Florida GOP fights to animate Trump’s base without president

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (AP) — Nearly 300 Republicans packed shoulder-to-shoulder maskless and sweating inside a Holiday Inn conference room this week in the heart of the Florida Panhandle to see their party’s biggest political stars not named President Donald Trump.

With Trump grounded in Washington, they chanted and cheered as the governor, the self-described “Trumpiest” Florida congressman and the president’s eldest son shared anti-Democratic conspiracy theories, attacked the media and warned that Joe Biden “is a puppet for the radical left.”

While energetic, the crowd was a far cry from the tens of thousands drawn to the president’s past rallies in this deep-red bastion of Trumpism, where the president’s dominant performance four years ago helped deliver Florida, and with it, the White House.

“I’d like to see President Trump. Don Jr. is fine,” said Rick Scott, a 64-year-old retired construction manager who joined the modest crowd in Panama City Beach

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NY GOP campaigning on crime, COVID-19 in nursing homes

After suffering a wave of losses in New York in 2018, Republicans are trying to regain seats by campaigning on statewide themes.

Crime and bail. Nursing homes and COVID-19.

Republicans are trying to tie Democratic candidates to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s controversial policies on nursing homes and the pandemic. In some districts, they’re focusing on Cuomo’s business restrictions. Additionally, they’re looking to score points on recent crime spikes and a new law that eliminated bail for most misdemeanors.

The themes are more often used by Republicans challengers taking on Democratic incumbents or competing for an open seat, rather than by GOP incumbents who are running on their records.

For Republicans, it’s a way to push local issues in a state where Republican President Donald Trump is trailing Democrat Joe Biden — and maybe get some Biden supporters to vote GOP on down-ballot races.

“The number one issue that seems to

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