Hillary Clinton's campaign said Friday night that she will not appear at a grassroots rally Monday in Palm Beach County.
Bill Clinton will be her stand-in.
Clinton is facing a tougher than expected challenge from Bernie Sanders and is shifting attention to Nevada, which holds caucuses before Florida's primary.
Republicans are happy. “Hillary Clinton’s last minute decision to skip Florida is a clear sign that her campaign is in a crisis after her devastating loss to Bernie Sanders," said Wadi Gaitan of the Republican Party of Florida. "No matter how much the Clinton machine tries to spin their crisis, Floridians will continue to see the catastrophe of dishonesty, scandals and negative headlines that plague her campaign."
From the Tampa Bay Times' Steve Contorno and Sara DiNatale:
TAMPA -- Donald Trump may have Carolina on his mind, but on Friday night the Republican frontrunner rallied the troops in Tampa with an eye toward a long race to the nomination.
Coming off his first win Tuesday in New Hampshire, Trump delivered an hour-long stump speech of his greatest hits from the campaign trail to a standing-room only crowd at the 10,000-capacity University of South Florida Sun Dome. Together, the assembly chanted to Trump's campaign theme: "Build the wall!" They mocked Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's email scandal, cheered for the troops and Trump's poll numbers and chided the media and a handful of protesters.
The raucous crowd, many who waited hours to get in, loudly egged him on.
"Something's happening," Trump said moments after walking in to Van Halen's "Right Now." "This is a movement. This is not just a normal situation."
Trump saved his sharpest digs for Republican contender Jeb Bush, mocking the former Florida governor on his own turf as "asleep at the wheel," "a gutless guy," and "a total stiff."
The top Democrat in the U.S. Senate said Friday afternoon that U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, should "immediately" drop out of the race for Marco Rubio's U.S. Senate seat, because of a scathing New York Times report over Grayson's controversial management of a once-off-shore hedge fund.
The Associated Press first reported the blistering statement from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who rarely issues such remarks. Grayson, a firebrand progressive, called Reid’s comments “absurd” and gave no indication Friday of ending his campaign.
"Grayson claims to be a progressive, but it seems like he has no moral compass," Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said in the statement -- which came a day after a New York Times article that delved more deeply into Grayson's hedge funds, following months of other media reports on the topic.
U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, is attacking his Democratic opponent in Florida's U.S. Senate race over donations a pro-Patrick Murphy super PAC received from a wealthy donor who stands to benefit from legislation Murphy supported two years ago (but which he hasn't signed on to this session).
In a rarity, Grayson's attack on Murphy allies the progressive Democrat with a conservative super PAC, American Crossroads, which has been blasting Murphy on the same donor issue for weeks.
In its most recent campaign finance disclosure, "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" -- which was established last spring to help Murphy's campaign for U.S. Senate -- reported a $50,000 donation from "230 East 63rd-6 Trust LLC" amid $500,000 in contributions it collected since July. (Murphy's father also donated $200,000 to the super PAC, records showed. Super PACs are not bound by contribution limits nor can they coordinate directly with the candidate.) …
Gov. Rick Scott and Surgeon General John Armstrong are continuing their Zika offensive, unveiling a hotline Friday for Floridians to call with questions.
The phone number — 855-622-6735 — is staffed by Department of Health workers who will “answer questions and advise callers on what steps they can take to protect their homes and families from Zika,” Scott said in a statement.
Since the revelation last week that some Floridians have been infected with the virus while travelling abroad, Zika has been at the heart of the administration’s public health messaging.
In a press conference Feb. 4, Scott compared the state’s Zika response to preparation for a hurricane. He issued a public health emergency, a rare decision.
Twenty cases have been confirmed in the state.
None of those involved pregnant women, whose babies may be at higher risk to deformities if infected and none were transmitted within Florida.
The number of cases has grown from nine since Scott declared the state of emergency more than a week ago.
After telling audiences that he’s lived the immigration issue, Marco Rubio outlines a tough-on-security approach that raises the possibility of ISIS invading our homes and strikes this promise: “If we aren’t 100 percent sure who you are and why you’re coming to America, you’re not getting in.”
As he navigates the issue he’s most vulnerable to conservatives on, Rubio’s past keeps surfacing. During the last big terrorism scare — 9/11 — Florida got perhaps the earliest look at Rubio’s more moderate immigration views.
Lawmakers in Tallahassee rushed to make policy after the terrorist attacks. But Rubio expressed caution about going too far and in February 2002, he led an effort to defeat a bill that would have required state colleges and universities to provide law enforcement with information on about 58,000 student visa holders. …
U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is pushing a bill that would require Homeland Security to screen Facebook, Twitter and other social media before allowing the entry of foreign travelers and visa applicants.
Buchanan’s office highlighted Thursday that the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Michael McCaul, expressed support for the idea.
“A simple check of social media accounts of foreign travelers and visa applicants will help ensure that those who have participated in, pledged allegiance to, or communicated with terrorist organizations cannot enter the United States,” McCaul said in a statement. “I know this will be a useful tool for the Department of Homeland Security and will aid in securing our homeland."
Questions about social media arose after the San Bernardino shootings, and Republican presidential candidates criticized the government. FBI Director James Comey countered that the couple that carried out the attacks had not made open posts about radical Islamic jihad.
As lawmakers consider a plan negotiated between the Seminoles and Gov. Rick Scott, the tribe has started running commercials with the message that the agreement helps the state. One of the ads ticks off several benefits of the deal Scott has touted to the Legislature, which has been reluctant to agree to the compact.
"The governor authorized a new and unprecedented Seminole compact: Nearly 20,000 new Florida jobs; $3 billion in guaranteed revenue, the largest share for any state in history; and for the first time, empowering the Legislature to limit expansion to keep Florida's entertainment options family friendly," the commercial said.
That’s a lot to pack into one 30-second spot. PolitiFact Florida was especially curious about the $3 billion in payments the tribe promised the state. Is it really the most any state has received from Indian gaming in history?Full Story
Marco Rubio brought up a new wrinkle in the country’s immigration debate that hits especially hard, he argues, in Miami.
"I see people that fly in on their private jets into Miami, Fla., have a child because they are eight and a half months pregnant when they get here," Rubio said at a town hall in Iowa on Jan. 24. "They are wealthy. They fly back home on the private jet. Their kid is now a U.S. citizen, and they don’t pay the hospital bill."
It sounds like insult to injury for taxpayers -- the babies get citizenship, residents get the unpaid tax burden. But is this really even happening in South Florida, like he says?Full Story
The Donald Trump show comes to Tampa tonight, and the star promises it will be family-friendly.
"I won't use foul language. I'm just not going to do it," Trump told a rally in Baton Rouge Thursday. "I'll never do it again actually, and I'll never even copy what somebody asks me to say."
Trump has been chastised by his rivals and commentators for having repeated a profane description of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that a woman in the audience shouted during a rally in New Hampshire Monday.
"Even in our political culture I teach my kids to be respectful," Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Thursday at a community center in South Carolina. "There are certain words you don't say."
"You turn on the TV and a leading presidential candidate is saying profanity from a stage," Rubio lamented.
The Republican frontrunner's Tampa rally is set to begin at 7 p.m. at the USF Sun Dome, 4202 East Fowler Ave. Tickets are free, but people must register on Eventbrite.com, and bring their printed ticket with them or be prepared to show their ticket on a mobile device at check in. Parking is $20 per vehicle.
Registration does not guarantee entry, which is first come, first serve. Door open at 5 p.m. …
Most of the attention on Florida's March 15 presidential primary has been lavished on the crowded Republican side (Even former candidates such as Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, and Mike Huckabee will be on the ballot, by the way), in which whoever wins the most votes will receive all 99 GOP delegates at stake.
The Democrats' delegate system is much more complicated. At stake are 246 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Cleveland and 18 alternates. The biggest piece of that pie — 140 delegates — is distributed proportipnally based on how the candidates fare in each congressional district. Another 46 at-large delegates are distributed based on the candidates' statewide performance. …
Get 5 updates from the Tampa Bay Times' political team including Adam Smith and Alex Leary emailed to you Monday — Friday at 3 p.m. Plus, Jebio a daily news nugget on Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio, so you'll be the first to know when news breaks.
About the blog
For Florida political news today, the Buzz is your can't-miss-it source. Tampa Bay Times writers offer the latest in Florida politics, the Florida Legislature and the Rick Scott administration. Keep in mind: This is a public forum sponsored and maintained by the Tampa Bay Times. When you post comments here, what you say becomes public and could appear in the newspaper. You are not engaging in private communication with candidates or Times staffers.