Christie: Blog poll shows Florida voters want to see former Gillum rivals out on campaign trail

ORLANDO, Fla. — Andrew Gillum the Democratic candidate for Florida Governor with his wife, R. Jai Gillum, campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades on Aug. 31. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

So last week, I raised a question that was on the minds of an increasing number of Democratic voters I was running into: Are Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s former Democratic primary rivals going to get out on the campaign trail and stump for him?

RELATED: Christie: Waiting for his Florida Democratic primary rivals to begin campaigning for Gillum

It seemed like a rather basic question; but also a strange one given the stakes in this election. A state Democratic party energized by the charismatic Gillum has most supporters — and political observers — truly believing they have a strong chance of retaking the Governor’s Mansion after a 20-year drought. Not only that, of electing the first African-American to statewide office.

RELATED: Read all of The Post’s endorsements online at www.MyPalmBeachPost.com/2018-endorsements.

I observed that neither former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, West Palm Beach developer Jeff Greene nor former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine had been seen out stumping for Gillum since the early days following his stunning Aug. 28 primary win.

I did mention that Levine stepped up with a press release in defense of Gillum running-mate, Orlando businessman Chris King, over accusations of being anti-Semitic.

Former Democratic primary candidate Philip Levine has provided financial support to Andrew Gillum’s 2018 gubernatorial campaign.

Afterwards, former Levine campaign operative Christian Ulvert reached out to let me know that Levine’s done more, and shouldn’t be “lumped in” with the others. Ulvert said that in addition to two private fundraisers, Levine has allowed Gillum’s campaign the use of a few of his former campaign offices around the state.

Noted. Financial support is important to political campaigns these days. Especially when it comes getting the message out via pricey advertising. Very important.

Arguably more important, however, is motivating people to actually vote. (After all, that is how Gillum managed to beat three more well-financed opponents in the primary.)

That’s why we asked in a poll last week: “Should Andrew Gillum’s Democratic primary opponents campaign for him in the general election?”

As of today (Monday), out of some 200 reader votes, about 72 percent gave a resounding “yes.” The post also received nearly 370 Likes on Facebook.

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One of Levine’s private fundraisers for Gillum was with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But Bloomberg went further, and actually stumped with Gillum. Following an Oct. 5 event in Coral Springs on behalf of his Everytown for Gun Safety, the possible 2020 presidential candidate appeared in West Palm Beach Oct. 6 at a Democratic Party fundraiser and then with Gillum Oct. 7 at a Century Village Jewish center in Pembroke Pines.

Voters are fickle. That’s why turnout is so crucial. Maybe it won’t matter to Democratic loyalists and crucial No-Party Affiliation (NPA) voters when they don’t see Gillum’s former rivals out on the stump with him, and they will show up at the polls anyway. Maybe.

And if you haven’t taken our poll yet, you can get to it here.

Christie: Waiting for his Florida Democratic primary rivals to begin campaigning for Gillum

Democratic gubernatorial candidates, from left: Andrew Gillum, Jeff Greene, Chris King, Philip Levine, and Gwen Graham participated in an hour-long debate at WPBF television studios in Palm Beach Gardens on August 2. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Has anyone seen former Congresswoman Gwen Graham?

How about former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine?

Where has West Palm Beach developer Jeff Greene been since Aug. 28?

Not since a big Kumbaya “unity” rally in Orlando days after Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s historic victory in the Democratic primary for Florida governor (minus Greene), has anyone heard from three of Gillum’s primary opponents on the campaign trail.

RELATED: Watch Editorial Board interviews of the 5 Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

I mean, one can kind of understand why Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is not out stumping for Republican primary winner Ron DeSantis. Putnam was practically measuring the drapes in the Governor’s Mansion before the Parkland shooting and President Donald Trump reared his ugly head.

But the Dems always gave off this vibe of being respectful, if not friendly adversaries.

So are they low-key campaigning? Maybe recording robo-calls? Or saving themselves — and their money — for the home stretch?

Gillum, the first African-American to secure a major party gubernatorial nomination in the state’s history, picked Orlando businessman Chris King to be his running mate as lieutenant governor. The two apparently clicked and became “bros” while campaigning during the primary race.

There was less “clicking” with Graham, as the consensus front-runner became the focal point of attacks from her all-male competition. Less so by Gillum’s campaign, but more so by a PAC that supported the mayor and whose negative message he refused to publicly disavow.

Graham, the Post Editorial Board‘s pick to win the Democratic primary because it was felt she had the best shot of winning in the general, may still be smarting too much from those attacks to drop everything and campaign for her former rival. Or maybe Gillum just hasn’t asked.

Levine wasn’t heard from until a few weeks ago, when he stepped forward with a statement defending the Gillum campaign after Republicans looked to paint Gillum as an anti-Semite for bringing on King, who had made anti-Jewish comments when he was a college student. This was first dredged up during the primary campaign and King apologized then.

As for Greene, the question is not whether or not he should be out campaigning but whether he is writing any checks to the Gillum campaign, or any other Florida Democratic election efforts. If he has, it hasn’t been substantial enough to be publicized, a’ la fellow billionaire Tom Steyer. But we should remember that during the primary campaign, Greene — who wanted to radically improve public school education in Florida — did promise to financially support the primary winner and other Democrats.

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So, with time to campaign in a tight gubernatorial race coming down to the wire, one has to wonder whether Florida voters — especially those on her home turf of North Florida — will see Graham out stumping for Gillum to help give the party the best chance it’s had of taking back the Governor’s Mansion in 20 years.

It’s tough to see Gillum pulling off the victory without Graham enthusiastically campaigning for him. The same can be asked about Levine, and Greene’s ample checkbook.

But then, no political expert saw Gillum pulling off the primary upset either.

Take our poll here, and tell us what you think they should do.

Christie: Fairness dictates delaying Kavanaugh confirmation after second accuser comes forward

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s pick for Supreme Court, at his Senate confirmation hearing in Washington. (Eric Thayer/The New York Times)

What about now?

Last week, as the fast-moving drama surrounding the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh unfolded, I asked whether his equally fast-moving confirmation process should be delayed.

Well, 60 percent of you said “yes”. Likely with the desire to hear out Professor Christine Blasey Ford on her allegations that Kavanaugh, as a drunken 17-year-old Georgetown Prep student, sexually assaulted her at a house party. She was 15 years old at the time.

RELATED: Poll: Should the Senate delay a confirmation vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh?

But wait. That was last week. We now have what Republican supporters of Kavanaugh feared more than anything else: a second woman.

The New Yorker magazine reported Sunday night that Senate Democrats were investigating a second woman’s accusation of sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh dating to the 1983-84 academic year, Kavanaugh’s first at Yale University.

RELATED: Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct, from Brett Kavanaugh’s College Years

Just as he did with Ford, Kavanaugh has denied the new allegations.

With regard to Ford, he denied ever attending such a party. Although Mark Judge, his best friend at the time, has written a book (and more) implying how they used to get drunk and attend such parties on the regular. Judge, now a well-known “conservative,” has said he has “no recollection” of the party that Ford has mentioned. He also has no desire to repeat that statement under oath before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Christine Blasey Ford, the Palo Alto, Calif., professor accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct. (ResearchGate.net/Zuma Press/TNS)

As you can imagine, in the past week Ford has been vilified by Republicans and Kavanaugh supports, as well as lifted up by Democrats and supporters of the #MeToo movement.

Conspiracies abound. The biggest being that this is an attack on a good man engineered by the Democrats to keep the nation’s highest court from leaning too far right. (Denying President Donald Trump another victory is just icing on the cake.) That the Dems withheld this information for months (it was six or seven weeks) just so they could spring it at the last minute.

The latter is ludicrous, of course, given that Ford never wanted to have her name used when this was first brought to the attention of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.

Regardless of how the respected California professor came forward. She did. On the record.

So Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has spent a week walking a fine line between belittling Ford’s recollection of a traumatic teenage experience and trying to coax her (through her attorney) into testifying soonest before his committee.

The week was a news whirlwind. Grassley scheduling Ford to testify before talking to Ford about testifying. Ford insisting on an FBI investigation into her allegations before testifying. President Trump publicly questioning Ford’s allegations because she didn’t report it at the time. Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell guaranteeing the Christian-conservative Family Research Council a Kavanaugh confirmation before either Ford or Kavanaugh has even testified. Sen. Orrin Hatch, a senior Republican member of the committee, saying that Ford is likely “confused” and probably has “the wrong guy.”

Gee, why would anyone think that Ford wouldn’t get a fair hearing?

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., addresses the Family Research Council’s Value Voters Summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel on Friday. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Anyway, by the end of the week, there were reports that Ford had come to an agreement to testify before the Judiciary Committee this Thursday. Kavanaugh would testify the same day.

But then came Sunday.

The New Yorker said 53-year-old Deborah Ramirez described a traumatic sexual assault incident in an interview after being contacted by the magazine. Ramirez recalled that Kavanaugh exposed himself at a drunken dormitory party, thrust his penis in her face, and caused her to touch it without her consent as she pushed him away, the magazine reported.

Deborah Ramirez, 53, is accusing Judge Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her while they were students at Yale University. (New Yorker)

In a statement provided by the White House, Kavanaugh said the event “did not happen” and that the allegation was “a smear, plain and simple.” A White House spokeswoman added in a second statement that the allegation was “designed to tear down a good man.”

Again, this is the one thing that Republicans did not want to happen, One woman willing to testify that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her can possibly be dismissed. But two — well-educated and respected — women testifying denotes a possibly disturbing pattern and adds pressure for an investigation.

As one former prosecutor said on CNN last week: “In my experience, these types of incidents are not one-offs,” he said. “There is typically a pattern of behavior… that means there’s likely more than one.”

The irony is not lost on me that on Monday, a Pennsylvania judge would decide whether 81-year-old comedian Bill Cosby would be labeled a “sexually violent predator” for alleged incidents that took place 30-plus years ago. Cosby was found guilty by a jury on all three felony counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand. But make no mistake what one the case for prosecutors was the testimony of five other women that Cosby had done the same to them.

We must remember that there is no evidence beyond two women’s allegations that Kavanaugh has done anything wrong — so far.

But politics aside, it’s difficult to see how the Senate Judiciary Committee can push ahead with this confirmation process without allowing the FBI to investigate these specific allegations.

It’s not fair to Ford and Ramirez. It’s not fair to Kavanaugh. And it’s not fair to the American people.

Christie: Sex assault allegations make it tough to have Kavanaugh confirmation vote

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court. Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault is willing to testify about her allegations before Congress, her attorney said Monday. (T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times)

As the old saw goes: “What a difference a day makes.”

On Saturday, the sexual assault allegations contained in a leaked confidential letter from U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was being treated like an act of political desperation on the part of Democrats.

In fact, it was being characterized as a joke by many political insiders and even veteran journalists, as this Friday image from editorial cartoonist Signe Wilkinson shows:

CARTOON VIEW SIGNE WILKINSON

By Sunday morning, however, the allegations were no longer joke-worthy. Christine Blasey Ford, a Stanford University research psychologist, told The Washington Post that she is the woman alleging that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in suburban Maryland.

As one might expect, no one’s been laughing since. In this age of #MeToo, when powerful men are being taken down all over the place for sexual misconduct going back years, the seriousness of Ford’s allegations cannot be understated.

To that end, Wilkinson caught on quick and sent out another cartoon Monday morning:

CARTOON VIEW SIGNE WILKINSON

For the record, Kavanaugh has strenuously denied that the sexual assault recounted by Ford ever happened. A Republican-leaning group is preparing to launch a $1.5 million advertising and marketing campaign in his defense; focusing I’m sure on how desperate Dems timed the release of these allegations to shut down an upcoming vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Well, mission accomplished.

There’s really no way, either politically or ethically, that the Republican-controlled Senate can move forward without a complete airing of these accusations. Truth be told, the Kavanaugh confirmation process has been a politically motivated cluster from the beginning. After being rushed by the Republican leadership, tens of thousands of pages of documents were dumped on Democratic committee members hours before the confirmation hearings began. Democrats, knowing they couldn’t stop the confirmation, fostered an almost circus-like atmosphere during the hearings.

It’s been almost laughable. Which is probably why when Feinstein released Ford’s letter, in which Ford had asked to remain anonymous, most saw it as just a last-ditch attempt to stymie the inevitable.

But then Ford, seeing this decided that she wanted to be the one to tell her story. To say that she isn’t a joke. That she alone has had to bear this trauma for 35 years; and that despite a successful career, marriage and family, the scars from being held down with a hand over your mouth while your clothes are being pulled at never really go away.

This is what Republican leaders must now navigate. They must somehow re-assure the thousands of American women like Ford. Though highly educated and successful, they carry around the memory of heinous incidents from their youth that they are loathe to discuss, even with those closest to them.

And by the way, here we are again, nearly 30 years after the infamous confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, with a group of old, white men — at least on the GOP side of the judiciary committee — presiding over a woman’s virtue.

But this is not the same culture that greeted Anita Hill.

Not taking the claims of woman willing to go public, and on the record with serious allegations of sexual assault allegations would likely carry a steep political price for the party in power.

Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) of the Senate Judiciary Committee during an executive business meeting to consider the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

Thus, Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley has already offered for both Ford and Kavanaugh (again, who denies the allegations) to testify before the committee. But not in public.

As of Monday, Grassley and the rest of the GOP leadership still seem determined to rush this confirmation through.

That could be a mistake, especially since Ford has offered to testify publicly. Also, at least two GOP senators — Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona (a member of the judiciary committee) are no longer solid “yes” votes for Kavanaugh. And that can hardly be afforded with a narrow 51-49 vote margin in the Senate.

To be sure, the margin for error for handling Ford’s allegations against Kavanaugh is razor thin. But the GOP also faces a political deadline in that their control of the Senate could be gone on Nov. 6.

The Senate could delay a confirmation vote on Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination to allow for a complete vetting of the sexual assault allegations against him.

But should it?

Take our poll and let us know what you think.

Christie: Voters questioning Florida’s closed primary elections — again

Even municipal elections, which are non-party races, can be affected by closed primaries on the same ballot. (Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)

It never fails.

Every Florida primary election, thousands of voters from Milton to Marathon vent frustration about heading to the polls (or filling out a mail-in ballot) and once again not being able to vote for the major party candidate.

I understand their frustration. As a registered independent or No Party Affiliation (NPA) voter myself, it’s a little rough feeling like a player who keeps getting left out of the game. But that’s the system we all signed up for here in the Sunshine State.

Florida is one of just 11 states that have strictly “closed primaries” — that is, primaries in which only registered Republicans can vote in the Republican primary, and only registered Democrats in the Democratic primary.

A growing number of Floridians believe state lawmakers should think seriously about joining the 11 states that allow open primaries, in which any voter can cast a ballot in either party’s primary. Or the 24 states that have a mix of rules, with some allowing voters to cross party lines to vote, others that allow unaffiliated voters to participate.

RELATED: Primary election day should be independents’ day as well

Thought Florida Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam would be the best gubernatorial candidate for the Republican Party? Tough.

Thought former Congresswoman Gwen Graham would be the best standard-bearer for the Democrats in the same gubernatorial contest? Too bad.

Or how about voting for your choice of which Democrat or Republican would best represent you in the state House or Senate? Sorry, you’ll have to wait until November.

Not surprising then that an increasing number of Florida voters are losing patience with this current “closed” system that shuts out some 27 percent of registered voters — read that, taxpayers.

That’s more than a quarter of Florida voters who are now choosing to identify as NPA. Why? Because they are tired of major party politics that produce lawmakers doing a poor job of lawmaking. And that’s a trend that many political observers say needs to be addressed.

A small crowd of voters streams into the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Office on S. Military Trail in West Palm Beach as the doors open for early voting. (Lannis Waters / The Palm Beach Post)

A couple other factors: the number of registered voters, both Democrat and Republican, who regularly cross party lines during general elections; and the remaining “Dixiecrats” in the state who haven’t voted for a Democrat since Harry S. Truman but don’t bother to change their party affiliation.

Post readers have weighed in this over the past couple of weeks.

From Allen Smith of Port St. Lucie:

Open primaries can lead to shenanigans

In a situation where one party has an incumbent running while the other party has four or five folks contending for the right to represent their party, it is possible and very likely that people registered with the established candidate’s party will cross over and vote for the least likely candidate of the opposing party.

In Michigan, where there are open primaries, this cross-party voting has taken place on numerous occasions; when there are a number of candidates running for a position, just a few votes can make the difference in who wins the opportunity to represent the party.

By swaying the election in the primary, the opposing party can assure victory in the general election. This is called political shenanigans and has prevented many good candidates from being the choice of their own party…

From Ann Malachowski of Tequesta:

Primaries should be open to all

I felt the pain of the letter writer who attempted to vote in the recently held primaries. I also attempted to vote 20 years ago, as a newly transplanted Florida resident, as an independent. Such an archaic, nonsensical law.

There is good news, however. The organization Florida Fair and Open Primaries is trying to add a constitutional amendment to the election ballot to change Florida primary elections from a closed political party system to a voter-nominated top-two open primary system.

I suggest that you look them up sign their petition then get everyone you know to do the same.

From Wayne Whitson of Lake Clarke Shores:

Nonpartisans should not get say in primary

I highly disagree with the letter “NPA voters shut out of primaries” (Tuesday).

Primary elections are “partisan business matters” conducted by the members of Republican and Democratic parties. This is how the main political parties select their slate of candidates for a general election.

If you choose not to be a member of either the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, why do you feel entitled to vote in Republican or Democratic primary elections?

Using religion as an example, why should a rabbi or ordained minister (of any faith) be allowed to have a say as to who will become the next pope of the Roman Catholic Church? The obvious answer is: They can’t; they’re not members of the Roman Catholic Church…

And from Leslie Shenkel of Greenacres:

Independent, non-affiliated should not vote in primaries

Many independents and many non-affiliated voters feel they should have the right to vote in the Democratic and Republican primaries. Let me tell them why they don’t and shouldn’t have.

These two organizations are semi-private clubs. Anyone can join the club, but you have to join. I live in Palm Beach County. I can not vote in Miami-Dade County. If I wanted to vote in Miami-Dade, I just have to move to Miami-Dade. No one could stop me, but I would have to move.

Move to where you want to vote. New York, California, Florida, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade or Democratic Party or Republican Party.

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Clearly, this debate isn’t going away.

The two major parties are not going to do anything that dilutes their power and influence. But why should they? As mentioned above, opening their primary makes the process susceptible to bad actors.

Still, as the rolls of NPA voters continues to grow, so do their own power and influence — especially as taxpayers.

And it gets harder for state lawmakers to ignore the cries of, “I want in!”

Tell us what you think by taking our poll, and leaving a comment here.

Goodman: A patriot leaves us, when we need patriots the most

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), then the Republican presidential nominee, arrives onstage for a campaign event in Scranton, Pa., on Sept. 22, 2008.
(Todd Heisler/The New York Times)

Of course John McCain would leave words of inspiration.

At this moment in American history when the nation is riven into increasingly warring camps, the heroic former POW, Arizona senator and almost-president said this in his recently published book, The Restless Wave:

“Before I leave, I’d like to see our politics begin to return to the purposes and practices that distinguish our history from the history of other nations. I would like to see us recover our sense that we are more alike than different. We are citizens of a republic made of shared ideals forged in a new world to replace the tribal enmities that tormented the old one….

“Whether we think each other right or wrong in our views on the issues of the day, we owe each other our respect, as long as our character merits respect, and as long as we share, for all our differences, for all the rancorous debates that enliven and sometimes demean our politics, a mutual devotion to the ideals our nation was conceived to uphold, that all are created equal, and liberty and equal justice are the natural rights of all….

“I want to urge Americans, for as long as I can, to remember that this shared devotion to human rights is our truest heritage and our most important loyalty.”

I didn’t agree with McCain on political positions. But I thought the world of him as a man. And I cherished how he practiced his patriotism.

He grew up with a heightened sense of duty, the son and grandson of U.S. Navy admirals. He bore torture as a POW. Yet after the war he sought common ground with the Vietnamese people and with American dissenters, like his fellow senator, John Kerry, who spoke out as a leader of Vietnam Veterans Against the War while McCain was a captive.

In the Senate, he evolved from uncompromising conservative to a man who looked beyond labels and caricatures to become close friends with liberal lion Ted Kennedy (who died of the same brain cancer exactly nine years before McCain’s passing on Aug. 25) and ally with Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold on campaign finance reform.

During his 2008 bid for the presidency, he famously defended his opponent Barack Obama when a woman at a campaign event called him “an Arab.”

“No, ma’am,” McCain interrupted. “He’s a decent family man and citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”

That moment said volumes about McCain’s character. And it shows how far, 10 years later, his Republican Party has veered from that generosity of spirit. Now the party’s leader does all he can to inflame white-identity anxiety and fan fears of the “other.”

Last year he interrupted his treatments for glioblastoma to make that dramatic appearance on the Senate floor and give thumbs-down, literally, on the Republicans’ attempted repeal of Obamacare. With a doctor’s scar prominent over his left eyebrow, he addressed his colleagues and, just for a moment, restored a long-lost dignity to the U.S. Congress.

“I hope we can again rely on humility,” he said, “on our need to cooperate, on our dependence on each other to learn how to trust each other again and by so doing better serve the people who elected us.

“Stop listening to the bombastic loudmouths on the radio and television and the internet. To hell with them. They don’t want anything done for the public good. Our incapacity is their livelihood.”

In mourning McCain, I’ll be mourning not just a man but a sensibility. A man who exemplified the highest calling of citizenship is gone. Let the rest of us follow his lead.

Christie: Let’s take a breath, think about this ‘Abolish ICE!’ thing

About 15,000 New Yorkers march in support of immigrant families and to condemn the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” policies on June 30. (Erik McGregor / Sipa USA/TNS)

In an election year, one side is always looking for that pivotal issue that will pump up passion among voters and give their side an advantage over the other.

For the left that has been the immigration issue. President Donald J. Trump all but handed his haters the equivalent of a gimme when he instituted a “zero-tolerance policy” for those crossing illegally into the U.S. A policy that resulted in children — some less than a year old — being dispassionately separated from their parents at our southern border.

Pictures and audio captured the immigration mess that bordered on an atrocity, and help Trump’s detractors paint him and his administration as heartless. It looked like a winning strategy at the polls, as the overwhelming majority of Americans detested the child separations.

The president backtracked and reversed, and is still stumbling over the issue.

But the left — and some Democrats — maybe a little drunk on their success,  have possibly taken things too far.

“Abolish ICE” makes for a good rallying cry. But demanding the abolition of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency also provides Trump — and the right  — with a useful weapon for bludgeoning Dems politically. And a significant portion of the American public will agree.

LOS ANGELES, CA – Sen. Kamala Harris speaks at the Families Belong Together – Freedom For Immigrants March at Los Angeles City Hall. (Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images)

Democratic Sens. Sen Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York, and Kamala Harris, of California, have all pounded the issue at Senate hearings and public rallies. But no one was taking it too seriously.

Then, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — stunned the New York Democratic establishment, and the nation, with her primary victory last month over 10-term U.S. Rep. Joe Crowley. Part of her platform: Abolish ICE!

And now, the slogan, has caught on with the left and threatens to steamroll the Democratic agenda — whatever that is at the moment.

Yes, “Abolish ICE!” is usually followed with, “Replace it with something else,” but nobody’s listening to that part.

All the masses hear — both on the left and the right — is “Abolish ICE!” Well, on the right, they also hear, “We want open borders!”

And that’s been the left’s election-year give back to Trump. He has said as much.

President Donald Trump has gone the attack against Democratic lawmakers who have called for abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement, seeking to seize political advantage on an issue that has put him on the defensive for weeks and offer a winning message for Republicans facing a forbidding midterm election. (Al Drago / The New York Times)

What’s frustrating is that beyond being a nice slogan, abolishing ICE is no more a serious policy proposal than claiming Mexico’s “gonna pay for the wall.”

At the risk of stating the obvious, elections have consequences. Those include changes in policy, not typically the creation or elimination of whole agencies. If Americans don’t like ICE’s current enforcement polices, the public should demand a change in those policies, or a change in the leaders who promulgate those policies. During the Vietnam War, millions of Americans demanded an end to the war; no one seriously demanded that we abolish the entire U.S. Defense Department. That would be stupid as it would have completely compromised our national security.

Getting rid of ICE is not on that level, but it would definitely compromise public safety. ICE is a law-enforcement agency. It consists of essentially two components: enforcement and removal operations (ERO), and homeland security investigations (HSI), which is dedicated to the investigation of cross-border crimes such as smuggling dangerous drugs and contraband, the theft of intellectual property, child pornography and human trafficking.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson (AP Photo / Andrew Harnik)

In a recent op-ed for The Washington Post, former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson:

“During the last three years of the Obama administration, when I headed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), President Barack Obama gave me the policy direction to focus ICE’s deportation resources on recent border crossers and those undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes. We did that. In those years, the number of deportations from the interior United States went down, but the percentage of those deported who were serious criminals went up. We stripped away the barriers that existed between ICE and so-called sanctuary cities. By the time I left office, 21 of the 25 largest jurisdictions that had refused to comply with ICE detainers – written requests to delay the release of people arrested by local law enforcement – had signaled a willingness to work with ICE again in pursuit of the most dangerous undocumented criminals.

RELATED: ‘Abolish ICE’: What is Immigration and Customs Enforcement and what does it do?

As we at Homeland Security asked ICE to focus more on criminals, we heard pleas from many in the enforcement and removal operations workforce whose pay had been capped at an arbitrary ceiling; we put them on the same pay scale with their law-enforcement peers. All this was a good step in the direction of public safety, and it was good for morale. In 2016, my last year in office, the morale within ICE’s 20,000-person workforce increased 7 percent, according to the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.

Meanwhile, I constantly reminded ICE leadership that controversial, high-profile cases of fathers torn from their families and students pulled from their schools for deportation would turn ICE into a pariah in the very communities where its agents must work, and would threaten to undermine ICE’s larger public-safety mission. I regret to watch that happening now, as ICE is vilified across the country and sanctuary cities are emboldened to proclaim themselves as such. My thoughts are with the hardworking men and women of the agency caught in the middle of this political firestorm.”

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All that these calls to abolish ICE have done so far is further divide the public — and its which-ever-way-the-wind-blows politicians — and hinder already slim chances at immigration reform. No wonder running against Washington remains such a popular campaign tactic.

Immigration reform is something most Americans believe that we need. How to get there has been the sticking point for more than 30 years.

A zero-tolerance policy that removes toddlers from their parents at the border is not the answer. But neither is outright abolishing ICE.

Christie: Does Sanders, Bondi harassment mean our incivility has finally gone too far?

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi voices her support for then-candidate Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland. (Damon Winter/The New York Times)

Not unlike a lot of opinion journalists, for years I’ve been harping on the lack of civility that increasingly permeates our public discourse.

Immigration, NFL protests, gun rights, you name it, we are somehow unable to have a civil debate about it. From a South Carolina congressman yelling, “You lie!” at then-President Barack Obama during a State of the Union address to this past weekend’s heckling of Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi at a movie theater.

We’ve got to find a way to get past this. For our own sanity. And Thanksgiving dinners. And kids’ soccer games. And movie openings.

On Friday night, a group of protesters accosted Bondi outside the screening of the new documentary about Mister Rogers at the Tampa Theatre, questioning her about her recent actions on health care policy and her stance on immigration.

RELATED: Pam Bondi confronted by protesters outside Mister Rogers movie

A video of the confrontation, taken by progressive activist Timothy Heberlein of Organize Florida, shows several people shouting down Bondi as she leaves the theater escorted by law enforcement after seeing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.”

This followed news, of course, of the most infamous incident of the weekend: senior White House spokeswoman Sara Huckabee Sanders being tossed out of a Virginia restaurant by the owners.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House press secretary, speaks during a press conference on June 14 the White House briefing room in Washington, D.C. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

Sanders, who has not engendered the most support from the liberal side of the political spectrum as a lightning rod for the ire of Trump haters, said over the weekend that she had been asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant because she worked in the Trump administration. She added that she “politely left” after the request.

The restaurant’s co-owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, later told The Washington Post that her staff had called her to report Sanders was at the restaurant on Saturday night. Wilkinson said several restaurant employees are gay and knew Sanders had defended Trump’s desire to bar transgender people from the military.

RELATED: The owner of the Red Hen explains why she asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave

Sanders’ tweet created a firestorm on Twitter, with many conservatives and Trump supporters, including her father, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, chiming in with criticism of the restaurant.

Where does it end? We seem to have reached the point of no return when it comes to incivility among our citizens. And now, many folks are asking folks to pump the brakes.

Again, growing incivility in our discourse has been an issue for years — much of it racially charged for political purposes by Obama’s election, police shootings, etc. But we’ve apparently gone beyond vocal disagreements over abortion rights to not even sitting next to one another in a restaurant or movie theater, filling prescriptions at the same pharmacy or buying a wedding cake from the same baker.

A primary reason for things reaching this new level, whether some of us want to admit it or not, lies at the feet of President Trump and his almost daily divisive Twitter rants in the name of not being politically correct.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) at a news conference where House Democrats called for an end to separating immigrant families, on the steps of the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times)

The trouble is liberals or progressives are no longer content with turning the other cheek. Beyond the protests and calls to action on everything from Confederate monuments to women’s rights to gun rights, the left-wingers now seem as energized as their counterparts on the right under the Obama administration.

It’s now commonplace to hear Trump supporters and Republicans — who still approve of the job he’s doing — ask for folks to “just give him a chance.”

“Fat chance,” say an increasing number of liberals. “Like the chance you gave Barack Obama?” they reply.

If we’re not quite down the rabbit hole here, we’re getting uncomfortably close. And we don’t need folks pushing us even further.

Maxine Waters, the Democratic firebrand congresswoman from California, chided a crowd this weekend to “push back” against Trump supporters wherever you see them, “in a restaurant, in the department store, in a gas station.”

We don’t need that.

But Bondi wasn’t much better. She went on Fox News Sunday to boast of not backing down from protesters — with appropriate police backup of course — and suggested, “The next people are going to come with guns. That’s what’s going to happen.”

Yeah, real helpful.

RELATED: Trump attacks ‘filthy’ Red Hen, the Virginia restaurant that asked Sarah Sanders to leave

And then there’s the president himself, who once again took to Twitter to dis the restaurant that booted Sanders.

President Donald J. Trump (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

“The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders,” Trump tweeted Monday morning.

“I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!” he added.

It was unclear Monday whether Trump had ever visited the establishment — the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, which is 50 miles northeast of Roanoke near the Shenandoah Valley — or how he would have determined its level of cleanliness.

The Red Hen passed its latest state health inspection, in February, without any violations.

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He later also went to Twitter to take some sophomoric jabs at Waters.

As I said earlier, the president can shut a lot of this down or at least put us on a path back to civility with his own words and actions.

The question will he, or maybe we’ve already gone to far down that rabbit hole.

Goodman: Trump tells Philadelphia Eagles to stay off his White House lawn

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles with the Vince Lombardi Trophy after winning Super Bowl LII against the New England Patriots on Feb. 4.  (AJ Mast/The New York Times)

When have you ever heard of the president of the United States telling the Super Bowl champions that they’re not welcome at the White House? But, then, when have we had a dis-uniting presidency like Donald Trump’s?

Last night, amid reports that fewer than 10 of the Philadelphia Eagles planned to attend a South Lawn ceremony this afternoon in the team’s honor, Trump abruptly canceled the event.

Trump, keeping up the drum beat he started last fall, said the players “disagree with their president because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country.”

However, not one player on the Eagles took a knee during the playing of national anthem during this year’s regular season or playoffs.

That fact didn’t stop Fox News from airing images of several Eagles players kneeling, as if to illustrate the president’s point about unpatriotic players. In reality, the players were not kneeling in protest, nor during the national anthem. They were praying.

One of those kneeling Eagles players, Zach Ertz, denounced the Fox News segment as “propaganda.” Teammate Chris Long also slammed the network:

Fox News later apologized for “the error.”

While the Eagles player may not have taken a knee, it’s true that many strongly side with the protests against racial injustice and police brutality that were sparked by former San Francisco QB Colin Kapaernick — which Trump soon twisted into a purported test of patriotism. And many objected to the recently announced NFL policy to fine teams whose players who kneel during the “Star Spangled Banner,” which was followed by Trump saying that if you “don’t stand proudly for the national anthem,” then “maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.”

In Philadelphia, a city that voted 82 percent for Hillary Clinton, many heaped scorn on Trump for his handling of the situation.

Mayor Jim Kenney said that disinviting the Eagles from the White House “only proves that our president is not a true patriot, but a fragile egomaniac obsessed with crowd size and afraid of the embarrassment of throwing a party to which no one wants to attend.”

Philadelphia Daily News sports columnist Marcus Hayes wrote that size-obsessed Trump cancelled the event because, “in the end, he couldn’t stand the thought of another tiny crowd.”

The NFL protests have stirred no end of controversy. On Sunday, the Palm Beach Post Editorial Page devoted its entire letters column to letters taking passionate positions on all sides of the issue.

In my view, Trump has repeatedly and intentionally inflamed the situation by ignoring the players’ intent to protest police shootings of unarmed black men, and painting the players as unpatriotic pariahs.

He has had plenty of opportunity to try to find common ground and heal the divisions among us. A greater man might have sought out the players who balked at coming to the White House, and invited them to sit down together to talk out their differences.

But no. He pouts. He cancels. Telling the team to stay off his White House lawn is just his latest way of saying, “Get that son of a bitch off the field!”

Poll: Did the NFL make the right call regarding kneeling players?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (Photo by Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

The National Football League, under pressure from many fans and the man in the White House, announced rules meant to remove the spectacle of players kneeling in protest during the playing of the national anthem.

Team owners voted Wednesday to require all team and league personnel who are on the field during the anthem to “stand and show respect” for the flag and the song. Those who choose not to stand for the anthem can stay in the locker room or away from the field, although each club can adopt its own additional rules.

Rick Christie, editor of the Palm Beach Post’s Editorial Page, says the owners are ordering players to subdue their protests against racial injustice: “In other words: Don’t demonstrate downtown, I have shopping to do. Don’t demonstrate at a sporting event because you take away from my entertainment. Why can’t you all just shut up and dribble?”

What do you think? Take our poll: