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218 posts from June 2008

June 28, 2008

McCain gives Versailles a shout-out

Miami-Dade school board member Ana Rivas Logan got the opportunity to share the stage with John McCain Saturday, asking him whether comprehensive immigration reform -- and not just border enforcement -- would be a priority.

But first she made it clear she was unlikely to go too tough on McCain, saying that she was "truly honored" to be standing with the "next president of the US."

"I hope you'll join me again at Versailles cafe," McCain said. "I'll be there," Logan replied to cheers.

Miami Republican Rep. Juan Zapata was also tagged to ask a question, he told McCain he had a "lot of friends down in Florida."

Obama: McCain "walked away" from immigration reform

Barack Obama pledged his support for immigration reform to a crowd of Hispanic leaders, accusing his Republican rival (who spoke first) of retreating on his vow to secure immigration reform.

He noted he and John McCain "used to work together to offer change on immigration....he deserves great credit for championing immigration reform.

But, Obama said, "what he didn't mention was that running for his party's nomination he walked away from that commitment. He said he wouldn't even support his own legislation if it came up for a vote."

McCain: Immigration reform will be my top priority

John McCain told a ballroom of Hispanic leaders he'd make immigration reform his "top priority" if elected president.

"I will reach across the aisle again, we will resolve immigration in America, and we will secure our borders," McCain said to applause.

McCain took a leading role in pushing for immigration reform in the Senate, but critics say he began tacking to the right when he campaigned during the Republican primaries and insisted border enforcement has to come first.

He told the crowd that his efforts to overhaul immigration laws failed because "Americans didn't believe we would take care of our national security requirements."

But he pledged to push for "humane and compassionate" immigration reform.

"I come from a border state," he said. "I know these issues."

McCain soldiers on at Hispanic conference amid war protests

John McCain's speech this morning to a group of Hispanic leaders was interrupted three times by war protesters, only one who expressed her displeasure with his stance on Iraq in Spanish.

"It's time to take the troops out," the woman shouted in Spanish as security and police escorted her out of the downtown DC hotel.

McCain smiled gamely as the NALEO audience tried to drown out the protesters with applause.

"That was a long trip out," he said as one woman was escorted out the door, still yelling.

UPDATE: A fourth protester - wearing media credentials -- just got the boot. An official with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials just took to the stage to apologize to McCain's camp for the outbursts.

He said the protesters weren't NALEO members and "do not reflect our values in dialoguing with a potential next president of the United States."

Continue reading "McCain soldiers on at Hispanic conference amid war protests " »

Rent-a-cow operations still used for tax breaks

The St. Petersburg Times reports today that Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Buddy Johnson is seeking a major property tax break by leasing his 20-acre property to a part-time cattle farmer for $20 a year.

631cow01embeddedprod_affiliate Abuse of Florida's so-called "greenbelt law,'' which lowers taxes on land used for agriculture, has deprived the state of millions of dollars of revenue. Read The Miami Herald's three-part series here.

Remember who blocked a bill aimed at reforming the law in 2006? It was none other than former Sen. Rod Smith, the chairman of the agriculture committee, who went on to lose the Democratic primary for governor.

Obama headed to the Promised Land

Two days after Republican John McCain announced he was going to South America, Democrat Barack Obama declared he was going to the Middle East and Europe. Both trips will garner attention from Florida's large Hispanic and Jewish populations.

Obama's campaign said he will visit "countries that are critical to American national security, and to consult with close friends and allies,'' including France, Germany, Israel, Jordan and the United Kingdom.

"Israel is a strong and close friend of the United States, and is confronting grave threats from Gaza to Tehran,'' Obama said in a statement.

The Illinois senator has said he would not negotiate with Hamas because it is a terrorist group but would be willing to talk to the Iranian government, which has threatened to annihilate Israel.

For Army family, no such thing as 'Iraq fatigue'

The sour economy makes Iraq seem so 2006. Only 6 percent of South Floridians named the war as a top issue in a Miami Herald poll released this week. "Iraq fatigue,'' explained pollster John Zogby.

Parents But for Itzhak and Beth Agami of Parkland, whose 25-year-old son Daniel was killed one year ago last Saturday, the war is a constant source of heartache. The cost of gas means little to parents forced to outlive their child.

There have been 4,103 American soldiers killed in Iraq, including 178 from Florida. The Agamis, who tend to finish each other's sentences, sometimes feel like they're the only ones paying attention.

"Nineteen soldiers were killed last month,'' Beth said. "You tell me how many times you saw that on the news. There's no faces, no pictures, no nothing.'' Daniel

"It's a forgotten war,'' added Itzhak.

Read the rest of Beth Reinhard's column here. Read more about Daniel Agami here.

June 27, 2008

Nelson in the veepstakes?

According to US News & World Report, he is.

His name comes up under the category of "geographic balance.

"Another possibility being discussed on the Democratic circuit is Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, a steady, popular leader who could give Obama a big lift in the Sunshine State," US News writes. "Nelson isn't an exciting campaigner, but he is probably a safe choice who would do no harm to Obama's prospects, which in the end could be a key consideration."

McCain, Obama to court Hispanics

John McCain and Barack Obama will make back to back appearances Saturday before an influential crowd of Hispanic leaders -- the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

The group in a new report estimates some 9.2 million Latino voters will cast ballots in November's election -- a record Latino turnout based on a steady growth in voting.

NALEO notes that the fastest-growing voting bloc is proving its chops: Latino voters, it says, "played an essential role" in McCain's Florida primary victory. Though Mitt Romney edged out McCain among non-Hispanic white voters 34 to 33 percent, Republican Hispanics gave McCain 54 percent of their vote, compared to 24 percent for Rudy Giuliani and 14 percent for Romney.

And the group notes Hispanic voters were "critical to the comeback success of Sen. Hillary Clinton in Texas.."

Continue reading "McCain, Obama to court Hispanics " »

Ros-Lehtinen to recess in Israel

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs committee -- will spend next week in Israel, the committee says, meeting with current and former Israeli government officials. She also plans visits to the Golan Heights and an Israeli city repeatedly bombed by rockets fired from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Among those she's sked to meet: Prime Minister Ehud Olmert; Deputy Minister of Security Matan Vilnai; Ambassador Dore Gold; and Ehud Yaari, an expert on Middle Eastern issues.