Republican presidential front runner Donald Trump will headline the Palm Beach County GOP’s 2016 Lincoln Day dinner on March 11 — four days before Florida’s winner-take-all primary.
The dinner will be at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach. Mar-a-Lago has been the site of the last three Lincoln Day dinners for the county GOP. Trump didn’t attend this year’s dinner, but was on hand in 2014 and introduced keynoter Ted Cruz.
More than 600 people are expected for the dinner, with individual tickets going for $300, county GOP Chairman Michael Barnett said.
Photos from past Lincoln Day dinners at Mar-a-Lago
Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, accused Republicans of fearing the National Rifle Association more than they fear terrorists and said Donald Trump‘s call for barring Muslims from entering the U.S. “helps ISIS recruit more terrorists.”
“My friends on the other side of the aisle are more scared of the NRA than they are of terrorists,” Murphy said.
He did offer praise, however, for one of his potential Republican rivals — Rep. David Jolly, R-St. Petersburg, who called on Trump to quit the presidential race because of his “brutal, bullying bigotry.”
Said Murphy: “It is nice to see bipartisan support for Donald Trump to get out of this race.”
Murphy added: “Every time Donald Trump opens his mouth, he helps ISIS recruit more terrorists…They are waiting for extreme comments like this to come out of quote-unquote leaders.”
Donald Trump continues to dominate the Republican presidential field in Florida — outstripping his nearest rival, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio — by two-to-one among primary voters, a new Florida Atlantic University poll shows.
Among Democrats, Hillary Clinton has coasted to an even bigger lead, leading Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders by 66 percent to 22 percent of the vote in that party’s nomination contest, the poll shows.
The survey was conducted Sunday and Monday, in the wake of news about the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Among Florida Republican registered voters surveyed, Trump leads with 36 percent, Rubio is at 18 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 15 percent, Texas U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has 10 percent, and former Gov. Jeb Bush rounds out the field’s top five with 9 percent.
While the Republican candidates all draw strong favorability ratings among party voters, those numbers are reversed when all registered voters are surveyed.
Trump’s unfavorability rating is 51 percent to 41 percent among all voters surveyed. Rubio also is underwater at 42 percent to 47 percent among voters, the poll shows.
Faring worst, however, appears to be Bush among all voters. While 51 percent have an unfavorable impression of the former governor, only 34 percent hold a favorable opinion.
Among Hispanic voters, an important bloc in Florida, Rubio, a first-generation Cuban-American, is the favorite at 34 percent. Trump, who has made his signature campaign issue the demand that the U.S. crack down on illegal immigration and build a wall at the Mexican border, is second most popular among Hispanics.
Trump is tied with Carson at 19 percent, the FAU survey shows.
Bush, whose wife is Mexican and who is fluent in Spanish, lands fourth among Hispanics, with 13 percent saying they support him.
On the Democratic side, Clinton suffers from negative name recognition, with 41 percent of voters overall giving her a favorable rating compared to 54 percent with an unfavorable opinion.
Clinton also lags behind all her Republican rivals in head-to-head matchups. Carson holds the biggest lead at 9 percent; Trump has an 8 percent edge if he was to square-off against Clinton.
In Florida’s race for the open U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Rubio, potential match-ups surveyed show Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy holding a 9 percent lead over Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, at 39 percent to 30 percent, with Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson trailing Lopez-Cantera 38 percent to 34 percent.
Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis does better against the Democrats, trailing Murphy 38 percent to 36 percent but leading Grayson 37 percent to 33 percent.
The FAU poll included 829 registered voters and has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 3.3 percent. Among primary voters, 297 Democrats were surveyed, with a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 5.6 percent and 355 Republicans responded, with a 5.2 percent margin-of-error.
“This is the beginning of the campaign. Look at the past. Herman Cain was winning right now (in 2011). Hillary Clinton was up 25 points this time eight years ago against an unknown guy whose name now is President Barack Obama. So this is the start of our journey,” Bush told reporters after visiting a center that helps people with cerebral palsy and other motor deficiencies.
He visited the Conductive Learning Center of Orlando to highlight his experience helping people with disabilities while he was governor. Bush says that practical executive experience distinguishes him from political outsiders like Donald Trump and Ben Carson or someone who has only held legislative office like Sen. Marco Rubio.
“There’s big personalities on the stage,” said Bush. “But no one’s going to be lifted out of poverty, no one’s going to get a pay increase just by talking down our country. We need tangible solutions to these big challenges we face and I don’t think you can, as we did eight years ago almost, bet on someone that doesn’t have a proven record of accomplishment.”
Comparing the young, charismatic first-term Sen. Rubio to the Sen. Obama of eight years ago is a recurring theme for Bush. But when asked specifically if he’s “frustrated” that former protégé Rubio has surpassed him in the polls, Bush said: “I’m not frustrated about him. He’s a great guy, he’s a good friend, he’s a gifted politician. I just have the leadership skills to solve these problems. We have a little disagreement on that.”
Bush was introduced by U.S. Rep. John Mica, who alluded to Bush’s debate performance problems by saying the presidential race is “not a contest for the American Idol.”
Mica said he had to leave early to get to Washington for a congressional vote.
“Get on that plane….I just want to make sure you go back and vote because that’s what you were elected to do and you have a great attendance record,” said Bush, who has criticized Rubio for missing Senate votes while campaigning for president.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush will try to revive his slumping campaign and reassure donors and supporters with a speech in Tampa this morning and appearances in Orlando and Jacksonville this afternoon.
Follow PostOnPolitics.com and @gbennettpost on Twitter for coverage today.
Bush is beginning a “Jeb Can Fix It” tour that coincides with the release today of an e-book, “Reply All,” based on Bush’s email correspondence when he was governor. He’ll visit South Carolina on Tuesday before beginning a three-day bus tour in New Hampshire.
While Republican voters have been telling pollsters they favor political outsiders Trump and Ben Carson, Bush is trying to sell them on his eight years of experience as a conservative governor who solved problems.
The Bush camp says today’s Tampa speech “will be a rejection of the ‘competing pessimisms’ created in the Obama era in favor of leadership that solves problems. Jeb will draw on his experience in overcoming challenges to pass conservative reforms that improve peoples lives, through stories from his new book ‘Reply All.'”
Throughout this week, Bush plans to highlight stories from his emails “to highlight how he will be a President that will enact conservative reforms and get things done.”
For those not watching the World Series tonight, here are some things to watch from Florida’s Republican contenders, in alphabetical order:
**Jeb Bush: The former Florida governor began the race as the establishment favorite, but has slipped in the polls — even plunging to single digits in his home state in one recent survey. Last week, the Bush campaign slashed staff and reduced salaries after weaker-than-expected fundraising. After two solid but not memorable debate performances and months of ridicule from Trump about being “low energy,” there’s pressure on Bush to reassure the GOP establishment and donor base by appearing strong and perhaps even “joyful.”
**Ben Carson: The West Palm Beach resident has risen steadily in the polls and even surpassed Trump in one survey this week. He’ll likely get more attention from Trump and more scrutiny from CNBC moderators tonight. Don’t be surprised if the other GOP candidates lay off, however, because Republican voters clearly like Carson. Tonight those Carson fans will get an extended chance to confirm or second-guess their feelings.
**Marco Rubio: Rubio has moved ahead of mentor Bush in most polls and is vying to become the clear leader in the GOP’s establishment primary to determine the leading alternative to political outsiders Trump and Carson. Rubio has generally avoided clashes with Trump, Bush and other rivals. But his Senate absenteeism has come under fire from Democrats and Republicans alike and will likely come up tonight.
** Donald Trump: He has defied the laws of political gravity for four months, so blog posts suggesting what he needs to do or what to expect from him should be taken with a 44-pound bag of salt. Talking about his polling success has been a major part of Trump’s campaign so far, so it’ll be interesting to see how he interacts with Carson now that Carson has moved ahead of Trump in recent Iowa polls and is getting closer in national polls.
The two poll-topping candidates who’ll occupy center stage in Wednesday night’s third Republican presidential debate — part-time Palm Beacher Donald Trump and West Palm Beach resident Ben Carson — are also the candidates who have raised the largest share of their campaign cash from small donors.
Retired neurosurgeon Carson raised $31.3 million through Sept. 30 — with $19.6 million, or 63 percent, coming from people giving $200 or less.
Trump, despite his billionaire status and pledge to self-finance his campaign, has attracted $3.9 million in contributions, with $2.8 million of that — 72 percent — coming from people who gave $200 or less.
The contributions to Trump have been entirely unsolicited, his campaign says. First-time candidate Carson, however, has spent heavily on donor lists, direct mail appeals and phone solicitations to build his contributor base.
By comparison, only 5 percent of the $24.8 million raised by Republican establishment favorite Jeb Bush has come from small contributors. And less than 1 percent of the $103 million raised by the Bush-backing Right To Rise super PAC through June 30 came from people who gave $200 or less.
The Federal Election Commission requires campaigns to list the name, address and occupation of people who give more than $200, whether it’s in a single check or multiple contributions. Money from people giving $200 or less can be lumped together as “unitemized” gifts on FEC reports.
Raising money in little pieces rather than fat checks can give populist credibility to a campaign. It also gives a candidate a list of supporters who can be hit up for more money before reaching the federal individual contribution limit of $2,700 for a primary and $2,700 for a general election.
Democrat Bernie Sanders has been the most prolific small-dollar candidate, raising $30.7 million — more than three-quarters of his contributions — in unitemized donations. Democratic front runner Hillary Clinton has raised $13.3 million from small donors, or 17 percent of her campaign’s $77 million haul. The pro-Clinton Priorities USA super PAC raised $15.7 million through June 30, with only $1,092 in unitemized gifts.
Small dollars aren’t necessarily cheap. Carson’s campaign incurred $11.2 million in fundraising costs last quarter to bring in $20.7 million – a burn rate that has raised some eyebrows.
“The fundraising is reflective of the campaign. The campaign is really a campaign of the people,” says Carson’s national finance chairman, Dean Parker, a former tech company CEO who has never worked on a political campaign before.
Parker said Carson had to spend heavily to raise money because he’s not a politician.
“We didn’t have a donor list when we started. We had to go and track donors. Every other campaign had donors,” said Parker, who expects Carson’s fundraising costs to go down.
“Carson’s gross (fundraising) numbers are impressive,” said Brian Ballard, a Tallahassee lobbyist who is a fundraiser for Bush. But Ballard also noted Carson’s high cost of attracting contributions. And he said big donors come in handy in the long haul.
“Having the institutional money matters in terms of being able to compete with Democrats,” Ballard said.
“Jeb Bush has $125 million – honestly, I don’t think it’s going to help him,” Trump said while arguing that major contributors expect something in return from politicians.
“Hey look, I used to be one of those guys that gave a lot of money,” Trump said.
While decrying super PACs and challenging other candidates to disavow them, Trump boasted about the people giving small contributions to his campaign.
“People send in small donations. Like, small ones. A woman — $7.50 with about a four-page letter. Another woman $50, $30, $90…” Trump said.
“But that I love because, number one, you can’t send it back. How do you send a letter back to a woman who loves the country, who’s giving a lot of money – that’s like giving $1 million to a rich person. How do you send the $7.50 back? You can’t…There’s no letter you can write to that woman to say ‘We don’t want your money.’”
One thing you can say for him: His supporters are devoted. And thanks to the photographers following Trump along the campaign trail, we’re able to get a look at how his fans have come up with unique ways to show their love.
Here are nine fans who are all-in for The Donald:
1) This cowboy
2) This excited woman who declared, “I am Hispanic and I vote for Mr. Trump!”
3. This woman who went cheek-to-cheek for a selfie
4. This man who went old-school with a Trump boardgame
5. This youngster whose stealth selfie game is on point
6. This woman who is overjoyed to have Trump meet her baby
7. This man who brought some soul to one Trump event
8. This young man who was overcome at a Trump rally
9. This woman who would stop at nothing to reach Trump