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2 Trump Beats Florida’s Favorite Sons Matthew T. Corrigan, Dario Moreno, and Ray Anthony Lastre A week before the 2016 Florida presidential primary, candidate Donald Trump stood at a podium at his golf club in Jupiter, Florida, and did not talk about cutting taxes or health care reform. Instead, he appeared with pieces of raw meat and wine that he labeled Trump Steaks and Trump wine. Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and current Republican rivals, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, had criticized some of Trump’s business products during the course of the primary campaign and he wanted to hit back. This scene revealed important truths involving the Trump campaign: Trump viewed Florida as his second home, and he was running the most unconventional presidential campaign in modern American history. The campaign was unpredictable, coarse, selfcentered , and clearly anti-establishment, and Republican voters across the nation responded. It was not supposed to be this way. In early 2015 a son and brother of a former president, Jeb Bush, along with rising star Florida U.S. senator Marco Rubio were the favorites for the Republicans, and former First Lady, former U.S. senator, and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton was the favorite for the Democrats. This election was supposed to be the showcase for political dynasties and established officeholders. Yet a reality-show billionaire with no political experience would become the centerpiece of the 2016 campaign leaving Bush, Rubio, Clinton, and all others in his wake. In a book titled The Party Decides, four political sci- Trump Beats Florida’s Favorite Sons · 33 entists in 2008 described a presidential nominating process that was in the hands of party leaders, interest groups, and donors (Cohen and Karol 2008). Voters across the country, including in the critical state of Florida, had other ideas in 2016. Besides the Trump phenomenon, the 2016 campaign saw the emergence of an Independent Socialist, Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party, and a surgeon with no public service experience, Ben Carson. Many voters wanted something different, and Donald Trump was all too happy to deliver a campaign that confounded all predictions and patterns. Trump was planning an outsider’s campaign for longer than anyone knew. Just six days after Barack Obama was reelected in 2012, Donald Trump moved to trademark his now famous theme “Make America Great Again” (Long 2015). Americans’ historical distrust of politicians and institutions had reached a new high after the Great Recession. Some Americans who were not involved in the technological and finance industries believed that the world economy was leaving them behind. Since the 1970s the United States lost seven million manufacturing jobs (Wortsall 2016). However, Trump also picked up on a cultural dissatisfaction among the white working class and white Christian conservatives. This anger was directed at politicians, media outlets, and academics. If any candidate could craft a message of populist anger that combined economics and culture, he or she would have a receptive audience in many parts of the United States, including the state of Florida. A review of the political backgrounds of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio highlights the accomplishment that Trump achieved by defeating these favorite sons and winning the state of Florida in 2016. Jeb Bush: Florida’sTwo-Term Governor Jeb Bush ended up in Florida like a majority of present Florida residents. He wasn’t born there—he migrated. After the 1980 presidential campaign, when his father became Ronald Reagan’s vice presidential nominee, Jeb Bush left Texas for the state of Florida. He told a reporter that “I left Houston to get out from my father’s shadow. . . . It took me about a week to figure out that the shadow a Vice President casts is very large” (Schweizer and Schweizer 2004). Ironically, by attempting to get out from under his father’s legacy, he was actually repeating it. George H. W. Bush had moved to Texas twenty years earlier to remove himself from his own father’s 34 · Matthew T. Corrigan, Dario Moreno, and Ray Anthony Lastre orbit. Jeb Bush also married as a young man just like his father. His wife, Columba, was a Mexican native whom he had met on a high school trip. He married her three years later. Jeb Bush’s decision to move his family to Miami, Florida, would have important political consequences for his future. In the 1980s Miami was a modern frontier American city. Miami in southeastern Florida was a combustible mix of longtime immigrants from...


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MARC Record
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