In NRA speech, Trump blames Parkland massacre on unheeded ‘red flags’

Two days after the Parkland shooting, President Donald Trump visited the Broward Sheriff’s Office with Sen. Marco Rubio (near American flag at left), first lady Melania Trump, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi with first responders in Fort Lauderdale. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland shows the need to pay closer attention to “red flags” and improve school safety, President Donald Trump said this afternoon at the National Rifle Association convention in Dallas.

Gun control advocates have called for tighter restrictions on firearms purchases in the wake of the February mass shooting that claimed 17 lives, but Trump and the Republican-controlled House and Senate did not include such measures in a school-safety bill that passed in March.

“All of us here today are deeply committed to school safety,” Trump told the NRA this afternoon. “Our entire nation was filled with shock and grief by the monstrous attack on a high school in Parkland, Florida. We mourn for the victims and their families.”

The president touted recent post-Parkland legislation that approves more money for training, metal detectors and other school safety measures.

“We agreed that it’s not enough to simply make us feel like we’re making a difference. We must ensure that we’re actually making a difference and my administration has approved an aggressive strategy on community safety. We’re working to improve early warning systems,” Trump said.

Parkland gunman Nikolas Cruz had numerous interactions with law enforcement before the shooting.

“There has never been a case where more red flags have been shown,” Trump said.

“Law-abiding gun owners want to keep firearms out of the hands of those who pose a danger to themselves and to others. We all want that. We all want that,” the president said, drawing applause.

“All of us agree that we must harden certain schools. At the same time, the police have to be able to get into those schools if there’s a problem. We want armed guards…We strongly believe in allowing highly trained teachers to carry concealed weapons if they’re highly trained,” Trump said.

The call for allowing teachers to be armed drew loud applause.
Added Trump: “There’s no sign more inviting to a mass killer than a sign that declares: ‘This school is a Gun-Free Zone.’ Come in and take us.”


Patrick Murphy pollster says he can win Dem governor nomination with Jolly as running mate

Former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, left, and former Republican Rep. David Jolly.

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter would become the front runner for the Democratic nomination for governor if he gets in the race with former Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly as his running mate to “get things done” in Florida, Murphy’s pollster says.

The poll, first reported by Politico, shows a wide-open race for the Democratic nomination.

Murphy recently gave his OK to a poll testing his name against already-declared Democrats Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Chris King and Philip Levine. With Murphy’s name in the mix, pollster Keith Frederick found former Miami Beach Mayor Levine leading the pack at 20 percent with Murphy and former Rep. Graham tied for second at 14 percent.

Conventional wisdom holds that Democrats win primaries by running to the left (and Republicans by running to the right). But when likely Democratic voters were asked about Murphy teaming up with former Republican congressman Jolly — and given a positive description of the ticket — Murphy leads with 21 percent, followed by Levine at 17 percent and Graham at 12 percent.

Here’s the way the Murphy-Jolly ticket was described, according to Frederick’s polling memo: “Some people are urging Patrick Murphy to run for Governor and pick David Jolly, a
moderate and independent former Republican Congressman, as his Lt. Governor running mate. They say it would be a clear sign Murphy would be a different kind of Governor who would work together with reasonable republicans in Tallahassee to set aside Florida’s old, partisan politics and get things done for the Florida. In this case, who would you vote for in the Democratic Primary for Governor?”

Murphy and Jolly have been touring college campuses to decry partisan gridlock and dysfunction in Washington. Jolly, who served a single term in Congress as a Republican, frequently appears on TV as a critic of President Donald Trump.

Frederick polled 750 likely Democratic voters April 23-28. The survey has a 3.6 percent margin of error.




Who will get a free ride to re-election at noon today?

U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, and Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

As Florida’s candidate qualifying period for U.S. Senate, U.S. House and judicial offices nears today’s noon deadline, several sitting judges — and perhaps a member of Congress or two — are hoping to win re-election without opposition.

As of Thursday night, no candidate had submitted paperwork and paid the $10,440 filing fee to challenge U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach. Republican Derek Schwartz opened a campaign for Frankel’s District 21 seat in February, but hadn’t met the criteria to get on the ballot as of Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, has so far drawn only a write-in opponent.

In Tampa, two Democrats and a Republican opened campaigns for the seat of U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, but as of this morning she’s the only candidate to have  qualified for the ballot.

Incumbent judges rarely face challenges in Palm Beach County and, as of late Thursday, the six circuit judges up for re-election were unopposed.

At least two of Palm Beach County’s congressional districts will be busy.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, has drawn two Republican primary challengers, Mark Freeman and Dave Cummings. Two Democrats — Lauren Baer and Pam Keith — have also filed for Mast’s Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 seat.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, drew a Democratic primary challenge Thursday when Jay Fandl qualified for the ballot in Palm Beach-Broward District 22. Hillary Clinton won District 22 by 16 points in 2016, but that hasn’t deterred four Republicans — Nicolas Kimaz, Javier Manjarres, Paul Spain and Eddison Walters — from qualifying to run there.

While Florida’s qualifying period for federal candidates ends at noon today, candidates for state and local offices have a June 18-22 qualifying period.


Ex-Dem, ex-Reform Party candidate joins Rick Scott in GOP Senate primary

Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente lost two elections in two different parties in 2016. Now he’s made it onto Florida’s 2018 Republican ballot for U.S. Senate.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott will have to get past at least one Republican primary foe before he can take on Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in one of this year’s most-watched U.S. Senate races.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. (Photos by George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

The Florida Division of Elections reported Tuesday that Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente — who performed the rare feat of losing elections as a member of two different parties in 2016 — has paid a $10,440 qualifying fee and signed the required candidate oath to get a spot on the Aug. 28 Republican ballot for Senate.

De La Fuente ran for Senate as a Democrat in 2016, finishing fourth out of five candidates with 5.4 percent of the vote in the August primary. He then ran for president on the Reform Party ticket and got 0.1 percent of the vote in Florida in the general election.

De La Fuente listed a California address on his latest Senate candidate oath and a Tampa address on the campaign check to pay his qualifying fee.

This is the week when Florida candidates for U.S. Senate, U.S. House and judicial offices submit paperwork and pay filing fees to secure spots on the 2018 ballot.

Three-term incumbent Nelson qualified for the ballot on Monday and Scott made his candidacy official Tuesday, according to the Division of Elections website.

Two Democrats aside from Nelson — Tamika Lyles and Randy Alan White — have declared Senate candidacies with the Division of Elections, but so far have not paid filing fees to get on the ballot. Three other Republicans — Lateresa “L.A.” Jones, Martin Mikhail and a Dr. Joe Smith of West Palm Beach — have opened Senate campaigns but so far haven’t qualified for the ballot.

Florida’s qualifying period for federal and judicial candidates ends at noon on Friday. The qualifying period for state and local offices is June 18-22.