October 11, 2016

Rubio stands by Trump

GOP 2016 Debate (1)

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday he’s not revoking his endorsement of Donald Trump, despite Trump’s lewd and vulgar comments in a 2005 recording about groping women without their consent.

“I ran against Donald Trump. And while I respect that voters chose him as the GOP nominee, I have never hesitated to oppose his policies I disagree with,” Rubio said in a statement. “And I have consistently rejected his offensive rhetoric and behavior. I disagree with him on many things, but I disagree with his opponent on virtually everything.

“I wish we had better choices for President. But I do not want Hillary Clinton to be our next President. And therefore my position has not changed.”

More here.

Photo credit: Associated Press

October 10, 2016

SEIU backs Republican Ros-Lehtinen


The Service Employees International Union, which tends to back Democrats, has endorsed the reelection of Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

"Through her work on behalf of South Florida's working families, Ileana has shown a record of results for our community," SEIU Florida Monica Russo said in a statement. "The members of SEIU are proud to endorse Ileana because she is a partner in our quest to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, raise living and working conditions for health care and other professionals as well as for the most vulnerable, our seniors. She also supports a functional immigration system that will strengthen families and communities."

Ros-Lehtinen faces Democratic challenger Scott Fuhrman in Miami's 27th congressional district.

"I'm honored to receive the support of the hardworking men and women of the SEIU," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "I work every day for South Florida families. I look forward to their help throughout the campaign as I speak with voters about my focus on improving our economy."

Paul Ryan to hold Curbelo fundraiser Oct. 19

FullSizeRender (18)@PatriciaMazzei @AmySherman1

House Speaker Paul Ryan will collect checks for Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo on Oct. 19 in South Florida, according to an invitation obtained by the Miami Herald.

Ryan announced last week he would travel the country to support vulnerable members of Congress, including the freshman Curbelo, who faces a challenge from Democrat Joe Garcia.

Curbelo donors have been asked to contribute at least $1,000 and as much as $10,000 to attend the Ryan fundraiser, which will take place just a few hours before the third and final presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Ryan said Monday he would stop defending Trump and focus on preserving the GOP's House majority after The Washington Post revealed a 2005 recording showing Trump speaking in vulgar terms about making unwanted sexual advances at women and grabbing them by the genitals.

Curbelo never backed Trump and also denounced his remarks.

Congress more stingy on providing disaster relief than it once was


NP-HurricaneMatthewAid-101016-Dan08 MathewNFL NEW PPP


The final damage tally from Hurricane Matthew across Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas isn't yet known, but it’s certain those states will ask Congress for billions in disaster aid.

President Barack Obama, after speaking with their governors, suggested that he’ll be seeking emergency funds for damage from Matthew and earlier storms when lawmakers convene after the Nov. 8 election, and Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Marco Rubio said Florida was certain to seek assistance.

“While the state has yet to commence an assessment of damage due to unsafe conditions remaining in many areas, we must be prepared for the long road of recovery ahead,” Rubio wrote Friday in a letter backing up a request from Scott that Obama declare Matthew a “major disaster” for his state, a designation that would allow it to seek more emergency aid from Washington.

For more, read here.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, El Nuevo Herald


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/national/article106789687.html#storylink=cpy


Murphy speaks Spanish in latest ad, hitting Rubio on immigration


Patrick Murphy is going after Marco Rubio on immigration reform -- with a twist. In his latest TV ad, Murphy speaks directly to viewers in Spanish.

"On immigration, Marco Rubio and I are different," Murphy says in the new 30-spot. "I worked with President Obama on this topic while Sen. Rubio changed position. Now, he opposes immigration reform. Worse, Rubio supports Donald Trump. His plan would deport 800,000 children, destroying families."

Murphy's past Spanish-language political commercials have featured narrators other than himself. That's because he doesn't speak the language. But Rubio does, and that presents a challenge for Murphy, who polls show is still unknown among significant numbers of Hispanic voters, especially Spanish-dominant ones. Some might be willing to vote for him -- outside of Cuban Americans, Florida's Hispanics lean Democratic -- but they don't know who he is, 29 days removed from the election.

Cutting ads in languages in which candidates aren't fluent is always a political risk. Some voters might frown on politicians speaking words they don't understand. But others could also appreciate the effort it takes to reach them in their own language.

Murphy hired Freddy Balsera, an experienced political strategist from Miami, a couple of weeks ago specifically to help him reach Hispanic voters. Balsera advised the Obama campaign in 2008; Obama has been known to cut an ad or two in Spanish himself, though like Murphy he doesn't speak the language.

By using the immigration issue, Murphy gets to introduce himself and attack Rubio at the same time. Rubio was a member of the Gang of Eight that passed an immigration-reform bill in the Senate but not in the House. He has since said a comprehensive approach wouldn't work and favored piecemeal immigration legislation instead.

Rubio's campaign accused Murphy of "lying."

"Murphy's last-ditch efforts to appeal to Hispanics won't confuse the voters who know Marco Rubio's record of service on behalf of the Hispanic community, spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said.

This post has been updated with the statement from Rubio's campaign.

October 09, 2016

To see how Trump puts Republicans in a bind, look at Diaz-Balart


Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart on Friday denounced Donald Trump's comments about making unwanted sexual advances at women.

"I'm glad Mr. Trump issued an apology for the tape that was released in which he is heard saying disrespectful and completely unacceptable comments regarding his interactions with women," Diaz-Balart said. "It's important that he acknowledged that statements like those are offensive and reprehensible."

But ask him if that means he won't vote for Trump, and things get more complicated.

His spokeswoman, Katrina Valdés, responded to the Miami Herald by saying Diaz-Balart never said he'd vote for Trump in the first place. She pointed to a statement from the congressman in May declaring his intention to "vote for the Republican nominee."

That would be Trump, of course.

And yet, Valdés insisted, Diaz-Balart "has not endorsed a candidate in the general election."

Diaz-Balart certainly hasn't used the word endorsement, and he's repeatedly said he won't vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton. But does he still intend to vote for him?

"His statement has not changed," Valdés said late Saturday. "His vote is conditioned on the clarification of a number of important issues that he has repeatedly said need to addressed by the nominee. As of tonight at 8:15 PM, several of those issues have not been clarified. That is where he still stands."

Diaz-Balart hasn't said what he'll do if he doesn't get his requested "clarification" from Trump. The congressman praised Trump for adopting a hard line on Cuba policy last month in Miami. Diaz-Balart then said he needed more evidence before he could condemn a report that Trump's casino company broke the Cuban trade embargo in 1998.

Though Diaz-Balart's in a newly redrawn district, he's not vulnerable in seeking reelection to the 25th district, which extends from Miami-Dade into red Collier and Hendry counties. His Democratic opponent, Alina Valdes, is a first-time candidate, and the district'a past electoral performance gives Republicans a 10-percentage-point advantage.

In a statement Saturday, Valdes called Diaz-Balart "the only South Florida Cuban-American who still supports the Republican nominee, Donald J. Trump, for president."

"Despite all the horrible things Teflon Don has said about Latinos, women, African-Americans, Muslims, and anything not white and male, he has maintained his loyalty to party over country," she said.

An earlier version of this post misstated the partisan composition of Diaz-Balart's district.

Photo credit: Jose A. Iglesias, el Nuevo Herald

October 08, 2016

Rubio might have a big Trump problem

via @learyreports

As top Republicans on Saturday rescinded their support for Donald Trump or even called for him to leave the race, Sen. Marco Rubio was silent.

How long can Rubio keep up the increasingly odd two step?

Rubio condemned Trump’s words on Friday night, after his campaign initially said he was focused on the hurricane.

“Donald's comments were vulgar, egregious & impossible to justify,” Rubio wrote on Twitter as a cascade of condemnations flew from other Republicans. “No one should ever talk about any woman in those terms, even in private.”

Rubio says he stands by all the criticism he leveled in the presidential primary, the “con-man” taunts and a lot more. But he has has concluded he needs Trump — or needed him — to help him win re-election, so he’s been supportive while keeping a clear distance.

It hasn’t been pretty, but the dance has worked.

Now, if Trump begins to free fall in Florida, Rubio will lose an edge. Democrat Patrick Murphy’s struggling campaign saw an opportunity and was hammering Rubio Saturday to disavow his support for Trump.

“While prominent Republicans like Senators Mike Crapo and Kelly Ayotte have already withdrawn their endorsements, Marco Rubio issued a tweet with empty rhetoric and continues to stand by his choice for President,” the campaign said Saturday in a release.

“Marco Rubio claims he ran for reelection to serve as a check on the next President, even if the next President is his preferred candidate Donald Trump,” Murphy said. “But how can he serve as a check on a Trump Presidency if he won't even hold Trump accountable as a candidate? If Senator Rubio cannot withdraw his endorsement after this latest sickening news, then he should withdraw from the race."

It's still early to know the fallout but it was headed in a very bad direction for Trump -- and that could rub off on Rubio.

How long until he joins other Republicans in withdrawing support?

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Photo credit: Associated Press

Miami GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen calls on Trump to withdraw


Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen urged Donald Trump on Saturday to withdraw as her party's presidential nominee, joining a growing number of GOP members of Congress asking for his resignation.

"Trump doesn't represent our nation. I was not with Trump before and I'm not with him now. Trump must withdraw," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "In April, before Trump even clinched the nomination, I announced I could not and would not support Donald Trump in this election. I'm now calling on Donald Trump to drop out of the race for the good of our nation."

Ros-Lehtinen, a veteran lawmaker, first backed Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio for president. After both dropped out, she said she wouldn't vote for Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton, saying she'd write-in Bush's name first.

On Friday, after The Washington Post broke the news about a 2005 recording in which Trump bragged about making sexual advances at women, Ros-Lethinen denounced Trump's comments.

She went a step further Saturday afternoon, after her opponent, first-time Democratic candidate Scott Fuhrman, said in a statement that "anything short of a complete rejection of [Trump's] candidacy and support of Secretary Clinton can only be seen as an endorsement of him and his behavior."

"When even staunch Republicans are outright rejecting his candidacy, no one who claims to be moderate and bipartisan has any excuse to again stand idle in the face of such ugliness," he said.

Ros-Lehtinen represents the 27th congressional district, which now leans Democratic, though she has not been considered among the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress this year.

Photo credit: Hector Gabino, el Nuevo Herald

October 07, 2016

Democratic lawmakers ask Florida governor to reconsider moving voter-registration deadline


Eleven Democratic members of Congress from Florida asked Republican Gov. Rick Scott on Friday to reconsider pushing back the state's voter-registration deadline because of Hurricane Matthew.

In the letter, spearheaded by Weston Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the lawmakers thank Scott for his handling of the powerful storm -- and then urge him to change his mind on the deadline.

"We respectfully request an extension of the voter registration deadline so that we may ensure the franchise, the integrity of our democracy, and the rights we as Americans hold dear, are fully protected," they wrote.

Scott said Thursday he planned to keep the Tuesday deadline, after Hillary Clinton's campaign urged for an extension. The storm canceled plans from Democratic-leaning groups to sign people up at the last minute; there's typically a surge of interest right before the deadline. An attorney for a firm that does work for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party suggested on Twitter late Thursday that the campaign could sue Florida if Scott doesn't budge.

White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters who asked about the dispute Friday that "generally speaking, the president thinks we should be making it easier for people to vote, not harder."

"Any steps that impede on citizens' ability to exercise that right to vote is a step in the wrong direction," Schultz said.

Two liberal organizations, Project Vote and People For The American Way, also released statements Friday imploring Scott to delay the deadline.

Among the lawmakers who signed the congressional letter were U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, whom Scott is considering challenging in 2018. The others who signed -- several of whom are on the Nov. 8 ballot themselves -- were U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, Kathy Castor of Tampa, Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Alan Grayson of Orlando, Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach and Patrick Murphy of Jupiter.

U.S. Rep. Robert Brady of Pennsylvania, the ranking Democrat on the Committee on House Administration, also wrote Scott, making the same deadline-extension request. So did the ACLU of Florida.

Read the full letter below:

Continue reading "Democratic lawmakers ask Florida governor to reconsider moving voter-registration deadline" »

October 06, 2016

In new ad in Spanish, Rubio responds to Murphy attack


Marco Rubio's U.S. Senate campaign is airing a new TV ad in Spanish countering Democratic rival Patrick Murphy, who has been hitting the Republican incumbent on his opposition to abortion rights.

The new 30-second Rubio features a shot of the Murphy ad and then says "FALSE."

"Patrick Murphy is one of the most ineffective members of Congress," the ad begins. "He's lied about his experience. He hasn't worried about our issues. And now he lies about Marco Rubio, when Marco has been there for us.

"A national security expert. Working on education reform. Fighing for fewer taxes. And defending the cause of liberty," the narrator says.

Rubio then speaks straight to the camera: "I'm Marco Rubio, and I approve this message because you know me."