These Democrats opposed the Iran nuclear deal, but now they’re for it

Democratic U.S. Reps. (from left) Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach and Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach opposed the Iran nuclear deal in 2015 but criticized President Donald Trump for pulling out of it Tuesday.

Three Democrats in Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation broke with former President Barack Obama and their party leadership in 2015 to oppose the Iran nuclear deal.

So with President Donald Trump announcing Wednesday that the U.S. is pulling out of the agreement, were Reps. Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Alcee Hastings happy?

Not at all.

All three issued statements denouncing Trump’s decision.

Click here to read their explanations as well as reactions from Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio and Gov. Rick Scott.

 

Trump Iran deal announcement looms; how Nelson, Rubio, Palm Beach County reps voted in 2015

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (left) and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson disagreed on the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump announced Monday on Twitter that he’ll reveal his decision on whether the U.S. should remain in the Iran nuclear deal this afternoon at 2 p.m.

The Iran deal was a landmark of former President Barack Obama‘s administration, but three Democrats in Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation — Reps. Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach, Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach —  opposed it in 2015. Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who crossed the aisle to vote with Republicans on several issues, supported the Iran deal.

The House voted against the deal by a 269-to-162 margin in September 2015. No Republicans supported the agreement and 25 Democrats joined them in opposing the president.

A majority of the U.S. Senate, including Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, opposed the deal as well. But under Senate procedural rules, Republicans needed 60 votes for a resolution opposing the deal to go forward. They fell short as Florida Democratic  Sen. Bill Nelson and 41 other Democrats voted to block consideration of the resolution.

In a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches appearance two weeks before the Senate vote, Nelson called the Iran deal flawed but better than the alternative.
“Right now, if we walk away from the agreement, Iran can develop a nuclear weapon in two to three months,” Nelson said. “If we agree to this agreement, which has its flaws, at the very least they will not produce a nuclear weapon until after 10 years and probably after 15 years.”
Nelson also said that he was satisfied that if Iran tried to secretly develop a nuclear weapon “we would find it.”

 

Shocker: Republican candidate says ‘I was just wrong’ — and Obama was right

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast, at Saturday night’s Florida Family Policy Council dinner in Orlando. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

ORLANDO — Candidates rarely admit being wrong about anything.

It’s even more rare for a candidate in a Republican primary to say he was wrong and former President Barack Obama was right. But it happened during Saturday night’s Florida Family Policy Council dinner when moderator Frank Luntz asked U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who’s running in a GOP primary for governor against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, to provide an example of a time he’s changed his mind about something.

“Actually, I think the one time that I was wrong in the Congress was when we had the breakout of Ebola and I thought we’ve just got to shut everything down, we can’t take any risks,” DeSantis said of the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa and concerns about its spread to the U.S.

“Obama didn’t do that and I criticized him a lot for doing that. A lot of my Republican colleagues criticized him for doing that but, you know, I look back at it – it was handled well,” DeSantis said. “I was just wrong about that. I think that the way the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and some of the folks in government handled it was actually an example of government getting the job done. So I’m totally willing to just be honest and admit if I call it wrong. Just admit that you were wrong and people appreciate that. Because we’re going to make mistakes in this line of work, that’s just the bottom line.”

Click here for a more complete story on Saturday night’s forum with Putnam and DeSantis.

Luntz put the question to Putnam differently, asking him about longtime Republican control in Tallahassee and whether there were issues the GOP has gotten wrong.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam at the Florida Family Policy Council dinner. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Putnam, who as agriculture commissioner is a member of the Florida Cabinet, said he’d like a “do-over” on the way the 2014 dismissal of Florida Department of Law Enforcement head Gerald Bailey was handled by Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet. He also said the Cabinet should hold more meetings outside Tallahassee to better connect with citizens.

And Putnam addressed the Cabinet’s handling of the restoration of rights to felons who have completed their sentences.

“When you look at the issues around the restoration of rights I have said that nonviolent felons ought to have a faster track than violent felons. First-time offenders perhaps. But I support what we have done with Gov. Scott and Attorney General (Pam) Bondi with having the victims’ influence matter,” Putnam said.

Bill Clinton’s frequent Florida appearances could be a #MeToo casualty

Bill Clinton at an October 2016 appearance in Belle Glade for Hillary Clinton. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)

Former President Bill Clinton has been a frequent election-year presence in Palm Beach County and elsewhere in Florida — stumping for such Democrats as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Charlie Crist, Patrick Murphy, Lois Frankel and Kendrick Meek.
But 20 years after he survived the Monica Lewinsky scandal as president, Politico reports that Bill Clinton could be shelved for the 2018 midterms amid heightened awareness of sexual harassment and the desire of Democrats to draw a clear contrast with President Donald Trump on the issue.

Bill Clinton appears with Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek in Delray Beach in 2010. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

Putting Clinton on the stump “just brings up a lot of issues that will be very tough for Democrats. And I think we all have to be clear about what the #MeToo movement was,” says House Progressive Caucus Vice Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., in a Politico article that says the 42nd president has become “too toxic” for Democrats.

Bill Clinton with former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in Palm Beach Gardens in 2014. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)

Bill Clinton narrowly lost Florida to George H.W. Bush in 1992 (the last person to lose Florida but win the presidency), then carried the state in 1996. He’s become a popular figure in the Sunshine State, and particularly deep-blue Palm Beach County, since leaving office.

Bill Clinton at Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth for a 2012 rally for President Barack Obama’s re-election. (Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)

In 2016, Bill Clinton’s Palm Beach County appearances included a rally for his wife in Belle Glade a month before the election, a high-dollar fundraiser in Palm Beach Gardens in the summer and a key primary-season stop at the Port of Palm Beach as Hillary Clinton sought to ward off the Bernie Sanders insurgency.

He raised money in West Palm Beach for Democratic congressional hopefuls Frankel and Murphy in 2012 and then campaigned for Murphy’s re-election in Palm Beach Gardens in 2014. In 2012, when he was a frequent “explainer-in-chief” surrogate for Obama’s re-election bid, he appeared at the Lake Worth campus of Palm Beach State College for the Obama campaign. He appeared in Delray Beach for Meek in 2010.

Video: Democrat Lauren Baer focuses on health care in bid for Brian Mast House seat

Democrat Lauren Baer, a former Obama administration foreign policy adviser who hopes to unseat freshman Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, is introducing herself to voters with a three-minute biographical video that doesn’t mention Mast but hints that Mast’s vote for a Republican health care overhaul will be a central issue in her campaign.

Democrat Lauren Baer in her new campaign video.

Baer and U.S. Navy veteran and attorney Pam Keith have launched Democratic campaigns for Mast’s Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 seat.

Baer’s video highlights her mother’s struggles after a 1992 car crash when Baer was a middle school student.

“I know from firsthand experience from what my mother went through that someone can be healthy one day and very ill the next…People need to know that if something comes up in their life, they’re not going to have to worry about making a choice between their health and their family’s economic well-being,” Baer says.

The video also includes footage of Baer with her spouse, Emily Myers, and their baby daughter. Baer is trying to become the first woman in a same-sex marriage to serve in Congress.

Baer, an attorney who grew up in Palm Beach Gardens, is a granddaughter of the founder of the Baer’s Furniture chain. She was a policy adviser to former U.S. Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry and to Samantha Power, who was U.S. ambassador the United Nations during the Obama administration.

 

 

One way Donald Trump hopes to be like George W. Bush in 2018

Presidents Donald Trump and George W. Bush waving from limousines in Palm Beach County. (Trump photo by Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post; Bush photo by Bob Shanley/The Palm Beach Post)

 

Democrats are crowing about a potential anti-Donald Trump wave in 2018 after scoring victories Tuesday in a pair of blue states, Virginia and New Jersey, and in the mayor’s race in heavily Democratic St. Petersburg.

Republicans counter that Democrats mostly won in places that Hillary Clinton carried last year.

Click here for a closer look at Tuesday’s results and their 2018 implications for Florida.

However one interprets Tuesday’s results, the last 80 years of American history suggest Democrats can expect gains in the 2018 midterm elections.

Since 1934, the party that controls the White House has lost an average of 27 House seats and 4 Senate seats in midterm elections, according to data compiled by the American Presidency Project at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Data from the American Presidency Project on midterm elections since 1934.

The biggest House shift was in 1938, with Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his second term as president, when Democrats lost 71 House seats.

The biggest Senate shake-up was in 1958 under Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower, when Democrats gained 13 seats.

Under Barack Obama, Republicans gained 63 House seats and 6 Senate seats in the 2010 midterms and 13 House seats and 9 Senate seats in 2014.

Only a few midterm elections have defied the trend.

The last president to see his party gain seats in Congress during a midterm election was George W. Bush in 2002. Fourteen months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Republicans picked up eight House seats and two Senate seats in the 2002 midterms.

 

 

How Obama, Trump, Jefferson figure in Florida candidate’s new radio ad

Presidents Barack Obama, Donald Trump (with lapel pins) and Thomas Jefferson.

Miami Beach Mayor and Democratic governor candidate Philip Levine quoted Martin Luther King and Gloria Estefan in his kickoff speech last week in a room splashed with larger-than-life paintings of John F. Kennedy, Harriet Tubman and Cesar Chavez.

Now Levine has launched a new statewide radio ad campaign in English and Spanish that invokes Barack Obama and Thomas Jefferson — and includes a cautionary mention of President Donald Trump — while urging voters to sign up for the Affordable Care Act.

Levine’s campaign says it is spending at least $100,000 to air the ad for five weeks across Florida.

“President Obama had a vision – that every American have access to affordable health care – and I join with him in urging that every man, woman and child in America be covered. Visit healthcare.gov now and sign up. Every Floridian has until December 15 to act before Donald Trump, or anyone, has a chance to tear down the Affordable Care Act we waited so long for,” Levine says in the ad.

“Like Thomas Jefferson, I believe that here in America, we do have an inalienable right to liberty, life and the pursuit of happiness. I’m adding one more – the right to health care.”

 

 

 

Part-time Palm Beach man vs. Rocket Man: Full text of Trump’s UN speech

Trump to Rocket Man: U.S. ready to “totally destroy” North Korea if nuclear belligerence persists. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump, making his first United Nations speech, warned North Korea’s Kim Jong Un that the U.S. will “totally destroy” his country if Kim threatens America or its allies with nuclear weapons.

Rocket Man is a recurring figure in post-World War II pop culture.

The part-time Palm Beach resident also blasted former President Barack Obama‘s nuclear deal with Iran as an “embarrassment” and slammed socialist Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro during a 42-minute speech this morning.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Trump said.

“Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” Trump said, repeating the nickname for Kim he first unveiled on Twitter on Sunday.

As for Venezuela, Trump said: “The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.”

Below is a full White House transcript of the president’s remarks:

 

REMARKS BY PRESIDENT TRUMP TO THE 72ND SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY 

United Nations

New York, New York

10:04 A.M. EDT

PRESIDENT TRUMP:  Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, world leaders, and distinguished delegates:  Welcome to New York.  It is a profound honor to stand here in my home city, as a representative of the American people, to address the people of the world.

As millions of our citizens continue to suffer the effects of the devastating hurricanes that have struck our country, I want to begin by expressing my appreciation to every leader in this room who has offered assistance and aid.  The American people are strong and resilient, and they will emerge from these hardships more determined than ever before.

Fortunately, the United States has done very well since Election Day last November 8th.  The stock market is at an all-time high — a record.  Unemployment is at its lowest level in 16 years, and because of our regulatory and other reforms, we have more people working in the United States today than ever before.  Companies are moving back, creating job growth the likes of which our country has not seen in a very long time.  And it has just been announced that we will be spending almost $700 billion on our military and defense. 

Our military will soon be the strongest it has ever been.  For more than 70 years, in times of war and peace, the leaders of nations, movements, and religions have stood before this assembly.  Like them, I intend to address some of the very serious threats before us today but also the enormous potential waiting to be unleashed. 

We live in a time of extraordinary opportunity.  Breakthroughs in science, technology, and medicine are curing illnesses and solving problems that prior generations thought impossible to solve. 

But each day also brings news of growing dangers that threaten everything we cherish and value.  Terrorists and extremists have gathered strength and spread to every region of the planet.  Rogue regimes represented in this body not only support terrorists but threaten other nations and their own people with the most destructive weapons known to humanity. 

Authority and authoritarian powers seek to collapse the values, the systems, and alliances that prevented conflict and tilted the world toward freedom since World War II.   

International criminal networks traffic drugs, weapons, people; force dislocation and mass migration; threaten our borders; and new forms of aggression exploit technology to menace our citizens.

To put it simply, we meet at a time of both of immense promise and great peril.  It is entirely up to us whether we lift the world to new heights, or let it fall into a valley of disrepair.

We have it in our power, should we so choose, to lift millions from poverty, to help our citizens realize their dreams, and to ensure that new generations of children are raised free from violence, hatred, and fear.

This institution was founded in the aftermath of two world wars to help shape this better future.  It was based on the vision that diverse nations could cooperate to protect their sovereignty, preserve their security, and promote their prosperity.

It was in the same period, exactly 70 years ago, that the United States developed the Marshall Plan to help restore Europe.  Those three beautiful pillars — they’re pillars of peace, sovereignty, security, and prosperity.

The Marshall Plan was built on the noble idea that the whole world is safer when nations are strong, independent, and free.  As President Truman said in his message to Congress at that time, “Our support of European recovery is in full accord with our support of the United Nations.  The success of the United Nations depends upon the independent strength of its members.”

To overcome the perils of the present and to achieve the promise of the future, we must begin with the wisdom of the past.  Our success depends on a coalition of strong and independent nations that embrace their sovereignty to promote security, prosperity, and peace for themselves and for the world.

We do not expect diverse countries to share the same cultures, traditions, or even systems of government.  But we do expect all nations to uphold these two core sovereign duties:  to respect the interests of their own people and the rights of every other sovereign nation.  This is the beautiful vision of this institution, and this is foundation for cooperation and success.

Strong, sovereign nations let diverse countries with different values, different cultures, and different dreams not just coexist, but work side by side on the basis of mutual respect.

 

Strong, sovereign nations let their people take ownership of the future and control their own destiny.  And strong, sovereign nations allow individuals to flourish in the fullness of the life intended by God.

In America, we do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to watch.  This week gives our country a special reason to take pride in that example.  We are celebrating the 230th anniversary of our beloved Constitution — the oldest constitution still in use in the world today.

This timeless document has been the foundation of peace, prosperity, and freedom for the Americans and for countless millions around the globe whose own countries have found inspiration in its respect for human nature, human dignity, and the rule of law.

The greatest in the United States Constitution is its first three beautiful words.  They are:  “We the people.”

Generations of Americans have sacrificed to maintain the promise of those words, the promise of our country, and of our great history.  In America, the people govern, the people rule, and the people are sovereign.  I was elected not to take power, but to give power to the American people, where it belongs.

In foreign affairs, we are renewing this founding principle of sovereignty.  Our government’s first duty is to its people, to our citizens — to serve their needs, to ensure their safety, to preserve their rights, and to defend their values.

As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like you, as the leaders of your countries will always, and should always, put your countries first.  (Applause.)

All responsible leaders have an obligation to serve their own citizens, and the nation-state remains the best vehicle for elevating the human condition. 

But making a better life for our people also requires us to work together in close harmony and unity to create a more safe and peaceful future for all people.

The United States will forever be a great friend to the world, and especially to its allies.  But we can no longer be taken advantage of, or enter into a one-sided deal where the United States gets nothing in return.  As long as I hold this office, I will defend America’s interests above all else.

But in fulfilling our obligations to our own nations, we also realize that it’s in everyone’s interest to seek a future where all nations can be sovereign, prosperous, and secure.

America does more than speak for the values expressed in the United Nations Charter.  Our citizens have paid the ultimate price to defend our freedom and the freedom of many nations represented in this great hall.  America’s devotion is measured on the battlefields where our young men and women have fought and sacrificed alongside of our allies, from the beaches of Europe to the deserts of the Middle East to the jungles of Asia.

It is an eternal credit to the American character that even after we and our allies emerged victorious from the bloodiest war in history, we did not seek territorial expansion, or attempt to oppose and impose our way of life on others.  Instead, we helped build institutions such as this one to defend the sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

For the diverse nations of the world, this is our hope.  We want harmony and friendship, not conflict and strife.  We are guided by outcomes, not ideology.  We have a policy of principled realism, rooted in shared goals, interests, and values.

That realism forces us to confront a question facing every leader and nation in this room.  It is a question we cannot escape or avoid.  We will slide down the path of complacency, numb to the challenges, threats, and even wars that we face.  Or do we have enough strength and pride to confront those dangers today, so that our citizens can enjoy peace and prosperity tomorrow?

If we desire to lift up our citizens, if we aspire to the approval of history, then we must fulfill our sovereign duties to the people we faithfully represent.  We must protect our nations, their interests, and their futures.  We must reject threats to sovereignty, from the Ukraine to the South China Sea.  We must uphold respect for law, respect for borders, and respect for culture, and the peaceful engagement these allow.  And just as the founders of this body intended, we must work together and confront together those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil, and terror.

The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based.  They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries.

If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph.  When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea.  It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more.

We were all witness to the regime’s deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America only to die a few days later.  We saw it in the assassination of the dictator’s brother using banned nerve agents in an international airport.  We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea’s spies.

If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea’s reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life. 

It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict.  No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.  Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.  The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.  That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for.  Let’s see how they do.

It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future.  The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council.  Thank you to all involved.

But we must do much more.  It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior.

We face this decision not only in North Korea.  It is far past time for the nations of the world to confront another reckless regime — one that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing death to America, destruction to Israel, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.

The Iranian government masks a corrupt dictatorship behind the false guise of a democracy.  It has turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed, and chaos.  The longest-suffering victims of Iran’s leaders are, in fact, its own people.

Rather than use its resources to improve Iranian lives, its oil profits go to fund Hezbollah and other terrorists that kill innocent Muslims and attack their peaceful Arab and Israeli neighbors.  This wealth, which rightly belongs to Iran’s people, also goes to shore up Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, fuel Yemen’s civil war, and undermine peace throughout the entire Middle East.

 We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.  (Applause.)  The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.  Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it — believe me. 

It is time for the entire world to join us in demanding that Iran’s government end its pursuit of death and destruction.  It is time for the regime to free all Americans and citizens of other nations that they have unjustly detained.  And above all, Iran’s government must stop supporting terrorists, begin serving its own people, and respect the sovereign rights of its neighbors.

The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most.  This is what causes the regime to restrict Internet access, tear down satellite dishes, shoot unarmed student protestors, and imprison political reformers.

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice.  Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed, and terror?  Or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture, and wealth where their people can be happy and prosperous once again?

The Iranian regime’s support for terror is in stark contrast to the recent commitments of many of its neighbors to fight terrorism and halt its financing.

In Saudi Arabia early last year, I was greatly honored to address the leaders of more than 50 Arab and Muslim nations.  We agreed that all responsible nations must work together to confront terrorists and the Islamist extremism that inspires them.

We will stop radical Islamic terrorism because we cannot allow it to tear up our nation, and indeed to tear up the entire world.

We must deny the terrorists safe haven, transit, funding, and any form of support for their vile and sinister ideology.  We must drive them out of our nations.  It is time to expose and hold responsible those countries who support and finance terror groups like al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Taliban and others that slaughter innocent people.

 

The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the reemergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people.

Last month, I announced a new strategy for victory in the fight against this evil in Afghanistan.  From now on, our security interests will dictate the length and scope of military operations, not arbitrary benchmarks and timetables set up by politicians.

I have also totally changed the rules of engagement in our fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups.  In Syria and Iraq, we have made big gains toward lasting defeat of ISIS.  In fact, our country has achieved more against ISIS in the last eight months than it has in many, many years combined. 

We seek the de-escalation of the Syrian conflict, and a political solution that honors the will of the Syrian people.  The actions of the criminal regime of Bashar al-Assad, including the use of chemical weapons against his own citizens — even innocent children — shock the conscience of every decent person.  No society can be safe if banned chemical weapons are allowed to spread.  That is why the United States carried out a missile strike on the airbase that launched the attack.

We appreciate the efforts of United Nations agencies that are providing vital humanitarian assistance in areas liberated from ISIS, and we especially thank Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon for their role in hosting refugees from the Syrian conflict. 

The United States is a compassionate nation and has spent billions and billions of dollars in helping to support this effort.  We seek an approach to refugee resettlement that is designed to help these horribly treated people, and which enables their eventual return to their home countries, to be part of the rebuilding process.

For the cost of resettling one refugee in the United States, we can assist more than 10 in their home region.  Out of the goodness of our hearts, we offer financial assistance to hosting countries in the region, and we support recent agreements of the G20 nations that will seek to host refugees as close to their home countries as possible.  This is the safe, responsible, and humanitarian approach.

For decades, the United States has dealt with migration challenges here in the Western Hemisphere.  We have learned that, over the long term, uncontrolled migration is deeply unfair to both the sending and the receiving countries.

For the sending countries, it reduces domestic pressure to pursue needed political and economic reform, and drains them of the human capital necessary to motivate and implement those reforms.

For the receiving countries, the substantial costs of uncontrolled migration are borne overwhelmingly by low-income citizens whose concerns are often ignored by both media and government.

I want to salute the work of the United Nations in seeking to address the problems that cause people to flee from their homes.  The United Nations and African Union led peacekeeping missions to have invaluable contributions in stabilizing conflicts in Africa.  The United States continues to lead the world in humanitarian assistance, including famine prevention and relief in South Sudan, Somalia, and northern Nigeria and Yemen. 

We have invested in better health and opportunity all over the world through programs like PEPFAR, which funds AIDS relief; the President’s Malaria Initiative; the Global Health Security Agenda; the Global Fund to End Modern Slavery; and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, part of our commitment to empowering women all across the globe.

We also thank — (applause) — we also thank the Secretary General for recognizing that the United Nations must reform if it is to be an effective partner in confronting threats to sovereignty, security, and prosperity.  Too often the focus of this organization has not been on results, but on bureaucracy and process.

In some cases, states that seek to subvert this institution’s noble aims have hijacked the very systems that are supposed to advance them.  For example, it is a massive source of embarrassment to the United Nations that some governments with egregious human rights records sit on the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The United States is one out of 193 countries in the United Nations, and yet we pay 22 percent of the entire budget and more.  In fact, we pay far more than anybody realizes.  The United States bears an unfair cost burden, but, to be fair, if it could actually accomplish all of its stated goals, especially the goal of peace, this investment would easily be well worth it.

Major portions of the world are in conflict and some, in fact, are going to hell.  But the powerful people in this room, under the guidance and auspices of the United Nations, can solve many of these vicious and complex problems.

The American people hope that one day soon the United Nations can be a much more accountable and effective advocate for human dignity and freedom around the world.  In the meantime, we believe that no nation should have to bear a disproportionate share of the burden, militarily or financially.  Nations of the world must take a greater role in promoting secure and prosperous societies in their own regions.

That is why in the Western Hemisphere, the United States has stood against the corrupt and destabilizing regime in Cuba and embraced the enduring dream of the Cuban people to live in freedom.  My administration recently announced that we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban government until it makes fundamental reforms.

We have also imposed tough, calibrated sanctions on the socialist Maduro regime in Venezuela, which has brought a once thriving nation to the brink of total collapse.

The socialist dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro has inflicted terrible pain and suffering on the good people of that country.  This corrupt regime destroyed a prosperous nation by imposing a failed ideology that has produced poverty and misery everywhere it has been tried.  To make matters worse, Maduro has defied his own people, stealing power from their elected representatives to preserve his disastrous rule.

The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing.  Their democratic institutions are being destroyed.  This situation is completely unacceptable and we cannot stand by and watch.

As a responsible neighbor and friend, we and all others have a goal.  That goal is to help them regain their freedom, recover their country, and restore their democracy.  I would like to thank leaders in this room for condemning the regime and providing vital support to the Venezuelan people.

The United States has taken important steps to hold the regime accountable.  We are prepared to take further action if the government of Venezuela persists on its path to impose authoritarian rule on the Venezuelan people.

We are fortunate to have incredibly strong and healthy trade relationships with many of the Latin American countries gathered here today.  Our economic bond forms a critical foundation for advancing peace and prosperity for all of our people and all of our neighbors.

I ask every country represented here today to be prepared to do more to address this very real crisis.  We call for the full restoration of democracy and political freedoms in Venezuela. (Applause.)

The problem in Venezuela is not that socialism has been poorly implemented, but that socialism has been faithfully implemented.  (Applause.)  From the Soviet Union to Cuba to Venezuela, wherever true socialism or communism has been adopted, it has delivered anguish and devastation and failure.  Those who preach the tenets of these discredited ideologies only contribute to the continued suffering of the people who live under these cruel systems.

America stands with every person living under a brutal regime.  Our respect for sovereignty is also a call for action.  All people deserve a government that cares for their safety, their interests, and their wellbeing, including their prosperity.

In America, we seek stronger ties of business and trade with all nations of good will, but this trade must be fair and it must be reciprocal.

For too long, the American people were told that mammoth multinational trade deals, unaccountable international tribunals, and powerful global bureaucracies were the best way to promote their success.  But as those promises flowed, millions of jobs vanished and thousands of factories disappeared.  Others gamed the system and broke the rules.  And our great middle class, once the bedrock of American prosperity, was forgotten and left behind, but they are forgotten no more and they will never be forgotten again. 

While America will pursue cooperation and commerce with other nations, we are renewing our commitment to the first duty of every government:  the duty of our citizens.  This bond is the source of America’s strength and that of every responsible nation represented here today.

If this organization is to have any hope of successfully confronting the challenges before us, it will depend, as President Truman said some 70 years ago, on the “independent strength of its members.”  If we are to embrace the opportunities of the future and overcome the present dangers together, there can be no substitute for strong, sovereign, and independent nations — nations that are rooted in their histories and invested in their destinies; nations that seek allies to befriend, not enemies to conquer; and most important of all, nations that are home to patriots, to men and women who are willing to sacrifice for their countries, their fellow citizens, and for all that is best in the human spirit.In remembering the great victory that led to this body’s founding, we must never forget that those heroes who fought against evil also fought for the nations that they loved.

Patriotism led the Poles to die to save Poland, the French to fight for a free France, and the Brits to stand strong for Britain.

Today, if we do not invest ourselves, our hearts, and our minds in our nations, if we will not build strong families, safe communities, and healthy societies for ourselves, no one can do it for us.

We cannot wait for someone else, for faraway countries or far-off bureaucrats — we can’t do it.  We must solve our problems, to build our prosperity, to secure our futures, or we will be vulnerable to decay, domination, and defeat.

 

The true question for the United Nations today, for people all over the world who hope for better lives for themselves and their children, is a basic one:  Are we still patriots?  Do we love our nations enough to protect their sovereignty and to take ownership of their futures?  Do we revere them enough to defend their interests, preserve their cultures, and ensure a peaceful world for their citizens?

One of the greatest American patriots, John Adams, wrote that the American Revolution was “effected before the war commenced.  The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people.”

That was the moment when America awoke, when we looked around and understood that we were a nation.  We realized who we were, what we valued, and what we would give our lives to defend.  From its very first moments, the American story is the story of what is possible when people take ownership of their future.

The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of sovereignty, security, and prosperity for all.

Now we are calling for a great reawakening of nations, for the revival of their spirits, their pride, their people, and their patriotism.

History is asking us whether we are up to the task.  Our answer will be a renewal of will, a rediscovery of resolve, and a rebirth of devotion.  We need to defeat the enemies of humanity and unlock the potential of life itself.

Our hope is a word and world of proud, independent nations that embrace their duties, seek friendship, respect others, and make common cause in the greatest shared interest of all:  a future of dignity and peace for the people of this wonderful Earth.

This is the true vision of the United Nations, the ancient wish of every people, and the deepest yearning that lives inside every sacred soul.

So let this be our mission, and let this be our message to the world:  We will fight together, sacrifice together, and stand together for peace, for freedom, for justice, for family, for humanity, and for the almighty God who made us all. 

Thank you.  God bless you.  God bless the nations of the world.  And God bless the United States of America.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.) 

END                10:46 A.M. EDT 

 

You won’t believe who’s targeting Donald Trump voters now

“A lot of these (Trump) voters were not Republicans and the whole goal is to convert them to Republicans and get them engaged as Republicans,” say Palm Beach County GOP State Committeeman Joe Budd, shown here in 2016. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Even after Donald Trump beat two Florida favorite sons to win the state’s Republican presidential primary, then captured the GOP nomination and the White House itself, the president and his supporters are seen as an exotic species by many in the Republican Party.

The Palm Beach County GOP has appointed a “Trump outreach coalition chair” and the Republican Party of Florida has encouraged the formation of local “Trump Republican Clubs” around the state to try to persuade Trump supporters to turn out for GOP candidates in 2018 when Trump himself isn’t on the ballot.

“A lot of these (Trump) voters were not Republicans and the whole goal is to convert them to Republicans and get them engaged as Republicans,” explains Joe Budd, an early Trump supporter who’s now the Republican state committeeman for Palm Beach County.

Read about the GOP efforts — and the parallel between supporters of Trump and supporters of Barack Obama — by clicking here.

Democrats inject Donald Trump into two Florida races

Democrats are running TV ads in St. Petersburg and Miami linking Republicans to President Donald Trump.

Democrats who hoped nationally watched special congressional elections in Kansas, Montana and Georgia would deliver rebukes of President Donald Trump came away disappointed.

Now two races in Florida — a nonpartisan mayoral election in St. Petersburg and a special election for a state Senate seat in Miami — have revived Democratic hopes that Trump and his slumping approval ratings will be an albatross for Republican candidates.

In St. Petersburg, where polling shows former Mayor Rick Baker leading current Mayor Rick Kriseman, the Florida Democratic Party this week began airing TV spots that put Baker, who is a Republican, on an “extreme team” with Trump, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The same ads link Kriseman, a Democrat, to former President Barack Obama, former VP Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg.

Seven mayoral candidates are on the Aug. 29 St. Petersburg ballot. If no candidate gets a majority, the top two finishers square off on Nov. 7.

Democrats are also playing the Trump card ahead of a Sept. 26 special election in Miami to fill the Senate District 40 seat of former Republican Sen. Frank Artiles, who resigned in April. The special election pits Democrat Annette Taddeo against Republican state Rep. Jose Felix “Pepi” Diaz, who was once a contestant on Trump’s The Apprentice.

Republican Artiles won the district by 10 points in November and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio edged Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy in the district, but Democrats have a slight registration edge and Democrat Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 16 points.

Democrats launched an ad in English and Spanish this week that shows a selfie of Diaz and Trump and says the Republican “supports Trump’s every move.”

State Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Atlantis, in line to become Senate Democratic leader next year, says there are “a lot of other issues” besides Trump in District 40, but Diaz presents a special anti-Trump opportunity.

“If you were asking for the Democrats to draw up a candidate that had links to Trump you couldn’t do any better than someone who actually appeared as a contestant on The Apprentice. He was also an early Trump endorser. So Pepi Diaz is going to have to live with Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, his anti-health care policies, and those aren’t particularly popular in Miami,” Clemens said.