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.
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 MyPalmBeachPost.com and PostOnPolitics.com 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.”
Coal-mining billionaireChristopher Cline of North Palm Beach is among three dozen or so contributors who gave at least $1 million to President Donald Trump‘s inaugural committee, according to a report filed this week.
Other big inaugural donors from Palm Beach County include West Palm Beach-based sugar giant Florida Crystals Corp. ($500,000), Juno Beach-headquartered NextEra Energy ($250,000) and private prison contractor Geo Corrections Holding of Boca Raton ($250,000).
Contributors listing Florida addresses gave more than $6 million to the inaugural committee — but that figure is understated, said Tallahassee lobbyist Brian Ballard, who helped raise money for the committee.
“Whenever you look at Florida zip codes you’re underestimating people who live in New York and Chicago,” said Ballard. He estimates the inaugural committee’s haul from Florida could be in the $8 million to $10 million range.
Cline, for example, has a homestead exemption in unincorporated northern Palm Beach County, but is listed at a West Virginia address on the FEC report.
Among those with Florida addresses, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Kahn and Brandon businessman Ronnie J. Ory also gave $1 million apiece.
Nationally, at least 36 contributors gave $1 million or more to the inaugural committee, including Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who chipped in $5 million. Trump friend and frequent Mar-a-Lago guest Robert Kraft gave $1 million through his family’s Kraft Group LLC holding company.
Other Palm Beach County contributors listed in the FEC report include Gira Shah of Jupiter, Nicholas A. Mastroianni III of Palm Beach Gardens and James Zenni of Wellington at $100,000 a piece.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will visit Miami on Wednesday and try to bestow some grass-roots cred on new Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.
It’s part of the DNC’s “Come Together and Fight Back” tour, which has Sanders and Perez visiting eight states. Former Labor Secretary Perez was elected in February in what was seen as a victory by the party establishment over the more liberal Sanders wing. Sanders favored Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison for the job.
Republican Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton last year in part because he appealed to many working-class voters that Democrats took for granted in Florida and other swing states.
Now, the DNC says, the Perez-Sanders tour “will focus on the needs of working families and building a Democratic Party that fights for the issues that lift families up, not tear them down.”
Barack Obama won Florida twice before Trump carried the state last year. As always, the Sunshine State will be a key battleground for both parties.
Says Florida Democratic Party Chair Stephen Bittel in a statement released by the DNC: “Florida is the largest swing state in the country and the resistance movement against Republicans and their harmful and discriminatory policies is stronger than ever throughout the state. I look forward to welcoming Senator Sanders and Chairman Perez and working with them to turn Florida blue.”
If you go
Where: Knight Center Complex, 400 S.E. 2nd Ave., Miami
A super PAC supporting President Donald Trump has begun running ads in Florida and nine other states, Bloomberg News reports, with the apparent aim of rallying Trump voters against Sen. Bill Nelson and other Democratic senators on the ballot next year.
Making America Great is spending $1 million on TV and $300,000 on digital ads in 10 states and Washington, D.C.
The 30-second spot touts job growth, withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and executive orders reducing Environmental Protection Agency regulations and approving the Keystone XL Pipeline as examples of “Results not common in Washington, D.C…And it’s only just begun.”
The ads are appearing in states that Trump carried in 2016 and where a Democratic senator is up for re-election in 2018. Trump beat Hillary Clintonby 1.2 percent last November in Florida; Nelson will seek a fourth Senate term in the Sunshine State next year.
BOCA RATON — Longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone came through town Tuesday night to sell some books — and push back against allegations he colluded with Russians to influence the 2016 election.
Stone has had contacts with mysterious hacker Guccifer 2.0 (but only “benign,” post-hacking ones, he said) and “backchannel” contact with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. But Stone disputes whether either is linked to Russia and says, even if they were, he didn’t coordinate with them on the release of emails that were damaging to Hillary Clinton.
“I am of course no stranger to the world of hardball politics,” said Stone, who has relished his reputation as a practitioner of the dark arts of politics. “But treason — treason is a step too far. That is what the House Democrats have accused me of. If they have any sense of decency, any sense of fair play, I will be afforded the opportunity to answer the charges.”
Not only that, Stone insisted that the entire “idea that there was Russian influence to tip this election to Donald Trump is a bald-faced, blatant lie.”
Longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone, the Fort Lauderdale resident whose name came up frequently during Monday’s House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, says his communications last year with a hacker linked to Russia were “benign” and didn’t constitute collusion.
On Twitter Monday morning, as the hearing was getting underway, Stone tweeted: “It’s only fair that I have a chance to respond 2 any smears or half truths about alleged ‘Collusion with Russians’ from 2day’s Intel Hearing.”
Stone made an appearance today on CBS This Morning to deny any collusion with Russia.
“The inference that my now completely public exchange with a hacker — Gruccifer 2.0, who may or may not be a Russian agent — somehow constitutes collusion is not true based either on the facts, on the actual texts which I have released or on the timing,” Stone said.
Stone has known Trump for decades and began encouraging him to run for president in the 1980s. He did not have an official role with Trump’s campaign after August 2015, when he departed after a power struggle with Corey Lewandowski, the Trump campaign manager at the time. But Stone remained an active and visible Trump supporter throughout the 2016 campaign.
Stone last August communicated via Twitter with Guccifer 2.0, the entity who claimed credit for the June hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer system. That Stone’s communication with Guccifer 2.0 came months after the DNC hack disproves any collusion, Stone has maintained.
Stone also said last year that he had “backchannel” communications with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. On Aug. 21, Stone tweeted that Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta would soon face “time in the barrel.” On Oct. 7, Wikileaks began releasing hacked Podesta emails.
In his CBS interview this morning, Stone said the “time in the barrel” tweet was a reference to Podesta’s business dealings. He said he didn’t have advance knowledge of Wikileaks’ release of Podesta’s emails, but was not surprised by it either.
Stone has hired two lawyers and has said he’s eager to testify before Congress to clear his name.
Trump’s Feb. 18 Melbourne rally — which featured the president bringing Boynton Beach man Gene Huber on stage and declaring “A star is born” — was not an official presidential event but a campaign event. The president filed Federal Election Commission paperwork on Jan. 20 — his first day in office — setting up a 2020 re-election campaign.
“Life is a campaign,” Trump explained before the Melbourne event. “Making our country great again is a campaign. For me it’s a campaign, to make America great again is absolutely a campaign.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio voiced confidence in the Senate Intelligence Committee that he sits on and said an independent commission or special prosecutor isn’t needed “at this moment” to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election and contacts between Russian officials and associates of President Donald Trump.
Rubio, who has been a critic of Russia and its involvement in the election, appeared on NBC’s Meet The Press this morning.
“We’re going to gather the facts. We’re going to put them out there, wherever those facts lead us. And then we’ll allow people to make judgments based on those facts,” Rubio said.
Democrats have questioned the impartiality of Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Meet The Press host Chuck Todd asked Rubio if “it might be better for the political process to take politics out of this, have an independent commission, special prosecutor, whatever you want to call it, and put this sort of out of Congress right now?”
Said Rubio: “Not now. I certainly don’t think we’re at that point at this moment…I’m interacting with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. And the sense that I have very strongly is that virtually every member, if not every member of that committee, is interested in arriving at facts and of the truth. That no one is in there looking for this for a political angle. Everybody, at the end of the day, understands what our job is, understands that the credibility of the committee is on the line. And we want to arrive at the truth.”
Speaking for himself, Rubio said, “I want to go where the truth is, irrespective of its political implications. Wherever the truth is, is where we’re going to go.”
MELBOURNE — The man President Donald Trumpsummoned from the crowd at his Saturday rally is a Boynton Beach car salesman who keeps a life-size cardboard cutout of Trump at his house and regularly praises Trump on social media.
Gene Huber, 47, became an instant political everyman celebrity Saturday when Trump spotted him in the crowd and, saying he recognized him from a TV interview, asked him to come on stage and speak to the estimated 9,000 people in a hangar at Orlando-Melbourne International Airport.
After Secret Service agents were told by the president to let him on stage, Huber bounded up and hugged the president, who encouraged him to say a few words.
“Mr. President, thank you, sir. We the people, our movement, is the reason why our president of the United States is standing in front of us today. When President Trump during the election promised all these things that he was going to do for us, I knew he was going to do this for us,” Huber said.
“A star is born,” Trump said as Huber left the stage and the crowd chanted “U.S.A! U.S.A!”
Huber had done TV interviews earlier Saturday proclaiming his support for Trump after showing up at 4 a.m. to be first in line for the 5 p.m. rally.
On Twitter, Huber’s profile picture shows him with a cardboard cutout of Trump.
“I’ve got a 6-foot cardboard box of President Trump in my house and I salute that every single day, and I pray and tell him ‘Mr. President, I prayed for your safety today.’ And I’m not lying. I do that every single day to the president, but its cardboard,” Huber told CNN in an interview after the rally.
CNN is often criticized by Trump and his supporters. At the end of his interview, Huber said: “I appreciate the interview, let’s just be a little, little nicer to our president.”
He also appeared this morning on Fox and Friends — and said he’s already hearing suggestions that his Saturday appearance with the president wasn’t genuine.
“I just want everyone to know this as well: I’m hearing from the left that this was planted, that President Trump made this to happen on purpose, like we set this up. No, it didn’t. It did not happen,” Huber said this morning on Fox and Friends.
“President Trump, I want to thank you so much for that opportunity that you did for me. That just shows us, we the people and our movement, that you care about us, the American people,” Huber said at the end of his interview.