Trump in Palm Beach: Briefing on Navy crash, pre-dawn tweetstorm

A man stands guard on the grounds of President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate this morning.

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump, visiting his Mar-a-Lago estate for the first time since April, was briefed early this morning on a Navy air crash into the sea near Japan and fired off some pre-sunrise tweets blasting UCLA basketball dad LaVar Ball and NFL players who kneel during the national anthem.

President Donald Trump greets supporters as first lady Melania Trump looks on at Palm Beach International Airport on Tuesday night. (Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post)

Trump, first lady Melania Trump and son Barron arrived on Air Force One Tuesday night to an enthusiastic throng of supporters at Palm Beach International Airport.

The president is expected to make phone calls related to tax reform and other issues today, White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters told reporters this morning.

Follow The Palm Beach Post’s coverage of President Trump’s visit by clicking here.

Trump took to Twitter at 5:25 a.m. to blast Ball, the father of one of three UCLA basketball players who were detained in China for shoplifting while Trump was visiting Asia. Ball has refused to thank the president for helping obtain the players’ release.

“It wasn’t the White House, it wasn’t the State Department, it wasn’t father LaVar’s so-called people on the ground in China that got his son out of a long term prison sentence – IT WAS ME,” the president tweeted this morning.

“Too bad! LaVar is just a poor man’s version of Don King, but without the hair. Just think…..LaVar, you could have spent the next 5 to 10 years during Thanksgiving with your son in China, but no NBA contract to support you. But remember LaVar, shoplifting is NOT a little thing. It’s a really big deal, especially in China. Ungrateful fool!”

He then took aim at the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell, saying a proposal to keep players in the locker room during the national anthem is “almost as bad as kneeling! When will the highly paid Commissioner finally get tough and smart?”


Trump tweeted about the Navy crash at 8 a.m.

“We are monitoring the situation. Prayers for all involved,” the president said.






Trump in Palm Beach: Feeling the love at PBIA, hearing a curious futon claim

President Donald Trump greets supporters as first lady Melania Trump looks on at Palm Beach International Airport on Tuesday night. (Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post)

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump is back at his Mar-a-Lago estate today after an absence of more than seven months.

The president, first lady Melania Trump and son Barron arrived around sunset Tuesday at Palm Beach International Airport.

Bea Doone-Merena, 90, of Boca Raton, painted these portraits of Trump and showed them to the president. He kept the one on the right and autographed the one on the left for her. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Trump appeared to be in good spirits as he spent about 18 minutes with a group of more than 100 supporters who gathered on the tarmac to greet Air Force One.

It was a much longer time than the president usually spends with the airport well-wishers.

“It was the best one ever. He was energized, delighted to see everybody. He loves the people. That gives him energy,” said Sue Snowden, the former Palm Beach County Trump campaign co-chairman who organizes the PBIA gatherings.

Bea Doone-Merena, a 90-year-old artist from Boca Raton, brought two oil paintings of Trump to the event. She gave one to the president and he autographed the other for her.

“He let me kiss him on the cheek. How do you like that?” Doone-Merena said afterward. “It was fabulous.”

Trump could be heard touting the success of the stock market as he interacted with supporters.

One woman told the president she could help him make good on his 2016 campaign promise to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C.

“I invented futons. I know how to drain it,” the woman insisted.

Early versions of the American futon were called “Brouwer beds.”

Trump did not have a discernible reaction.

Futons are a traditional Japanese type of bedding. The American adaptation is often credited to William Brouwer from the late 1970s or early 1980s.

Reporters were led away from the president before it could be determined if the woman had a connection to Brouwer or was staking an alternative futon claim.

Click here for complete coverage of the president’s return to Palm Beach.

Palm Beach County Dem Chair Terrie Rizzo eyes state party’s top job

Palm Beach County Democratic Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

The sudden departure of a Democratic chairman cleared the way for Terrie Rizzo to become leader of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party in 2012.

Now Rizzo is making a bid to lead the Florida Democratic Party after Stephen Bittel abruptly resigned as chairman last week after being accused of inappropriate behavior toward women.

The state party is expected to choose a successor to Bittel next month. Rizzo said Monday she will be a candidate.

Palm Beach County Democrats have a statewide reputation for being well-organized under Rizzo’s leadership. She also has connections across the state as chair of the Florida Democratic Party’s caucus of county chairs.

“If elected to serve, I will work tirelessly and lead with unparalleled motivation to achieve the goals of our party to ensure the inclusion of those who have been left behind, protect every voter’s rights, lift up new leaders, and grow our Democratic base,” Rizzo said Monday in a post on her Facebook page. “Thanks to the grassroots efforts of Democrats from Destin to Dade, we have had monumental victories these past months. Florida Democrats must continue to move forward, build on the Democratic enthusiasm we’ve generated in cities and counties across the state, and now more than ever, we need an experienced and steady hand at the ​whee​l​. I believe my work as Chair of the Palm Beach Democratic Party, as the elected Chair of all Florida Democratic County Chairs and as a current DNC representative from Florida have prepared me well to be that steady hand, and I will work with full dedication and commitment for that purpose.”

Rizzo, 70, is a fitness professional who lives in Boynton Beach. She became acting chairwoman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party in September 2012 after Mark Alan Siegel was pressed to resign by party leaders for saying in an interview at the Democratic National Convention that pro-Israel Christians want to see Jews “slaughtered.” Rizzo was elected to a full two-year term as chairwoman in 2012, then re-elected in 2014 and 2016.

Bittel, a Miami real estate investor and major fundraiser, became state party chairman in January. He resigned shortly after Politico Florida reported that he created a hostile work environment for women with inappropriate comments, leering and keeping a breast-shaped stress-relief ball in his desk.

Asked to comment on Bittel, Rizzo said: “The party will regroup and move forward.”

President Trump in Palm Beach: Season 2 begins this week

President Donald Trump and his wife Melania outside Trump International Golf Club watching the Palm Beach Central band on Feb. 5 before a Super Bowl party. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump is expected to return to Mar-a-Lago this week to kick off another season of golfing and governing.

The 2017-18 Winter White House season will look different from the 2016-17 version — from a new, post-Charlottesville mix of charities renting the Mar-a-Lago ballroom to new staging areas for pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators who used to gather on Bingham Island.

Click here for a complete story on what to expect when the president returns to Palm Beach 

>>PHOTOS: Look at our gallery of Trump’s Thanksgiving visit

>>Follow our Trump in Palm Beach Facebook page

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.



Republican Jetta slams Democrat Frankel on opioid response

In a new digital ad, Republican congressional candidate Kurt Jetta accuses Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, of failing to lead on the opioid crisis.

UPDATED with response from Frankel’s campaign

Republican congressional candidate Kurt Jetta is making the opioid crisis a centerpiece of his campaign for the Palm Beach County-based U.S. House seat of Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.

In the first digital ad of his campaign, Jetta says the Democratic incumbent isn’t making the opioid problem enough of a priority. The ad is aimed at Facebook and Google accounts within Frankel’s District 21.

“Lois Frankel has failed to lead on the opioid crisis — both in Palm Beach County and nationally. Look at her website — the top 13 issues that she’s laid out, the opioid crisis doesn’t make the list. On my list, it’s the number one issue for Palm Beach County,” Jetta says in the new ad.

As of today, the “issues” page on Frankel’s official House website doesn’t mention the opioids crisis.

Frankel’s campaign responded: “Rep. Frankel’s attention to the seriousness of opioid addiction is well known and has been frequently reported in local news and posted on her Facebook page.”

That includes working with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Department of Justice to clarify local governments’ ability to regulate sober homes, serving on the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force and cosponsoring the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016.

Expect to hear more about the issue.

“We have polling that makes it clear the opioids are the number one issue in our district,” said Jetta consultant Jacob Perry.

Delray Beach resident Jetta opened a campaign last month. He’s founder and CEO of of TABS Analytics, a Connecticut-based data firm that advises companies who sell consumer packaged goods. Frankel, serving her third term in Congress, is a former West Palm Beach mayor and state House member.

Donald Trump, Marco Rubio differ on Chinese communist Xi’s ‘political victory’

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in April. (Doug Mills/New York Times)

As President Donald Trump visits Chinese President and former Mar-a-Lago guest Xi Jinping in Beijing, he and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are expressing decidedly different views of China’s communist leader.

Trump, in a Wednesday tweet, said he’s looking forward to meeting with Xi, “who is just off his great political victory.”

Xi recently tightened his grip on power at China’s 19th Communist Party Congress, which added Xi’s name and ideology to its constitution. Trump called it an “extraordinary elevation” in an Oct. 25 tweet.

In a tweet this afternoon, Rubio didn’t mention Trump but clearly took aim at the president’s assessment of Xi.

“President Xi’s further consolidation of power, in a one-party communist state, was not a political victory,” Rubio tweeted. “It was a tragedy for human rights advocates, reformers and thousands of political prisoners. Chinese Govt must be challenged to abide by int’l commitments & rule of law.”

A year after defeating Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump’s approval at 41% in Florida

A new Florida Atlantic University poll has some good numbers for Gov. Rick Scott and better approval ratings for President Donald Trump than he gets nationally.

A year after Florida flipped from blue to red and helped Republican Donald Trump to his stunning presidential victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton, President Trump has a 41 percent approval rating in a new poll of Sunshine State voters.

Trump’s disapproval rating is 47 percent in the  Florida Atlantic University poll released today.

While Trump is under water by 6 points in Florida, that’s considerably better than his nationwide numbers. The average of national polls shows a net negative of 17.9 points for the president, with 38.7 approving and 56.6 percent disapproving.

Trump won Florida in November 2016 with 49 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 47.8 percent.

Trump’s latest approval numbers are slightly better than the FAU poll found in August, when 37 percent of voters approved and 47 percent disapproved.

FAU’s online poll of 500 voters, conducted Nov. 2-5, has a 4.5 percent margin of error. FAU says the poll was conducted “using an online sample supplied by Survey Sampling International using online questionnaires and via an automated telephone platform using registered voter lists supplied by Aristotle, Inc.”

The poll’s sample is 33.3 percent Republican, 32.3 percent Democrat and 34.3 percent independent. Actual Florida voter registrations are 37.5 percent Democrat, 35.4 percent Republican and 27.1 percent no party or minor party.

The poll contains some good numbers for Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is expected to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson next year.

Scott is viewed favorably by 49 percent of Florida voters and unfavorably by 39 percent. His handling of Hurricane Irma rated good to excellent by 72 percent of voters, with
57 percent saying it will help him if he runs for Senate.

Three-term incumbent Nelson is viewed favorably by 45 percent and unfavorably by 22 percent.

Rep. David Silvers will not run in special Senate election to replace Clemens

A special election will fill the District 31 Senate seat vacated by former Sen. Jeff Clemens.

Freshman state Rep. David Silvers, D-West Palm Beach, said today he has decided not to run in the special election to replace former Democratic Sen. Jeff Clemens in a Palm Beach County Senate district.

State Rep. Lori Berman and former state Rep. Irving Slosberg are vying for the Democratic nomination in Senate District 31. Democratic Rep. David Silvers (right) has decided not to run.

Gov. Rick Scott has set a Jan. 30 primary date and April 10 general election to fill the District 31 Senate seat, which runs generally east of Florida’s Turnpike from Lake Worth to Delray Beach.

“My work’s not done here in House District 87,” Silvers said today. “To be here is an absolute honor. I love what I’m doing.”

Two other Democrats — state Rep. Lori Berman and former state Rep. Irving Slosberg — have already launched campaigns for the Democrat-leaning seat. County Republican Vice Chairwoman Tami Donnally has also expressed interest in running.

Clemens, in line to become the Senate’s top Democrat next year, resigned Oct. 27 after admitting to having an affair with a lobbyist.


Palm Beacher and Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross: Faux billionaire?

Forbes magazine says U.S. Commerce Sec. and Palm Beach resident Wilbur Ross, shown here in 2013 at The Beach Club, is not a billionaire. (Meghan McCarthy/The Palm Beach Daily News)

Attentive readers of the PostOnPolitics blog will recall that Palm Beach resident and U.S. Commerce Sec. Wilbur Ross was flagged as “noticeably absent” when Forbes released its annual list of the 400 wealthiest Americans last month.

The latest Forbes 400 showed President and part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump slipping from $3.7 billion in net worth in 2016 to $3.1 billion now and tumbling from 156th place to 248th.

Ross ranked 319th on the 2016 list with a net worth of $2.9 billion but was a no-show this year. In an article posted today, Forbes’ Dan Alexander contends Ross’ net worth is in the $700 million neighborhood.

“So began the mystery of Wilbur Ross’ missing $2 billion,” Alexander writes. “And after one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money never existed. It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004.”

Click here to read the entire article.