Episode 9 from Mojitos to Trump and more.

In this episode of High Tops and Politics, Brian Crowley and Mary Anna Mancuso chat about Donald Trump's visit to the Panhandle, Joe Biden's efforts in Florida, Brad Meltzer's new book about George Washington, South Florida Jeopardy finalists, Florida Man, a Mojito expert, Guess who is on their way to the Democratic Debates, and much more.

Enjoy Florida's best political podcast (iTunes -5 stars)....

And tell your friends.

Episode 9 from Mojitos to Trump and more.

In this episode of High Tops and Politics, Brian Crowley and Mary Anna Mancuso chat about Donald Trump's visit to the Panhandle, Joe Biden's efforts in Florida, Brad Meltzer's new book about George Washington, South Florida Jeopardy finalists, Florida Man, a Mojito expert, Guess who is on their way to the Democratic Debates, and much more.

Enjoy Florida's best political podcast (iTunes -5 stars)....

And tell your friends.

Jeb Bush should be asked this question about Terri Schiavo during Iowa debate

Jeb Bush never called Michael Schiavo.

Consider that for a minute.

Whether you agree or disagree with ending of Terri Schiavo’s life shouldn’t Bush have called the husband?

There is no question that Bush became overwhelmed by the sadness of the situation. He quickly sided with Terri’s parents who deeply believed that their daughter could still recover. Her parents fought in every way they could to stop Michael from allowing doctors to remove life support.

Despite a series of state and federal court decisions, and despite the finding of the doctors who cared for her, Bush abused his office in a futile effort to stop doctors from the pulling the plug.

Even after Bush lost, he tried to have Michael investigated. Bush wanted revenge.

A devout Catholic, who in a recent statement about abortion said he believes in supporting life “from inception to natural death,” Bush simply did not believe that anyone had the right to end Terri’s life – even if doctors were convinced she was in a persistent vegetative state.

But unlike the parish priest who would have met not only with Terri’s parents but her husband as well, Bush never reached out to Michael.

How can the governor of a state interfere in such a family tragedy without talking to the husband?

Even if he had, Bush may have still taken all the same actions.

But how do you step into the middle of a family tragedy without talking to the husband? And what does that say about Jeb Bush?

Even after speaking with Michael Schiavo, Bush may have decided Michael was wrong and that the governor should use all the powers of his office and intervene.

But how do you not speak with the husband? Isn’t that a fundamental obligation once you decide you might want to step into the middle of a sad family saga? And isn't it particularly relevant now that Bush's Right to Rise PAC is using Terri Schiavo in a new campaign ad?

And  shouldn't we know - what would President Jeb Bush do?

Bush should be asked during tonight’s debate – Why didn’t you speak to the husband?

Note: For an excellent review of Bush's role in the Schiavo case read this Politico story by Michael Kruse.

Jeb Bush hopes to beat expectations and be viable in March primaries

No candidate may have more to lose tonight during the Fox Business News debate than Jeb Bush. While there is some polling that suggests he is slowing moving up in New Hampshire, his campaign still needs a moment to set fire-up voters. So far, that moment has been elusive.

Bush has not been a stellar debater and with the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary just weeks away, Bush is betting heavily on attacking Donald Trump and Marco Rubio in a series of new campaign ads.

Bush seems baffled by the 2016 race. He clearly blames most of his problems on Trump. Below is a revealing interview with the Associated Press that appeared Wednesday. 

Bush tells AP that "he didn't know what to plan for," when he decided to run for president. Anyone remotely familiar with the very deep planning for his campaign that took more than a year, would be surprised to hear Bush's comment.

He also repeats the notion that he was "uncomfortable" being called the front runner early last year. 

Bush calls this election year "dramatically different." People are showing their "anger and angst....very different than any time I can recall."

He says the "conservative cause" is "being hijacked by Donald Trump."

Bush's body language seems revealing. He appears uncomfortable and sounds a touch uncertain. At one point he says he believes he must fight to protect the conservative cause and "I don't know what the consequences politically for me are . . ." A comment that hardly sounds like someone confident of victory.

Bush notes that he has a "national campaign" and a Super Pac (Right to Rise) that "has a lot of resources." He also points out that he is on the ballot in every state. 

Bush then says he hopes to "beat expectations" in the early states and "move in March as a candidate who that's viable. We'll be viable."

Viable? That's not where the folks who contributed over $100 million expected Jeb Bush to be in January 2016.



Jeb Bush challenges Donald Trump to a one-on-one debate

Donald trump pixDuring a question and answer session at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches, Jeb Bush was asked what he would say to Donald Trump - whose winter palace is a few miles away, if he were there.

Bush, not missing a beat, said, "I'd say, Donald, I'll take you on one-on-one, in a debate. Any time. Any place."

Which of course begs the question - who would fair better in such a debate? 

Bush tried to take on Marco Rubio during one of the presidential debates and it backfired badly. And the former Florida governor has not done much better with Trump.

Still, perhaps Bush would do better if was just him and Trump. 

If nothing else, it would be entertaining.



Jeb Bush starts Las Vegas debate with a new video

 Jeb bush's new video starts with this question - "What makes us who we are?"

It is a question that Bush has been struggling to answer since he launched his campaign for president. Recent polls suggest that Bush is largely an after thought, if that, for many Republican voters.

Still, Bush clings to the notion that when all is said and done, Republicans will reject Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson and all the rest of the GOP field in favor of someone who last held public office 9 years ago.

If Bush is right, it would be one of the biggest comeback stories in modern politics. 

While this ad suggests that Bush is the only one who can take on ISIS, Bush has a more pressing concern at tonight's debate in Las Vegas - proving he can take on Trump and the rest of the field.

Baby Got PAC airing new TV ad tonight for Marco Rubio

Yes it is an odd name for a PAC, but Baby Got PAC is backed by a multi-millionaire supporting Marco Rubio.

The first ad, which is below, is expected air tonight on Fox Business ahead of the Republican presidential debate. 

GOP rich guy John Jordan is behind the PAC. The ad was put together by Florida political consultant Rick Wilson. 

The ad starts with a gloomy "a world gone out of control" approach and then asks "and they wonder why we're angry?"

Next the ad says Baby Got PAC had to decide "which conservative candidate to support." It quickly dismisses Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and Ben Carson.  (Note the ad does not mention Jeb Bush).

Instead, the ad suggests the answers comes from the Democrats - the candidate the fear most.

And not just any Democrat. 

Hillary Clinton.

See for yourself.


Washington Post five myths about Jeb Bush

Jenny Rogers, Assistant Editor of Outlook for the Washington Post Tweeted today that "these five myths on Jeb Bush, written by back in June, are feeling relevant right now."

The Washington Post story looks at these myths:

1. Jeb Bush is a moderate.

2 George is the dumb one, Jeb is the smart one.

3. Bush is Marco Rubio's mentor

4. Bush will campaign "joyfully."

5. He has broad support in Florida.

Each myth is explored and some might suggest the myths predicted the future.

Read the Crowley Political Report 5 myths story in the Washington Post here.

A good start as we enter tonight Republican presidential debate on FOX Business, a debate many believe could set the tone for the future of Bush's campaign.


New Jeb Bush video slams Hillary Clinton but is she the right target?

 In a new campaign video, Jeb Bush goes after Hillary Clinton as if she is the one he has to defeat.  Perhaps it is the right strategy to ignore his Republican rivals for the GOP presidential nomination. 

Still, this seems like an odd campaign ad to release just hours before tonight's Republican debate. Would Bush have been better off taking on Donald Trump, Ben Carson or Marco Rubio? 

Here's the video:


Marco Rubio needs to take on Jeb Bush at debate

RubiofinMarco Rubio has gone from the most talked about potential Republican Party presidential nominee to nearly Marco who? He can blame three Floridians - Ben Carson, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush.

Okay, so Trump is only a part-time Floridian - so is half of South Florida. 

Rubio's campaign sent out a nearly 12 minute video rehashing his come from behind victory for the U.S. Senate at a time when most Republicans thought he was out of his political mind to take on a sitting governor who wanted to move to Washington. 

(Side note: Charlie Crist might still want to go to Washington only this time as a U.S. Representative.)

Meanwhile, Bush's campaign continues to try to make the GOP contest one featuring him and Trump. Bush appears to be simply dismissing the rest of the field despite the fact that Bush's support has collapsed in recent polls showing him in single digits.

This week, Bush's PAC, Right to Rise, starting spending $24 million on television ads, in an effort to push up Bush's poll numbers and run a few more Republican candidates out of the race. Warhorse

There is huge potential downside for Bush. What if all that money does not buy him love? What happens if Bush is still mired in single digits a month from now? And if the Bush campaign collapses who inherits the mantle of establishment frontrunner?

Tonight may be Rubio's best chance. He needs to take on Bush directly. He needs to prove that he is as tough as he talks.

Look, Rubio loves to talk about taking on Iran. By golly give him the White House and Rubio will show them who is boss. Yet, he seems to fear taking on the one guy who may be more of a roadblock than Trump or Carson to his seat in the Oval Office - Jeb!

If Rubio fails tonight to re-position his campaign, he may have a tough time moving ahead of Bush.

Lopez-Cantera wants to debate Patrick Murphy

One might consider this a tad premature. Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera says he wants to debate U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. The topic: "Barack Obama's reckless Iran concessions."

Nice political stunt but not likely to happen.

Why you might ask?

Well, Lopez-Cantera is a Republican running for U.S. Senate. He has several primary challengers. He might want to deal with them first.

And, Murphy, a Democrat, also faces a tough Senate primary. 

So, the odds of these two having a debate when neither has won their party nomination appears to be slim. But then, 2016 is turning out to year of unusual politics. 

Maybe we'll be surprised.

Here's the pitch from the Lopez-Cantera campaign:


Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera called on Representative Patrick Murphy to join him at a joint town hall with Florida voters so Murphy could explain his embrace of Barack Obama's reckless Iran concessions.

“After research and consideration, I chose to oppose the Iran deal, and continue to do so. Patrick Murphy had a choice, and he chose to stand with Barack Obama and the Iranian terror regime and against the security of America and Israel. He chose partisan politics over our national interests and the survival of our closest ally,” said Lopez-Cantera. “The people of Florida deserve more than a press release if he wants to serve in the U.S. Senate; they deserve to see him defend his decision here at home, not from inside the Beltway. I've committed to monthly townhalls if elected. Murphy should at least agree to one.”

“Patrick Murphy said this deal would lead to 'peace in our time.' Setting aside the terrible historical precedent in that phrase, I think he owes Florida voters an explanation of why he endorsed a deal that gives the Iranians a $150 billion to fund their terror networks, allows them to purchase the most advanced weaponry, including ballistic missiles and state of the art anti-aircraft systems, and does nothing to end their threats to destroy Israel.”

“I'd welcome the chance to meet with Representative Murphy at a town hall here in Florida, at a time and location of his convenience to compare our positions on the Iran deal. I'm eager to see how Representative Murphy defends his advocacy of this indefensible and dangerous deal.”

Jeb Bush website attacks Marco Rubio

Bloomberg News grabbed a screenshot of  a page on Jeb Bush's campaign website attacking fellow Floridian Marco Rubio.

Bush's website also had an attack on Scott Walker. Apparently the "joyful" campaign is ready to be less joyful in the effort to ensure that Jeb becomes the third Bush in the White House.

According to Bloomberg, the pages were quickly removed, although not fast enough to prevent Bloomberg from getting screenshots. 

Bush campaign spokesman Tim Miller told Bloomberg these were "draft pages that were taken down, we have lots of material to prepare for the debate as circumstances require."

As circumstances require? Ponder that for a moment.

Here's a look at one of the screenshots (click to enlarge). Read the Bloomberg story here. 

Bush Rubio chart

Jeb Bush starts debate with plan to secure border

With the first Republican presidential debate just three days away, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush unveiled a six-point plan to secure the U.S. border with Mexico. 

Bush describes it as "a robust strategy to improve border security."

There is nothing particularly new in the plan. Much of it has been said by Bush in earlier musing on how to secure the border. Perhaps more importantly, Bush does not back away from his central belief that the 11 million undocumented immigrants deserve a chance to become U.S. citizens.

"I believe that for those already in the country, we need to put in place a rigorous path that requires individuals to pass a thorough criminal background check, pay fines, pay taxes, learn English, obtain a provisional work permit and work, not receive federal government assistance, and over an extended period of time earn legal status," said Bush.

"But any plan to address the status of illegal immigrants must be accompanied by a robust strategy to improve border security."

Bush also said he would stop federal funding to "sanctuary cities" that do not enforce immigration laws. It is a position that suggests that while Bush is opposed to Washington "dictating' to the states, he is willing to make exceptions as he deems necessary.

Bringing up immigration now, seems to be a calculated effort to frame the coming debate that will feature the 10 top GOP contenders in the prime time while the remaining candidate appear in an earlier forum on Fox News.

Donald Trump, who tops recent polls, has been a boisterous critic of border security. His often harsh comments have drawn approval from a significant chunk of Republican conservatives.

From Bush's statement:

Securing the border is possible, but it will require Washington to move beyond divisive rhetoric. The following six proposals offer concrete steps that the federal government should take to help secure the border and enforce our immigration laws. We must transform immigration from a broken system into one that benefits every American.

1. A forward-leaning Border Patrol with the flexibility to deploy resources to meet threats.

2. Use new technologies to achieve continuous surveillance of the border.

3. Bolster border infrastructure and improve access to federal lands.

Continue reading "Jeb Bush starts debate with plan to secure border" »

Jeb Bush ducks Iowa straw poll but not because he opposes straw polls

Somewhat dismissively,  presidential candidate and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush told folks in Iowa that he is skipping the largely worthless straw poll there because - "I just don't do straw polls."

Bush made the statement as if straw polls were the silliest thing he ever heard. 

But he didn't feel that way in 1995. That year, shortly after losing his 1994 bid for governor, Bush led the most successful Florida straw poll in the state's history. there were more than 3,300 delegates. Hundreds of reporters from across the nation attended. Nearly every major candidate participated.

Held in Orlando, the November contest ended with Kansas Senator Bob Dole, getting 1,104 votes, or 33 percent. Texas Senator Phil Gramm got 869 votes and Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander got 749 votes.  Five other candidates, including Pat Buchanan and Alan Keyes, stayed in single digits.

The candidates campaigned heavily for months before the straw poll, spending a small fortune wooing delegates. Jeb Bush told the delegates: "You can get to choose who the next President of the United States may very well be."

By 1999, Bush was Florida's governor and his big brother was running for president. There seemed no point in attempting a straw poll that would appear rigged for George W.  It effectively put an end to Florida straw polls.

And apparently now, Jeb Bush just doesn't do straw polls.


It may have been the most interesting Scott Crist exchange but

One of the issues that has been largely ignored during the election is the status of Florida's death penalty. There are serious questions about whether the death penalty is effective, whether it is being used properly, and whether delaying executions for decades does more emotional harm than good for the families of victims.

Republican Governor Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist could have touched on those and other death penalty issues but instead got into a squabble about Attorney General Pam Bondi's request toScott asking for to delay an execution so she could host a - wait for it - campaign fundraiser.

Yes, in Florida raising rasing campaign cash is overwhelming solemn event that brooks no delay.

Bondi eventually apologized.

Here is what Scott and Crist had to say about it at the debate.

It is a shame that such an important issue dissolved into this:


The Charlie Crist Fan gets its own campaign ad

In fairness, the small whisper quiet fan that Democrat Charlie Crist uses would never sound like the one depicted in the Florida Democratic Party ad. 

As far as we know, fans are still banned at next Tuesday's CNN debate. But FanGate lives on. 


Rick Scott tries to explain FanGate to CNN

Florida Governor Rick Scott sat down with CNN's Wolf Blitzer to give his version of what happen during FanGate. 

To be generous, some of Scott's explanation rings odd. Perhaps the most important news came when Blitzer assured Scott that fan will not be allowed at the CNN debate next Tuesday in Jacksonville.

Scott said he doesn't care what Charlie Crist brings to the debate. He suggested Crist could bring a humidifier or microwave.

One relief for Scott was the fact that the debate organizers - Leadership Florida and Florida Press Association - agreed that Crist did violate the rules by plugging in small fan under his podium.

Here's what Scott told Blitzer. 

What should Rick Scott do now about Charlie Crist and FanGate

Every election cycle folks ask - who is going to win? One reason it is a difficult question to answer is that despite polls, gazzillion dollar campaigns, field operations, get-out-the-vote drives, endless television commercials and all the other things that are part of campaigning - one silly mistake can destroy a candidate.

The real question right now is this - did Florida Governor Rick Scott's refusal to take the debate stage last night do his campaign irreparable harm? And is there anything he can do to stop it?

A compilation of news videos put together by American Bridge - an outfit that actively campaigns against Scott - accurately reflects the tone of the Florida and national coverage of what is being called FanGate.

Scott refused to come onstage during a live, statewide television debate because his opponent, Democrat Charlie Crist, had sneaked in a fan to be tucked under the podium gently sending cooling air up his suit.

Leadership Florida and Florida Press Association, the debate organizers, said today that Crist violated the rules by having his ever present fan with him. 

But was that enough of a reason for a sitting governor to refuse to go onstage during a live debate - Charlie has a fan and I'm mad.

Whether you agree with Scott or not, his refusal to come onstage for almost 7 minutes made him look petulant and silly. And he is getting killed in the state and national press. FanGate has gone viral on social media.

So far, the Scott campaign seems to be struggling to get ahead of the story. And it is not like FanGate is going away anytime soon. There is a final debate Tuesday on CNN raising the question - Fan or No Fan?

Scott needs to put the fan behind him. He should allow Crist to have his fan. In fact, Scott should walk on the CNN stage and present Crist with a fan.

After the debate, some of the Republicans leaving the hall were wringing their hands and shaking their heads over Scott's refusal to come onstage.

Continue reading "What should Rick Scott do now about Charlie Crist and FanGate" »

Charlie Crist campaign wastes no time using FanGate to raise money

Shortly after Governor Rick Scott finally walked on stage after refusing to participate in the debate with Charlie Crist because of a small fan Crist had at his feet, the Crist campaign sent out this email.

Friend --

I wasn't planning on emailing you tonight. But something crazy just happened...

Moments before the debate was scheduled to begin, Rick Scott decided he wasn't going to participate. 

Why? Because there was a fan at Charlie's podium. A fan. 

For seven incredible minutes just now, Charlie stood all alone at the podium while Rick Scott threw a temper tantrum backstage, denying the people of Florida the chance to hear from their gubernatorial candidates because of -- literally -- a breeze. 

Scott finally caved and decided to join the debate. But the fact that this sideshow happened at all is an embarrassment to our great state and fellow citizens. 

If you're as amazed as I am by what you just saw, chip in a few bucks right now to make sure this guy doesn't get to stay our Governor:

We'll be back in touch after the debate concludes. 



Omar Khan
Campaign Manager
Charlie Crist for Governor

Florida Governors Debate we have an extremely peculiar situation

There have been many strange debate moment in Florida's political history, this will surely rank as one of them.

Florida Governor Rick Scott refused to take the stage because Charlie Crist had his ever present fan at his feet behind the podium.

"Ladies and gentlemen we have an extremely peculiar situation right now," said debate moderator Eliot Rodriguez of CBS4.

There are boos from the crowd. Crist comes on stage. Rodriquez, and panelists Rosemary Goudreau of the Sun Sentinel, and Frank Denton of the Florida Times Union, wonder if the rules allow a fan.

Scott remains off stage for a number of minutes.

It is all rather odd. Finally he comes out and the hour-long statewide television debate begins.

See the video of the opening moments. It begins with a Spanish Crist ad.