Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Politics

GOP debate a mostly respectful, pointed discussion

MIAMI — Abandoning the nasty insults of past debates, Donald Trump and his Republican rivals turned Thursday night's presidential face-off into a mostly respectful but still pointed discussion of Social Security, Islam, trade and more. Trump shook his head and declared at one point: "I can't believe how civil it's been up here."

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio didn't hesitate to lay out their differences with Trump, but the candidates largely managed to present those arguments without vitriol.

In a lengthy discussion of the threat posed by radicalized Muslims, Trump refused to back away from his recent statement that "Islam hates the West." He said he wouldn't stoop to being "politically correct" by avoiding such statements.

Rubio had a sharp comeback: "I'm not interested in being politically correct. I'm interested in being correct."

The Florida senator noted the Muslims in the U.S. military and buried in Arlington National Cemetery and said the only way to solve the problem of violent extremists is to work with people in the Muslim faith who are not radicals.

Cruz bundled together his criticisms of Trump for what he called simplistic solutions on trade and on Islamic terrorists, saying, "The answer is not to simply yell, 'China: bad, Muslim: bad.' "

Trump, though, clearly was intent on projecting a less bombastic — and more presidential — image.

His closing message: "Be smart and unify."

"We're all in this together," he said early on, sounding more like a conciliator than a provocateur as he strives to unify the party behind his candidacy. "We're going to come up with solutions. We're going to find the answer to things."

The candidates split down the middle — Trump and Texas Sen. Cruz vs. Florida Sen. Rubio and Ohio Gov. John Kasich — on the likelihood and implications of the GOP race coming down to a brokered Republican convention this summer.

"I think I'm going to have the delegates, okay?" Trump said.

As for who has a realistic chance of winning the nomination, Trump simply wrote off Rubio and Kasich, saying, "There are two of us that can, and there are two of us that cannot, okay?"

Cruz heartily agreed with Trump on that.

Rubio countered that disappointing "delegate math" aside, he'd keep on fighting.

Kasich, for his part, said it wouldn't be so bad to have a contested convention. He added there are plenty of primaries left so "let's not get ahead of ourselves."

Trump's rivals, in a desperate scramble to halt his march to the nomination, gradually ramped up their criticism as the night wore on.

Rubio's overarching message: "I know that a lot of people find appeal in the things Donald says. The problem is presidents can't just say anything they want because it has consequences around the world."

In a meaty discussion of Social Security, Cruz and Rubio both said they'd gradually raise the retirement age for younger workers to help stabilize the system and stave off financial disaster for the system.

Trump, in contrast, said he'd do "everything within my power not to touch Social Security, to leave it the way it is."

Florida is the biggest prize of Tuesday's five-state round of voting, and all 99 of the state's delegates will go to the winner.

In all, 367 Republican delegates will be at stake, with voting also occurring in Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Comments
Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

Man featured on ‘Trump Dating’ site has child sex conviction

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A North Carolina man with a felony conviction for indecent liberties with a child was one-half of the poster couple for a new "Trump Dating" website.News outlets reported Monday that visitors to the dating site geared toward suppor...
Updated: 1 hour ago
St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

St. Petersburg regatta to Havana again buffeted by politics

The 2017 St. Petersburg-Habana Yacht Race was celebrated as more than a competitive regatta to Cuba’s capital city of Havana.The relaunch of the maritime competition cancelled since 1959 was hailed as a reflection of the detente started under Preside...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Ex-workers at Russian ‘troll factory’ trust U.S. indictment

Associated PressST. PETERSBURG, Russia — While Russian officials scoff at a U.S. indictment charging 13 Russians with meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, several people who worked at the same St. Petersburg, Russia, "troll factory" say t...
Published: 02/19/18
Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Trump offers support for limited effort on background checks

Associated PressWEST PALM BEACH — From the confines of his Mar-a-Lago golf club, President Donald Trump offered support Monday for a limited strengthening of federal background checks on gun purchases while staying largely mum in the past few days ab...
Published: 02/19/18
For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

For the weary White House, Florida shooting offered a ‘reprieve’ from scandals

The White House was under siege.Domestic abuse allegations against a senior aide were ignored, pointing to a potential high-level coverup. Two Cabinet secretaries were caught chargin taxpayers for luxury travel. A Playboy centerfold alleged an extram...
Published: 02/19/18
President Trump expresses support for senators’ gun bill

President Trump expresses support for senators’ gun bill

President Donald Trump signaled support for one piece of gun control legislation on Monday, five days after a mass shooting at a Florida high school left 17 people dead and scores injured."The president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal...
Published: 02/19/18
Do Trump’s alleged affairs even matter?

Do Trump’s alleged affairs even matter?

One of the quotes from the 2016 presidential campaign that has stuck with me came from an unidentified Donald Trump supporter who shared his appraisal of the "Access Hollywood" tape on an episode of Showtime’s "The Circus."Having heard Trump boast on...
Published: 02/18/18
Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

Survivors of deadly school shooting lash out at Trump

PARKLAND, Fla. — Students who escaped the deadly school shooting in Florida focused their anger Sunday at President Donald Trump, contending that his response to the attack has been needlessly divisive. "You're the president. You're supposed t...
Published: 02/18/18
Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

Trump adviser: Russian meddling ‘incontrovertible’

MUNICH — President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said Saturday there was "incontrovertible" evidence of a Russian plot to disrupt the 2016 U.S. election, a blunt statement that shows how significantly the new criminal charges leveled by an...
Published: 02/17/18
Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

Prominent Republican donor issues an ultimatum

A prominent Republican political donor demanded on Saturday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style fi...
Published: 02/17/18