The testy online battle between supporters of Trump and DeSantis
Presented by the University of Central Florida
Good Thursday morning.
Unsocial media— Goodness gracious it’s getting quite heated on social media between Florida supporters of former President Trump and those in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ orbit.
Going at it— You’ve got former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn and far-right activist Laura Loomer ripping into DeSantis’ deputy press secretary over tweets related to Jan. 6. Flynn — who has 1.1 million followers — tagged DeSantis, Elon Musk and longtime Trump ally Roger Stone about it.
Fashion critic— Loomer, who got widespread attention for posting video of a security guard telling her and a small group of Trump supporters that the DeSantis team wanted them to leave a DeSantis book signing, also posted tweets going after first lady Casey DeSantis because of what she wore to the State of the State address
One response— Brendon Leslie, a writer for a conservative Florida website, did respond to Flynn’s tweet and questioned why he was “amplifying” Loomer and suggested Flynn was trying to undermine DeSantis. That got Flynn to respond that Leslie was focusing on the wrong subject.
Holding back— But some of those directly affiliated with DeSantis have ignored Flynn and Loomer and instead, over the last couple of days, been focusing on criticizing mainstream media outlets and DeSantis’ press conference that dealt with objectionable books found in some school districts.
How long will this last?— Christina Pushaw, who is known for her fierce defense of DeSantis, did retweet a link to a post about how DeSantis is infuriating his critics by ignoring people like Loomer and focusing instead on his “real opponents” such as the mainstream media. Obviously, this is just back-and-forth over Twitter but it’s another signal that the DeSantis team is remaining disciplined so far even as the looming Trump-DeSantis showdown looms ever closer. Will this last?
— WHERE’S RON? — Gov. Ron DeSantis is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Alabama Republican Party winter dinner being held near Birmingham.
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POLL: DESANTIS HAS BIG LEAD OVER TRUMP — A new poll from the University of North Florida finds that Gov. Ron DeSantis has a commanding lead over former President Donald Trump among Florida Republicans.
DeSantis bested Trump 52 percent to 27 percent when registered Republicans were asked to pick from a list of 10 candidates. In a head-to-head matchup DeSantis’ lead grew to 59 percent and 28 percent for Trump. “It’s not too surprising to see DeSantis take the lead among Republicans in his home state of Florida,” said Michael Binder, UNF’s Public Opinion Research Lab’s faculty director and a professor of political science. “But it is interesting to see how his lead jumps up from 25 to 31 points ahead, once you winnow the field from 10 to two. DeSantis is much better compared to Trump at consolidating votes if the field were to narrow.”
The poll also found that a majority of Floridians were opposed to some high profile bills that are supported by DeSantis and GOP legislators. For example, 77 percent said they opposed a bill that would eliminate permits for people who carry concealed weapons. Sixty-five percent said they were against a proposed constitutional amendment to make school board races partisan. And 61 percent said they opposed a measure that would prohibit Florida public colleges and universities from supporting campus activities or programs that promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, and critical race theory.
A majority of respondents — 53 percent — said they were in favor of a proposal to offer school vouchers to anyone regardless of family income. A proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana found 70 percent support among those surveyed. The poll, taken from Feb. 25 to March 7 through both phone calls and online, has a margin of error of +/- 2.57 percentage points.
— “Trump tops DeSantis by 41 points in New Hampshire survey,” by The Hill’s Jared Gans
NOW IN CHARGE— “DeSantis’s new Disney World board hints at future controversy,” by The Associated Press’ Mike Schneider: “But the five board members appointed by [Gov. Ron] DeSantis hinted Wednesday at future controversial actions they may take, including prohibiting COVID-19 restrictions at Disney World and recommending the elimination of two cities that were created after the Florida Legislature in 1967 approved the theme park resort’s self-governance. The board also approved hiring the same law firm that advised the governor’s office in making changes to the governing district to help interpret the new legislation.”
— “DeSantis isn’t running for president yet. But it looks like it in Tampa Bay,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Emily L. Mahoney and Kirby Wilson
— “DeSantis will meet GOP lawmakers in Iowa, a crucial 2024 state,” by Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs and John Harney
— “DeSantis calls Florida’s book bans a ‘hoax,’ defends his decision to reject African American course,” by WUSF’s Sky Lebron
— “As DeSantis highlights controversial books, some still listed in Broward schools,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Scott Travis
— “Ron DeSantis to headline GOP dinner in Ohio next month,” by NBC News’ Henry J. Gomez
… DATELINE TALLAHASSEE …
FUZZY MATH — Florida inches toward universal school choice, by POLITICO’s Andrew Atterbury: Florida GOP legislators are moving forward with a massive expansion of private school vouchers, brushing aside ongoing questions about the cost and even ignoring concerns expressed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. DeSantis is a proponent of school choice, but made it clear this week that he does not agree with giving out vouchers to wealthy families, a criticism that has been echoed by critics of the legislation.
Not in complete alignment — Republican lawmakers, however, are pushing to open the vouchers — which would expand to cover school-related expenses besides tuition — to anyone who wants them even though it’s not clear how much such a program would cost. “If you have a family that’s very high income, they have school choice — they don’t necessarily need to be eligible for the program,” DeSantis told reporters Tuesday.
‘SPEEDBUMP’ — Federal judge, siding with Florida, blasts Biden administration on immigration, by POLITICO’s Gary Fineout: A federal judge on Wednesday handed a victory to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody as he delivered a blistering rebuke to the Biden administration’s immigration policies. U.S. District Judge T. Kent Wetherell ordered federal immigration authorities to revamp one key policy that he says runs counter to federal law while at the same time castigated the Biden administration for its handling of what he called an “unsustainable” crisis on the nation’s southern border.
From the ruling— “For the most part, the court finds in favor of Florida because, as detailed below, the evidence establishes that defendants have effectively turned the Southwest border into a meaningless line in the sand and little more than a speedbump for aliens flooding into the country,” wrote Wetherell, who was appointed to the bench by former President Donald Trump.
DAY 2— “Florida Senate passes affordable housing plan for workers,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner: “Moving quickly on priorities of Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, Florida senators Wednesday passed measures aimed at spurring more affordable housing for workers and boosting a trail network and wildlife corridor. Senators unanimously approved what has been dubbed the ‘Live Local Act’ (SB 102), which includes providing incentives for investment in affordable housing and seeking more mixed-use developments in struggling commercial areas. They also unanimously passed a bill (SB 106) designed to help link a statewide hiking and biking trail network to a wildlife corridor planned to stretch from the Florida Keys to the Panhandle.”
— “Judiciary Committee tweaks attorney fees, bad faith, sends tort bill to the House floor,” by Florida Politics’ Christine Jordan Sexton
— “FL teens shouldn’t start school too early; lawmakers want to do something about it,” by Florida Phoenix’s Danielle J. Brown
TRUMPLANDIA AND THE SWAMP
BEHIND THE CURTAIN — “Inside the simmering feud between Donald Trump and Fox News,” by Washington Post’s Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey and Sarah Ellison: “It was just another volley in a low-grade war — some of it public, much of it hidden — that has emerged as one of the defining dynamics in the Republican Party as the 2024 presidential campaign gets underway. [Former President Donald] Trump’s advisers see in Fox News leadership a clear adversary in their march back to the White House and have sought to foster a divide between executives and ‘the brave and patriotic’ opinion hosts with whom he continues to have relationships.”
Meanwhile— “At the same time, [Rupert] Murdoch’s media outlets have lavished attention and praise on Trump’s principal rival, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who publicly credits the network in his new book — which is published by another company controlled by Murdoch — with aiding his rise in politics. The DeSantis book was heavily promoted last week when the governor made at least five live appearances on the network, according to a tally by Media Matters for America, a liberal group that monitors Fox News programming.”
— “5 times Tucker Carlson privately reviled Trump: ‘I hate him,’” by The New York Times’ Katie Robertson
— Trump 2020 lawyer admits misrepresenting stolen election claims, by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney
REJECTED — “Rep. Matt Gaetz tries and fails to end U.S. involvement in Syria,” by Pensacola News Journal’s Jim Little: “A measure brought by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz that would have forced the U.S. to withdraw troops from Syria was soundly defeated in the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday. Despite failing to pass, Gaetz’s proposal drew support from factions in both the Republican and Democratic parties. The proposal would have required all U.S. troops to be out of Syria within 180 days, but it was rejected, with 321 members voting against it versus 103 members voting in support.”
How the Florida delegation voted— Six Republicans — Reps. Aaron Bean, Kat Cammack, Byron Donalds, Anna Paulina Luna, Cory Mills and Bill Posey — joined Gaetz. Ten Republicans and all eight Democrats in the delegation voted against the resolution. Rep. Greg Steube was not present for the vote because he is recovering from serious injuries sustained in a fall from a ladder.
FIRST UP — “Anna Paulina Luna first bill aimed at stopping sexual assault in the military,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Kirby Wilson: “But the St. Petersburg Republican is working across the aisle for her first sponsored bill. Along with a series of Democratic co-sponsors, including U.S. Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Broward County — another freshman in Congress — [Rep. Anna Paulina] Luna has introduced a bill aimed at addressing sexual assault in the military.”
— Wicker, Rubio press Austin for answers on Chinese spy balloon, by POLITICO’s Lee Hudson
— “Jacksonville mayoral candidates square off in TV debate,” by Florida Politics’ A.G. Gancarski
— “Jacksonville mayoral candidates differ on best paths for city’s growth and development,” by Florida Times-Union’s Alexandria Mansfield
PENINSULA AND BEYOND
ANOTHER VISIT BY VP — “Vice President Kamala Harris and Gloria Estefan talk climate change in Miami Beach,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Bill Kearney: “Vice President Kamala Harris and Miami musical legend Gloria Estefan sat down for a conversation about climate change on Wednesday night as part of the Aspen Ideas: Climate conference in Miami Beach. The pair took the stage at the New World Center to a packed house and discussed potential climate solutions and what it will take for a clean energy economy to emerge from the Biden-Harris administration’s Inflation Reduction Act.”
‘YOU OWE AN APOLOGY’— “Santa Rosa commissioner defends use of anti-Semitic trope as residents call for resignation,” by Pensacola News Journal’s Tom McLaughlin: “[Commissioner Sam] Parker was adamant in his own defense. He told [store owner Chris] Smith his use of the anti-Semitic term was ‘not an ethnic slur.’ ‘I’m not referring to the Jewish community. I used that term as an adjective, as a descriptive term of bargaining them down,’ Parker said. ‘I didn’t do anything wrong.’”
UPDATE — “Suspect pleads not guilty in killings of News 13 journalist, 9-year-old,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Christopher Cann: “The man accused of killing three people and injuring two others in a spree of shootings in Pine Hills late last month has pleaded not guilty to all charges, according to court records. Keith Moses, 19, entered the written plea Wednesday in the killings of Spectrum News 13 journalist Dylan Lyons and 9-year-old T’Yonna Major. Moses, who previously pleaded not guilty in the killing of 38-year-old Nathacha Augustin, faces three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and a charge of armed burglary.”
— “Miami crypto company ‘looted’ investor money in $100 million Ponzi scheme, SEC says,” by Miami Herald’s David J. Neal
— “Groups protest 6-week abortion ban at Miami’s Freedom Tower,” by CBS Miami’s Ted Scouten and Teri Hornstein
ODDS, ENDS AND FLORIDA MEN
— “Tiger Woods’ girlfriend seeks to nullify NDA with pro golfer,” by The Associated Press: “Tiger Woods’ girlfriend wants to nullify a nondisclosure agreement following a six-year relationship with the professional golfer. Attorneys for Erica Herman filed a complaint seeking declaratory judgment on Monday in Martin County, Florida, circuit court, according to online court records. The couple had been living together in the area, according to the complaint.”
BIRTHDAYS: Journalist Bianca Padró Ocasio … Kristy Campbell, former press secretary for Jeb Bush … Adam Smith, communications director for the City of Tampa … Washington Post’s Hannah Sampson
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