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Murphy and other House Dems from Romney districts stick out in Benghazi, IRS votes

Monday, May 12th, 2014 by George Bennett

Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch (left) and Lois Frankel (center) voted with their party's leaders on Benghazi and Lois Lerner last week. Rep. Patrick Murphy (right), whose district voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, broke ranks with most Dems. (GARY CORONADO/THE PALM BEACH POST)

Only nine of the 435 districts in the House of Representatives sent a Democrat to Congress while being carried by Republican Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 is one of those ticket-splitting districts. Voters there went 51.5 percent for Romney in 2012 while narrowly choosing Democrat Patrick Murphy over Republican Rep. Allen West.

When there’s a largely party-line vote in which a few Dems cross the aisle to join Republicans, there’s a good chance Murphy and the other Democrats from Romney districts will be among them. That was the case in last week’s votes to find former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress and to approve a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attacks were the latest examples.

Subscribers to can read more about it in this week’s Politics column.

Also in this week’s Politics column: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, offer different interpretations of the Benghazi vote; why an immigration reform activist who was a registered Democrat showed up at Gov. Rick Scott‘s campaign event in Greenacres.

Russia reset: In Boca Raton, Obama declared ‘the Cold War’s been over for 20 years’

Thursday, August 8th, 2013 by George Bennett

President Barack Obama‘s cancellation of next month’s Moscow summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin confirms a souring of relations between the superpowers on issues ranging from Syria to arms control to the temporary asylum that Russia recently granted American national security secrets-leaker Edward Snowden.

For those (including PostOnPolitics) who view the sweep of history through a Palm Beach County lens, it also brings to mind the memorable exchange on Russia in last year’s foreign policy debate between Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney at Lynn University in Boca Raton.

Said Obama: “Gov. Romney, I’m glad that you recognize that Al Qaida is a threat, because a few months ago when you were asked what’s the biggest geopolitical threat facing America, you said Russia, not Al Qaida; you said Russia, and the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War’s been over for 20 years. But Governor, when it comes to our foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s, just like the social policies of the 1950s and the economic policies of the 1920s.”

CNN’s Gergen reveals he cast 2012 presidential vote for Michael Bloomberg

Friday, March 22nd, 2013 by George Bennett

Serial presidential adviser and CNN political analyst David Gergen kicked off the lecture series at former Sen. George Lemieux‘s new Center for Public Policy at Palm Beach Atlantic University on Thursday night, speaking to a crowd of about 400.

(Click here to read a news story about the event.)

Gergen — who advised Republican Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford and Democratic President Bill Clinton — revealed that he voted for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008, but not in 2012. But Gergen said he didn’t vote for Republican Mitt Romney last year.

“I didn’t vote Republican this last time around,” Gergen said during a question-and-answer session with LeMieux as both sat on leather chairs in the school’s DeSantis Family Chapel. “I voted for Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg, a write-in, because he’s my kind of leader. He’s very socially liberal but he’s very tough-minded on the fiscal side and I think he’s been a great leader.”

Trump says entitlements and immigration are losing issues for GOP; chats about golf and papal conclave

Friday, March 15th, 2013 by George Bennett

OXON HILL, Md. — Part-time Palm Beacher and celebrity capitalist Donald Trump called entitlement and immigration reform losing issues for the GOP, said Republicans lack a leader to energize voters and didn’t rule out running for president in 2016 during a visit to the Conservative Political Action Conference today.

During a wide-ranging speech and wider-ranging session with reporters, Trump took a shot at rising Republican star Bobby Jindal and said Paul Ryan was a poor choice for Mitt Romney‘s running mate in 2012. But Trump put in a good word for soda-regulating New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a favorite target of conservatives.

Trump got in a few plugs for his golf courses around the world, including a new one in Scotland (“they’re saying it may be the greatest course in the world”) and the recently purchased Doral Country Club in Miami (“I’m going to make that place incredible.”)

He also mentioned his personal ties to everyone from Newt Gingrich (“He’s a member of a great club right down the road that I happen to own, so I love Newt”) to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (“Chris is a very good friend of mine. I have a lot of property in New Jersey.”) to OPEC ministers (“I hate to tell you, they’re friends of mine, I know them all.”)


Change conservative values? ‘Malarkey’ says Allen West

Thursday, March 14th, 2013 by George Bennett

OXON HILL, Md. — Former U.S. Rep. Allen West urged conservatives this morning not to compromise their principles and to supplement their criticism of government handouts by drawing more attention to their own private acts of charity.

West was one of the first speakers at the Conservative Political Action Conference, a three-day affair that will feature Sen. Marco Rubio, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and several other potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates.

“I’ll give it to you straight: Last November we did take one on the jaw,” said West, who narrowly lost his re-election bid to Democrat Patrick Murphy in America’s most expensive U.S. House race. “But this movement and this fight is not defined by the punches that we take. We are defined by how quickly we pull ourselves off the mat and our perseverance.

“There is no shortage of people telling us what conservatism cannot accomplish, what we can’t do, how we cannot connect, how we must change our values to fit the times. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I want to tell you that that truly is a bunch of malarkey. The last time I checked a bended knee is not, nor shall it ever be, a conservative tradition.”

West, whose fiery conservative rhetoric has brought him a national following on the right, served up a few portions of red meat in his 20-minute speech.

“I’m speaking from experience when I tell you that there is nothing on this green earth that a liberal progressive fears more than a black American who wants a better life and a smaller government,” said West, who was one of only two black Republicans in the House during the last Congress.

“When more Americans prefer freebies to freedom, these great United States will become a fertile ground for tyranny,” West warned. “When did ‘Ask not what your country can do for you?’ become ‘Ask only what your country will give you.’?”

He got big applause when he said: “I’m a conservative because I believe in peace, real peace, and not peace of mind. I’m a conservative because I believe and understand that real peace comes from the Marine Corps, not the Peace Corps.”

West said he’s tired of “insufferable lectures” from liberals accusing conservatives of lacking compassion. He said conservatives are more likely to volunteer and give to charity while “the only charity a progressive sends is a smug sermon on fair share and what fairness is.”


Will Libertarian Gary Johnson be Mitt Romney’s Ralph Nader in Florida?

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 by George Bennett

Returns are incomplete and the lead has gone back and forth, but as of 9:07 p.m., President Barack Obama holds a 6,437-vote lead over Mitt Romney out of more than 6.6 million votes cast in Florida. Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson — a former Republican governor of New Mexico and a failed GOP presidential contender during this year’s primaries — had 34,302 votes.

If Romney ends up losing Florida by a smaller margin than Johnson’s total, it will undoubtedly bring memories of liberal activist Ralph Nader‘s 2000 candidacy as the Green Party presidential nominee. George W. Bush won Florida, and the White House, my a mere 537 votes over Democrat Al Gore. While Democrats fumed at the Butterfly Ballot and the Supreme Court’s Bush vs. Gore decision, many of them also blamed Gore’s loss on Nader, who got 97,488 votes in Florida that year.

Biden predicts overall Obama victory but not so sure about Florida

Monday, November 5th, 2012 by George Bennett

Vice President Joe Biden is predicting a big win for President Obama on Tuesday, with the veep forecasting that several battleground states will fall into Obama’s column.

He’s less bullish on Florida, according to a White House pool report from Virginia today:

“I think we have a clear shot of doing well in the so-called firewall. I think we’ll win Ohio. I think we’ll win Wisconsin. I think we’ll win Iowa. I think we’ll win Nevada. I think we’ll win New Hampshire. I think Florida will be close, but I think we have a real shot at winning. And this state, we’ve got a clear shot at winning.”

In Roanoke, Va., where Biden delivered pizzas to campaign workers, he excluded Florida from a list of swing states where he flatly predicted victory, according to another pool report:

“This is no malarkey. We genuinely feel good about the campaign. I’ve spent an awful lot of time in what they call the firewall – Ohio and Iowa and Wisconsin. We’re going to win all three of those states. We’re going to win Nevada, New Hampshire, Colorado. We have a chance not just to win but actually to make a real statement about unifying this country.”

Biden did make an ambiguous reference to Florida later, according to the pool report: “Virginia makes a gigantic statement. Ohio will make a gigantic statement. Florida – all tossup states. … They represent very different constituencies. The same with Colorado.”

‘Rock stars’ for Romney: Jeb and Condi campaign in Broward County

Monday, November 5th, 2012 by George Bennett

DAVIE — President Obama campaigned with the rapper Pitbull on Sunday and has Bruce Springsteen on the trail with him today.

Mitt Romney‘s campaign relied on a different kind of star power here this afternoon.

“On the other side, they may have Pitbull and Bruce Springsteen, but you’re going to get to see some of the rock stars that we have on our ticket today with Jeb Bush and Condoleezza Rice,” Republican congressional hopeful Adam Hasner told a crowd of about 200 at a get-out-the-vote rally at Broward College.

Former Secretary of State Rice scoffed at Democratic talk of a “war on women” while former Gov. Bush called Obama a failed president who has brought division during his term.


Romney makes final Florida stop — promising to “represent one nation”

Monday, November 5th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, greets supporters today in Sanford. (Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)Mitt Romney made his final campaign stop in Florida before a crowd of 4,000 supporters Monday in an airline hangar at Orlando-Sanford International Airport, saying his victory would give Americans a new sense of governing.

“I’ll bring people together,” Romney told those gathered. “I’ll not just represent one party. I’ll represent one nation.”

Romney spoke after a gallery of Florida leaders warmed-up the crowd, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and current Gov. Rick Scott. A request echoed through all the speakers — that supporters should call at least 10 friends and urge them to vote for Romney in the toss-up election.

“The stakes couldn’t be higher,” Bush said. (more…)

Romney to make closing Florida argument Monday in Sanford

Friday, November 2nd, 2012 by George Bennett

Mitt Romney will make a final stop in must-win Florida on Monday, scheduling an appearance in the crucial Interstate 4 corridor.

Romney will make a closing argument in Sanford at Orlando Sanford International Airport. He’s expected to campaign in Ohio and New Hampshire later in the day before Tuesday’s election.

President Obama‘s campaign announced Wednesday that Obama will appear Sunday in Hollywood at the McArthur High School football field. The Broward County appearance is probably the president’s final pre-election visit to Florida, though his Monday schedule has not been announced.

Presidential race now ‘The Million Ad March’

Friday, November 2nd, 2012 by John Kennedy

This year’s presidential race has already passed a major milestone — with more than 1 million TV ads airing in the contest for the first time in history.

As of Oct. 29, the two candidates, their party committees, and political spending groups had sponsored 1,015,615 ads since June 1, a 39.1% increase over the number seen in 2008 (730,041) and a 41% increase over 2004 (720,064), according to an analysis released Friday by the Wesleyan Media Project, based on data from Kantar Media/CMAG , which tracks advertising.

The Orlando market has seen the third highest level of presidential TV spots nationwide, with Miami ranked ninth. Denver leads the nation, followed by Las Vegas, according to the analysis.

The Obama campaign has paid for about 50 percent of all of the ads aired, out-advertising the Romney campaign by a 2.6 to 1 margin in both ads aired and estimated money spent.  But totaling all ads aired on behalf of either candidate, pro-Obama ads outnumber pro-Romney ads by  fewer than 50,000 (574,557 to 526,811).

Romney has been the overwhelming favorite of third-party spending organizations.

“The level of support for Gov. Romney from outside groups is simply incredible,” said Michael Franz,  project co-director.  “Groups supporting Romney out-advertised the candidate and party committees.  That is unprecedented in a presidential election.”


UPDATE: Bill Clinton back in FL for five-city sweep including Palm Beach County tomorrow

Thursday, November 1st, 2012 by Dara Kam

UPDATE: President Bill Clinton, arguably the country’s most popular living president, will kick off a five-city Florida campaign blitz for President Obama tomorrow morning in Lake Worth. Clinton will appear at the Duncan Theater at Palm Beach State College’s Lake Worth. Doors open at 8 a.m., and Clinton is expected to speak around 9. Tickets aren’t required, but supporters can go online to sign up in advance here.

President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama’s chief surrogate, will be back in Palm Beach County tomorrow as part of a five-city Florida sweep just days after his last visit to Orlando on Monday.

Clinton will hold rallies in Ft. Myers, Palm Bay, St. Petersburg, somewhere in Palm Beach County and Tallahassee in the crucial swing state where polls show Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney neck-and-neck.

With early voting underway, both campaigns have pulled out the stops in Florida in an effort to get voters to the polls before Tuesday’s election.

Campaigning today in Florida, Michelle Obama is stumping in Jacksonville, where she’ll be joined by R&B icon Stevie Wonder this afternoon, Daytona Beach and Miami. Clinton visited West Palm Beach in mid-September.

Obama was scheduled to join Clinton on Monday but instead took a several day campaign hiatus in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Yesterday, he toured the devastated New Jersey shoreline with Gov. Chris Cristie, one of Romney’s chief supporters and who delivered the keynote address at the RNC in Tampa this summer.

The president, back on the campaign trail today, will be back in Florida with a visit to Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.

Romney was joined by Gov. Jeb Bush at rallies in Tampa and Coral Gables yesterday and will return to Florida before Tuesday’s election.

Quinnipiac poll: Obama 48, Romney 47 in Florida

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 by George Bennett

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Florida too close to call, with President Obama leading Mitt Romney by a 48-to-47 percent margin that is within the survey’s 3 percent margin of error.

The results of the Oct. 23-28 poll compare to a 9-point Obama lead in late September.

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson leads Republican challenger Connie Mack by a 52-t0-39 percent margin in the poll.

Quinnipiac released the poll as part of a swing-state package that also shows Obama with a 50-to-45 percent lead in Ohio and a 49-to-47 percent lead in Virginia.

Obama team bullish with eight days to go

Monday, October 29th, 2012 by Dara Kam

President Obama’s campaign team held a bullish conference call with reporters shortly after President Clinton addressed an Orlando crowd Monday morning.

“We’re winning this race. And I say that not on the basis of some mystical faith in a wave that’s going to come or some hidden vote,” said Obama campaign senior strategist David Axelrod.

Axelrod said the Obama team’s confidence was based on “cold, hard, data-based” facts on early voting and swing state polls.

“You’re going to get spun and spun and spun in the next week,” he said. “In just eight days we’ll know who’s bluffing and who was not.”

In Florida, Axelrod and campaign manager Jim Messina said record-breaking early voting in some areas, including Jacksonville, overcame a GOP advantage in absentee ballots.

“That is a really strong, incredible sign of strength,” Messina said.

Some voters waited as long as six hours before casting their ballots, he said. “That’s what enthusiasm looks like.”

The Obama camp’s enthusiasm comes a day after Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker declared Romney the winner of Florida. Coker said Mitt Romney has nailed down the I-4 corridor crucial to a statewide sweep. In a poll of the region from Tampa Bay to Daytona Beach conducted for The Tampa Bay Times and its media partners, Romney held a 51-45 percent edge over Obama with 4 percent undecided.

“Romney has pretty much nailed down Florida,” said Coker told the Times. “Unless something dramatically changes — an October surprise, a major gaffe — Romney’s going to win Florida.”

Obama dropped by an Orlando campaign office Sunday night before bailing on the Central Florida event with President Bill Clinton (who showed up with U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson) and instead returning to the White House to monitor Hurricane Sandy threaten much of the Northeast.

“The president…has real responsibilities. Those responsibilities come first,” Axelrod said. “We’re obviously going to lose a bunch of campaign time but that’s as it has to be. We’ll try to make it up on the back end. It’s not a matter of optics. It’s a matter of responsibility.”

Obama’s aides pointed to polls showing the president leading in key swing states, including Iowa, Nevada and Virginia.

“As is befitting the Halloween season, Gov. Romney is running around the nation posing as an agent of change,” Axelrod said, adding that Romney’s economic plan would cost “middle class” $5 trillion in tax cuts “skewed to the wealthy” and a $2 trillion boost in defense spending the Pentagon is not seeking.

Romney’s plan is “an echo of the failed policies of the past,” he said.

“We’re going to be pounding that message everywhere in the final days of this campaign,” Axelrod said.

The Obama camp’s swagger drew sneers from the other side. Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski sent out the following e-mail shortly after the call.

“All – a couple things stuck out to us while we were listening to Axelrod and Messina on their call – they are extremely defensive about Pennsylvania acknowledging OFA and Restore Our Future are going up with ads, Bill Clinton will be headed to at least four states that were not on Messina’s map as of April 2012 and they are spending time reaffirming their confidence about Wisconsin – a state they won by 14 points in 2008. Oh, and Axelrod made it two days in a row that the campaign has attacked the Des Moines Register. You’re right Axe, 8 days and we’ll see who is bluffing.”

An exclusive Tampa Bay Times/Bay News 9 poll of likely voters along the Interstate 4 corridor finds Romney leading Obama 51 percent to 45 percent, with 4 percent undecided.
“Romney has pretty much nailed down Florida,” said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, which conducted the poll for the Times and its media partners. “Unless something dramatically changes — an October surprise, a major gaffe — Romney’s going to win Florida.”

Veepstakes: Ryan in Florida Monday, Biden Wednesday

Sunday, October 28th, 2012 by George Bennett

While President Obama and former President Bill Clinton campaign at the University of Central Florida in Orlando on Monday, Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan will be making three Florida stops.

Ryan is scheduled to appear at rallies in Jacksonville, Melbourne and Lakeland. His appearances come after Mitt Romney made stops in Pensacola, Kissimmee and Land O’Lakes on Saturday.

Vice President Joe Biden will also be coming to the state Wednesday. Details for the Biden visit haven’t been announced.

After two days of uncertainty, Bucher appears ready to approve Romney campaign poll watchers

Thursday, October 25th, 2012 by George Bennett

After more than two days of uncertainty that put Mitt Romney‘s campaign legal team on high alert, it appears that Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher will accept the Romney camp’s designation of 487 poll watchers to monitor voting at county precincts during the Nov. 6 election.

Bucher did not initially accept the Romney poll worker designation forms on Tuesday because they were submitted as an attachment to an e-mail rather than in hard copies. The Romney camp said Bucher also would not accept hard copies signed by an authorized representative of Romney.

The elections chief requested an opinion from Daniel Nordby, the general counsel to the Florida Department of State, on whether forms with an electronic signature were acceptable.

Nordby said in an e-mail Wednesday that the no law prohibits electronic signatures on the poll watcher forms and therefore “such a form is valid and has full force and effect.”

Bucher told The Post‘s Jane Musgrave tonight that she hasn’t seen Nordby’s e-mail yet, but that she’s fine with the electronic submissions if the general counsel is OK with them.


New poll by Democrat-leaning groups shows Obama with 47-45 lead in Florida

Thursday, October 25th, 2012 by George Bennett


A poll conducted Tuesday and Wednesday for Democrat-leaning Project New America and USAction says President Obama leads Mitt Romney in Florida by a 47-to-45 percent margin.

The sample of 600 likely voters was 40 percent Democrat and 40 percent Republican and has a 4 percent margin of error.

The poll says Obama has a 52-to-39 percent lead among women while Romney leads 52-to-41 percent among men.

Independents favor Obama by a 49-to-33 percent margin, according to the poll.

Project New America works with groups such as the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the National Education Association, the Service Employees International Union and the Sierra Club. USAction works with SEIU, public employee unions and other groups and was an advocate for the federal health care law.

Obama, Romney set more campaign dates in Florida; Rubio, Clinton join in

Thursday, October 25th, 2012 by George Bennett

President Obama, who debated Monday at Lynn University in Boca Raton and campaigned Tuesday in Delray Beach, returns to Florida for another campaign rally today in Tampa.

Obama is also scheduled to campaign in Orlando on Monday with former President Bill Clinton, The Orlando Sentinel is reporting.

Mitt Romney will be joined by Sen. Marco Rubio for three Florida campaign appearances on Saturday. Romney and Rubio will hit Pensacola Saturday morning, Kissimmee in the afternoon and attend an evening rally in Land O’ Lakes near Tampa.

Obama, Romney clash over America’s standing in world, role in Middle East

Monday, October 22nd, 2012 by Andrew Abramson

BOCA RATON — President Obama went after former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney early in Monday’s presidential debate at Lynn University, questioning the GOP nominee’s knowledge of foreign affairs.

Obama said that Romney earlier this year called Russia, and not al Qaeda, the biggest geopolitical group facing America.

“The 1980′s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back, because the Cold War has been over for 20 years,” Obama said. “When it comes to foreign policy, you seem to want to import the foreign policies of the 1980s — like the social policy of the 1950s, and the economic policies of the 1920s.”

Romney shot back that he said Russia was the biggest geopolitical foe but Iran was the greatest national threat.

“I have clear eyes on this,” Romney said. “I’m not going to wear rose colored glasses when it comes to Russia or Mr. Putin. After the election he’ll get more backbone.”

Obama accused Romney of having few differences from the current administration on foreign policy.

“He doesn’t have different ideas because we’re doing exactly what we should be doing (in Syria),” Obama said.


Scott: Foreign policy? It’s all about jobs

Monday, October 22nd, 2012 by Dara Kam

In the spin room at Lynn University, Gov. Rick Scott said that tonight’s presidential debate should center on one thing: Jobs.

That’s no surprise, since Scott ran his own gubernatorial campaign two years ago on the same agenda. Scott promised to create 700,000 jobs in seven years.

So Scott offered a job-centric prediction of what to expect from Romney tonight.

“He’s going to continue to do the same thing he’s talked about. He’s going to talk about the two paths. He’s going to explain the fact that this whole election is about jobs, just like my race in 2010. And his path for job creation is going to be the key thing,” Scott said.

But tonight’s debate is focused on foreign policy, a reporter pointed out to Scott.

“Foreign policy is all about jobs. It’s all about how we create predictability so businesses want to invest so we can get more jobs. This race 100 percent about jobs. The foreign policy focus is just like cars. How do we participate in a global economy, how do we get more jobs for America,” Scott said.

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