As Gov. Rick Scott (R) contemplates a challenge to Sen. Bill Nelson (D), he “is embroiled in a fierce debate over gun control that has seen the governor split with President Donald Trump and some members of his own party over what should be done to prevent another mass shooting. The escalated sniping between Nelson and Scott may presage a heated campaign in a swing state that twice supported President Barack Obama but then backed Trump.”
“Nelson mocked Scott, saying he lacked ‘guts’ for skipping an emotionally charged town hall forum attended by survivors and family members of those killed at the Parkland school. He also criticized Scott because the state had offered financial incentives to gun manufacturers. Scott snapped back at Nelson, saying he had failed to pass any substantial gun measures during his three terms in office.”
“Right now polls suggest voters in Florida are on Nelson’s side. A poll by Quinnipiac University, which was done more than a week after the shootings in Parkland, said 62 percent support a nationwide ban on ‘assault weapons’ and 96 percent support background checks on all gun buyers.” (AP)
LEGISLATION. Nelson and Sen. Marco Rubio (R) are pushing a bill that would “help alert state law enforcement agencies to allow them to enforce existing laws against individuals who attempt to purchase firearms but have no legal right to do so.” The legislation is backed by several other senators, including Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO). (Florida Politics)
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"The U.K. is sharing secret intelligence about the nerve agent attack on a former spy with key allies, in an effort to persuade them to expel Russian diplomats across Europe, people familiar with the matter said. ... May will deliver a hard-hitting warning over the threat posed to the whole of Europe by Vladimir Putin’s government during a dinner with fellow leaders at the EU summit in Brussels on Thursday."
President Trump is planning to announce new sanctions against Chinese technology companies Thursday, and China may respond "by targeting U.S. agricultural exports from Farm Belt states," including "soybeans, sorghum and live hogs ... The U.S. is among the top suppliers of these products to China." The Chinese sanctions are being calibrated to target states "that helped elect Donald Trump in 2016."
"Federal prosecutors have dropped charges against 11 of 15 members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security team who were accused in connection with the beating of protesters during their visit to Washington last year, the latest twist in a case that caused a diplomatic rift between the U.S. and Turkey. The decision by the U.S. to prosecute the 15 men added to political strains as the Trump administration was trying to reset relations with Turkey, a key U.S. ally in the fight against Islamic State. Prosecutors first asked a judge in November to dismiss charges against four members of Mr. Erdogan’s security detail. Then they dropped charges against seven others on Feb. 14, the day before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson flew to Ankara for a meeting with Mr. Erdogan meant to ease tensions."