves to have the chance to clear his name. In related news, someone must have told Senator Nelson to start doing his job now, and he is finally saying he’s interested in meeting with the Judge.”

Nelson on Monday tweeted: “I’m still waiting for a meeting with Judge Kavanaugh I’ve requested four times. I have a number of questions for him. Meantime, I agree there should be an investigation of the new allegations against him. I believe the people involved should appear before the Judiciary committee.”

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio also weighed in Monday via Twitter:

“Dr. Ford has made very troubling allegations that must be fully heard. Judge Kavanaugh has strongly denied them & should be given the opportunity to respond. I agree with the decision by @ChuckGrassley to provide both parties the opportunity to do so,” Rubio tweeted.

DeSantis fundraising perks up after early Gillum money surge

Democrat Andrew Gillum (left) has an early money edge over Republican Ron DeSantis in the Florida governor’s race.

After getting blown out by Democrat Andrew Gillum in fundraising immediately after Aug. 28 primaries, Republican Ron DeSantis edged Gillum in money collected for the Florida governor’s race during the first week of September.

And a DeSantis PAC has snagged more than $2 million since the last Florida Division of Elections reporting deadline, including a $1.5 million check from Palm Beach County resident Laura Perlmutter, the wife of Marvel Entertainment Chairman Isaac Perlmutter.

As of Sept. 8, Gillum and his Forward Florida PAC had nearly $5.2 million in cash on hand for the general election while DeSantis and his Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC had nearly $2.6 million.

Hear more about the governor’s race in the latest Inside Florida Politics podcast…

The figures for DeSantis and Gillum and their PACs do not include spending by outside groups trying to influence the race.

The Service Employees International Union, for example, recently announced plans to spend $5 million on ads, communications and get-out-the-vote efforts to support Gillum and other “candidates dedicated to lifting up the middle class.” The Republican Governors Association recently launched a statewide TV ad campaign accusing Gillum of going “just too far” with his call for a $1 billion hike in the corporate income tax and other proposals.

Gillum and his PAC raised $4 million in the three days after Gillum’s stunning Aug. 28 Democratic primary victory over four better-financed rivals. DeSantis and his PAC raised only $521,880 in the same period.

Between Sept. 1 and Sept. 7, however, DeSantis raised $1.4 million while Gillum raised $1.3 million.

DeSantis’ latest total includes $380,951 collected by his campaign and $1 million raised by his PAC. Gillum’s campaign raised $874,285 during the first week of September while his PAC snagged $445,500.

DeSantis, whose GOP primary win was largely due to President Donald Trump‘s endorsement, will turn to one of Trump’s arch rivals — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — for fundraising help next week at an event in Coral Gables.

 

 

Florida Republicans Scott, Rubio, DeSantis dispute Trump on Puerto Rico deaths

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has made seven trips to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Irma and had Puerto Rico Lt. Gov. and Secretary of State Luis Rivera-Marin (left) at the kickoff of his Senate campaign in April. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

As Hurricane Florence barreled toward the Carolinas this morning, President Donald Trump took to Twitter to claim that official estimates of nearly 3,000 deaths from last year’s Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico were a Democratic concoction “to make me look as bad as possible.”

Trump’s claims drew widespread outrage and were disputed by Florida’s leading Republicans: Gov. Rick Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio and gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis.

Trump touched off the controversy before 8 a.m. in consecutive tweets.

“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…” the president tweeted.

Trump added: “…..This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”

Democrats blasted the president, with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson calling his claims “shameful.”

Republicans defended the official death estimates.

“These days even tragedy becomes political,” said Rubio on Twitter. “3k more Americans died in #PuertoRico after Hurricane than during comparable periods before. Both Fed & local gov made mistakes. We all need to stop the blame game & focus on recovery, helping those still hurting & fixing the mistakes.”

While Rubio didn’t mention Trump, Scott — who has made multiple visits to Puerto Rico since the hurricane — was more direct.

“I disagree with @POTUS– an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. Rosselló agreed,” said Scott, a longtime Trump ally who has distanced himself from the president since launching a Senate campaign. “I’ve been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand. The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching. I’ll continue to help PR.”

DeSantis, whose nomination over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was largely due to Trump’s support, carefully distanced himself from the president.

“Ron DeSantis is committed to standing with the Puerto Rican community, especially after such a tragic loss of life. He doesn’t believe any loss of life has been inflated,” said DeSantis campaign spokesman Stephen Lawson. “Ron is focused on continuing to help our Puerto Rican neighbors recover and create opportunities for those who have moved to Florida succeed.”

 

Bill Nelson ad tells Latinos that Rick Scott and Donald Trump are ‘muy buenos amigos’

New Bill Nelson ad notes that Rick Scott and Donald Trump are “muy buenos amigos.”

Amid suggestions he’s underperforming with Hispanic voters, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson‘s re-election campaign is airing a Spanish-language ad that says his Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, and President Donald Trump are “muy buenos amigos.”

Nelson’s campaign released the new ad Wednesday night along with an ad in English that notes — as Democrats also did in 2010 and 2014 — that Scott was CEO of hospital chain that paid a $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud.

Check out the Inside Florida Politics podcast here…

Democrat Charlie Crist won the Hispanic vote by 20 points when he unsuccessfully challenged Scott in 2014, according to exit polls. But a recent Quinnipiac University poll shows Scott leading Nelson among Hispanic voters in a race that’s tied 49-to-49 overall. A Mason-Dixon poll in July gave Nelson only a 5-point edge among Latino voters.

The ad aimed at Latino voters features Nelson speaking briefly in Spanish (“Soy Bill Nelson, y apruebo este mensaje.”) before showing seven still images of Scott with Trump, who according to exit polls lost the Florida Hispanic vote by a 62-to-35 percent margin to Hillary Clinton in 2016.

An English translation provided by the Nelson campaign says: “Tell me who you hang out with, and I will tell you who you are. Rick Scott and Donald Trump are great/close friends/pals. Scott raised $20 million to elect Trump. Then Trump recruited Scott to run for the Senate. We need people to stand up to Donald Trump and his extreme agenda.
If Scott goes to Washington, he will do what Trump wants. Rick Scott. We just can’t trust him.”

Scott was an early cheerleader for Trump’s presidential bid and chaired a pro-Trump super PAC in 2016. Scott and Trump met frequently during Trump’s first year in office, but Scott has kept his distance from Trump since launching his Senate bid in April.

 


	

A different Republican president is coming to Palm Beach for Rick Scott

Former President George W. Bush during a 2006 visit to Palm Beach County. He’ll be back Friday to raise money for Gov. Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate bid. (Bob Shanley/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Gov. Rick Scott will raise money for his U.S. Senate bid with a Republican president in Palm Beach, but the headliner will not be frequent island visitor and current White House occupant Donald Trump.

Instead, former President George W. Bush — the embodiment of a GOP that Trump campaigned against in 2016 — will appear with Scott in Tampa and Palm Beach on Friday.

Hear about the Senate race and other campaigns in America’s largest battleground state on the Inside Florida Politics podcast…

The specific location for the Bush-Scott Palm Beach event, which was first reported by Politico, has not been announced.

An invitation says $1,000 donors get a ticket to a reception, $2,700 contributors get a reception ticket and mention in an event program and those who pony up $25,000 get four reception tickets, a VIP photo for two and a program listing.

Scott raised money last week with Vice President Mike Pence but so far hasn’t campaigned with Trump, with whom he’s been close in the past. Trump publicly urged Scott to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

 

Ron DeSantis resigns from Congress to focus on Florida governor’s race

Ron DeSantis and President Donald Trump at a Tampa rally on July 31. (Zac Anderson/The Sarasota Herald-Tribune)

Florida’s Republican nominee for governor, Ron DeSantis, announced today he is resigning from Congress to focus on his campaign against Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum.

DeSantis, whose GOP primary campaign was boosted by an endorsement and campaign appearance from President Donald Trump, made the announcement in Trumpian fashion — via Twitter.

DeSantis was in his third term representing a Jacksonville-area district in the U.S. House. In a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., DeSantis asks that his resignation be retroactive to Sept. 1 so he does not receive any pay for September.

“As the Republican nominee for governor of Florida, it is clear to me that I will likely miss the vast majority of our remaining session days for this Congress,” says DeSantis’ letter. “Under these circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to accept a salary. In order to honor my principles and protect the taxpayer, I officially resign from the House of Representatives immediately. For purposes of pay, I ask that my resignation be retroactive to September 1 so that I do not receive any pay for the month of September.”

Gillum begins governor race with big money advantage over DeSantis

Democrat Andrew Gillum (left) has an early money edge over Republican Ron DeSantis in the Florida governor’s race.

Andrew Gillum was outspent by his four main rivals in the Florida Democratic primary for governor, but a flurry of post-primary contributions have given Gillum an early money advantage over Republican nominee Ron DeSantis.

Hear about the governor’s race and other Florida politics highlights in the Inside Florida Politics podcast…

Tallahassee Mayor Gillum an affiliated political committee raised more than $4 million in the three days after Gillum’s stunning Aug. 28 primary victory, according to reports filed Friday with the Florida Division of Elections. U.S. Rep. DeSantis, meanwhile, raised only $521,880 in the same period.

Gillum began September with more than $4.2 million in cash on hand for the governor’s race while DeSantis had $1.5 million.

Gillum spent about $6.7 million on his primary campaign while his rivals combined to spend nearly $100 million. Gillum did, however, benefit late in the campaign from spending by outside groups, including a $3.5 million effort by People For the American Way and other liberal groups.

From Aug. 29 to Aug. 31, Gillum’s campaign raised $1.7 million and his Forward Florida committee collected $2.3 million. The committee got $1 million from the Democratic Governors Association and $1 million from hedge fund manager Donald Sussman.

During the same period, the DeSantis campaign raised $275,880 and an affiliated committee raised $246,000. The committee’s biggest receipt was $100,000 from a PAC associated with the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Gen X governor race will produce Florida’s youngest leader in century

Don’t be fooled by the gray beard: Marcellus Lovejoy Stearns, left, was Florida’s youngest governor when he took office at age 34 in 1874. Park Trammell (center) took office at 36 in 1913 and William Sherman Jennings was 37 at his 1901 inauguration.

The Florida governor’s race between 39-year-old Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis, who turns 40 next week, will produce the state’s youngest governor in more than a century.

Republican Ron DeSantis (left), turns 40 next week; Democrat Andrew Gillum is 39.

Tallahassee Mayor Gillum and U.S. Rep. DeSantis heightened the Gen X flavor of the race on Thursday when they chose running mates who were born in the 1970s.

Gillum tapped another 39-year-old, Winter Park businessman Chris King, for the Democratic ticket while DeSantis picked 46-year-old state Rep. Jeanette Nunez of Miami as the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor.

Find out what the running mates mean for the 2018 race in the latest Inside Florida Politics podcast…

The youngest Florida governor at inauguration was Marcellus Lovejoy Stearns, who was 34 when he took office in 1874. Stearns, who lost an arm while fighting for the Union in the Civil War, was a lieutenant governor who ascended to the top job when Gov. Ossian Hart died of pneumonia.

Park Trammell became the second-youngest governor in Florida history — and the state’s youngest elected governor — when he was inaugurated at 36 in 1913 after winning the 1912 election.

Florida’s only other under-40 governor was William Sherman Jennings, who was 37 at the time of his 1901 inauguration.

Gillum or DeSantis would be the state’s fourth-youngest governor, displacing John Wellborn Martin, who was 40 years, 6 months and 15 days old when he was inaugurated in 1925. Fort Pierce native Dan McCarty was a few weeks shy of his 41st birthday when he became governor in 1953. He died of a heart attack later that year.

The oldest Florida governor at time of inauguration was Buddy MacKay, the lieutenant governor who became governor at age 65 when Lawton Chiles died in office in December 1998, a few weeks before the end of his term. The state’s oldest elected governor was Fred Cone, who was 65 when he won the 1936 governor’s race.

Running mates: Gillum taps Chris King; DeSantis picks Jeanette Nunez

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum tapped Chris King (left) as his running mate; Republican Ron DeSantis named state Rep. Jeanette Nunez.

Florida’s gubernatorial nominees — Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis — announced their running mates this morning.

Gillum tapped one of his Democratic primary rivals, Winter Park businessman Chris King, who finished fifth in last week’s primary. Politics is full of phony professions of friendship and respect, but Gillum and King seemed to genuinely like one another on the campaign trail. They were also the two most liberal candidates in the field.

DeSantis named four-term state Rep. Jeanette Nunez, R-Miami. She is the first Cuban-American woman to appear on a gubernatorial ticket in Florida history and adds a Spanish-speaking component to the Republican ticket.

The selection of Nunez was first reported by Politico late Wednesday in an article that also noted that she supported Sen. Marco Rubio in the 2016 presidential primary and ripped then-candidate Donald Trump.

“Wake up Florida voters, Trump is the biggest con-man there is. #nosubstance #anti-Israel #supportsKKK #nevertrump
VOTE @marcorubio #RUBIO,” Nunez tweeted on March 3, 2016. The tweet was deleted later Wednesday night.

As VP Mike Pence heads to Florida for Rick Scott, spokesman blasts anonymous anti-Trump piece

Gov. Rick Scott and Vice President Mike Pence in Orlando last year. (From the @FLGovScott Twitter account)

As noted last week, Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to raise money today in Orlando for Florida Gov. Rick Scott‘s U.S. Senate bid.

Pence and Scott are also expected to campaign in The Villages, the enormous Central Florida retirement community that is a must-visit for Republicans running statewide.

Also coming later today: A new Inside Florida Politics Podcast! Catch up on the most recent podcast here:

Before Pence arrives in the Sunshine State, his director of communications took to Twitter this morning to quash speculation that Pence is behind the bombshell New York Times op-ed in which an anonymous “senior official” in the Trump administration says he or she and others “are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

Jarrod Agen, communications director for the VP, this morning denied any Pence involvement and ripped the New York Times for running the piece.

“The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds. The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts,” Agen tweeted.