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  1. Florida Politics

Colbert gleefully skewers Bondi and Florida (w/video)

Published Sep. 11, 2016

Stephen Colbert last week had some fun with the renewed controversy surrounding "Florida's attorney general and stepmom who can't understand why you don't warm up to her Pam Bondi" and her 2013 decision not to pursue consumer complaints against Trump University after soliciting a campaign contribution from Donald Trump.

"There were so many complaints from former students that even Florida was considering an investigation. Keep in mind: Their state seal is someone dumping a body," quipped the The Late Show host, suggesting that Bondi was the only person other than Trump to make money off Trump University.

A dead heat in Florida

A new Qunnipiac poll of Florida finds Trump and Hillary Clinton tied with each taking 47 percent of the vote in the crucial swing state. They remain deadlocked, at 43 percent each, when other candidates are taken into account. Gary Johnson pulls 8 percent; Jill Stein 2 percent.

A Q poll last month had Clinton up 46-45, so the contest essentially has not changed. Notably, Clinton has vastly outspent Trump in Florida and has a bigger ground organization.

Florida women backed Clinton 56-36 percent, while men backed Trump 58-36 percent. Trump led 88-9 percent among Republicans and 48-39 percent among independent voters. Democrats supported Clinton 94-4 percent. White voters backed Trump 59-36 percent, while nonwhite voters supported Clinton 67-25 percent.

"To understand the racial divide in the electorate, consider the sharp contrast between white men and nonwhite voters in Florida. Trump is getting just 25 percent from minority voters, while Clinton gets just 26 percent of white men," said Quinnipiac's Peter Brown.

Hispanics for Clinton

Another poll of Florida's Hispanic voters released Friday showed Clinton taking 62 percent of the vote and Trump 27 percent. That puts Trump below the 39 percent Mitt Romney drew in 2012.

The poll from America's Voice, an immigrant advocacy group, was conducted by Latino Decisions and matches other surveys indicating a wide lead for Clinton. The overall percentage is made up of people who said they were certain, not certain or leaned one way for a candidate.

The Hispanic community also views Trump significantly more negatively than Clinton, with the Republican netting a 28 percent approval and Clinton 60 percent.

Asked if Trump has made the GOP more welcoming to Latinos or more hostile or had no effect, 61 percent said more hostile, 12 percent said more welcoming and 16 percent said he had no effect. Nearly 50 percent said Clinton had made the Democratic Party more welcoming, while 11 percent said more hostile and 36 percent said she had no effect.

In the U.S. Senate race, Patrick Murphy edges Marco Rubio 47 percent to 43 percent among Hispanics. (That figure is also made up of people who said they were certain, not certain or leaned one way.)

Senate race ripples

Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign on Friday heralded what it cast as a fresh endorsement from Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson — just days after Nelson undercut Murphy's latest attack on his Republican opponent.

Earlier this week, Nelson defended incumbent Sen. Rubio, the man Murphy wants to unseat in November.

Murphy attacked Rubio for not doing enough to get a Zika funding bill passed through Congress. But Nelson told reporters on Capitol Hill hours later that the fault lies not with Rubio but with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"Remember, (Rubio) voted for the $1.9 billion and he was my co-sponsor. And he voted for the $1.1 billion with no riders," Nelson said, diminishing Murphy's criticism that Rubio had failed to "deliver" on a "clean" Zika bill.

Murphy's campaign on Friday also tried to cast Nelson's endorsement as recent, noting that Nelson is someone who "has openly supported Murphy since the (Aug. 30) primary."

But Nelson has actually "openly supported" Murphy for more than a year — at least 15 months, to be exact.

The Putin effect

Trump's praise for Russia's Vladimir Putin again illustrates the awkward spot Rubio finds himself in with his former presidential primary rival.

"My sense is those views will probably change once he understands better who Vladimir Putin truly is — that's my hope," Rubio told a Guardian reporter Thursday, matching other recent comments.

That's a notable display of restraint from Rubio, who has been a vocal critic of Putin.

Rubio called Putin a thug again on Thursday, but his soft handling of Trump speaks to the dynamics of the election.

Kristen M. Clark contributed to The Buzz.

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