WATCH: Trump speaks to NRA, first president to do so since Reagan

UPDATE: The White House is livestreaming President Donald Trump’s speech at the NRA Convention. Watch live in the video below:

(Can’t see the video? Click here.)

ATLANTA — President Donald Trump today will be the first sitting U.S. president since Ronald Reagan to address the National Rifle Association — cementing his pro-gun credentials after long ago advocating a ban on “assault weapons” and longer waiting periods to purchase firearms.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former U.S. Rep. Allen West, who represented a portion of Palm Beach County from 2011 to 2013, are also scheduled to speak at the NRA gathering. Trump will speak at 1:30 p.m., followed by Scott at 2:20. West will go on later in the afternoon, at 3:50 p.m.

» NRA Convention attendees give Trump high marks — before he even speaks

NRA members are “excited” to hear from President Donald Trump today in Atlanta, the group’s executive director says. (Michael Ares / The Palm Beach Post)

» FIRST 100 DAYS: A look at Trump’s Palm Beach travel — and how it compares to past presidents

» COMPLETE COVERAGE: President Donald Trump in Palm Beach

The NRA was a key backer of Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, endorsing him in May, before he had officially become the Republican nominee.

Check out and throughout the day for coverage of Trump, Scott and others at the NRA convention.

When Trump considered a 2000 run for president as a Reform Party candidate, he favored some gun restrictions opposed by the NRA.

“I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today’s Internet technology we should be able to tell within seventy-two hours if a potential gun buyer has a record,” said Trump’s 2000 book called “The America We Deserve.”

Trump faulted Democrats in the 2000 book for wanting “to confiscate all guns,”  while saying Republicans “walk the NRA line and refuse even limited restrictions.”

Seventeen years later, Second Amendment advocates have no doubt that Trump is in their corner, NRA Executive Director Chris Cox said in a recent Fox News interview.

“This president ran as the most pro-Second Amendment, pro-individual freedom candidate in the history of the country, and if you look at how he’s governed over the first 100 days, he’s arguably been the most effective and most successful in the first 100 days of any presidency,” Cox said.

“So we’re really excited not only about him speaking, but Donald Trump being president of the United States and having a president who supports this basic individual and fundamental freedom.”

» What can the NRA expect Trump to say today? A look back at his RNC speech




Mother of Pulse victim says in Murphy ad Rubio went back to D.C. to “do nothing”

Christine Leinonen, mother of Pulse victim
Christine Leinonen, mother of Pulse victim

With Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy set to meet in Orlando for their first TV debate tonight, Murphy is airing a new ad recalling the Pulse nightclub shooting in that city.

The spot features Christine Leinonen, who lost her son Christopher in the June shooting. Forty-nine people were killed and 53 others wounded by heavily armed Omar Mateen, a security guard shot and killed by police. The mass shooting, among the largest in the nation’s history, was called a terrorist hate crime.

“I cannot understand how Marco Rubio would go back to Washington, D.C., and do nothing,” Leinonen says in the ad.

Rubio has said the shooting helped push him toward seeking re-election this year. But Murphy, who has pushed for stricter gun regulations, has criticized Rubio for voting against a Senate measure shortly after the Orlando attack that would have barred those on the federal terrorist watch list from obtaining weapons.

Rubio has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association, which has aired TV spots supporting him.

Murphy fights political math — and Rubio

Democrats placed a big bet on Murphy, figuring the two-term Jupiter congressman could flip the seat when Rubio was running for president and vowing not to seek re-election.

But Murphy’s chances shifted seismically in June, when Rubio announced he’d seek a second term.

Now, entering the race’s final weeks, Murphy’s hope is that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s sinking prospects will also pull Rubio under water.

National Democrats, though, seem skeptical, steering millions of dollars in planned spending for Murphy into at least five other states – Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania – where Democratic pick-ups may look more likely. Democratic allies have spent only $5 million on taking out Rubio, according to Pro Publica, which is tracking campaign spending.

Meanwhile, Republican leadership PACS and outside groups such as the GOP’s Senate Leadership Fund, National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Rifle Association are underwriting Rubio’s race, spending more than $20 million against Murphy.

The pair will meet Monday in the first of two debates scheduled. The hourlong event from the University of Central Florida in Orlando will be aired on ABC-TV stations across the state, including WPBF-TV Channel 25 in West Palm Beach.

Full story:

Rubio triples Murphy’s latest fund-raising total in U.S. Senate race

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio outstrips Democrat Patrick Murphy in fund-raising.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio outstrips Democrat Patrick Murphy in fund-raising.

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday that he raised $9.6 million over the past three months, about triple the amount collected by Democratic rival, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter.

Rubio has already been helped by more than $15 million in spending against Murphy by groups including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Rifle Association and Koch brothers-financed organizations.

“I’m extremely encouraged to see an outpouring of donations from all over the state and I look forward to continuing to work hard to earn votes across Florida as we approach the election,” Rubio said.

Murphy announced Monday that he pulled in $3.3 million for the last quarter, bringing his total fund-raising to $14.5 million.

But while Rubio is being helped by big spending by outside organizations, only just over $3 million has been spent against him by unions allied by Murphy.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, after delaying a late-September TV ad buy on Murphy’s behalf, now also has scrapped another $1.9 million it scheduled for late October.

The DSCC, though, says it still plans to have TV ads airing for Murphy this month — although the Democrat continues to trail Rubio in almost every poll.

Murphy draws another $3.3 million for U.S. Senate homestretch; Rubio helped by outside groups

Republican Marco Rubio, Democrat Patrick Murphy
Republican Marco Rubio, Democrat Patrick Murphy

Democrat Patrick Murphy raised $3.3 million over the past three months in his bid to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been helped largely by millions of dollars more spent by outside groups.

The latest fund-raising puts the two-term Jupiter member of Congress at close to $14.5 million collected for the race.

Rubio, however, has been aided by more than $15 million in spending against Murphy by groups including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Rifle Association and Koch brothers-financed organizations.

Only $3.1 million has been spent against Rubio, mostly by labor unions supporting Murphy.

“It is clear that Floridians are ready for a Senator who shows up and fights for them in the U.S. Senate,” said Murphy, echoing themes from TV spots he’s airing which blast Rubio’s poor attendance record in the U.S. Senate.



Rubio leads Murphy in U.S. Senate race on strength of Hispanic support and boosting Democrat’s negatives

Rubio holds lead over Murphy
Rubio holds lead over Murphy

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio continues to lead Democrat Patrick Murphy in the latest poll in Florida’s nationally watched Senate race, helped by strong support among Hispanic voters.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research said its survey last week of 820 likely Florida voters showed Rubio with a 7-point edge on Murphy. Rubio leads 47 percent to 40 percent for Murphy, with the poll having a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 3.5 percent.

While Murphy is trying hard to lash Rubio to the Trump campaign, the Florida senator is drawing some of his strongest backing for Hispanic voters.

Hispanics favor Rubio over Murphy 53 percent to 38 percent — and he is attracting 16 percent of Democratic voters, the survey found.

Rubio’s glut of TV advertising, mostly paid for by outside groups ranging from the National Republican Senatorial Committee to the National Rifle Association, also has helped drive up negative impressions of Murphy among voters.

Mason-Dixon pollsters concluded, “It is extremely difficult now for a Democrat to win in Florida while losing the Hispanic vote.”

In the presidential race, Hillary Clinton’s margin over Donald Trump with Hispanics (64%-29%) is the primary reason she is currently holding a slight statewide lead in Florida.


Murphy’s homestretch strategy: Make Rubio morph into Trump

Now there’s even a billboard on the Palmetto Expressway that ties Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to Donald Trump, put up last week by supporters of Democratic rival Patrick Murphy.

But Rubio and his allies are counterpunching with their own barrage of TV spots, steadily questioning the resume and readiness of Murphy, a two-term congressman from Jupiter.

In Florida’s nationally watched Senate race, Rubio, Murphy and outside groups have spent almost $30 million, mostly on TV, radio, mailers and digital ads. The bulk is negative and designed to inflict damage on the opponent as the race veers into its final month.

Murphy, though, is facing an increasingly uphill fight trying to unseat Rubio, who is building a comfortable edge in most polls, in contrast with the presidential contest, which remains a toss-up in the nation’s biggest swing state.

Close to half the money in the Senate race — $14.6 million – has been spent against Murphy by groups supporting Rubio, according to finance data compiled by the site ProPublica.

Rubio has been helped by the Senate Leadership Fund’s almost $6 million in advertising, followed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Rifle Association and Koch brothers-backed Libre Initiative and Concerned Veterans for America.

Outside organizations haven’t ponied up anywhere nearly as much for Murphy, who has had only about $5 million spent by the Senate Majority PAC and unions, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Full story here:

Aiming at NRA-backed Rubio, Murphy endorsed by organization seeking more gun limits

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy was endorsed Wednesday by Americans for Responsible Solutions, the organization founded by former Arizona U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to promote stricter gun limits.

Murphy, who faces an Aug. 30 primary contest with U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando and three other Democrats, is aiming at Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, recently endorsed by the National Rifle Association

“If Congress isn’t going to change our gun laws to save lives, we need to change Congress,” said Mark Kelly, Giffords’ husband, a former astronaut.

Giffords served in Congress for five years, but closed out her career in 2012 after surviving an assassination attempt a year earlier in which she was critically wounded by a shot to the head.

Kelly’s organization also supports candidates through a political spending committee. But Kelly said those decisions are made separately and he couldn’t say whether TV spots or other dollars would be used to help Murphy’s campaign.

Murphy has been blasting Rubio for his unswerving support of the NRA agenda, which includes recently voting against a Senate measure that would have barred those on the federal terrorist watch list from obtaining weapons.

Rubio’s vote came eight days after gunman Omar Mateen, who had been on the watch list, massacred 49 people at the Orlando nightclub Pulse.

Rubio, who is in the middle of a statewide campaign swing, was greeted by protesters Wednesday when he met with businesses near the club. Rubio said he was there to help businesses, victims and their families coordinate aid from federal agencies.

Rubio’s Orlando office also was the scene of a protest earlier this month by supporters of tougher gun laws.

High court to decide if Floridians can openly carry guns

Florida Supreme Court to hear concealed weapons case.
Florida Supreme Court to hear concealed weapons case.

With Florida leading the nation in concealed weapons permits, the state’s Supreme Court today hears a case that could clear the way for people to openly tote their guns.

Dale Norman, arrested in Fort Pierce in 2012 for walking down the street with his permitted gun by his side, is challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s concealed weapons law.

The state has issued almost 1.8 million concealed weapons permits through the end of May, records show.

At issue before justices are apparent conflicts between two different appellate courts — one the Fourth District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach, which upheld the state’s concealed weapons law in the Norman case.

But his attorney, Eric Friday, who represents an organization called Florida Carry, also argues that the state’s licensing regulations “infringe on the fundamental individual rights of citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves, their families and the state.”

Friday also was active in the Legislature earlier this year, promoting a measure that would have made Florida the 46th state to allow open carry. The legislation failed in the state Senate.

Scrub jay bill is back — and again causing feathers to fly

Florida scrub jay
Florida scrub jay

A proposal by House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach to make the scrub jay the state bird is again making feathers fly.

Marion Hammer, longtime lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, said Wednesday that she is dusting off her talking points and will begin working legislators to block Pafford’s effort — a tactic she last deployed when a lawmaker tried to elevate the scrub jay in 1999 and 2000.

Hammer says she is a fan of the mockingbird, which was named Florida’s official bird by the 1927 Senate. She also worries that switching to the scrub jay would increase environmental efforts to protect the threatened bird’s habitat, mostly coastal and interior scrub across Central Florida.

Hammer is a big property rights proponent. As well as a huge gun proponent.

On Wednesday, Hammer said she suspected that Audubon Florida got Pafford to file his bill.

For his part, Pafford said he agreed to sponsor the measure after attending an Audubon meeting last month and hearing from a member — a Republican, he added — who was frustrated that he couldn’t get anyone to file legislation for the bird, whose population has been decimated by development.

Pafford agreed. He also said that he hoped Hammer’s entry into the fight would heighten attention to the bill.

“If she wants to elevate the conversation, all the better,” Pafford said.