Hello and welcome to Monday.
A long way from home — Gov. Ron DeSantis spent part of his weekend outside the state of Florida dropping into the small town of Nebraska City — which is just across the river from Iowa — bashing President Joe Biden.
On the offense — Just last week, DeSantis derided talk of his presidential ambitions as “nonsense” and “manufactured.” But on Sunday afternoon he showed up at the annual steak fry hosted by Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts taking aim at the current occupant of the White House: “My message from Florida is this: When Joe Biden violates the Constitution, when Joe Biden attacks the jobs of Floridians and Americans, when Joe Biden targets the livelihood of Florida families and American families, I am fighting back against him.”
Who’s that again? — DeSantis was joined on his oh-so-close-to-Iowa trip by both former Vice President Mike Pence and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, where, according to POLITICO’s Marc Caputo, all three of them made scant mention of Florida man and former President Donald Trump. This foray outside of Florida is one of roughly a dozen trips DeSantis has made since late April (These aren’t on his public calendar so word of these outings surface after the fact.). He’s been all across the country from California to New Jersey.
The list — Those close to the governor insist the trips across the country are more about putting together a substantial campaign war chest for reelection (the goal is around $150 million, apparently) than any plan to lay groundwork for 2024. Still, DeSantis’ speech on Sunday sounded more like a typical Republican primary candidate than a general election address for a battleground-state governor when he touched on voter fraud, illegal immigration, critical race theory, funding for police, transgender athletes, Silicon Valley tech firms and “wokeness.”
— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official announced for Gov. DeSantis.
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RAMBLIN’ MAN — “DeSantis milks out-of-state travel to lay possible 2024 foundation,” by POLITICO’s Marc Caputo and Gary Fineout: More than 1,000 miles from Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis was selling red meat rhetoric for a red meat audience. At the Fifth Annual Nebraska Steak Fry on Sunday, DeSantis was in his element: serving up conservative haymakers in front of a crowd of 1,200 heartland Republicans just across the Missouri River from first-in-the-nation Iowa, the traditional kickoff state for presidential elections.
— “Pence, DeSantis, Cruz take shots at Biden, promise GOP ‘revival’ at Ricketts annual steak fry,” by Omaha World-Herald’s Paul Hammel
— “DeSantis delights record crowd at Pasco GOP dinner with barbs at Biden,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Steve Contorno
HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED — “GOP hopefuls tread carefully around Trump,” by POLITICO’s Marc Caputo: Mike Pence leaned into his faith. Ron DeSantis highlighted his credentials as a fighter. Ted Cruz sarcastically mocked the opposition. At a steak fry here just across the Missouri River from Iowa, the first-in-the-nation presidential state, some of the party’s leading prospects for the 2024 GOP nomination began carving out their lanes and test-driving messages on Sunday. Nearly absent from their remarks? Donald Trump, who received only a few passing mentions.
The sidestep — Cruz, the Texas senator, told POLITICO after the speech that he was focused on the midterm elections in 2022. Former Vice President Pence, when asked about his presidential ambitions in 2024, told a reporter, “I’ll keep you posted.” DeSantis, the Florida governor who left the steak fry soon after he spoke, blasted speculation last week that he was focused on anything but the midterms.
The money-go round — Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to lap his 2022 political rivals in fundraising. DeSantis ended up raising $5.5 million for his political committee in the month of August… On the Democratic side, however, it’s Rep. Charlie Crist who continues to outpace Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. Crist raised more than $700,000 in August through his campaign and political committee, while Fried pulled in slightly more than $418,000.
Campaign roundup — Attorney General Ashley Moody doesn’t have an opponent yet for 2022, but she is holding her first major fundraiser. She’s got her statewide kickoff event on Sept. 28 in Tampa at TPepin’s Hospitality Centre … Charlie Crist’s campaign announced on Friday that Lou Grossman, who was seniors vote director for the Biden-Harris campaign in Florida, has joined the team as senior adviser on seniors outreach …
COMING TO A STATE NEAR YOU — “‘Don’t Texas my Florida’: Sunshine State set to be next abortion battleground,” by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon: Democratic candidates for governor are openly bickering. Republicans stripped power from a Democratic Senate leader at a questionable time. Elected officials up and down the ballot are crafting fundraising pitches warning of a dire threat.
Looming — The political fallout from Texas’ law banning abortions as early as six weeks has jolted every corner of politics in the South’s second biggest state: Florida. “We know Republicans have a majority and can pass pretty much anything they want to,” state Sen. Lori Berman, a Palm Beach County Democrat, said during a conference call with reporters this week. “But I have a message … your actions will galvanize and energize a generation of women. Don’t Texas my Florida,” she added.
— “Florida buys armored weather stations as climate change makes hurricanes stronger,” by Palm Beach Post’s Kimberly Miller
— “Health care providers eye extended COVID-19 liability protections,” by Florida Politics’ Christine Sexton
The daily rundown — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there were 9,148 Covid-19 infections on Friday. The Florida Department of Health reported on Friday that 48,772 people have died so far from Covid-19 in the state. The total increased 8,006 or nearly 20 percent from Aug. 13 to Sept. 9. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported Sunday that 11,701 beds were being used in the state for Covid-19 patients. The Florida Hospital Association reported Sunday that 43.2 percent of adult patients in intensive care units are infected with Covid-19.
DESANTIS’ LOST SUMMER — “‘What we experienced was not inevitable.’ As COVID raged in Florida, DeSantis underestimated threat,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Skyler Swisher and Steven Lemongello: “Gov. Ron DeSantis didn’t anticipate how devastating Florida’s summer COVID-19 surge would be. The warning signs were there. The highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus had produced an explosion of sickness and death in India, a country that had fared surprisingly well during the pandemic.”
MASK OFF — “Appeals court reinstates Florida ban on school mask mandates, delivering win to DeSantis,” by POLITICO’s Andrew Atterbury: Gov. Ron DeSantis won a temporary legal victory on Friday after an appeals court reinstated the state’s ban on school mask mandates and raised “serious doubts” about parents winning a lawsuit against his administration. The decision once again allows the Florida Department of Education to penalize 13 school districts that require students to wear masks without allowing parents to opt-out of face coverings.
MASK ON — “Biden administration opens investigation into Florida’s school masking policies,” by POLITICO’s Andrew Atterbury: Federal education authorities on Friday opened an investigation into Florida’s attempts to block mask mandates in local schools, marking the latest dust up between the Biden administration and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis over Covid-19 policies. The U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights office is probing Florida over a contentious state rule that requires all schools to grant parents the ability to opt their children out of wearing masks, claiming that it could violate the rights of students with disabilities.
— “As mask debates rages, Leon school district challenges executive order,” by Tallahassee Democrat’s Ana Goñi-Lessan
— “Where do Tampa Bay lawmakers stand on masks in schools?” by Tampa Bay Times’ Romy Ellenbogen
ABOUT THE MONEY — “Do Florida’s schools need access to more Covid relief dollars? Depends who you ask,” by POLITICO’s Andrew Atterbury: School leaders in Broward County this week joined the chorus of officials — from a teachers union head, to state Democrats and even the White House — calling on the Florida Department of Education to release billions in federal Covid-19 relief dollars for education. But the DeSantis administration maintains that Florida’s schools have enough funding for now to battle the coronavirus and its Delta variant surge that coincided with the dawn of the fall semester.
LACK OF DETAILS — “Is Florida vaccinating racial groups equitably? It’s hard to tell,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Margo Snipe: “But the lack of complete data makes it hard for researchers to tell if the gap is truly closing. The trends appear to be similar in Florida. But not having specific local data on race and ethnicity makes it difficult to pinpoint where vaccination rates are equitable — or inequitable — and how to address any disparities….More than half of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated. And like the country at large, race and ethnicity is unknown for about a third of vaccinated Floridians.”
ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMMING — “Boxing, ‘Moonies’ and Firefighter Selfies: Trump’s strange 9/11 of one,” by POLITICO’s Ruby Cramer: As the ringside bell chimed in honor of the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, the moment of silence at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino was interrupted by a woman’s repeated screams of “Feel that, f—ers!” and “F— you!” “Get out of here!” the crowd yelled back. “Shut the f— up!” In the broadcasting booth overhead, standing before three bouquets of fake yellow flowers, former President Donald Trump looked somber and unbothered, an American flag on his lapel.
RULING — “Judge clears way for jury to walk through Stoneman Douglas crime scene,” by Sun Sentinel’s Rafael Olmeda: “The jury in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting case will get to tour the crime scene as part of the gunman’s upcoming trial, a Broward judge ruled Friday. Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer rejected a defense motion asking her to put a stop to the prosecution’s plans to have the jury follow in the footsteps of Nikolas Cruz, 22, who is charged with murdering 17 students and staff and injuring 17 more on Valentine’s Day 2018.”
R.I.P. — “Tommy Hazouri, a former Jacksonville mayor who turned painful loss into political resurrection, dies at 76,” by Florida Times-Union Nate Monroe and David Bauerlein: “Tommy Hazouri, the prolific Jacksonville politician who pulled off a nearly five-decade electoral streak unrivaled in the city’s modern history — state legislature, mayor, school board, and most recently city council — died Saturday. He was 76. Hazouri, a loquacious, chip-on-his-shoulder Democrat who sometimes feuded with his own party, once infamously proclaimed himself a staunch opponent of the downtown ‘fat cats’ and never let people forget he used his single term as mayor to rid the city of toll roads and its once-infamous stench from paper mills.”
UNCERTAIN FUTURE — “Wiped away’: Historically Black community in Boca fears redevelopment will drive them out,” by Sun Sentinel’s Austen Erblat: “Generations of families have lived in Dixie Manor for 80 years. They’ve raised children and grandchildren, seen families come and go. But now, they say history — and their homes — are in danger of being destroyed. The Dixie Manor public housing community, home to 350 people, is facing the possibility of demolition and rebuilding from developers.”
— “New materials can make Florida condos more durable. Almost no one uses them,” by Miami Herald’s Krishna Sharma
— “Former Cuban political prisoner given eviction notice. Mayor Levine Cava steps in,” by Miami Herald’s Devoun Cetoute
— “Judge cancels Rod Stewart’s trial, sets plea deal hearing,” by The Associated Press: “A Florida judge has canceled the trial for rock icon Rod Stewart and his adult son and scheduled a hearing next month to discuss a plea deal to resolve charges stemming from a New Year’s Eve altercation with a hotel security guard nearly two years ago.”
— “Florida man arrested for exposing himself to toll collectors,” by The Associated Press: “A Florida man has been arrested on several indecent exposure charges at various toll booth workers over a week’s span. The Florida Highway Patrol said in a statement that the man was booked into the Osceola County Jail on Saturday. Spokeswoman Kim Montes said the investigation was conducted by state troopers. All seven instances happened on three days around 7 a.m. as the man entered the cash lanes of the toll plazas. Toll workers told troopers the man had no clothes on and was ‘showing his privates.’”
— “‘This is my first catch.’ Meet the Miami fans who used American flag to save falling cat,” by Miami Herald’s David Wilson: “Craig Cromer is a facilities manager at the University of Miami and has had Miami Hurricanes season tickets with his wife, Kimberly Cromer, for about seven years. At every game, they hang an American flag over the railing right in front of their seats. Their rescue mission to catch a stray cat as it fell from the upper deck, Kimberly said, is ‘probably the strangest thing that’s happened.’ You would hope so.”
BIRTHDAYS: (Was Saturday) POLITICO’s Joe Schatz … (Was Sunday) Eytan Laor, founder and chairman of American Principles … Jack Dolan with the Los Angeles Times … Evan Benn, director of special projects and editorial events at The Philadelphia Inquirer
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