Who backs Trump? Lawmakers put on spot

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As Florida Republican leaders move to unite their fractured state party behind Donald Trump, state legislators who have been mum about supporting their party’s presumptive presidential nominee are being targeted by progressive activists.

On www.whobackstrump.com, a website launched by the left-leaning advocacy group Florida Strong, users can click a link next to one of dozens of Republican lawmakers’ names and send them a pre-formatted tweet. Signed with the hashtag #whobackstrump, the tweets somewhat rhetorically ask the legislators if they "back Trump since he is the presumptive GOP nominee?"

The question may not be a particularly easy one for many Republican lawmakers to answer, especially those representing swing districts vulnerable to Democratic pickups in presidential election years. While Trump may be his party’s new standard-bearer, his unpredictable and at times bombastic policy prescriptions threaten to make him a drag on Republicans locked in competitive down-ballot races.

The Florida Strong campaign seeks to both put those lawmakers on the spot and underscore the still simmering unease many establishment Republicans have about Trump’s rise.

"It’s going to be hard," predicted Democratic strategist Steve Schale, "because as Trump says things that are just clinically insane, the natural reaction is ‘hey, do you agree with that or not?’ Also, a lot of these folks have said some pretty tough things about Trump on Facebook back during the ‘Never Trump’ thing they may have to respond to. I think that’s why most of them will try very hard to act like there’s not even a presidential campaign going on."

Top Florida Republicans, however, are downplaying the extent to which intra-party discord exists, pointing to last weekend’s selection of a diverse and, they argue, unified, slate of statewide delegates to the Republican National Convention.

"You’re going to see people that have been helping people get elected, volunteers, you’re going to see some elected leaders, you’re going to see grassroots people and you’re going to see some donors," said Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia.

Bay News 9 – local-news

May 16, 2016 |

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