Monday, September 24, 2018
Politics

Comey's letter hurt her in Florida, Clinton writes

Just days before the presidential election, a Tampa focus group revealed the damage inflicted by the "unprecedented intervention by then-FBI director Jim Comey," Hillary Clinton writes in her new book.

"On November 1 and 2, my campaign conducted focus groups with independent, swing voters in Philadelphia and Tampa, Florida. The undecideds weren't ready to jump to Trump yet, but in retrospect, the warning signs were blinking red," the book reads.

A Florida voter told Clinton's team that, "I have concerns about this whole (Anthony) Weiner thing. I find it unsettling. I had been leaning toward Hillary, but now I just don't know."

Another said: "I was never a fan of either one, but this email thing with Clinton has me concerned the past few days. Will they elect her and then impeach her? Was she giving away secret information?"

Clinton writes, "Those concerns we heard in the focus groups help explain why Comey's letter was so devastating."

And Clinton writes of Florida on election night, saying the hope was it would be the state "that broke the Republicans' back and put our goal of 270 electoral votes within reach.

"The state's changing demographics, especially its growing Puerto Rican population around Orlando, as well as the pre-Election Day early vote numbers, seemed favorable to us. But when my campaign manager, Robby Mook, came into our suite with the latest numbers, I could tell he was nervous."

She said Marco Rubio fell into Trump's trap by "slinging crude insults during the primaries. Of course, it hurt Rubio much more than Trump. As Bill likes to say, never wrestle a pig in the mud. They have cloven hooves, which give them superior traction and they love getting dirty. Sadly, Trump's strategy works."

Clinton reminisces about happier times, such as going to Donald and Melania Trump's wedding in Palm Beach.

"We weren't friends, so I assumed he wanted as much star power as he could get. Bill happened to be speaking in the area that weekend, so we decided to go. Why not? I thought it would be a fun, gaudy, over-the-top spectacle, and I was right. I attended the ceremony, then met Bill for the reception at Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate. We had our photo taken with the bride and groom and left."

Trump for Scott

President Trump, in Fort Myers on Thursday to observe disaster relief, couldn't resist a plug for his friend, Gov. Rick Scott.

"The job he's done is incredible," Trump said, later adding: "I hope this man right here, Rick Scott, runs for the Senate."

The comment, coming during a time of incredible loss for Florida and with 2.5 million people still without power, drew some notice.

It was the second time Trump has publicly urged Scott to run against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. In June, during a signing ceremony for the new Cuba policy, Trump said:

"Rick, are you running? I don't know. Marco, let's go, come on. We got to get him to — I hope he runs for the Senate."

Nelson told us: "This is not time for partisan politics. This is time to get out and help."

Nelson prefers fixing ACA to single-payer

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday introduced his single-payer health care bill and he's collected a number of Democratic co-sponsors, some with 2020 presidential buzz.

But it's highly unlikely Sanders will win over Nelson, who has danced around so-called Medicare for All.

"The long and short of it is, I've had enough trouble trying to save Obamacare," the senator recently told the Tampa Bay Times. "So that's way on down the road. Let's get through this first."

Nelson has already faced GOP attacks about the single-payer system, which has gained support among the Democratic base. But Nelson sees an advantage in the GOP failure to upend the Affordable Care Act.

"I don't think their position is going to be very ascendant in next year's election. Exactly the opposite," he said of repeal and replace attempts. "I think those of us who stood up for it, and hopefully now can economically strengthen it so that it does work like it was intended. I think that is going to be the preferred position going into the election."

Taking care of Florida

How does a vulnerable Democrat deal with Trump?

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is trying to navigate that question by stressing bipartisanship and moving an agenda back home, including Hurricane Irma relief.

Wednesday, the Orlando-area rookie attended a White House meeting with Trump over tax reform, stressing in a news release it was "at the president's invitation" and that "this is the second time that Murphy has met with the president in a small group setting."

"Democracy dies when there is no dialogue," she said. "I disagree with the president on a range of domestic and foreign policies, but I will also work with him in an effort to deliver results for Florida."

Times political editor Adam C. Smith contributed to this week's Buzz.

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