WASHINGTON -- Less than a minute into his news conference this afternoon calling for an end to politics over Zika funding, Gov. Rick Scott swung hard at Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson for voting against a funding bill last week that Democrats say is an attack on Planned Parenthood.
“He turned the back on Floridians,” Scott charged, a striking accusation lobbed the second floor of the Hart Senate Office Building.
Moments earlier Scott declared: "I'm here because the time for politics is over. The time for political debate has passed."
Scott on Tuesday began a two day tour of Capitol Hill to press for funding. He did not reach out to Nelson, whom could see Scott challenge him for re-election in 2018.
"In a health care crisis, there is no excuse for partisanship," Nelson said in interview earlier Tuesday. "That's all I can say." In a statement after Scott spoke, Nelson added: “Just as we’re about to reach a deal to pass a clean emergency Zika funding bill, the governor chooses to fly up here and stir things up politically. He should know better. This is a serious situation, not a time for partisan politics.”
Democrats have objected to a GOP bill that included policy riders, including one they say is designed to prevent money to Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico. The Zika virus can be transmitted sexually.
Nelson has joined in that criticism but has been a vocal advocate on the Zika issue and has worked with Sen. Marco Rubio, who agrees a "clean" bill should be taken up, even though he's voted for the measure Scott knocked Nelson over. On Tuesday, Nelson joined a bipartisan group of House members in calling for more urgent action.
WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of Florida lawmakers -- including one of the most liberal and the most conservative in Congress -- pressed Tuesday for a "clean" $1.1 billion spending measure to combat the Zika virus.
"This is a big moment in the history of Florida. If I'm being urged to vote to spend big money overseas for bombs, by God I'm going to vote for financial bombs to go after a bad mosquito in order to save babies," said Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Bonita Springs, a staunch fiscal conservative.
Clawson took the lead in the funding measure and was joined at a news conference at the Capitol by a gaggle of Republicans and Democrats, including Sen. Bill Nelson, liberal firebrand Alan Grayson, Senate candidate Patrick Murphy and Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Frederica Wilson, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, David Jolly and Gwen Graham.
"Unfortunately this has become a partisan game in Washington, D.C.," said Murphy, whose campaign shortly after issued a statement blasting Sen. Marco Rubio for not attending the news conference.
The cohesive Florida effort comes late, however, and a stalemate over funding appears to be lifting as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell plans to insert $1.1 billion in a short-term budget deal, Senate officials confirmed Tuesday. It would not include policy riders that Democrats say were designed to attack Planned Parenthood. Rubio spoke about the deal on the Senate floor.
Nine Florida members of Congress asked Gov. Rick Scott to use his Tuesday visit to Washington to advocate for a "clean" Zika funding bill, free of any politically charged amendments that would make it more difficult for the legislation to win bipartisan approval.
"The stakes are too high to allow partisan riders to hold up this critical support, and existing funding is set to run out by the end of this month," the lawmakers wrote in a letter. "There are over 300 cases of Zika in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, 84 of which involve pregnant women. For pregnant mothers in areas with Zika, not knowing whether one mosquito bite will dramatically alter their unborn child’s life is a daily fear, especially in South Florida, where mosquitos are year-round inhabitants."
The letter, led by Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, was signed by Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach, Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, Kathy Castor of Tampa and Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens. They were joined by two Miami Republicans, Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Scott will be on Capitol Hill lobbying for Zika money through Wednesday.
Marco Rubio is attacking challenger Patrick Murphy in a new TV ad titled "Truth" that ends on a dark note: "Patrick Murphy: Just too many lies."
The spot, which relies on a narrator and the voice of Murphy and news reporters, hits Murphy for embellishing his business résumé and academic record, and for being "one of the least effective members of Congress."
PolitiFact has rated as Mostly False two claims from news reports about Murphy's having "never" been a CPA or a small businessman. The Rubio ad, however, says Murphy was never licensed as a CPA in Florida, which is true. It's unknown how much of the business Murphy owned. PolitiFact has also found the ineffectiveness claim, from an outside group, to be Mostly False because the group's methodology narrowly focused on legislation passed out of committee.
The Miami Herald reported earlier this year that Murphy's website claimed he graduated with two degrees -- but really it was one degree with two majors.
Marco Rubio has put out his first TV ad of the general election in Spanish. It's a translated version of a spot he's already aired in English.
The spot, airing in Miami's crowded Spanish-language TV market, features the mother of a young woman who had breast cancer. She talks about how, desperate for an experimental drug for her daughter, she contacted Rubio's office -- and they helped her.
"He didn't hesitate for a second," Blanquita Trabold of Orlando says of the Florida Republican senator.
Her daughter, she adds, implored her, "Never forget what he did for us."
Joe Garcia, the former Miami Democratic congressman running for his old seat, told supporters in a candid moment over the weekend that Hillary Clinton "is under no illusions that you want to have sex with her, or that she's going to seduce you."
Why Garcia went there is unclear. He was secretly recorded by a political "tracker" as he spoke informally at a Key West Democratic campaign office opening Saturday, video obtained by the Miami Herald shows.
The video -- recorded upside down as if a cellphone was in the tracker's hand -- showed Garcia standing in an office hallway with a few other men, apparently before Garcia was scheduled to address the full crowd. Clinton signs decorate some of the walls.
"I believe that we're going to have -- I'll mention it when I speak -- I believe we're about to see the most consequential presidency that we've seen since Lyndon Johnson," Garcia says. "This is not because I think Hillary Clinton is the greatest ever. But I do believe she is extremely, exceedingly competent, and she -- I know this is going to sound weird to you, but to me, as somebody who studies history, she's going to be very similar to Lyndon Johnson.
"Lyndon Johnson wasn't a particularly charming man, wasn't a particularly nice man: He would ask you nice, and then when you didn't do it, he made you do it," Garcia continued. "And Hillary is under no illusions that you want to have sex with her, or that she's going to seduce you, or out-think you."
One of the men in the hallway then makes an inaudible comment.
"I don't want to be offensive to women," Garcia responds. "What I'm talking about is exactly that: It's getting it done. Unlike Obama, who has this profound sense that logic can move people -- it can't move crazy. That's trending in the Republican Party."
Garcia then recommends listening to the Johnson tapes, admiring how Johnson got votes for the Civil Rights Act by calling senators from Western states by threatening to kill money for their water projects.
Asked to explain why he would refer to someone wanting to have sex with Clinton, Garcia issued a statement to the Herald.
"I believeSecretary Clinton is the most competent and qualified presidential candidate in the history of this country, man or woman," he said. "My comments speak to Secretary Clinton's focus on getting things done, and not on the gender stereotypes and biases women in public life are frequently subjected to. I fully support Hillary Clinton for president, and I'm confident she will be one of our country's most effective presidents."
National Republicans, however, cast Garcia's remark as embarrassing.
"It's shameful and disgusting that Joe Garcia would describe Hillary Clinton's qualifications to serve as president in terms of whether or not he would have sexual relations with her," National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Katie Martin said in a statement. "It's time for national Democrats to answer whether they are going to support a sexist candidate like Joe Garcia who would say such sexually disparaging things about the first-ever female Democratic nominee for President of the United States."
Several hours later, Garcia issued a second statement -- this time saying sorry.
"I apologize for my poorly worded comment about Secretary Clinton," he said. "My comments were intended to speak to Secretary Clinton's relentless focus on getting the job done, despite the unjust gender stereotypes and biases women in public life are subjected to."
This post has been updated to include Garcia's second statement.
Marco Rubio has snagged a Bush to raise money for him -- and it's not his former presidential rival, Jeb.
Former President George W. Bush will headline a pair of fundraisers for Rubio next month, the Miami Herald has learned.
On Oct. 14, Bush will be the "special guest" at a Miami luncheon for Rubio. He will then play the same role at a Palm Beach reception. The campaign has yet to announce the location for either event, but donors were sent "save the date" invitations Monday.
The Palm Beach event was first reported by the Palm Beach Post. Rubio's Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy, is a congressman in nearby Jupiter.
The minimum contribution requested to attend either gathering is $2,700. Give $25,000 and participate in a "chairman's roundtable and discussion" with Bush.
Normally it would hardly be newsworthy for a major labor union to endorse a Democrat for Congress.
But the Service Employees International Union didn't back Joe Garcia in the primary for Florida's 26th congressional district. It backed his primary rival, Annette Taddeo, instead, a week before Garcia even entered the race. Garcia won.
On Monday, SEIU formally threw its support behind him, backing the former congressman over the incumbent, Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.
"Joe has the support of working families because working families know they can count on Joe," SEIU Florida Monica Russo said in a statement delivered by Garcia's campaign. "Joe has been in the trenches fighting alongside South Florida workers for years, advocating for higher wages, immigrant rights, affordable healthcare, women's right to choose, renewable energy, and more! He is not an average Joe, he is a champion for the working class."
The political arm of one of the country's largest environmental groups has cut TV ads in English and Spanish supporting Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo -- the first sign of outside money on the air in the competitive South Florida congressional race.
EDF Action, an arm of the moderate Environmental Defense Fund, recently announced its plans to back Curbelo's reelection. His district, the southernmost in Florida, is surrounded by the Florida Everglades, the Florida Keys and Biscayne National Park.
"Congressman Curbelo has been a strong voice for climate action and clean energy," EDF Action President Elizabeth Thompsonsaid in an Aug. 29 statement. "If we're going to solve this great challenge, we'll need bipartisan support -- and leaders like Carlos Curbelo. He recognizes that clean energy jobs are booming and it's time that the Sunshine State got its fair share."
Curbelo faces a Democratic challenge from former Rep. Joe Garcia.