June 22, 2015

Quinnipiac poll: Lopez-Cantera trails Murphy, Obama and Scott still in 'job approval hole'

Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has not made it official yet, but a Quinnipiac University Swing State Poll says he is already trailing U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in the 2016 U.S. Senate race.

If a matchup were held today, Lopez-Cantera would be behind by 40 to 28 percent. He is expected to announce on July 15. Also trailing Murphy is U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis: 39 to 31 percent. 

The news is equally grim for Gov. Rick Scott and President Barack Obama. Both remain mired in negative approval ratings in Florida, according to the poll taken June 4-15 of 1,147 Florida voters that has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. Obama's job approval rating in Florida is 43 to 51 percent while Scott's is worse with 39 percent of voters having a favorable view of him and 49 percent who don't.

Here's the press release:

Continue reading "Quinnipiac poll: Lopez-Cantera trails Murphy, Obama and Scott still in 'job approval hole'" »

June 11, 2015

Zo on the go: Former Heat star to join White House delegation to Italy

@CAdamsMcClatchy

The White House on Thursday announced that former NBA All-Star Alonzo Mourning would join a presidential delegation to the Milan Expo 2015 in Italy.

First lady Michelle Obama will lead the delegation, which will tour the USA Pavilion, which is designed to showcase American global food security and development issues. The delegation is party of Obama’s “Let's Move!” initiative to combat childhood obesity.

In a statement from the White House, Obama said: “No matter where in the world we live, we all want healthy, nutritious food for our families.”

Other members of the delegation include: John R. Phillips, U.S. ambassador to Italy and the Republic of San Marino; Risa J. Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition; Will Allen, an urban farmer and founder and CEO of Growing Power; Nicolas Jammet, co-CEO of Sweetgreen; and others.

Mourning is a seven-time National Basketball Association All-Star and also a member of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. He is a founder of the Miami-based Mourning Family Foundation.

His NBA career took him to the Miami Heat, as well as the Charlotte Hornets and New Jersey Nets.

May 28, 2015

In gesture to Cuban Americans, Obama visits Our Lady of Charity shrine in Miami

@PatriciaMazzei

President Barack Obama extended a symbolic olive branch Thursday to Miami’s Cuban Americans by paying his respects to the shrine of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre in Coconut Grove.

Earlier in the day, Obama visited the National Hurricane Center and met privately with the Pinecrest family of Steven Sotloff, the journalist slain last year by the Islamic State, to offer condolences.

The surprise afternoon stop at the shrine by the sea, better known by its Spanish name, La Ermita de la Caridad, comes at a time when many Cuban exiles remain miffed by the president’s decision last December to restore diplomatic relations with the communist island, especially since Obama made no effort to reach out to Miami leaders prior to his announcement.

Obama is the first president to pay his respects to the shrine, according to the Archdiocese of Miami. It’s named after the patroness saint of Cuba.

Hola,” he told 13 worshipers seated in the church pews when he walked in. The Rev. Juan Rumin Dominguez guided the president, along with Cristina Brito, who served as interpreter.

More here.

This post has been updated.

President Obama tours National Hurricane Center in Miami

@PatriciaMazzei

78Obama 052915 Hurricane ADD

To mark the June 1 start of another storm season, President Barack Obama toured the National Hurricane Center in Miami on Thursday, learning about storm chasing and forecasting, and urging people to stay vigilant.

He visited the windowless hollows of the Hurricane Center, where the walls are covered with maps and computer screens showing storm forecasts and models. Obama asked staff questions, particularly about advances in technology.

He also wanted to know how pilots collect storm measurements. They fly into the weather systems -- not over them -- he was told. 

"Seems dangerous," the president said. "Ever scary?"

Rick Knabb, the center's director, assuured him the trips were "generally" safe -- though Knabb recounted one incident in which a pilot lost altitude and was forced to make an emergency landing.

Jamie Rhome, leader of the center's storm surge unit, showed off a new storm surge model forecasters began using last November. Scientists also have better computers to crunch data from the radar they drop into storms, so they can make more accurate models once a system forms. 

Continue reading "President Obama tours National Hurricane Center in Miami" »

In Miami, Obama meets with family of slain journalist Steven Sotloff

@PatriciaMazzei

As part of his visit to Miami, President Obama met Thursday with the family of Steven Sotloff, the journalist who was killed last year by Islamic State.

According to the White House, Obama met with Sotloff's parents, Art and Shirley, and Sotloff's sister Lauren. The family is from Pinecrest.

"The President expressed his and the First Lady's condolences for Steven's death," the White House said. "He appreciated the chance to hear from the Sotloffs more about Steven's work as a journalist, including his passion for bringing the stories of people who are suffering to the rest of the world in the hope of making a positive difference, including in Syria.

"The President also recognized the family's '2Lives: Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Foundation,' which was created to provide support and assistance to journalists reporting from conflict torn areas of the world."

May 27, 2015

In Miami, Obama sets stage for Democratic donors to wade into 2016

@PatriciaMazzei

In Miami, the early 2016 presidential campaign has for months played out as the Jeb and Marco Show, starring two Republican hometown candidates with little attention paid to anyone else.

Now it’s Democrats’ turn to vie for the spotlight.

President Barack Obama unofficially kicked off his political party’s own local fund-raising season Wednesday, attending a pair of $33,400-per-person events in Coconut Grove to benefit the Democratic National Committee for next year’s election.

Though he didn’t name her, Obama set the stage for his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, to ramp up her own check-collecting from South Florida’s well-heeled donors. Clinton has two private receptions planned for Thursday in the Grove and Coral Gables, followed by two more events Friday in Parkland and outside Orlando.

“An eight-year span in the life of a country is pretty short,” Obama said. “We can get a lot done, but part of what we’re also doing is laying the foundation so that we then pass that baton to the next administration, and we institutionalize some of the progress that we’ve been making.”

More here.

White House 'disappointed' over Florida Medicaid-expansion impasse

@PatriciaMazzei

President Obama's two-day stop in Miami has nothing to do with Florida's upcoming special legislative session forced by a disagreement over how to fund healthcare.

But the White House couldn't avoid a reporter's question Wednesday about the president's opinion on the opposition from statehouse Republicans to expanding Medicaid under Obamacare.

"We have demonstrated a willingness to work closely with state leaders to tailor solutions" to their residents, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said when asked about the issue in a conference call with Florida reporters. "The refusal of Republican officials in Florida to put the interests of their citizens ahead of their own political arguments is something that we've been disappointed by."

Obama arrives Wednesday afternoon for a pair of Democratic Party fund-raisers. Earnest's question-and-answer session was intended to delve into the president's visit Thursday to the National Hurricane Center, where he will ask people to prepare for the annual storm season that formally begins June 1.

Yet with Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP-controlled Legislature still at odds over how to craft a state budget in the special session that begins the same day, Earnest had to address the impasse. He said the U.S. Health and Human Services Department is open to a compromise -- if Florida is.

"There are officials at HHS who continue to be in regular contact with Gov. Scott's office, and we continue to be ready and willing to engage in serious discussions about a Florida-tailored Medicaid expansion proposal that would help 750,000 people in Florida get access to quality, affordable health coverage," Earnest said.

(The number is closer to 850,000 people, according to a different study than the one cited by the White House; the figure depends on how the uninsured are measured. Both studies rely on statistical formulas to update old data.)

Politico: Was that Barack Obama strolling through streets of Havana? LOL

Politico called it "Faux-bama's" tour of Havana.

See for yourself in this photo gallery of Cuban performance artist René Francisco Rodríguez, who last week was seen walking the streets and sipping mojitos in bars dressed as the U.S. president. According to The Telegraph, Rodríguez decided to dress like Obama and record the reaction he received as part of an art performance.

May 21, 2015

President Obama to stop by National Hurricane Center during upcoming Miami visit

@PatriciaMazzei

President Obama will visit the National Hurricane Center in Miami next Thursday for a preparedness briefing in advance of the June 1 start of the annual hurricane season, according to a White House official.

The Hurricane Center is scheduled to announce its 2016 season forecast Wednesday to reporters. The Atlantic has already seen one named storm, Ana.

Also on Wednesday, Obama is scheduled to attend two Coconut Grove fund-raisers for the Democratic Party.

May 20, 2015

Florida Republicans to Obama: Keep LIP program for hospital charity care

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and 11 other Republican members of Florida's congressional delegation sent a letter Tuesday to President Obama asking him to continue the federal Low Income Pool program in Florida.

The Health and Human Services Department plans to discontinue the current form of the LIP program, which provides hospitals with charity-care funding, by June 30. That has thrown Florida's healthcare budget into disarray, forcing a special legislative session beginning June 1 for lawmakers to craft a budget. The Senate wants to expand Medicaid under Obamacare to make up for some of the lost funding; the House doesn't. The feds say they want to work with the state to reach some sort of solution.

"HHS's refusal to continue LIP funding in Florida because the state has not expanded Medicaid is an inappropriate overreach and in direct contradiction to the Supreme Court decision," the Republicans' letter reads. It notes Jackson Health System in Miami would lose $237.2 million next year, and Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach would lose $16.2 million.

"We are requesting your immediate action to reverse HHS's decision to end LIP funding," the members of Congress wrote. "The well-being of Florida's low-income families will remain in jeopardy until your administration approves funding for these vital health services.."

Among the letter's co-signers were Miami Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart, and Ponte Vedra Beach Rep. Ron DeSantis, who is running for Senate in 2016.