Newsflash: Sen. Marco Rubio is on Republican Mitt Romney’s shortlist for president.
That didn’t sound like news until anonymous Republicans cast doubt on the situation Tuesday, threwing Romney’s campaign into a messaging tailspin that took an entire day to clean up.
And it was Romney who had to do the mop up work after ABC, The Washington Post and The New York Times quoted advisers of Romney who said the Florida senator wasn’t under serious consideration as a vice-presidential running mate.
“This story was entirely false,” Romney told reporters. “Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process.”
But by the time Romney made his comments – about 6 p.m. – the damage was done.
Republicans and conservatives, particularly those in must-win Florida, felt Romney’s advisers had disrespected Rubio. Democrats had a field day.
The report first surfaced on ABC Tuesday morning just as Rubio’s much-touted autobiography, An American Son, was available in stores. Soon, all the political talk swirled around Romney and his alleged dismissing of Rubio. Rather than spend all his time bashing President Obama over the economy, Romney and his campaign had to endure questions about the anonymous Republicans who seemed to have relatively little good to say about Rubio.
Romney and his campaign did little to quiet the talk quickly. On Fox News, Romney told Sean Hannity that he wouldn’t talk about the process, which only he and adviser Beth Myers knew about.
Soon, the Washington Post found an anonymous Romney adviser to confirm the ABC source. The source suggested the 41-year-old Rubio would fail the “gravitas test” and wasn’t ready to be president.
The Florida Democratic Party seized on the story by sending out an email with the headline: "Rubio fails preliminary review in Veepstakes."
“According to today’s Washington Post article on GOP Veepstakes, it only took the Romney camp a ‘preliminary review’ to determine Marco Rubio would fail to pass vetting,” the email said. “Ouch, that’s going to leave a mark.”
Conservatives started to howl that Romney was needlessly ignoring one of the most exciting Republican picks this election cycle. Some suspected internal Romney advisers were sandbagging Rubio to advance their own vice-presidential choices.
Finally, Romney spoke up and cleared the air about the anonymous sources.
"I can’t imagine who such people are but I can tell you this: they know nothing about the vice presidential selection or evaluation process," he said. "There are only two people in this country who know who are being vetted and who are not and that’s Beth Myers and myself. And I know Beth well. She doesn’t talk to anybody."
Some, however, suspected it was too little damage control too late.
Though it probably won’t affect the campaign in the longterm, the one-day messaging crisis could serve as a wake-up call to the campaign.
“Perhaps it’s a lesson for the Romney campaign to shore up any leaks,” said Brian Hughes, a Republican consultant and former spokesman for the state GOP.
“Any potential vice-presidential pick out there has a constituency in the party and in the conservative base,” Hughes said, “and to leave any of those supporters feeling disenfranchised is just a dumb move.”
Newsflash: Sen. Marco Rubio is on Republican Mitt Romney’s shortlist for president.
The Legislature's 2011 ban on bestiality has a loophole, and it will spare one Pinellas man accused of having sex with a dog from criminal charges.
In the first case referred to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office, the suspect will not be charged because the law does not forbid oral sex.
From the Tampa Bay Times story:
Clearwater police began investigating 29-year-old Eric Antunes earlier this year when they received a tip that he possessed child pornography. Antunes admitted to downloading and watching it on his computer, police said after his arrest.
Investigators searched his computer and said they found child pornography. In his cell phone, they discovered six photos of Antunes performing sexual acts with Ruby, a three-legged dog that belongs to his girlfriend, Katerina Williamson.
Antunes had worked as a contract employee at the Pinellas County Humane Society and Williamson was medical director there. She left that post days after Antunes was arrested May 1.
Assistant State Attorney Beverly Andringa said her office declined to prosecute Antunes for bestiality because, out of the six photographs found on his cell phone, only one "would meet the strict criteria of the statute."
Read more here.
Seems like someone in the Mitt Romney campaign just woke up. And his name is Mitt Romney.
Romney just told reporters following his campaign that Rubio "is being thoroughly vetted," according to his campaign, which just sent out the following transcript of his statement:
“There was a story that originated today apparently at ABC based upon reports of supposedly outside unnamed advisors of mine. I can’t imagine who such people are but I can tell you this: they know nothing about the vice presidential selection or evaluation process. There are only two people in this country who know who are being vetted and who are not and that’s Beth Myers and myself. And I know Beth well. She doesn’t talk to anybody. This story was entirely false. Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process.”
So much for the anonymous folks who told ABC, The Washington Post and The New York Times the opposite. The leak and the aftermath of it all was bad bad bad for Romney's campaign. More here on that.
But it's not like Romney handled it with aplomb earlier. Here's what he said on Sean Hannity's radio show:
Hannity: "What did you make of the ABC News report this morning that said Marco Rubio was not being vetted but Governor Tim Pawlenty was being vetted? Any comment on that story?"
Mitt Romney: "I get a kick out of some of the speculation that goes on. I'm not going to comment on the process of course. But I can tell you this: only Beth Myers and I know who is being vetted." Hannity: "Does that mean Ann Romney doesn't know?"
Romney: "Even Ann doesn't know. We talk about the possible people that I might select. But in terms of actually who is being vetted, that is something only two people know. And Beth Myers doesn't talk." Hannity: "Is there a shortlist?"
Romney: "There are a number of people who are being vetted and that is obviously the group we are considering most seriously."
President Barack Obama owes a debt of gratitude to the Republican leakers who have told ABC and now the Washington Post that Sen. Marco Rubio isn't being vetted to be a running mate for Republican Mitt Romney. With just a few whispers, the stories have:
1) poured cold water on Rubio's warm-and-fuzzy national tour to plug his autobiography, An American Son, which came out today.
2) indicates there's a goodly amount of internal Romney World discord and suspicion over Rubio's high profile as of late.
3) caused hand-wringing among Republicans who fret that Romney won't pick a candidate who fires up the base.
4) threw the Romney campaign off message as reporters began calling with the is-it-true? line of questioning about Rubio.
5) suggests Romney is a weak leader who can be boxed in by alleged supporters (assuming this didn't come from him) because leaks like this only hurt his campaign (albeit for a day or two, for now).
Good news day for Connie Mack. The Washington D.C. group FreedomWorks announced it would officially endorse him (even though it has not-so-quietly supported him for months) and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, which Politico first reported, said he'd kick in $1 million to a pro-Mack, anti-Bill Nelson super pac called Freedom PAC.
In an unprecedented case, federal prosecutors have charged a Miami man with engaging in a massive money-laundering operation that moved millions stolen from the federal Medicare program into Cuban banks.
Prosecutors say Oscar Sanchez, 46, was a key leader in a group that funneled $31 million in Medicare dollars into banks in Havana — the first such case that directly traces money fleeced from the beleaguered program into the Cuban banking system.
Most of the money moved through an intricate web of foreign shell companies before ending up in Cuba, to avoid being detected in the United States, said investigators.
“We’re obviously dealing with a very sophisticated network,” said Ron Davidson, an assistant U.S. attorney, during a court hearing on Monday.
The federal investigation marks the first time prosecutors have brought a cash-for-Cuba case in the ongoing battle against Medicare fraud in South Florida, which leads the nation in dollars fleeced from taxpayers. More from Mike Sallah here.
Cruley returns to Bascom Communications
Lyndsey Cruley, communications director for Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, will rejoin Bascom Communications on August 1st as vice president, the firm announced.
Prior to her Senate stint, Cruley was a leadership press secretary for the Florida House. She also worked at Bascom in 2009 and 2010.
CoreMessage loses Gustafson to grad school
Rachel Gustafson is leaving CoreMessage for an art history graduate program at Washington DC’s American University.
She’s hoping to pursue a career in art advocacy.
Gustafson joined CoreMessage in 2007, where she worked with clients to develop strategic communications plans, develop messaging and execute public awareness campaigns, according to the firm's website.
Following President Barack Obama's move last week to let some young illegal immigrants stay in the U.S., immigration as a political issue is back in Congress, in a big way. And especially for Florida lawmakers.
Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Stuart, introduced a bill today that would block the administration's directive. (The administration's plan allows young illegal immigrants who were raised in the United States to remain for two years under a deferred deportation.)
Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, is pressing ahead with his own legislation to help such DREAM Act-eligible kids.
And Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who never had a immigration bill in writing for people to vet, says the president should have called him about working on immigration legislation. He told ABC News that the president's proposal "just gets him through the election. "The White House never called us about this. No one reached out to us and told us this was on its way. And, I mean, if they were serious about a real solution to this problem and not politicizing it, then why don’t you reach out to people."
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, told Republicans today that they had their chance to be a part of something big -- and still do. He singled out Rubio in particular for what he called "phony outrage" over the administration's move.
"In the past, Republicans have expressed broad support for the principles of President Obama’s directive," Reid said. "And Senator Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, has even talked up a similar idea to the press for months, although he never actually produced a proposal."
Republicans are "taking their marbles and going home," Reid said.
"Since Friday, leading Republican voices on immigration reform have all but ceded the debate until after the election. Republicans who once favored a permanent solution for America’s broken immigration system are now abandoning efforts to find common ground," he said. "And the same Republicans who complained they weren’t involved enough in the President’s decision are now giving up any involvement in the broader immigration conversation."
Lawmakers have tried for years, but it is finally happening: A.G. Holley State Hospital in Lantana is closing down at the end of the month. Now, the state's hardest-to-treat tuberculosis patients will be assigned to either Jackson Health System in Miami or Shands Jacksonville hospital, according to a news release from the Department of Health.
“Jackson Health System and Shands Jacksonville have national reputations for their level of expertise in caring for patients with complex health issues,” said state Surgeon General John Armstrong. “It is a testament to the quality of health care in our state that we now move into the future with confidence that these patients will receive continued high quality care in settings closer to their communities.”
A.G. Holley's closure is part of a sweeping reorganization of the Department of Health authorized by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott. Although some public health advocates say they are concerned the streamlining could negatively affect patient health, Department of Health leaders have expressed optimism that the changes will help reduce costs while refocusing attention on the agency's main duties.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been making the media rounds as he promotes his newly released autobiography, An American Son, appeared on perhaps the unlikeliest of networks Monday night: Spanish-language giant Univisión.
Rubio and Univisión had been at odds for months over a well-publicized dispute involving a story the network aired about Rubio's brother-in-law drug bust when the Republican senator was 16 years old. Insiders said the network offered to soften the story if Rubio accepted an interview with Univisión star anchor Jorge Ramos; Univisión denied that a quid pro quo took place.
Nothing heals old wounds like time and book tours, though, and Rubio sat down with Ramos to tape an interview last week before President Barack Obama announced that his administration would halt the deportations of young immigrants brought into the country as children and allow them to apply for work permits. Rubio had been talking about an alternative to the Dream Act, stalled legislation in Congress that would have allowed those immigrants to stay and set them on a path to U.S. citizenship.