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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio praises Trump for 'excellent' speech on Afghanistan

Sen. Marco Rubio praised President Donald Trump's "excellent" speech on Afghanistan. Sen. Bill Nelson was less effusive but agreed with the goal.

#AfghanStrategy laid out by @POTUS was put together the right way. Careful review & consideration of multiple views & ideas. Very good.

Good #AfghanStrategy & excellent speech by @POTUS laying it out to the nation.

Goal of new #AfghanStrategy is peace by defeating #ISIS #AQ & #Taliban much better that previous admin goal to get out by certain date

New #AfghanStrategy based on the conditions on ground not on arbitrary numbers and timelines is the right approach

Here is Nelson: "In the short run, the Afghan government has been overrun by terrorists and needs to be strengthened temporarily. In the long run, the Afghans must protect their own people and the U.S. troops should exit the country as soon as practical.”

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Gov. Rick Scott blasts report of shifting words on Charlottesville

Gov. Rick Scott, one of the most scripted politicians in modern Florida history, said Monday that ‘both sides” bore blame for Charlottesville.

“There’s no moral authority on both sides,” Scott said on Monday, according to the Naples Daily News.

Hours later, Scott’s office said he misspoke and lashed out at the newspaper.

“Governor Scott inadvertently said the word ‘authority’ instead of ‘equivalency’ while meeting with reporters in Fort Myers today and the Naples Daily News reported this as a policy change. This is false and the Naples Daily News distorted the facts,” read a statement from McKinley Lewis, Scotts deputy communications director.

Scott on Monday was asked about Sen. Marco Rubio’s comments, which faulted President Donald Trump for assigning blame to “both sides.”

“As you know, it was horrible what happened in Charlottesville. It was evil. There’s no place in our society for KK(K) for neo-Nazis or for white supremacists,” said Scott on Monday at Stevens Construction in Fort Myers, while discussing job growth.

"There’s no moral authority on both sides. We saw white supremacists accused of killing that young lady. And I have a daughter about the same age as her.” …

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Pence to visit Miami on Wednesday

Pence

AP

Pence

Vice President Mike Pence will be in Miami on Wednesday.

As part of his visit, Pence is scheduled to deliver remarks at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Doral, according to an invitation to the event.

The invitation doesn’t say what topic or topics Pence might address. But his trip to Latin America last week involved a lot of discussion about what to do about the political crisis in Venezuela. Doral has so many Venezuelan immigrants it is known as Doralzuela.

Pence reassured regional allies in Colombia, Argentina, Chile and Panama last week that the White House prefers international pressure against Maduro and his newly inaugurated national constituent assembly, which effectively usurped the power of the South American country’s last remaining independent branch of government.

 

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Rubio attacked for not attacking 'Antifa'

The far right is angry with Sen. Marco Rubio for condemning white nationalist groups in Charlottesville -- and faulting President Trump for not doing some more clearly – while not pointing a finger at the far left Antifa.

“McCain, Romney and Rubio join the Republicans for Antifa Club,” reads a headline on Breitbart News.

Across social media, Rubio was excoriated for his remarks, which drew bipartisan, mainstream praise. Rubio said there was no equivalency between the two sides in Charlottesville.

"Mr. President, you can't allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain," Rubio wrote on Twitter. "The #WhiteSupremacy groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win.W e can not allow this old evil to be resurrected."

Exactly. @marcorubio, do you get it now? Hate is hate. Condemn it ALL. https://t.co/0dQWrBSD44

Do you understand who #Antifa are? Google history. Look on YouTube. As a Cuban-American you should be the 1st to denounce publically!

#Rubio needs #Sanctions against him for aligning himself with #Antifa, a terrorist group! I am ashamed of you @marcorubio! #MAGA https://t.co/5giwpIvg4D

 …

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Sen. Bill Nelson ready to campaign on GOP failure to fix Obamacare

For years, Sen. Bill Nelson has faced a steady barrage of partisan attacks over the Affordable Care Act, but as he begins the 2018 re-election campaign, the Democrat stands to benefit from a flipped script:

Republicans, who have a complete lock on Congress, failed to get rid of the law and are now on the defensive while support for Obamacare grows.

"They tried. They couldn't replace it. Then they tried, and they couldn't repeal it," Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times.

"I don't think their position is going to be very ascendant in next year's election. Exactly the opposite," he said. "I think those of us who stood up for it, and hopefully now can economically strengthen it so that it does work like it was intended. I think that is going to be the preferred position going into the election."

That posture defangs a central message of Republicans, who spent millions on anti-Obamacare ads in Nelson's 2012 election, and of Nelson's possible opponent, Gov. Rick Scott, who made several visits to Washington and said he was helping craft legislation to replace the law. …

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Republicans back Rick Scott's removal of Aramis Ayala in Kissimmee police shooting case

Ayala

[Special to the Times]

Ayala

The Kissimmee police shooting over the weekend also sparked the latest round between Gov. Rick Scott and Republicans and Orlando State Attorney Aramis Ayala.

Ayala declared earlier this year that she objected to the death penalty for a number of reasons, including that African-Americans were grossly overrepresented on death row (which PolitiFact rated Mostly True). 

Republicans objected and the dispute is now in the hands of the courts

Scott already reassigned 27 felony cases, over the objections of Ayala, on Saturday when he issued an executive order announcing that he was reassigning the case involving the Kissimmee shooting to State Attorney Brad King in Hernando. 

“Last night’s violence against our law enforcement community is reprehensible and has no place in our state. In Florida, we have zero tolerance for violence and those who attack our law enforcement. Today, I am using my executive authority to reassign this case to State Attorney Brad King to ensure the victims of last night’s attack and their families receive the justice they deserve.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi agreed.

 

 

So did Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

 

 

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Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera won't run for Congress

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Miami Herald

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has decided not to run for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s seat in Congress, though he may seek another office in 2020.

“We have decided that being a candidate in 2018 is not what’s best for our family,” Lopez-Cantera, who is married and has two young daughters, said in a statement.

He pledged to remain involved in politics and suggested he could launch a future candidacy for an unnamed position. He’s considered a possible contender to become Miami-Dade County’s next mayor.

“There is still a lot of work to be done and I will continue to look for ways to be a part of the solution,” he said. “I may run for public office again, but not in 2018.”

Instead of jumping into the race for Florida’s 27th congressional district, Lopez-Cantera said he will complete his term as lieutenant governor, which ends next year. He’s No. 2 to Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

“I will also be supporting candidates and causes that lower the cost of government on our citizens, such as the upcoming constitutional amendment for an additional homestead exemption,” said Lopez-Cantera, the former Miami-Dade property appraiser.

More here.

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100 days of Adam Putnam's campaign, by the numbers

The Adam Putnam campaign released a by-the-numbers snapshot of the 100 days since he formally kicked off his campaign for governor in Bartow.

“Hard-working folks ... have been able to achieve their American Dream right here in Florida,” said Putnam. “I want every single Floridian to be able to tell a similar story. I want people around the country to know this is where it happens. It’s why we have more work to do. It’s why we’ve got to keep fighting to put Florida first and make our state the launch pad for the American Dream. And it’s why I am running for Governor of the great state of Florida.”

In 100 days, per the campaign:

2,063 supporters came out to support Adam on May 10

12 “Up & Adam” Breakfasts

11 County Republican functions

2 Shotgun Shootouts

A flatbed full of stickers seen on bumpers on every highway and county road

8 stops to the Busy Bee, where I-10 meets I-75

12 cortaditos downed by Adam in Miami

1 oil change for Adam’s white pickup truck

1 A/C repair visit to the Bartow headquarters

100 glasses of Florida orange juice consumed by Adam

343 cans of Coke Zero consumed by staff at Bartow headquarters

3,044 popsicles distributed to young Floridians at parades …

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Observations from a liberal, gay, Latino, feminist Florida House freshman

Carlos G. Smith

Adam Smith

Carlos G. Smith

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando,  rocked the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus dinner at Tallahassee's Hotel Duval Satursday night with his unabashedly liberal and passionate take on the myriad issues he said are key to LGBTQ Floridians. Among them: Access to guns, Reproductive rights, home rule, heathcare. Here are a few nuggets

Republican legislators don't like talking about the Pulse massacre:

"In the Florida legislature I have talked about the tragedy at Pulse night club at length - much to the chagrin of my Republican colleagues. They do not want to talk about Pulse. Why? It makes them feel uncomfortable. It makes them feel uncomfortable because when you invoke the tragedy of Pulse the Republican-controlled Florida legislature they have gun safety, they have to talk about LGBTQ issues, they have to talk about mental health and how Florida's 50th in the nation in funding for mental health, they have to talk about uninsured Latinos - that one in four Latinos living in the state of Florida is uninsured."

"Richard Corcoran needs to be educated" …

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Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

Winner of the week

Tom Scarritt. The Tampa lawyer University of the South grad thought his community would step up to pay to move a divisive monument from the shadow of the courthouse, and he was was right.

Loser of the week

State Sen. George Gainer. Filing a bill to ensure drivers are immune to civil liability if they unintentionally kill or maim a protester blocking a public road seemed like an excellent idea to the Panama City Republican and Transportation Committee chairman this year. But after a protester was run over and killed in Virginia -- and Gainer took a thrashing on social media -- his interest in re-filing the bill has subsided.

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Candidates for governor get emotional talking about their gay siblings

Chris King talking to reporters in Tallahassee

Adam Smith

Chris King talking to reporters in Tallahassee

Occasionally in today's hyper-rehearsed and contrived world of political campaigns one witnesses moments that are so honest and real, we can't help but understand we're not just listening to another politician give his or her stump speech; We're listening to a human being who understands personal pain at least as well as we do.

Two such choke-up moments occurred Saturday when a few dozen members of the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus heard from a couple of underdog candidates for the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Turns out that both Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park businessman Chris King have gay older brothers who had difficult years growing up in Florida. …

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Should Capitol's Confederate monument be removed? Scott won't say.

Gov. Rick Scott won't offer an opinion on whether a Confederate monument should be moved from the state Capitol Complex in Tallahassee.

Kristen M. Clark / Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau

Gov. Rick Scott won't offer an opinion on whether a Confederate monument should be moved from the state Capitol Complex in Tallahassee.

Florida’s Republican governor won’t take a position on what should be done with a monument that honors slain Confederate soldiers on the state Capitol grounds, even as a growing number of elected leaders around the country take steps to remove such monuments after last weekend’s violent white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va.

Rather than lead on the issue, Rick Scott is deferring to state lawmakers and has remained silent on whether such monuments in Florida — and particularly the one at the Capitol — should be taken down.

After Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic candidate for governor, on Wednesday called on Scott to remove the Capitol monument, Scott’s office would only acknowledge they had “received” that request.

His office on Thursday pointed to general remarks Scott had made two days earlier about how federal, state and local officials ought to “review” what should be done with Confederate monuments. “We need to go through a process where everyone comes together and has a legitimate conversation, then we go forward,” Scott had said. …

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President Trump offers prayers for Kissimmee police

President Donald Trump reacted to the police shooting in Kissimmee:

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What is going on with Tom Lee and the CFO race?

Sen. Tom Lee has much to ponder

[Tampa Bay Times]

Sen. Tom Lee has much to ponder

State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, appears to have stirred a hornet’s nest by announcing publicly that he intends to run for state chief financial officer in 2018.

It’s long been known that Lee wanted to run for the office -- he ran in 2006 -- and he’s made it no secret that he was considering it.

Still, many political insiders expected Lee would eventually decide to run for re-election to his state Senate seat instead of starting a primary fight with the current CFO, Republican Jimmy Patronis. Gov. Rick Scott appointed Patronis to the vacant post in June and solidly backs Patronis to run to hold it in 2018.

But without filing officially, Lee told a local reporter this week he intends to run – and did so on the day before attending a high-profile public event with Scott and Patronis in Brandon.

Awkward.

On Friday, Lee stood with Patronis, Scott and other Republican luminaries at Brandon Honda, while Scott and Patronis touted Scott’s election-year proposal to make it harder for the Legislature to impose tax or fee increases.

Then a reporter asked Scott about the CFO race and about Lee’s announcement, and Scott made it clear where his loyalties are. …

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The guy who killed slavery monument scheduled to speak on importance of Confederate monuments

Sen. Dennis Baxley

[Tampa Bay Times]

Sen. Dennis Baxley

It's no secret that Sen. Dennis Baxley loves the losing side in the U.S. Civil War.

The descendant of a Confederate soldier, Baxley, R-Ocala, has never hesitated to promote his heritage. In 2007, he objected when lawmakers discussed changing the state song, including the removal of "darkeys" from the chorus. 

So it should be no surprise that, amid the national debate about what to do with Confederate monuments, Baxley, who helped write the state's "stand your ground" law, will be a featured speaker at a southern heritage event on Sept. 2 titled "the War on the South."

The event is the annual banquet for the Sons of Confederate Veterans Judah P. Benjamin Camp. To be held in Temple Terrace, it's already sparked protests

But while the group asserts that the removal of Confederate monuments is an affront to history, they have chosen a speaker in Baxley who has actively blocked other historical monuments. …

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