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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Fox poll: Bush hasn't been hurt by Trump

Donald Trump leads in a new Fox News national poll, surging to an even higher level of support.

Trump gets the backing of 26 percent of GOP primary voters, up from 18 percent a few weeks ago. "That’s not only the highest level of support for Trump, but it’s also the highest any GOP candidate has received since the Fox poll began asking the question in December 2013," Fox reports.

But Trump hasn't really hurt Jeb Bush, who got 15 percent, 1 percentage point down from mid-July but matching his 15 percent support in June.

Rest of the field:

Scott Walker gets 9 percent.

Ben Carson at 7.

Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee each with 6.

Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul tied at 5.

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Joe Biden's Florida brother: 'Go, Joe, Go' for president

George Bennett of the Palm Beach Post reports:

Joe Biden‘s youngest brother, Ocean Ridge resident Frank Biden, says he’s among those urging the vice president to enter the 2016 presidential race.

“I’d like nothing better…I make no bones about the fact that I’m one of the voices in the big clan that says ‘Go, Joe, Go,'” said Frank Biden, the president of the West Palm Beach-based charter Mavericks High School and director of the Florida Charter School Alliance.

“I’m the youngest brother so I’ve got the least influence,” said Frank Biden, 61. He’s 11 years younger than the vice president, whom he calls “my hero.”

More here.

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Video: Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio at Voters First Forum

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and the most of the other GOP contenders for president appeared at a forum Monday evening in New Hampshire.

Donald Trump did not attend but he hung over the field; the very first question was about immigration and it stuck around all night, the candidates taking a border-first line on the issue. Rubio, for example, outlined a piecemeal approach starting with border security and avoided talk of citizenship.

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Poll: Donald Trump leads in N.H. with Jeb Bush in second

A fresh poll out of New Hampshire shows Donald Trump way ahead of other Republicans.

The WMUR Granite State Poll shows Trump with the support of 24 percent of likely GOP primary voters, doubling Jeb Bush, who has 12 percent. Scott Walker is third with 11 percent.

Asked who they think will win the primary, voters say Bush, followed closely by Trump.

From WMUR.com: The remainder of the pack is led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky at 7 percent each; followed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 6 percent; and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Dr. Ben Carson at 5 percent each.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is at 3 percent, while former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry are each supported by 2 percent. Drawing 1 percent each are former business executive Carly Fiorina, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania.

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Rubio votes to defund Planned Parenthood; Nelson votes against

Sen. Marco Rubio stuck around Washington today to cast a vote to defund Planned Parenthood, a measure that failed to get 60 votes to advance.

Rubio was scheduled to be in Manchester, N.H., for a candidate forum but did not want to miss the vote, which follows the release of covert videos about Planned Parenthood. Rubio will participate in the forum via video, as will Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Sen. Bill Nelson joined Democrats in opposing the effort to strip funding for Planned Parenthood.

Writing for Lifenews.com today, Rubio blasted Planned Parenthood as a "morally bankrupt organization. …

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Gov. Scott will tour flooding in Pasco County, meet with residents

Gov. Rick Scott will visit flood-ravaged Pasco County on Monday to meet with residents. The governor's office says Scott will accompany Sheriff Chris Nocco on State Road 54 in New Port Richey.

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Pro-Hillary Clinton SuperPac nets just $250K in Florida money

When the pro-Hillary Clinton SuperPAC Priorities USA Action released its half-year contribution summary late Friday, there was understandably little fanfare.

The pro-Jeb Bush Right to Rise SuperPAC had already blown the doors off of any other campaign entity earlier that day, disclosing its astounding $103 haul Priorities USA netted barely more than 15 percent of that, at $15.6 million. 

One subplot that may be worth paying attention to, though? Florida money. Every SuperPAC penny will help when it comes to coordinating messaging (independent of campaigns, of course) in the large, diverse state of Florida.

The numbers aren't good for the former secretary of state. Clinton's SuperPAC backers raked in just $250,000 in Florida, and all from one donor, real estate developer James Pugh. 

By comparison, Right to Rise reported $862,425 from 32 donors. 

Whose last names started with "A." 


When one adds the other 25 letters of last names, Right to Rise's Florida advantage over the Clinton-backing SuperPAC totals more than $29 million

The election is still 15 months away, but Bush is already flexing his organizational muscles in the state that could decide the next president.

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Bush allies 'all but giddy' about Trump freezing field

Donald Trump took to Twitter this morning to criticize the premise of this New York Times story, describing Jeb Bush’s “enthusiasts … all but giddy.

“Despite the false @nytimes story about Jeb Bush being happy with the Trump surge, He fell more than anybody & is miserable,” Trump wrote.

There's little question Trump has some upside for Bush, as Adam C. Smith wrote recently.

Here's the NYT story:

It may be the Summer of Trump, but the publicity-hungry real estate magnate is not the only Republican presidential candidate relishing all his attention.

Donald J. Trump’s surge in the polls has been met with barely concealed delight by Jeb Bush and his supporters. Mr. Trump’s bombastic ways have simultaneously made it all but impossible for those vying to be the alternative to Mr. Bush to emerge, and easier for Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor, to position himself as the serious and thoughtful alternative to a candidate who has upended the early nominating process.

With little indication that his support is slipping and the promise of the center stage at Thursday’s debate, Mr. Trump has essentially frozen the rest of the field. …

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Gov. Scott instructs AHCA secretary to audit hospitals, insurance plans

After demanding that hospitals and insurance companies prove their Medicaid contracts are below state-mandated limits, Gov. Rick Scott is dispatching Agency for Health Care Administration to audit those that did not send the state information by an Aug. 1 deadline.

The audit announcement came in a letter Scott sent to AHCA Secretary Liz Dudek Monday.

Hospitals and insurance plans whose contracts AHCA auditors find are above a cap in state law of 120 percent of the Medicaid rate limit could be cancelled by the agency, Scott wrote. Those hospitals could also become ineligible for taxpayer funding under the Low Income Pool.

It's not clear how many hospitals or insurance plans will be audited at this time. Those that complied with a letter from Dudek requesting information about their contracts by Aug. 1 by the end of the day Monday will be exempt. Here's a list of who's complied, from the website of Scott's Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding.

Download Scott's letter here.

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With nod to Trump, Jeb Bush reveals plan to address illegal immigration

Jeb Bush today outlined a six-part plan to address illegal immigration and improve border security -- a move designed to get ahead of an issue Donald Trump has put at the forefront of the presidential race.

1. A forward-leaning Border Patrol with the flexibility to deploy resources to meet threats.
2. Use new technologies to achieve continuous surveillance of the border.
3. Bolster border infrastructure and improve access to federal lands.
4. Require electronic verification of employment eligibility.
5. Identify and send home the people who are entering the United States and overstaying their visas or otherwise violating the terms of their admission
6. Crack down on sanctuary cities that undermine efforts to enforce immigration laws. …

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Should Marco Rubio be concerned?

Sen. Marco Rubio

Associated Press

Sen. Marco Rubio

More than three months after Marco Rubio entered the presidential race, his standing in national and early nominating state polls (not to mention home state Florida) has been stagnant, in some cases fallen.

People are beginning to talk, or at least murmur.

“Honestly, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the polls,” Rubio said Sunday at the Koch brother gathering in California. “I’ve been up, I’ve been down. I’ve been higher than I am today and I’ve been lower. These polls today are not going to determine who the next president is.”

His response came in the context of a question from Politico’s Mike Allen about Donald Trump’s appeal. Rubio mentioned Trump’s focus on immigration (an issue that still dogs the Florida Republican) but sounded more eager to put the current polling in perspective.

It’s early, in other words.

Rubio’s camp is projecting a one-step-at-a-time outlook and is buoyed by the candidate’s fundraising. The question is, can Rubio sustain that, as Jeb Bush swallows up the money in Florida and the GOP field has grown to include John Kasich and other rivals. Trump will fade (right?) but he's making life more difficult. …

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AARP: 2015 legislative session's successes and failures were 'historic'

The Florida AARP on Monday released its voting record for the 2015 legislative session and special budget session.

“The 2015 Florida legislative session was historic, both in terms of laws passed and proposals that did not pass,” said State Director Jeff Johnson said in a statement.

Unlike some groups, AARP doesn't rank lawmakers based on their votes during the session, but the document provides an insight into priorities the activism group for older Floridians has going into the 2016 session, especially given how many bills failed to pass amid rancor between the House and Senate.

On their list of failed bills that AARP says should have passed:

* The Florida Health Insurance Exchange plan, which would have subsidized health insurance using federal Medicaid expansion money.

* Some of the legislation to expand advanced registered nurse practitioners' ability to prescribe drugs and care for patients.

* Set up a regulatory framework for telemedecine.

* Bills to make texting while driving a more easily enforced offense and to enhance road safety for pedestrians and cyclists.

You can download the full report here.


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Lawmakers urged to provide more transparency in map drawing

One week before the start of a special legislative session to redraw the boundaries of Florida congressional districts, the League of Women Voters is questioning the level of transparency.

League President Pamela Goodman, joined by Common Cause, sent a letter to legislative leaders Monday in which she hinted at possible legal action if the new map isn't developed in public view. The league is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit that led to the Florida Supreme Court's rejection of the Congressional map as unconstitutionally in violation of state anti-gerrymandering provisions.

Goodman questioned the July 20 memo from Senate President Andy Gardiner and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli in which both men said a new "base map" would be "drafted solely by staff in collaboration with counsel, without our participation or the participation of any other member, and will be provided simultaneously to all members and the public prior to the convening of the special session." …

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What Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are up to the week of Aug. 3

What Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are up to the week of Aug. 3

Rubio on Monday will be in Manchester, N.H., for a candidate forum hosted by the Union Leader newspaper and C-SPAN. On Wednesday he goes to Cleveland for a pre-debate gathering with supporters. On Thursday Rubio takes the debate stage. Friday, he’s in Atlanta for the RedState Gathering.

Bush’s schedule resembles Rubio’s. He’s got the Monday forum in New Hampshire. On Tuesday he participates in the Southern Baptist Convention in Nashville. Bush heads to Cleveland on Wednesday and has the debate Thursday. Friday, Bush is back in New Hampshire for a town hall in Barrington. He follows Rubio at RedState on Saturday.

Previous week here.

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Alan Grayson grabs union endorsement

Alan Grayson later today will snag the backing of the Central Florida Building and Construction Trades Council, a union-backed group.

“​Working people in Florida need a bold leader like Alan Grayson who will stand with Elizabeth Warren in the Senate and take on Wall Street,” council President Wes Kendrick​ said in a release. ​​"Alan is a​ fearless leader and fighter for all working people​ who has ​a proven track record of getting things done even when it was not easy.”

The release touted Grayson as a "staunch labor ally, both in Washington and inside his Central Florida district, co-sponsoring countless pieces of pro-worker legislation during his three terms in Congress. Those measures have included legislation seeking pay equity for women, mandatory paid vacation for all workers, and the extensioeking pay equity for women, mandatory paid vacation for all workers, and the extension of vital unemployment insurance for those struggling to find work."

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