Trump to visit Orlando; which Republicans will be there?

President Donald Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott at the Broward Sheriff’s Office in February a few days after the Parkland massacre. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump will visit Orlando on Monday to speak to the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Wednesday.

It’s an official trip rather than one of Trump’s signature campaign rallies.

Gov. Rick Scott, who has kept his distance from the president since launching his campaign for U.S. Senate, plans to attend the chiefs gathering, also in an official capacity rather than as a candidate.

Republican nominee for governor Ron DeSantis, whose endorsement by Trump was crucial to his GOP primary win, does not plan to attend.

“The event on Monday is an official event, not a political event,” said DeSantis campaign communications director Stephen Lawson. “But this won’t be the last time the plane comes down to Florida.”

At the police convention, Sanders said Trump plans to “speak about the work of the administration to protect American communities by restoring law and order, supporting local law enforcement, and securing the border.”

Trump’s last Florida appearance was a July 31 rally in Tampa in which he promoted DeSantis four weeks before the GOP primary. Scott did not attend the rally, but appeared with the president earlier in the day at a non-political event at a vocational high school.

 

Ron DeSantis brings in Susie Wiles, a key figure in Trump’s 2016 Florida win

Susie Wiles, new campaign chairwoman for Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis.

With multiple polls showing him trailing Democrat Andrew Gillum in the Florida governor’s race, Republican Ron DeSantis has brought on veteran Florida operative Susie Wiles to lead his campaign with the title of campaign chairwoman.

It’s not the first time a high-profile Florida campaign has turned to Wiles for help in September of an election year. Wiles was chief Florida strategist for Donald Trump‘s 2016 campaign, taking the role shortly after Labor Day that year and helping Trump win the crucial Sunshine State by 1.2 percent over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

She was also Rick Scott‘s campaign manager in 2010 when then-outsider Scott bucked the GOP establishment to defeat Attorney General Bill McCollum for the gubernatorial nomination, then won the general election over Democrat Alex Sink.

Wiles, who lives in Jacksonville, said she will be taking temporary leave from her job as a lobbyist with the powerhouse Florida-Washington Ballard Partners firm.

Brad Herold will remain as DeSantis’ campaign manager.

Since the Aug. 28 primaries, at least eight public polls have shown Gillum leading. The Democrat’s edge is within or close to the margins of error for each poll, though a Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday gives Gillum a 9-point advantage. Republican insiders concede Gillum has a slight edge in his bid to become the state’s first black governor and first Democrat to win a governor’s race since 1994.

“I’m excited to have Susie join our team as Campaign Chairman. She has the knowledge, expertise and acumen to carry our message to voters all across Florida. With her winning record, Susie is the ideal person to lead our campaign efforts and help us secure a big victory come November,” said DeSantis.

“Florida’s future depends on building upon the successes of our state’s outstanding Republican leadership. Ron DeSantis is the only candidate who will lead Florida forward and help our state and its people realize their full potential. With so much at stake for our state in this election, I am honored to lead his campaign team, and look forward to working with Floridians everywhere to elect Ron as our next governor,” said Wiles.

Democratic trend in Florida? Two new polls show Gillum, Nelson ahead

Democratic governor nominee Andrew Gillum (left) and Sen. Bill Nelson lead their respective races in new Florida polls that differ on the size of their leads. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Two polls released this week show Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Democratic governor nominee Andrew Gillum leading their nationally watched Florida races.

An NBC/Marist poll released late Tuesday shows the Democrats holding narrow leads in both races while results released by Quinnipiac University show a 7-point advantage for Nelson over Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the Senate race and a 9-point lead for Gillum over Republican Ron DeSantis in the governor’s race.

The NBC/Marist poll, conducted Sept. 16-20 with a 4.7 percent margin of error, gives Nelson a 48-to-45 percent lead over Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the Senate race and shows Gillum holding a 48-to-43 percent lead over Republican Ron DeSantis in the governor’s race.

Quinnipiac released Senate results Tuesday showing Nelson with a 53-to-46 percent lead over Scott — a result out of line with other polls released in the last month and deemed “absurd and not even close to accurate” by Scott pollster Wes Anderson.

Quinnipiac today released more results of its Sept. 20-24 survey, this time showing Gillum opening up a 54-to-45 percent lead over DeSantis in the governor’s race. The Quinnipiac surveys, conducted Sept. 20-24, have a 4 percent margin of error.

The polls also paint different pictures of Florida voter attitudes toward President Donald Trump. In the NBC/Marist poll, 46 percent of likely voters approve of Trump’s job performance and 48 percent disapprove — essentially a tie given the poll’s margin of error. Quinnipiac, however, found 44 percent approval and 54 percent disapproval for Trump among likely Florida voters.

Quinnipiac poll: Shifts in Scott-Nelson race, Trump approval; genders split on Kavanaugh

Republican Gov. Rick Scott (left) and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, rivals in the November race for U.S. Senate. (Photos by George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Three weeks after calling Florida’s U.S. Senate race a dead heat between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a new Quinnipiac University poll gives Nelson a 53-to-46 percent lead.

The poll stands in contrast to six other public polls released in the last month that have shown the race virtually tied, with neither candidate claiming a lead outside any survey’s margin of error. Quinnipiac had Scott and Nelson in a 49-49 tie on Sept. 5.

The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Floridians evenly divided on whether Brett Kavanaugh should be confirmed for the U.S. Supreme Court, with 47 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed — a virtual tie considering the poll’s 4 percent margin of error. Men favor Kavanaugh’s confirmation, 55 percent to 40 percent; women oppose him by a 54-41 margin.

President Donald Trump‘s Florida approval rating has sunk since Quinnipiac’s last poll, with 44 percent approving and 54 percent disapproving in the new survey. Three weeks ago, Trump had 47 percent approval and 51 percent disapproval scores.

The latest poll of 888 likely voters was conducted Thursday through Monday, with live interviewers calling a mix of cell phones and land lines.

 

 

 

 

‘I will never roll on Donald Trump,’ says Roger Stone in West Palm Beach

Literally a circus atmosphere for Roger Stone’s speech to a pro-Donald Trump club in West Palm Beach. A camera from Showtime’s political documentary series “The Circus” records Stone’s remarks. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

With prosecutors interviewing a dozen of his associates, Roger Stone told hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump on Monday night that “it is entirely possible that Mr. Mueller will frame me for some extraneous crime.”

Stone, speaking to the Club 45 PBC at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, said he’s never colluded with Russia and will never go the route of longtime Trump attorney Michael Cohen and cooperate against Trump.

“I’m ready. I will never roll on Donald Trump. Michael Cohen I am not,” Stone said. “One reporter asked me last week ‘Are you worried?’ I don’t worry. I make other people worry.”

Click here to read the entire story.

And be sure to check out the latest Inside Florida Politics podcast…

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.”

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.