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Updated: 51 min 36 sec ago

Morning Digest: Obama is 'this animal we call president,' says the Donald Trump of Florida politics

Tue, 05/17/2016 - 07:00

Leading Off:

FL-Sen: Wealthy businessman Carlos Beruff has quickly established himself as the Donald Trump of Florida politics. He began with a nativist ad campaign that declared, Charles Lindberg-style, "America first!" Now he's descending (if that's even possible) into rank Trumpian insults:

"Unfortunately, for seven and a half years this animal we call president, because he's an animal, okay—seven and a half years, has surgically and with thought and very smart, intelligent manner, destroyed this country and dismantled the military under not one, not two, but three secretary of defenses. And they've all written books about it."

Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy immediately demanded that Beruff apologize, but so did one of Beruff's Republican rivals, Rep. David Jolly (whose campaign is apparently a backdoor audition for the role of "reasonable Republican" on some cable news show). Beruff, like his role model Trump, refused to do any such thing, and, in Rovian fashion, he accused Murphy of "resort[ing] to name calling and the politics of racial division." In fact, his campaign even pushed out the link to the tracker video that caught the remarks above!

Evidently, Beruff believes that standing his ground will only endear him further to GOP primary voters, and he's probably not wrong. The general election, though, is an altogether different story.

Abbreviated pundit roundup: The GOP's Trump problems are just beginning

Tue, 05/17/2016 - 06:34

We begin today’s roundup with Shane Goldmacher at POLITICO who debunks the claim that Donald Trump is expanding the Republican base:

Donald Trump likes to say he has created a political movement that has drawn “millions and millions” of new voters into the Republican Party. “It’s the biggest thing happening in politics,” Trump has said. “All over the world, they’re talking about it,” he's bragged.

But a Politico analysis of the early 2016 voting data show that, so far, it’s just not true.

While Trump’s insurgent candidacy has spurred record-setting Republican primary turnout in state after state, the early statistics show that the vast majority of those voters aren’t actually new to voting or to the Republican Party, but rather they are reliable past voters in general elections. They are only casting ballots in a Republican primary for the first time.

It is a distinction with profound consequences for the fall campaign.