October 06, 2016

President Obama signs Florida emergency declaration for Hurricane Matthew

@PatriciaMazzei @ByKristenMClark

President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration for Florida on Thursday afternoon, anticipating extensive damage from the approaching Hurricane Matthew.

Gov. Rick Scott had requested the federal designation Wednesday. He and Obama spoke by phone early Thursday afternoon, according to Scott’s office, and the White House announced the emergency declaration shortly after.

Federal agencies will now be authorized to coordinate disaster relief efforts and use federal aid to assist state and local governments in dealing with the storm. The emergency designation applies to 28 counties all along Florida’s coast, from Monroe in the Florida Keys to Nassau on the Georgia border.

Scott had criticized Obama for not signing an emergency declaration as quickly as the governor would have liked after Hurricane Hermine hit Florida last month. The president eventually approved the designation for six counties.

On Thursday ahead of Matthew, Scott and Obama spoke for a few minutes just after 12:30 p.m., Scott’s spokeswoman Jackie Schutz said.

More here.

Photo credit: Kevin Dietsch, Bloomberg

October 05, 2016

Unable to travel to Miami, Obama calls into hip-hop station instead

IMG_78Obama_052915_Hurri_5_1_3M4U56L2_L130043365 (1)

Hurricane Matthew kept President Barack Obama from traveling to Miami as planned Wednesday to campaign for Hillary Clinton. So instead, the president hopped on the phone with a friendly local radio station during afternoon drive-time — the second time he’s done so in as many months.

His political task was to urge voters — especially African Americans — to register ahead of the Tuesday deadline in Florida. But first things first: Obama couldn’t avoid a storm question.

“The one thing I want everybody to do is to make sure they’re listening to their local authorities,” he told host Felisha Monet, host of “The Afternoon Hustle” on WEDR-FL, better known as 99 Jamz. “I was supposed to be in Florida today, but I couldn’t do it because I didn’t want to take away assets as people are preparing.”

Monet noted the popular hip-hop station had canceled a voter-registration drive because of the storm.

“Everybody who’s been paying attention to this campaign should know: We’ve got a big choice ahead of us. When I came into office, the country was in terrible shape,” Obama said, before pivoting to the upcoming election to say Donald Trump would “reverse” his legacy.

“Hillary Clinton would continue it,” Obama said. “So people need to make a decision about whether we’re going to continue on the progress that we’ve made.”

More here.

Photo credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald staff

October 04, 2016

Hurricane Matthew postpones Obama rally for Clinton in Miami


President Barack Obama has postponed his planned trip to Miami to campaign for Hillary Clinton in light of Hurricane Matthew.

Obama had been scheduled to rally supporters Wednesday at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens. Miami-Dade County was placed under tropical storm watch Tuesday.

The Clinton campaign has yet to reschedule the event. The president had been expected to urge South Floridians — especially African Americans — to register to vote ahead of the state’s Oct. 11 deadline.

Photo credit: Michael Bryant, TNS

October 03, 2016

Obama says Rubio was 'all over the map' on Syria

via @learyreports

President Obama, in an extensive interview with New York Magazine, criticized Sen.Marco Rubio for unevenness on Syria.

Rubio in 2013 called for a tough approach against Syria but then voted against air strikes. In a speech explaining his vote, Rubio said he was never for military engagement. He did call for arming rebels.

Here is Obama:

You take the case of Syria, which has been chewed over a lot. But it continues to puzzle me, the degree to which people seem to forget that we actually got the chemical weapons out of Syria. The notion seems to be that, “Well, you should have blown something up, even if that didn’t mean that you got chemical weapons out.” There continues to be, I think, a lack of examination of the fact that my decision was not to let Assad do whatever he wanted. My decision was to see if we could broker a deal without a strike to get those chemical weapons out, and to go to Congress to ask for authorization, because nowhere has Congress been more incoherent than when it comes to the powers I have.

You had people, I think, like Marco Rubio, who was complaining about us not doing anything, and when I said, “I’m gonna present to Congress,” suddenly he said, “Well, I’m gonna vote against it.” Maybe it was Ted Cruz. Maybe both. They’re all over the map. The primary principle—and this is not true for all of them, but for many of them—was “Just make sure that we don’t get blamed for whatever decision you make.”

Full interview here.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

October 02, 2016

Obama's rally for Clinton will be held in Miami Gardens


President Barack Obama's first Florida campaign event for Hillary Clinton in Florida will be a rally Wednesday in Miami Gardens.

The Clinton team announced the location Sunday. Obama will stump for Clinton at 4:30 p.m. at Florida Memorial University arena. Like Clinton did Friday in Coral Springs, Obama is expected to urge Floridians to register to vote ahead of the Oct. 11 deadline.

Miami Gardens is a majority African-American city; Clinton has had trouble hitting the same popularity numbers as Obama among black voters.

Tickets for the public will be available at three Clinton field offices:

Liberty City, 675 NW 62nd St.

Wynwood, 2215 NW 1st Pl.

Miami Gardens, 4773 NW 183rd St., Opa-locka

September 30, 2016

Rubio at forefront of GOP attack on new Iran deal details




Republicans led by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Marco Rubio have new ammunition in their months-long assault on the U.S. accord to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Rubio cited a Wall Street Journal article reporting that the biggest enticement for Iran to free four American hostages in January wasn't the widely reported release of $1.7 billion frozen by Washington since the 1979-80 hostage crisis.

Instead, according to the Journal, the U.S. government lifted sanctions that had blocked Iran from procuring ballistic missiles eight years earlier than allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal Tehran and Washington sealed.

"President Obama promised (that) the United States would maintain and enforce sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile activities," Rubio said Friday. "Today we learned he secretly agreed -- eight years early -- to lift sanctions on an Iranian bank the U.S. Treasury Department described as the financial linchpin of Iran's missile-procurement network."

Ryan also criticized the recently revealed provision freeing Iran to start buying ballistic missiles.

"It now appears that on the same day American hostages were freed from Iran, the administration not only agreed to the $1.7 billion cash ransom payment, but violated a key term of the nuclear deal by prematurely lifting ballistic missile sanctions."

Pressed by reporters at a briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said the United States had "conducted a very thorough review" before deciding to lift the sanctions on the banks.

Asked directly whether the review had determined that the banks were no longer tied to Iran's missile procurement, Toner responded: "Yes, I mean that's exactly right. That they were no longer carrying out actions that we believed were linked to, or linked them to, the ballistic-missile program."

He added that "we continue to have concerns about Iran's ballistic-missile program."






President Obama to campaign for Clinton in Miami

Obama Campaign 2016 Clinton (1)

President Barack Obama will campaign for Hillary Clinton in Miami next week, her campaign announced Friday, without providing many details.

"President Obama will lay out the high stakes of November's election for Florida families and highlight Clinton's vision for an America that is stronger together, with an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top," the campaign said. Obama will also encourage Floridians to register to vote.

The public can request tickets online.

The president is scheduled to attend a Miami Beach fundraiser Wednesday evening for the Democratic Governors Association. He'll be in Tampa earlier in the day to deliver a healthcare speech.

On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden will campaign for Clinton in Orlando and Sarasota.

Photo credit: Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press

President Obama's coming to Miami Beach next week

FullSizeRender (17)@PatriciaMazzei

President Barack Obama will be a "special guest" next week at a Miami Beach fundraiser for the Democratic Governors Association, according to an invitation obtained by the Miami Herald.

The reception, at the home of Democratic fundraiser and local lobbyist Alex Heckler and his wife, Tiffany, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and will also feature DGA chairman and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy.

It seems likely that the president while in town would also campaign for Hillary Clinton, as he and Michelle Obama have started to do, but the Clinton campaign has yet to announce any local events Wednesday.

President Obama will also be in Tampa that day, giving a healthcare speech.


September 29, 2016

President Obama to give health care speech Wednesday in Tampa

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will deliver a speech on the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday at University of South Florida in Tampa, the White House said.


"Located in Hillsborough County, which has a strong health care system, USF offers a diverse set of training programs for health professions and has led efforts to sign up people for health insurance," the White House said. "Further details about the President's travel to Florida will be made available in the coming days."

It's unclear whether Obama will do another event for Hillary Clinton, though he is expected to hit the road on her behalf in October.

Zika funds finally approved in late-night vote



Lawmakers had to stay late to get it done, but House passage of $1.1 billion in Zika prevention and research funds after a more than seven-month delay finally sends the bill to President Barack Obama's desk.

Despite having originally sought $1.9 billion in emergency Zika aid in February, Obama was expected to sign the broader $1.1 trillion stopgap appropriations measure that included the revamped Zika in a bid to break the partisan impasse over the money to combat the virus.

Just before 10 p.m. Wednesday, the House voted 242-85 to pass the larger spending measure funding the federal government through Dec. 9. Seventy-five Republicans and 10 Democrats voted against it, none from Florida.

The House vote came hours after the Senate approved the spending packing with Zika funds by a 72-26 vote. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Orlando both voted for the measure.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was still not ready to forgive completely GOP lawmakers who'd targeted Planned Parenthood partner clinics in Puerto Rico and added extraneous provisions to the original Zika bill, moves that contributed to its delay.

"After more than 900 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Florida, House Republicans finally allowed us to pass most of the emergency funding we need to curb this public health crisis," the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman said.

While she called the Wednesday-night vote "a welcome start for Florida's pregnant women, business owners and families affected by the Zika virus," Wasserman Schultz added: "It has come many months later than it should have."

Dr. Andrew W. Gurman, head of the American Medical Association, praised the new Zika aid.

"It has been clear over the past several months that the U.S. has needed additional resources to combat the Zika virus," Gurman said. "With the threat of the virus continuing to loom this funding will help protect more people -- particularly pregnant women and their children -- from the virus' lasting negative health effects."

Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to Zika because it can cause birth defects such as microcephaly, which causes abnormally small brains and heads in newborns.

A large chunk of the $1.1 billion for Zika would go to Florida, New York and Puerto Rico, which combined have far more infections of the virus than any other states or territories.

The National Institutes for Health would receive more than $160 million of the Zika funds to continue its recently launched first clinical trial for a vaccine and to conduct other research.

Florida had 921 Zika cases as of Wednesday, including 92 involving pregnant women. One-hundred fifteen of the state's infections were transmitted directly by mosquitos.

The virus is carried primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, but it can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse with an infected partner.

Sen. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican, praised bipartisan efforts of South Florida lawmakers to push the Zika funding.

"This is a tremendous victory for the South Florida delegation who has tirelessly worked together, from both sides of the aisle and both chambers, to raise the importance of this issue and help resolve it," he said.

In a floor speech late Wednesday, Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, also from Miami, acknowledged that "the process of getting this funding across the finish line has been frustrating at times and bogged down in unnecessary political gamesmanship."

Saying that Zika represented "an ongoing threat to the health of residents and to the economic vitality of businesses in South Florida," Curbelo praised final passage.

Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Palm Beach Democrat running for the Senate against incumbent Republican Marco Rubio, said the Zika funds "could not be more urgent as Florida quickly approaches 1,000 cases."

Republican Reps. David Jolly and Vern Buchanan, who had pushed their House Republican colleagues to approve Zika funding for months, also hailed the successful vote.




Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article104729131.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article104729131.html#storylink=cpy