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Andrew Gillum Becomes First African-American Nominee For Florida Governor

Andrew Gillum addresses the audience at the Netroots Nation annual conference for political progressives in Atlanta on Aug. 1

The election for the top job in the third-largest state will be a referendum on President Donald Trump, who considers himself a part-time resident of Florida.

Andrew Gillum has become the first African-American nominee for Florida governor, pulling off an upset win over favorite Gwen Graham and two big-spending businessmen in a crowded Democratic primary field.

The Tallahassee mayor will face Jacksonville congressman Ron DeSantis, who easily defeated state agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam thanks to the backing of President Donald Trump.

“We’re going to bring this thing home,” Gillum told his election night gathering in Tallahassee. “As the mayor of Florida’s capital city, I humbly accept the Democratic nomination.”

Gillum never led in any public polling, but was showing signs of gaining momentum in the final weeks. He benefited from being chosen by the progressive wing of the party’s most generous benefactors ― including billionaires Tom Steyer and George Soros ― as well as from a barrage of negative ads against Graham by billionaire Jeff Greene.

Greene wound up finishing fourth in the five-way pack, but he spent $10 million on ads attacking Graham ― more than she spent on television on her own behalf. Liberal outside groups, meanwhile, coalesced around Gillum and served as his turnout operation, particularly in urban areas with large concentrations of younger and minority voters.

Gillum, 39, had difficulty raising money for his campaign after the revelation that the FBI was investigating Tallahassee city government. He says he heard he is not a target of the probe, but one of his closest friends and a former political ally has been the subject of federal subpoenas examining a restaurant he developed in part using city money.

Gillum wound up raising the least money of the five candidates ― $8.4 million between his campaign and a political committee under his control. In contrast, Greene raised $43 million, $40 million from himself. And Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, who started airing TV ads 10 months ago and led the race for several months, raised a total of $41 million, of which $29.5 million was his own cash.

But throughout the race, Gillum’s embrace of progressive ideals such as Medicare for all and his engaging public speaking style made him a favorite of the party’s most liberal activists. In the final weeks, he was endorsed by Vermont senator and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who campaigned with Gillum in the closing days of the race.

Gillum cut his teeth on political activism as a student government leader at Florida A&M University just a few blocks from Florida’s Capitol, where he led protests against Gov. Jeb Bush’s plan to revamp the state’s affirmative action programs. He went to work for People for the American Way before running for a seat on the Tallahassee City Commission in 2003. He became the city’s mayor in 2014.

The Florida gubernatorial race will now become a referendum on Trump’s presidency, with Gillum painting DeSantis as a Trump clone and DeSantis hoping to bring out as many Trump voters as he can in November.

Trump has spent winter weekends and holidays at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach for years and considers himself a part-time resident of the state. It is unclear how frequently, if at all, he will campaign for DeSantis in the two months leading up to the Nov. 6 general election. Whether Republicans retain control of Congress could determine the survival of the Trump presidency, and his political advisers may choose to focus his time on House and Senate seats.

Trump campaigned with DeSantis only once during the primary, at a rally in Tampa in July, and sent out a handful of supportive statements on Twitter, including the message “VOTE FOR RON” in all capitals late Monday. But in a GOP primary electorate bearing little resemblance to the one that supported former Gov. Jeb Bush and former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, Trump’s seal of approval allowed DeSantis to overcome enormous disadvantages in cash and traditional support.

The state Republican establishment was solidly behind Putnam even before he announced his candidacy. From a cattle ranching and citrus family in the heart of the state, Putnam had been grooming himself for this run from the time he graduated college. He won a state legislative seat at age 22, then moved to Congress four years later, returning to Florida in 2010 to run for state agriculture commissioner.

He served two terms, coinciding with Rick Scott’s years as governor, and had appeared the heir apparent to the job as Scott leaves because of term limits.

DeSantis, in contrast, entered politics just six years ago, when he ran for Congress from the wealthy suburbs of Jacksonville, his hometown, after serving as a Navy prosecutor. His deployment to Iraq during President George W. Bush’s “troop surge” there was a highlight of his biography on the campaign trail. Despite the populist, pro-Trump rhetoric he has delivered for years from the Fox TV studio near the U.S. Capitol, DeSantis graduated from Yale and received a law degree from Harvard.

President Donald Trump talks with Ron DeSantis during a Make America Great Again Rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Ta
CARLOS BARRIA/REUTERS
President Donald Trump talks with Ron DeSantis during a Make America Great Again Rally at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa, Florida, on July 31, 2018. 

And while Putnam also praised Trump repeatedly on the campaign trail, his standing with Trump likely was irreparably damaged in October 2016 after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape that featured Trump bragging that his celebrity enabled him to grab women by the genitals. Putnam criticized Trump for the remarks, while DeSantis did not. 

DeSantis leaned on Trump’s approval heavily, mentioning it often in stump speeches and in TV ads. He even produced an ad using his young children as props, dressing up his infant in a “Make America Great Again” onesie.

Yet while DeSantis’ love for and from Trump clearly helped him against Putnam in the Republican primary, it may wind up hurting him in the November election against Gillum. Trump is not popular with many independents and even some moderate Republicans. Democrat Margaret Good defeated the son of sitting Republican congressman Vern Buchanan in a special election for a state House seat in Sarasota earlier this year, even though the district leans solidly Republican.

Florida Democrats have not won a governor’s race since 1994, when Lawton Chiles won a second term by defeating Republican Jeb Bush. The party has come within a single percentage point in both 2010 and 2014, losing both times to Scott.

 

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Sen. Graham Shares Some of McCain's Last Words to Him

Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) death perhaps hit no one of his colleagues harder than Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). The two men had a bond that is hard to find in life, let alone in Washington, where political backstabbing is the norm. Yet, Graham loved Sen. McCain until his last breath. That clearly showed in his interview Tuesday morning on the "TODAY" show.

“We can do this,” an emotional Sen. Graham said at the outset of the interview.

Graham spoke highly of his friend's tenacity. He had "45 lives," Graham joked, considering he crashed five plans and suffered for five years as a POW in Vietnam. "When he spoke, people listened."

"This man was the conscience of the Senate," Graham continued. "He was at times the conscience of the nation. If I had to pick one person in this great land to explain to someone from a different planet, who are these Americans, it would be John McCain, with an assist from Mark Salter. He had a romantic view of our nation until his last breath.”

Graham revealed that some of McCain's last words to him were, "I love you. I have not been cheated.'"

Like most media outlets, co-hosts Savannah Guthrie and Craig Melvin wanted to know Graham's thoughts about McCain's feuds with President Trump. Graham explained that he loved his friend, but he is going to help the president when he needs him. He did note that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has been "terrific" and has reached out to the McCain family. The president also reportedly told Kelly to give the McCain family anything they need. 

Instead of dwelling on the tension between McCain and Trump, "Let's talk about John," Graham said.

Graham will do just that on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, giving an “after action report” on McCain’s life.

TOWNHALL.COM

https://townhall.com/tipsheet/cortneyobrien/2018/08/28/sen-graham-on-how-he-plans-to-honor-his-friend-n2513673

Veterans Group Calls Out Trump’s ‘Outrageous’ Response To John McCain’s Death

AMVETS called on the White House to “show appropriate respect” for the late Arizona lawmaker.

AMVETS, one of the country’s largest veterans organizations, blasted President Donald Trump on Monday over his lackluster response to the recent death of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

The organization, also known as American Veterans, tweeted that it was “deeply disappointed in the lack of traditional and appropriate respect in the White House’s reaction” to the decorated Vietnam veteran’s death.

“AMVETS is calling on the White House to show appropriate respect for the passing of Sen. McCain,” AMVETS tweeted. “He was a war hero, twice a presidential contender, and a national treasure who devoted his entire adult life to protecting and improving the American way of life.”

Trump has faced significant backlash over his response to McCain’s death. He issued a curt tweet on Sunday wishing McCain’s family well, though not mentioning anything about the late Arizona lawmaker’s legacy.

White House flags were lowered to half-staff after McCain’s death on Saturday, but returned to full-staff early Monday. The White House was operating under a protocol of keeping the flag at half-staff for a day and a half following the death of a sitting member of Congress. Anything beyond that would require a presidential proclamation ― a relatively simple order to draft but one that Trump does not appear to have much interest in.

U.S. Capitol flags will remain at half-staff through McCain’s interment on Sunday, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told HuffPost. 

The White House is openly showcasing its blatant disrespect for Senator McCain’s many decades of service and sacrifice to our country as well as the service of all his fellow veterans.Joe Chenelly, AMVETS National Executive Director

Trump didn’t hide his longtime disdain for McCain, one of Trump’s most outspoken Republican critics. He made headlines in summer 2015 ― soon after announcing his presidential run ― when he mocked McCain’s military record during a political forum in Iowa. Trump suggested McCain wasn’t a “war hero” because he was captured in Vietnam and held as a prisoner of war for over five years.

Though former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama are slated to give eulogies at McCain’s funeral on Sunday, Trump will not be in attendance, according to a spokesman for McCain. The Arizona senator reportedly disinvited Trump to his funeral months ago.

AMVETS has been critical of some Trump administration decisions previously, including the president’s appointment of a Defense Department official to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs after David Shulkin was booted from the position. But the organization’s flurry of tweets on Monday marks an escalation in their criticism of the president. 

“It’s outrageous that the White House would mark American hero John McCain’s death with a two-sentence tweet, making no mention of his heroic and inspiring life,” AMVETS National Executive Director Joe Chenelly said in a statement Monday. 

He continued: “And by lowering flags for not one second more than the bare minimum required by law, despite a long-standing tradition of lowering flags until the funeral, the White House is openly showcasing its blatant disrespect for Senator McCain’s many decades of service and sacrifice to our country as well as the service of all his fellow veterans.”  

The American Legion, another prominent veterans organization, also called on Trump to issue an “appropriate” proclamation honoring McCain’s legacy and ordering the nation’s flags be lowered to half-staff through the interment of his body.

“The American Legion urges the White House to follow long-established protocol following the death of prominent government officials,” Denise Rohan, national commander of The American Legion, told HuffPost in a statement.

“Mr. President, just this year, you released presidential proclamations noting the deaths of Barbara Bush and Billy Graham,” she continued. “Senator John McCain was an American hero and cherished member of The American Legion.”

Veterans of Foreign Wars, the largest and oldest war veterans organization, also called on Trump to continue honoring McCain.

“The U.S. Flag Code calls for lowering the flag to half-staff on the day of and the day after the death of a member of Congress,” a VFW spokesman told HuffPost. “That the White House did on Saturday and Sunday. We have asked the White House if the honor could be extended. No response back yet.”

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https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/amvets-trump-mccain-death_us_5b840313e4b03485860253fd

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