November 04, 2014

Obama cuts last-minute radio ad for Charlie Crist

@PatriciaMazzei

An ad for Democrat Charlie Crist for Florida governor featuring President Barack Obama has been airing since at least Monday on a Miami radio station with a predominantly African-American audience.

"This is it, Florida," the ad begins. "This is Barack Obama."

A female narrator explains how voters can find their polling place. Then it's Obama again:

"So if want to raise Florida's minimum wage, go vote," the president says. "If you believe that every child deserves a fair shot, and that it's wrong to cut scholarships and funding for schools, go vote. If you want a governor who will fight for you, not just the wealthy and the powerful, go vote for Charlie Crist."

"Don't let anyone or anything keep you from voting," Obama concludes.

We tried to get a full recording or script from the Crist campaign Monday, but received no response -- either because they were tied up on the day before Election Day, or because the ad was intended to go under the radar. Obama is unpopular, and many Democratic campaigns have been leery of promoting their ties to the president, though Vice President Joe Biden stumped for Crist in South Florida on Sunday.

The ad is airing on at least one Miami station, WEDR-FM 99.1, better known 99 Jamz.

UPDATE: Republican Gov. Rick Scott has weighed in on the ad with a statement.

"After months of waiting, President Barack Obama is back on the campaign trail for Charlie Crist," the statement reads in part." We already know Barack Obama's policies are on the ballot in this election because he told us that himself. But, his new ad for Charlie Crist today means Charlie Crist wants you to know that too."

November 01, 2014

Obama records robocall for Miami Rep. Joe Garcia

@PatriciaMazzei

Stuck in a close reelection race, U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia has brought out the big Democratic guns to help.

Targeted Democratic voters in the 26th congressional district received an automated telephone recording Saturday asking them to vote for the congressman. The voice they heard? President Barack Obama's.

"I'm calling on behalf of Joe Garcia to remind you to vote early this election, because your vote matters, and the choice couldn't be clearer," Obama says. "Joe Garcia knows that Medicare and Social Security aren't schemes, they're promises we make to one another, they're commitments that make this country stronger, and he'll always fight to protect them."

Garcia's challenger, Republican Carlos Curbelo, who has campaigned with former Obama opponent Mitt Romney, has repeatedly tied the Democratic incumbent to the unpopular president.

"Although scandal-plagued Joe Garcia has spent the vast majority of his campaign distancing himself from President Obama, he is now praying that the President's last-minute call will help hid the fact that his campaign is under federal criminal investigation," read part of a statement released Saturday by Curbelo spokesman Wadi Gaitan.

On the campaign trail, Garcia has stressed that he's disagreed at times with Obama, and let him know about it.

But Garcia's campaign seems to be betting that the president is still popular enough -- at least among the party faithful -- to draw reticent midterm voters to the polls. The congressman plans to campaign Sunday with Vice President Joe Biden.

Listen to the robocall here.

This post has been updated with a quote from Gaitan's statement.

August 21, 2014

DNC chair Wasserman Schultz bucks lame-duck Obama on deporting unaccompanied minors

@MarcACaputo

It's August, and in Washington Democratic insider circles that usually means some anonymous person from Obama World would have something nasty to say about Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Weston's congresswoman.

But the third time wasn't the charm.

And last night it looked like Wasserman Schultz was ready to put some daylight between her and President Obama over a most-sensitive topic: the unaccompanied minors who flooded the border.

Here's Politico:

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz also thinks deporting children detained at the border is sending them back to “certain death.”

The White House went apoplectic last month when likely 2016 presidential candidate Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said, “We are not a country that should turn children away and send them back to certain death.” Tuesday night, Wasserman Schultz said twice — strongly — that she thinks O’Malley was right.

“As you know, Gov. O’Malley said that to send them back would be to send them to certain death. Do you agree with him?” Fusion’s Jorge Ramos asked in an interview.

“Not only do I agree with him, but,” the Florida congresswoman said, launching into a long story about a boy she’d met during a visit to a facility in Miami who told her of being kidnapped and forced into the drug trade, and showed her a bullet wound through the back of his arm.....

“That was the first she was hearing about Martin O’Malley,” said Wasserman Schultz’s congressional office communications director Sean Bartlett. “She was reacting to Jorge’s question and thinking about the tour she had just come from.”

Putting aside the potential political calculus of courting Hispanics or firing up liberals or simply saying something heartfel, maybe it's just a coincidence that Wasserman Schultz happened to say this now.

But regardless, the lame-duckness of President Obama is looking lamer and lamer.

March 31, 2014

Rick Scott: Obama's 'not caring about Venezuela'

@MarcACaputo

Ruth Alcalá just wants the president she twice voted for, Barack Obama, to speak forcefully about the government violence in Venezuela.

But for more than a month, she says, she and other natives of Venezuela have been “disappointed” in the administration’s relative silence, even as she gathered 1,000 signatures on a letter that calls on Obama to act -- or at least speak.

“At the least, we want to hear the president say something,” said Alcalá, a private citizen who teaches computer training in Miami.

On Monday, the 57-year-old Democrat found herself standing next to an unlikely ally: Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, who promised to personally deliver her letter to the White House and pressure Venezuela’s regime to stop cracking down on protestors.

“Mr. President, you’ve got to declare economic sanctions. You’ve got to show up,” Scott told an enthusiastic crowd of Venezuelan exiles at the Don Criollito restaurant in Kendall.

Scott contrasted Obama’s low-key Venezuela diplomacy and the president’s talks with Russia over its invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

“He cares about Ukraine. But he’s not caring about Venezuela,” Scott said.

Continue reading "Rick Scott: Obama's 'not caring about Venezuela'" »

March 20, 2014

Obama's lament at Democratic fundraiser: 'in midterms, we get clobbered'

@MarcACaputo

At the Pinecrest home of Alonzo Mourning, the basketball star’s wife, Tracy Mourning, introduced President Obama during a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser on Thursday night. But she first told a story of how her mother, a cleaning woman, struggled to make sure she felt she had everything she needed.

“When those damned Republicans are in office, I’m struggling,” Tracy Mourning said her mother would tell her.

Obama spoke shortly after 8:30 p.m. and told the wealthy donors that they need to give back to the party and the community.

Obama said he and others succeeded because of their parents. But society helped as well.

Continue reading "Obama's lament at Democratic fundraiser: 'in midterms, we get clobbered'" »

Univision personality to host DNC fundraiser with Obama at Miami home

@MarcACaputo

Another sign of the close ties between Spanish-language Univision and Democrats: Tonight's Democratic National Committee fundraiser at the Miami home Liliana Estefan, the host of the popular "El Gordo y la Flaca" show.

Estefan is quite a political catch. She's a star. She's the niece of music stars Emilio and Gloria Estefan. And the Cuban-American, along with husband Lorenzo Luaces, is a registered Republican.

The president also has a DCCC fundraiser later at the home of Alonzo Mourning.

The Estefan fundraiser underscores the affinity between Univision and the Democratic Party these days. The network is partnering with Obama's former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in an outreach effort. Univision owner Haim Saban is a major Democratic donor who said he'd back Clinton with "full might."

From Saban to a network news honcho's assistant, some at Univision have also made sure to train their fire on Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a likely 2016 White House candidate.

A spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee, Izzy Santa, took to Twitter and criticized the ties: "Univision should explain to their viewers their conflict of interest. First, HRC partnership and now fundraising for the DNC."

Univision's spokeswoman Monica Talan issued this response on Twitter: "Lili hosts an entertainment gossip show. Who or what our employees support on their own time is independent from the Company."

Where the DCCC fundraiser is open to a print pool, media access at the DNC event is closed. Don't expect Univision to report on it in depth anyway. And don't expect the national media to do the same regarding Univision.

March 16, 2014

Charlie Crist's Obamacare conundrum

@MarcACaputo

Charlie Crist is in an Obamacare box.

Opposed to Obamacare when he was a Republican, Crist is now a Democrat and is all for the Affordable Care Act.

Such flip-flops and evolutions and pirouettes make Crist’s relationship with the unpopular law one of the most-complicated in the nation.

Now it might be one of the riskiest.

Yet Crist has little choice but to embrace the law right now. Running in a primary against Nan Rich, Crist needs to prove his Democratic bona fides. The Democratic base approves of the law.

“I think it’s been great,” Crist said in a CNN interview last Sunday.

Continue reading "Charlie Crist's Obamacare conundrum" »

March 14, 2014

Ahead of Obama Miami fundraiser, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew winds up here during spring break

@MarcACaputo

One day we'll invent a predictive gauge that correlates the weather in DC with the likelihood of a federal-official's official visit to Miami.

For right now, we'll just use a simple equation: Cold weather + DC visit = official South Florida appearance.

So come on down Treasury Secretary Jack Lew! He'll be at Miami-Dade College on Wednesday, March 19 "to highlight the importance of investing in workforce skills and job training to promote lasting economic opportunity, including for the middle class."

The following day, Thursday, President Obama is to headline a decidedly non-middle-class event: a high-dollar Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee fundraiser at former NBA player Alonzo Mourning's home. The fundraiser will feature Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi, DCCC chair Steve Israel and Boca Raton Rep. Ted Deutch.

Last week, President Obama found a reason to come to Miami for an official event to discuss the "middle class" at Coral Reef Senior High School. Obama then choppered off to an exclusive Key Largo resort, the Ocean Reef Club, where he golfed with Mourning and Ahmad Rashad.

To tamp down on grumbling about his vacation time, the White House spread word that Obama might cancel the golf visit in case he had to monitor the situation in the Crimea. But Obama still went golfing. And Russia remains in de facto control of the former Ukrainian territory.

First Lady Michelle Obama came to South Florida just beforehand and also found reason to visit in February as well.

Continue reading "Ahead of Obama Miami fundraiser, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew winds up here during spring break" »

March 05, 2014

Obama's Friday South FL schedule: praise Miami schools, maybe vacation at Ocean Reef

@MarcACaputo

President Obama's travel schedule Friday to South Florida is still being guarded with silence, but it looks as if he's planning to visit a Miami-Dade school or schools and make some sort of announcement, likely to shower praise or announce an initiative.

The First Lady might be there. An initial White House advisory said the president would have an event about the middle class. Whether that's another event or one of the ones mentioned above is unclear.

After the event/s, word in the Florida Keys is that the president might stop at the Ocean Reef Club in north Key Largo. A secluded, Republican-leaning bastion, Ocean Reef isn't the kind of place where everyone appreciates the president's visit, especially with all of the heightened security that comes with it.

Then there's the matter of irony: The Ocean Reef Club is about as far away from middle class as you can get in Key Largo.

The Key West Citizen tried to get some answers but was met with silence.

Oh well, it's not like local taxpayers are footing the bill for all the security....oh....wait. They are?

And it's not like presidential motorcades shut down traffic at inopportune times. Although, according to the Sun Times, Keys drivers might be spared the inconvenience because the president is arriving at Ocean Reef via helicopter.

The silence and costs associated with presidential travel are nothing new. Republicans and Democrats alike do it.

Still, expect Republicans to make noise about President Obama's near silence over the violence in Venezuela, which has particular salience in exile-heavy South Florida. Last Friday, Gov. Rick Scott challenged Obama to address the issue of Venezuela and sanctions, perhaps in Doral.

Looks like the president has other interests.

March 03, 2014

Venezuela's the new Cuba

@MarcACaputo

Venezuela is the new Cuba.

“I listen to this stuff about Cuba and I listen to what’s happening in Venezuela. They’re very similar — not just in the repression part, but the economics part,” Florida’s Marco Rubio explained on the U.S. Senate floor last Monday as he condemned the violence in Venezuela.

“They look more and more like Cuba economically and politically every single day.”

There’s a third similarity: Venezuela is a new way to talk about Cuba, particularly in the exilic hothouse of Florida.

For Republicans, who have watched the once-reliable Cuban-American GOP vote lean more Democratic, Venezuela provides a fresh way to remind voters about the failures of a socialist-totalitarian state. And Havana’s role in the unrest in Caracas and San Cristóbal provides a new counter to those who want to lift the embargo against Cuba.

Rubio made that case Monday. But there’s more to Rubio’s speech than merely keeping the embargo in place.

Column here


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/03/02/3969446/marc-caputo-venezuela-joins-cuba.html#.UxPmwc0et30.twitter#storylink=cpy