October 28, 2016

Ros-Lehtinen, Wilson head to Haiti to check out Hurricane Matthew relief


Two Miami-area members of Congress will travel to Haiti this weekend to check out Hurricane Matthew relief efforts, their offices announced Friday.

Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami and Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens will fly commercial Saturday and remain in Haiti through Sunday. During their trip, they're scheduled to receive briefings from the U.S. Embassy and the United Nations mission in Haiti. They will also make their way to hard-hit Jeremie and meet with the Haitian prime minister.

"Haiti has suffered through an earthquake and hurricanes in recent years and the U.S. will remain committed to help in the humanitarian response but it is crucial that our assistance is getting to those most affected who are in desperate need of food, water, shelter, and sanitation services," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "I look forward to meeting with U.S. and UN officials, as well as relief workers, to examine the distribution of essential humanitarian services."

Wilson also issued a statement.

"I represent members of one of the nation’s largest Haitian-American communities," the statement read in part. "Many of my constituents still have deep ties to Haiti and are desperate for accurate accounts of the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew from sources they can trust. More important, witnessing and assessing the damage firsthand is the best way to determine the different types and levels of support Haiti will need to rebuild."

Biden endorses Garcia for Congress


Following in the footsteps of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden on Friday endorsed Joe Garcia, giving the Miami Democrat more high-profile support in his contested race for Congress.

"As a former Congressman, Joe fought to pass comprehensive immigration reform, make college more affordable, and protect access to health care for all," Biden said in a statement provided by Garcia's campaign. "Hardworking Floridians and their families can count on Joe to continue fighting for them in Congress and to keep moving Florida and our country forward."

Obama backed Garcia on Monday. He's trying to unseat Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a freshman representing Florida's 26th district. Neither Obama nor Biden have scheduled any campaign appearances with Garcia.

"There are few people who advocate for working and middle class families more passionately than Vice President Joe Biden, so I’m honored to have his support," Garcia said in a statement.

October 27, 2016

John Mica, the Florida Republican who made Trump's new Washington hotel possible

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - In a ballroom room splashed with neon and sparkling chandeliers, Donald Trump and his family Wednesday celebrated the opening of Trump International Hotel and paid homage to the man who made it possible: Florida Rep. John Mica.

The Orlando-area Republican led the effort to put the Old Post Office building up for lease and Trump won the bid, his daughter Ivanka playing a key role in negotiations. She mentioned Mica during the event yesterday, recalling how as chairman of the House Transportation and Public Assets Subcommittee, he held a news conference several years ago in the then-vacant building.

"It was without heat and in the freezing cold, he admonished the crowd about government excess and noted that the Old Post Office was losing the U.S. government between $6 and $8 million dollars a year,” Ivanka Trump said.

“At a committee hearing following our soft opening last month, Congressman Mica said that Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C, is now creating hundreds of jobs and is a stellar example of turning under-utilized federal property around with the help of the private sector."

Trump is paying the government $3 million a year over the course of the 60-year lease.

Democrats tried to use the Trump connection against Mica, who is fighting for political survival against political newcomer Stephanie Murphy

“As Ivanka Trump highlighted today, John Mica pulled out all the stops to help Donald Trump with his luxury DC hotel project,” the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a statement. “Mica has not only helped Trump line his own pockets, he’s stood by Trump every step of the way, even after he was caught bragging about sexual assault.”

Mica, in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times on Wednesday, said the deal shows he can get things done and save taxpayer money.

“They won it fair and square in open competition against Marriott, against Hilton and all the national chains," Mica said. "It will produce revenue for taxpayers for decades to come. It employs I think 600-800 people."

In July 2014, Mica's office produced this video:


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Photo credit: Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS


West Wing's Josh Lyman calls Curbelo one of 'real heroes' on climate change


Actor Bradley Whitford, best known for his portrayal of Josh Lyman on NBC's "The West Wing," was probably not on Carlos Curbelo's list of political campaign surrogates.

Yet there was Whitford, who's known to be a Democratic activist, being interviewed on NBC's "Today Show" Thursday morning -- and mentioning the Miami Republican congressman by name.

Whitford was plugging his work for National Geographic's "Years of Living Dangerously" series. An upcoming episode titled "Gathering Storm" features Whitford exploring the Citizens' Climate Lobby's efforts to get Congress to act on the threat of climate change.

"My particular thing was dealing with Republicans who have been resistant to acknowledge the science on climate change," Whitford told "Today." "And there's some real heroes in Congress: Carlos Curbelo from the 26th district in Florida has shown that he really wants to work on this."

Curbelo and his Republican allies have been campaigning on his climate-change stance -- a key issue in his Westchester-to-Key West district. His Democratic challenger is former Rep. Joe Garcia.



October 25, 2016

DCCC compares Curbelo to Trump in new TV ad


The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee keeps trying to link Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo to Donald Trump, even if Curbelo isn't backing him for president.

In a new TV ad, the DCCC compares Curbelo to Trump on offshore oil drilling, immigration and Social Security. Curbelo is being challenged by Democrat Joe Garcia.

"Curbelo supports drilling offshore -- just like Trump," the ad says. "Curbelo's been sending campaign cash to help anti-immigrant politicians.... Carlos Curbelo calls Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme.' You know who else says that? Donald Trump."

The ad is a mash-up of past DCCC Curbelo ads, including one PolitiFact Florida found misleading on the oil-drilling claim. Curbelo asked TV stations to yank the ad as a result.

As for funding other politicians, Curbelo created a committee he said would support other Republicans who back immigration reform. Some of the committee's beneficiaries, however, have sounded less than eager to adopt reforms, though Curbelo insists they're privately open to at least talking about it.

Curbelo and Trump have both called Social Security a Ponzi scheme.

'Scandals. Corruption. Convictions': House GOP-backed super PAC debuts anti-Garcia ad


Democrat Joe Garcia gets a dramatic, black-and-white treatment in a new attack ad by a House Republican super PAC.

The ad, to begin airing Tuesday, refers to the convictions of Garcia's former chief of staff in a pair of campaign-related cases.

"Scandals. Corruption. Convictions," the ad says. "We can't let Joe Garcia run his scheme on us again."

Paying for the political commercial is Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC backed by the House GOP caucus. It's spending $1.4 million to try to help Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo hold on to the swing 26th district. The super PAC originally thought its campaign would cost $1.7 million, but the media buy was a bit less costly than expected.)

"Joe Garcia has spent more time answering for scandals, corruption, and convictions than standing up for Floridians," Congressional Leadership Fund spokeswoman Ruth Guerra said in a statement. "Floridians have had enough of Joe Garcia's schemes. That's why they've rejected him once, and they’ll do it again."

Garcia has repeatedly noted that he was never charged with any wrongdoing.

October 24, 2016

Obama endorses Joe Garcia for Congress


President Barack Obama endorsed Democrat Joe Garcia for Congress in Florida's competitive 26th district, Garcia's campaign announced in a statement Monday.

"Over the last eight years, we've made tremendous strides towards making our nation safer, stronger, and fairer, but it's clear that to continue this progress, we need to send more commonsense leaders like Joe back to Congress to get things done for the middle class," Obama said.

"Joe is a champion for South Florida families and isn't afraid to take on the tough fights, like defending a woman's right to make her own healthcare decisions, protecting Social Security and Medicare, making sure we keep our sacred promises to our nation's veterans and their families, and addressing the crushing burden of student loan debt felt by so many Florida students and families."

Over the last few days, the president has waded into down-ballot Democratic races, in a coordinated effort with Hillary Clinton's campaign to win more seats in Congress and state legislatures. Obama tore into U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio at a Clinton rally in Miami Gardens last week, urging voters to choose Democrat Patrick Murphy instead. But the president didn't mention Garcia, who was at the rally. Garcia didn't have a speaking role, either, but his campaign says he will get to say something Monday ahead of a Tim Kaine rally at Florida International University. Garcia is trying to unseat freshman Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

"Barack Obama has spent the past eight years doing the right thing," Garcia said in a statement about the president's endorsement. "In Washington I'll work to expand on Obama's vision for our country so that every South Floridian can get ahead and stay ahead."

October 23, 2016

Carlos Curbelo, Joe Garcia and the fight for women voters


@NewsbySmiley @PatriciaMazzei

For months, Joe Garcia and national Democrats have relentlessly cast Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo as a Donald Trump Republican — or worse — arguing that votes the freshman Curbelo has taken with the House GOP caucus make his actions more serious than Trump’s words.

In a debate televised Sunday, Curbelo tried to turn the tables — and compared Garcia to Trump.

“I respect women, and you don’t,” Curbelo shot at Garcia, pointing a finger at him during WPLG-ABC 10’s “This Week in South Florida.”

At issue was a secretly recorded tape last month that caught Garcia characterizing Hillary Clinton as sexually unappealing — which host Michael Putney played on air. That tape came out nearly a month before The Washington Post released a 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording showing Trump bragging about forcing himself on women.

“I said something stupid,” Garcia conceded. But, he added about Curbelo: “Everything he just said is completely false.”

More here.

Former Colombian president to campaign with Rubio


Marco Rubio plans an only-in-Miami campaign stop Sunday morning: An event at a Doral Colombian restaurant with former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

The conservative Uribe is beloved by ex-pat Colombians who joined Rubio at the same restaurant, Mondongo, earlier this month after the South American country voted down a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. The deal was put forth by sitting Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who despite the loss at the polls was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In two Spanish-language radio interviews last week, Rubio argued South Floridians should keep a loud voice on Latin American policy in the Senate. His opponent, Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, doesn't campaign on U.S. policy toward Latin America, he argued.

"If I'm not in the Senate, who's going to be the leader on these topics?" Rubio said Thursday on Radio Caracol, which caters to Colombians. (He praised New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez as his Democratic counterpart on those issues.)

Rubio will be joined by Miami's three Republican members of Congress seeking reelection: Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Frederica Wilson cuts radio ad for Clinton: 'We can't let a man like that become president'


The latest voice for Hillary Clinton on Florida radio: Miami Gardens Rep. Frederica Wilson.

"By now, most of you have heard all about Donald Trump," the Democratic congresswoman says in the minute-long ad. "What he says about women, calling them fat pigs, attacking people because of their religion, what they look like and where they come from. Insulting President Obama and threatening to tear down all the progress we've made.

"We can't let a man like that become president."

Wilson has been lending a hand to the campaign in person, too: She got a shout-out from Obama on Thursday when he campaigned at Florida Memorial University, which is in her district.