You won’t believe who’s targeting Donald Trump voters now

“A lot of these (Trump) voters were not Republicans and the whole goal is to convert them to Republicans and get them engaged as Republicans,” say Palm Beach County GOP State Committeeman Joe Budd, shown here in 2016. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Even after Donald Trump beat two Florida favorite sons to win the state’s Republican presidential primary, then captured the GOP nomination and the White House itself, the president and his supporters are seen as an exotic species by many in the Republican Party.

The Palm Beach County GOP has appointed a “Trump outreach coalition chair” and the Republican Party of Florida has encouraged the formation of local “Trump Republican Clubs” around the state to try to persuade Trump supporters to turn out for GOP candidates in 2018 when Trump himself isn’t on the ballot.

“A lot of these (Trump) voters were not Republicans and the whole goal is to convert them to Republicans and get them engaged as Republicans,” explains Joe Budd, an early Trump supporter who’s now the Republican state committeeman for Palm Beach County.

Read about the GOP efforts — and the parallel between supporters of Trump and supporters of Barack Obama — by clicking here.

After loss to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton returns to South Florida to sell her book

Rain washes away the lettering on a Hillary Clinton sign in Broward County three days before Donald Trump washed away her “Blue Wall” of electoral votes to win the presidency.

Hillary Clinton is coming back to South Florida — and this time, the candidate who has twice parlayed presidential front-runner status into defeat says, “I’m letting my guard down.”

The 2016 Democratic presidential nominee is scheduled to stop in Fort Lauderdale on Oct. 3 to promote her forthcoming book What Happened. Clinton will appear at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets range from $50 to $375. A “VIP package” that includes premium seating, a photo with Clinton and a signed book appears to be sold out for the Fort Lauderdale event.

Hillary Clinton’s forthcoming book shouldn’t be confused with a ska-influenced 1981 English Beat album or a 2008 memoir by former George W. Bush press secretary Scott McClellan.

Clinton’s last Florida appearance during the 2016 campaign was a rain-shortened affair in Broward County the weekend before the election. Florida, which Barack Obama carried by 0.9 points in 2012, was won by Republican Donald Trump by 1.2 points in 2016 — one of several formerly blue states that went red and allowed Trump to win an Electoral College majority and the presidency.

Clinton’s book, scheduled for release Sept. 12, is being promoted as an unguarded account of the 2016 campaign.

“In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net. Now I’m letting my guard down,” Clinton says in an excerpt from the book’s introduction that is splashed prominently on the website promoting the book.



Charities bail on Mar-a-Lago after Trump Charlottesville comments

“Where is everybody?” The main Mar-a-Lago ballroom, shown here before a 2016 Palm Beach County GOP dinner, could be empty for much of the 2017-18 social season.

PALM BEACH — Two more charities announced Sunday they won’t hold their annual fundraisers at President Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago Club and the Kravis Center added its name to the list this morning, continuing an exodus that has accelerated since Trump blamed “both sides” for the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society and MorseLife pulled the ripcord Sunday, bringing to 19 the number of charities deciding to leave Mar-a-Lago in recent months. The Kravis Center’s 2018 Wine Auction brings the number to 20.

Click here to read Palm Beach Daily News Society Editor Shannon Donnelly’s latest reportage.

And click here to read the latest tally of who’s in, who’s out and who’s on the fence for the upcoming social season at Mar-a-Lago.

Bannon could be influential outside Trump White House, Floridians say

Steve Bannon, near the lamp behind President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago when Trump ordered missile strikes on Syria in April. (White House photo)

Steve Bannon is out as senior political adviser to President Donald Trump, but two Floridians close to Trump say he could remain influential.

Bannon, the former head of the right-wing Breitbart website, joined Trump’s presidential campaign as a chief strategist in August 2016 and pushed an “economic nationalist” agenda, often butting heads with those he called “globalists” in the White House.

Tallahassee lobbyist Brian Ballard, a longtime representative of Trump businesses and a key campaign fundraiser for the part-time Palm Beach resident, predicted Bannon “will play a critical role on the outside. Will remain an important player.”

Bannon was depicted as a Grim Reaper figure by Saturday Night Live, but Ballard described him as “smart and funny. Not as he is portrayed in the national media.”

Christopher Ruddy, CEO of conservative Boca Raton-based Newsmax Media and a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club, said he wasn’t surprised by Bannon’s departure.

“It was a long time coming because Steve had been at war with so many of Trump’s key advisers. He picked battles with the president’s son-in-law (Jared Kushner) and his national security adviser (H.R. McMaster). He didn’t really bring many allies into the White House,” Ruddy said.

But, Ruddy added, “He could end up having more influence because the president will take his phone calls and listen to what Breitbart has to say. He can be more open with his positions.”

Florida Republican National Committeeman Peter Feaman, an attorney from Boynton Beach, said Bannon and Trump “complemented one another very well because Bannon provided the conservative policy input from the political perspective that Mr. Trump didn’t initially bring to the table.”

Added Feaman: “My hope is he’s replaced by somebody with good conservative credentials.”

Another Floridian close to Trump, political operative Roger Stone of Fort Lauderdale, said on Twitter that Bannon’s role in the 2016 campaign was overrated and that Trump’s real chief strategist was Trump himself. Stone tweeted “Victory!” at news of Bannon’s departure and even took a shot at Bannon’s rumpled appearance.

“Overall sartorial quality of the White House staff just improved dramatically,” Stone tweeted.

OPINION: After Charlottesville, speak truth to power about hate


Palm Beach Gardens man Ben Carson on Charlottesville, Trump and race

Palm Beach Gardens resident Ben Carson announcing his support for Donald Trump’s presidential bid at Mar-a-Lago in March 2016. (Meghan McCarthy / Palm Beach Daily News)

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, the Palm Beach Gardens resident who is the only black member of President Donald Trump‘s Cabinet, has defended Trump and recalled his own encounter with a Confederate flag in a series of Facebook posts since Saturday’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

“Let us pray for those killed and injured during the unrest in Charlottesville today, but also for our nation as it is being severely threatened by hatred and bigotry on all sides,” Carson wrote on Saturday afternoon. “I am pleased that the President overtly disavowed any relationship with white supremacists. We should all reject the forces of division on all sides of the political spectrum. There are radical terrorists in the world who want to destroy us and are coming dangerously close to acquiring the means to accomplish their goals. We must present a strong and united front in the future. If America is going to survive, we must not yield to the forces of evil. Remember what our money says: “In God We Trust.” Let’s act accordingly.”

Ben Carson after the first GOP presidential debate in Cleveland in 2015.

On Sunday, after Trump was criticized for saying “many sides” were to blame for the violence, Carson wrote: “It is sad watching the political pundits arguing about whether President Trump went far enough in condemning the instigators of the violence in Charlottesville . The point of my previous post is that we are falling into the trap of fighting ourselves when we have a much bigger enemy who is reveling in the state of confusion and discord that exist in our country. It makes their job of destroying us that much easier. Are we going to wake up or we going to participate in our own distraction?”

On Wednesday, Carson revealed that his home near Washington was recently vandalized “by people who also wrote hateful rhetoric about President Trump.”

Carson lived in Maryland while he was head of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University. He retired and moved to West Palm Beach in 2013, then moved to Palm Beach Gardens in 2016. From his latest Facebook post, it appears he also has a residence in Northern Virginia for his HUD job.

“Regarding all of the racial and political strife emanating from the events in Charlottesville last weekend, let me relate a story,” Carson posted on Wednesday. “Several years ago we bought a farm in rural Maryland. One of the neighbors immediately put up a Confederate flag. A friend of ours who is an African-American three-star general was coming to visit and immediately turned around concluding that he was in the wrong place. Interestingly, all the other neighbors immediately put up American flags shaming the other neighbor who took down the Confederate flag. More recently our home in Virginia along with that of a neighbor was vandalized by people who also wrote hateful rhetoric about President Trump. We were out of town, but other kind, embarrassed neighbors cleaned up most of the mess before we returned.

“In both instances, less than kind behavior was met by people taking the high road. We could all learn from these examples. Hatred and bigotry unfortunately still exists in our country and we must all continue to fight it, but let’s use the right tools. By the way, that neighbor who put up the Confederate flag subsequently became friendly. That is the likely outcome if we just learn to be neighborly and to get to know each other.”

Like old times: Trump ripped by Rubio, Bush; puzzled by David Duke

Then-candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 rally west of Boca Raton. (Daniel Owen / The Palm Beach Post)

For Floridians in particular, the latest controversy surrounding President Donald Trump and white nationalists has a familiar ring.

Trump took bipartisan heat Saturday for blaming “many sides” for deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va. But on Monday, reading a statement in the White House, the president specifically called out “the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” On Tuesday, however, Trump returned to blame-sharing, saying there was “a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent.”

During Tuesday’s news conference at Trump Tower in New York, Trump said he watched Saturday’s events “very closely.” But he said he was unaware that former KKK leader David Duke was at the rally and telling interviewers “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”

“I didn’t know David Duke was there,” Trump said Tuesday.

OPINION: On opposing Trump on bigotry, Marco Rubio sets an example

It was reminiscent of February 2016, when then-candidate Trump claimed ignorance of Duke during an interview from Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach  and refused repeated invitations to denounce Duke from CNN’s Jake Tapper.

“Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?” Trump told Tapper. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know. I don’t know — did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”

Trump later blamed a “lousy earpiece” for the incident.

After the 2016 Duke debacle, a PAC supporting Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for president highlighted Trump’s Tapper interview in a 30-second ad that touted Rubio as “a better way.”

Rubio harshly criticized Trump at the time in 2016, but later supported him. Rubio has returned to the role of Trump critic over the president’s Charlottesville remarks.

“Mr. President,you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame.They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain,” Rubio said Tuesday as part of a series of tweets condemning Trump’s latest remarks.

Another former Florida rival of Trump was also sharply critical Tuesday.

“This is a time for moral clarity, not ambivalence,” former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush posted on Facebook. “I urge President Trump to unite the country, not parse the assignment of blame for the events in Charlottesville. For the sake of our country, he must leave no room for doubt that racism and hatred will not be tolerated or ignored by his White House.”


‘Beleaguered’ or not, AG Jeff Sessions coming to Miami

Attorney General Jeff Sessions at President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach in March.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions will visit Miami on Wednesday to commend Miami-Dade County for not being a “sanctuary city” and cooperating with President Donald Trump‘s administration by extending detentions of local inmates who are being sought for deportation.

Sessions was a key early endorser Trump’s presidential bid and was rewarded with the AG’s job, but he drew condemnation from the president for recusing himself in the ongoing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Trump has called Sessions “weak” and “beleaguered” on Twitter.

The Miami Herald reported this month that the Department of Justice sent Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez a letter telling him the county is in compliance with federal policies and therefore eligible for a federal law enforcement grant of $481,347.

Sessions will appear at PortMiami at 3 p.m. with Acting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Tom Homan to “give remarks highlighting jurisdictions like Miami-Dade that have increased their cooperation and information sharing with federal immigration authorities and have demonstrated a fundamental commitment to the rule of law and lowering violent crime,” according to a DOJ release.


Donald Trump on FBI raid of Palm Beach Gardens resident Paul Manafort

Palm Beach Gardens resident Paul Manafort at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

President Donald Trump said today that a pre-dawn FBI raid on the Northern Virginia home of former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was “a very, very strong signal, or whatever.”

Trump also said he hasn’t spoken to Manafort — the Palm Beach Gardens resident who helmed his campaign from June through August of 2016 — “for a long time.”

As part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s probe of Russian influence in the 2016 election, the FBI executed a search warrant at Manafort’s Alexandria, Va., residence on July 26, The Washington Post reported on Wednesday. There has been no indication of FBI activity at Manafort’s Palm Beach Gardens home in BallenIsles Country Club, where Manafort has a homestead exemption and is registered to vote.

Here’s a full transcript of Trump’s remarks on Manafort from a White House pool report:

“I thought it was a very, very strong signal, or whatever. I know Mr. Manafort. Haven’t spoken to him for a long time, but I know him…. I thought it was a very – you know, they do that very seldom, so I was surprised to see it. I was very, very surprised to see it….

Has he talked to Attorney General Jeff Sessions or the FBI about the Manafort raid?  “I have not, but to do that early in the morning, whether or not it was appropriate you’d have to ask them. I’ve always found Paul Manafort to be a very decent man. He’s like a lot of other people, probably makes consultant fees from all over the place, who knows, I don’t know, but I thought it was pretty tough stuff to wake him up, perhaps his family was there. I think that’s pretty tough stuff.”

Trump friend Roger Stone blasts Robert Mueller for Russia probe

Nixon admirer Roger Stone at a Watergate discussion at Florida Atlantic University in 2014. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Roger Stone, the longtime friend and adviser to President Donald Trump, tells The Palm Beach Post that Special Counsel Robert Mueller should resign or be fired.

Fort Lauderdale resident Stone weighed in on Mueller after Stone’s longtime friend and former business partner Paul Manafort had his Northern Virginia home raided by the FBI as part of Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Click here to read about Stone’s comments and Manafort’s Palm Beach County connections at

Stone began encouraging Trump to run for president in the 1980s and worked briefly on Trump’s 2016 campaign before departing in a disagreement with former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Although lacking an official link to the Trump campaign, Stone remained influential and has been accused of knowing in advance about Russian hacks of Democratic emails. Stone emphatically denies any collusion with Russians.

Trump probe: FBI raided Virginia home of Palm Beach Gardens resident

Palm Beach Gardens resident Paul Manafort at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

FBI agents conducted a pre-dawn raid last month of the Northern Virginia home of former Donald Trump campaign chairman and Palm Beach Gardens resident Paul Manafort as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, The Washington Post and other outlets reported today.

A Manafort spokesman confirmed to The Palm Beach Post that one of Manafort’s residences was searched.

Manafort has a homestead exemption and is registered to vote at an address in BallenIsles Country Club. There was no immediate indication that the FBI visited his Palm Beach County home.

Manafort voted in person at a Palm Beach Gardens polling place for Florida’s 2016 Republican presidential primary and at an early voting site for the general election, according to the Palm Beach County Elections Office.

The FBI raid at Manafort’s Alexandria, Va., residence took place July 26 — a day after Manafort met voluntarily with Senate Intelligence Committee staff, The Washington Post reported.

“FBI agents executed a search warrant at one of Mr. Manafort’s residences. Mr. Manafort has consistently cooperated with law enforcement and other serious inquiries and did so on this occasion as well,” said Manafort spokesman Jason Maloni.

Maloni is president of JadeRoq, a firm that says it can “solve the issues that keep you up at night. You will find few public relations firms with our reflexes, instincts and experience to deal with any matter related to a crisis, incident response or threat to your brand.”