Sunday, April 22, 2018
Politics

Ahead of debate, Paul Ryan stops in St. Petersburg

Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan quietly arrived in St. Petersburg on Monday to continue preparations for his Thursday night debate against Vice President Joe Biden.

Ryan's campaign did not announce the stop, and Ryan has not scheduled any public events while in town.

Ryan is staying at the Vinoy Renaissance Resort in downtown St. Petersburg, as is former solicitor general Ted Olson, who is playing Biden in the debate practices.

Ryan was spotted briefly Tuesday afternoon wearing shorts and a polo shirt by the Vinoy pool.

Ryan is scheduled to fly to the debate site in Danville, Ky., today.

"Joe Biden is as experienced a debater as anyone in national politics, and he has a deep resume in domestic policy and foreign affairs," said Ryan spokesman Brendan Buck. "This is congressman Ryan's first time on this big stage, so we're taking preparation seriously. After the president's performance last week, we know Joe Biden will coming at us like a cannonball."

Ann Romney in Tampa today

Ann Romney will tour H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa this afternoon.

It's not a public event, though Romney will be accompanied on her visit by pool reporters.

Scott quiet on voter fraud case

Speaking with reporters Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott largely avoided answering questions about the voter registration fraud case that has ensnared the Republican Party of Florida.

When asked if he's had discussions with the state party about the case, Scott dodged, saying it was right for the party to fire the vendor at the center of the problem.

When asked if the case hurts the credibility of get-tough-on-fraud Republicans, Scott again didn't answer.

Instead, he went on about the importance of getting involved in elections.

"My focus is on making sure that I tell people all the time, that in our state, I want people to go register to vote," Scott said. "They need to go talk to the candidates. When you're running for office, when you're in your community or in your state, vet the candidates, get involved, pick your candidates, support them, and then go out the vote. That's where my focus is."

Meanwhile, Scott stood by the decision of the state party to oppose three state Supreme Court justices up for merit retention.

Scott would not say how he will vote but said it was the party's right to oppose the justices.

"The Republican Party makes the decision what they want to get involved in,'' Scott said. "But it's a retention vote, it's important for all the citizens to decide if they want to keep judges or not. It makes a lot of sense."

McKeel named budget chair

Soon-to-be House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, announced his first major committee assignment Tuesday, naming Rep. Seth McKeel of Lakeland as chairman of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee for the next two years.

McKeel, 37, a real estate executive, is expected to share the budget-writing duties with Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, but incoming Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, has not announced any appointments yet.

Times/Herald staff writers Michael Van Sickler, Toluse Olorunnipa, Mary Ellen Klas, Alex Leary and Steve Bousquet contributed to this report.

Comments
Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

Trump says he doesn’t think personal lawyer will ‘flip’

WEST PALM BEACH — President Donald Trump said Saturday that he doesn’t expect Michael Cohen, his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, to "flip" as the government investigates Cohen’s business dealings. Trump, in a series of tweets fired from Florida o...
Published: 04/21/18

Vive la France: Trump hosts glitzy White House state dinner

WASHINGTON — Now it’s President Donald Trump’s turn to pull off the ultimate charm offensive. Wined and dined on multiple state visits during his tour of Asia last year, Trump is paying it forward and celebrating nearly 250 years of U.S.-French relat...
Published: 04/21/18
Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

Romano: Okay, now who sounds like a hysterical teen talking about guns?

The writer of the letter sounds hysterical. Perhaps a little desperate. And maybe that’s just who Marion Hammer is these days.Most of the world knows her as the take-no-prisoners maven of the National Rifle Association who directs Florida politicians...
Published: 04/21/18
Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

Ex-FBI deputy director ‘disappointed’ in Comey comments

WASHINGTON — Andrew McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, is "very upset and disappointed" by comments made by his former boss James Comey that contradict his account of a disclosure to the news media, McCabe’s lawyer said Friday. "Andy has at all ...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

Carlton: Mayor’s race: plot twists, meteoric rises, candidate implosions. It’s what we do in Tampa.

The one thing you can say for sure about electing a mayor in Tampa is you can’t really say anything for sure.Historical proof: A couple of elections ago, Harvard-educated hometown-boy-gone-to-Washington Frank Sanchez was going to be our next mayor, h...
Published: 04/20/18
Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Carlton: Kids, want to make them listen? Vote

Today across America, high school students are expected to walk out of class in their latest show of solidarity against gun violence and elected officials unwilling to do much about it. It marks a grim anniversary — 19 years since Columbine bra...
Published: 04/20/18
Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

Castor ends speculation: She’s running to be Tampa’s next mayor

TAMPA — For months, Tampa political aficionados have speculated: Will she or won’t she?Does Jane Castor, the city’s first woman police chief and presumed heavyweight mayoral candidate, really want the job? Asked and answered. Castor filed paperwork T...
Published: 04/19/18
Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

Everybody loses in a trade war, Canadian chamber CEO warns Tampa officials

TAMPA — President Donald Trump has tweeted "trade wars are good, and easy to win."Don’t believe it, the president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce told Tampa business and political leaders on Wednesday."We share more with you than with anybody els...
Published: 04/19/18
Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

Hernando clerk of the court announces resignation to run for judicial seat

BROOKSVILLE — Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Don Barbee this week submitted his resignation — effective Jan. 7 — to run for an open circuit judge seat.Barbee, who is in the middle of his second term, said he made the move "with a tremendo...
Published: 04/17/18
Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Poll: Democrats’ advantage in midterm election support is shrinking

Democrats hold an advantage ahead of the midterm elections, but a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that edge has narrowed since January, a signal to party leaders and strategists that they could be premature in anticipating a huge wave of victorie...
Published: 04/16/18