August 17, 2016

Diaz-Balart's awkward political position when it comes to Trump

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@PatriciaMazzei

In blue, Hispanic Miami-Dade County, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart is an outlier: He's the only local Republican congressman who's maintained he'll vote for Donald Trump.

Except Diaz-Balart doesn't actually say Trump. His written statements mention backing the "nominee." When he goes on Spanish-language TV news shows, Diaz-Balart makes a point to separate himself from some of Trump's positions and comments.

So, is Diaz-Balart reconsidering?

Diaz-Balart's spokeswoman, Katrina Valdes, referred a Miami Herald reporter to the congressman's statement from May, in which he said he intended to vote for "the Republican nominee" and wouldn't consider voting for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"Obviously, there are some basic Republican principles the nominee must adhere to: set forth an economic agenda that will revitalize our economy and provide robust resources for our military, provide unwavering support to America's best allies, such as Israel, Great Britain, Taiwan, and Poland, to name a few, confront our enemies and adversaries in places like Cuba, North Korea, and Iran, and support the opposition movements and heroic leaders within those countries," Diaz-Balart said at the time. "These are things that have to be addressed."

So far, in Diaz-Balart's view, Trump hasn't addressed those issues, Valdes said.

The congressman, she added, has been in touch with the Trump campaign by phone to try to get "clarification."

Photo credit: José A. Iglesias, el Nuevo Herald

August 16, 2016

The Spanish-language TV debate ended. Then Joe Garcia lashed out at the moderator

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@PatriciaMazzei

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia was fuming when the cameras stopped rolling Monday night at the end of his first televised debate against Miami Democratic primary opponent Annette Taddeo.

Angered over what he perceived as bias against him, Garcia stepped into a hallway just outside the recording studio of Spanish-language station América TeVé and lashed out — loudly — at moderator Felix Guillermo and, later, at station manager Miguel Cossio, according to several people who overheard the heated argument.

Two people said they heard Garcia say “comemierda,” a common local insult usually taken to mean “fool” or “jackass,” though it literally translates to “shit-eater.” On Tuesday afternoon, Cossio and Guillermo vehemently denied to the Miami Herald that Garcia used the word against either of them.

“I wouldn’t have allowed that,” Cossio said. “He never insulted me,” Guillermo said.

The exchange lasted a few minutes, according to the people who heard it, with Garcia unleashing his frustration after a debate he apparently felt did not go well. América TeVé employees appeared surprised and embarrassed by the dust-up — especially because Taddeo still hadn’t left the station.

Guillermo dismissed the incident as an “internal” matter. “Nothing happened,” he told the Herald on Tuesday morning.

More here.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff

August 15, 2016

Rubio won't say whom he voted for in Miami-Dade mayor's race

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@PatriciaMazzei @alextdaugherty

Marco Rubio is happy to tell voters that he cast his early ballot Monday for himself in Florida's Republican race for U.S. Senate.

But don't ask him which other candidates he selected.

"I'm not going to tell you," he told a Miami Herald reporter who asked him about his choice in the Miami-Dade County mayor's race. "That would be an endorsement."

Later, after casting his ballot at the West Miami Community Center, Rubio continued to stay mum on the non-partisan mayoral contest chiefly between incumbent Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado.

Both are Republicans. Regalado was an early supporter of Rubio's presidential candidacy, while Gimenez endorsed him after rival Jeb Bush ended his campaign. Unlike Rubio, neither Gimenez nor Regalado back Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

"To be honest with you, I know them both. I know them well," Rubio said. "I'm just not going to take a position publicly on that race."

Rubio has endorsed in a far smaller municipal race, for Miami Lakes mayor. He's backing Councilman Manny Cid over incumbent Mayor Michael Pizzi and former Mayor Wayne Slaton.

Photo credit: Roberto Koltun, el Nuevo Herald

Rubio doesn't take back calling Trump a 'con man'

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@PatriciaMazzei

In the heat of the Republican presidential primary, Marco Rubio called Donald Trump a “con man.” And he doesn’t take it back.

“I’ve stood by everything I ever said in my campaign,” Rubio told the Miami Herald editorial board Monday.

But Rubio still supports Trump for president. In fact, Rubio insists, Trump is partly why he reversed himself and chose to run for the U.S. Senate again.

“We’re in a different place now. Now we have a binary choice — not a choice between 15 people or 12 people. There are two people in the world that are going to be the next president, either Donald or HillaryClinton, he said. “In our republic, while the presidency is powerful, there is a balance of power in this country, and a significant amount of it resides in the United States Senate. It’s one of the reasons why I seek to run again.”

Rubio rejected the idea that on foreign policy, one of his signature areas of expertise, his views align more with Clinton’s than Trump’s.

“I disagree with many of her foreign-policy positions,” he said, rattling off a list of criticisms on how the Obama administration handled Russia, ISIS, the Syrian civil war, Libya after the Arab Spring and the Iran nuclear deal.

More here.

Photo credit: Roberto Koltun, el Nuevo Herald

Taddeo releases 2nd TV ad in Miami congressional race

 

@PatriciaMazzei

Joe Garcia, who?

Annette Taddeo released her second TV ad Monday -- and, like her first spot, it ignores her Democratic rival for Congress and takes aim at the Republican presidential nominee instead.

"Our kids are counting on us to ensure working families can thrive, to protect healthcare for moms and daughters," Taddeo says in the ad, "and to take a stand against the offensive rhetoric from Donald Trump that hurts so many of us."

Trump won't be on the Aug. 30 ballot when Taddeo and Garcia face off in the Democratic primary for Florida's 26th congressional district. They're vying to challenge Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo -- a Trump opponent -- on Nov. 8.

 

August 11, 2016

No suspense here: Rubio sweeps Miami-Dade GOP straw poll

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@PatriciaMazzei

Not even the chairman of the Miami-Dade County Republican Party pretended the results of Thursday night's U.S. Senate straw poll would be a surprise.

"The very difficult tally," Nelson Diaz joked when executive committee members returned from counting the votes.

Hometown Sen. Marco Rubio won 58 votes. Rival Carlos Beruff won three. Four people left their ballots blank.

None of the candidates were present, though Rubio sent Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera in his stead. But Rubio called in to say thank you once the vote was in. 

"I don't even think I can get 95 percent in my own house, so I'm very grateful for that," he said.

He explained his absence by saying he was campaigning in Naples and taking one of his daughters to an event.

Photo credit: Lynne Sladky, Associated Press

August 10, 2016

Once friends, Garcia and Taddeo become foes in tense Miami congressional primary

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@PatriciaMazzei

Not long ago, when Miami Democrat Joe Garcia was trying to get elected to one of the most volatile congressional seats in the country, he asked a stalwart friend if she could house a campaign worker who needed a place to stay.

That friend, Annette Taddeo, said yes.

Now Garcia is running again, this time as a former congressman two years out of office. His Democratic primary opponent is none other than his old friend: Taddeo.

And the motivation for her candidacy, as she explains it, is personal disappointment with Garcia, whose campaign got tied up in two separate criminal investigations connected to past elections shenanigans.

“That was just, to me, the ultimate kick in the gut,” she told the Miami Herald editorial board this week. “I don’t care that you’re a Democrat or a Republican — it’s just not right to play with the voters’ intent and to try to rig elections.”

Garcia, whose name is so well known in the district that he hasn’t spent serious money on the primary, maintains voters will see beyond his past legal troubles because they liked his work while in Congress.

“What you haven’t seen from me are false attacks,” he told the editorial board.

How Garcia and Taddeo went from chummy allies to tense rivals is a story about the extraordinary, often scandal-plagued politics of Florida’s 26th congressional district, a coveted prize among national Republicans and Democrats wrestling for control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

More here.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff

Wasserman Schultz says she'll debate Canova on TV this Sunday

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@PatriciaMazzei

The campaign of U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston said Wednesday it will debate Democratic primary opponent Tim Canova on Sunday, on Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4's "Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede."

DeFede said on Twitter that Canova has yet to confirm his attendance. Canova's campaign was told of Wasserman Schultz's willingness to debate only Wednessay afternoon.

Canova has clamored for a debate for weeks. Wasserman Schultz told the Herald editorial board last week that she would face off against the Nova Southeastern University law professor, her first challenger in 24 years.

"I look forward to a thoughtful conversation and robust debate that addresses the issues important to the people of Florida’s 23rd Congressional district," Wasserman Schultz said in a statement.

Photo credit: Shannon Kaestle, Miami Herald staff

Rubio names South Florida backers, and the list is long

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio might be comfortably running in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, but he's still doing things like lining up names of GOP supporters across Florida, in a show of force against rival Carlos Beruff.

Rubio's South Florida "grassroots leadership team" completes his region-by-region effort to bring together the party's establishment and activists behind his re-election. Beruff has repeatedly scoffed at the tactic, saying he's running an insurgent, outsider campaign. Polls show him trailing ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

Here's Rubio's South Florida list:

Continue reading "Rubio names South Florida backers, and the list is long" »

August 08, 2016

Libertarian VP nominee courts Miami anti-Trump Republican congressman

Campaign 2016 Libertarian
@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo got a phone call Monday from a vice-presidential nominee looking to win his support.

It wasn't Republican Mike Pence. It wasn't Democrat Tim Kaine.

No, Curbelo spoke instead to Bill Weld, the VP nominee for the Libertarian Party. Weld, a former Republican Massachusetts governor, is running with former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (pictured above).

"It was a very pleasant conversation," said Curbelo, who said the call lasted about 10 minutes.

Johnson and Weld have been trying to pick off support on Capitol Hill -- particularly from dissatisfied Republicans such as Curbelo, who refuses to vote for his party's presidential nominee, Donald Trump, or for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Last week, Curbelo praised the Libertarian ticket on Twitter while Johnson and Weld were answering questions in a CNN town hall.

Curbelo won't say if he'll back the Libertarian ticket. But Johnson won his first congressional endorsement Saturday from U.S. Rep. Scott Rigell, a Virginia Republican.

Johnson would need to average 15 percent support in certain national polls to qualify for a presidential debate. The same is true for the other major third-party candidate, the Green Party's Jill Stein. Johnson is averaging about 8 percent, and Stein about 4 percent, according to RealClear Politics.

Photo credit: John Raoux, Associated Press