October 25, 2016

Rubio: 'We're not going to be held hostage to whatever Patrick Murphy's mood is' on debates

Rubio_1stdebate_1017_ap@ByKristenMClark

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has ruled out the potential for any additional debates after Wednesday night's showdown with Democrat Patrick Murphy at Broward College -- what will be their second of two scheduled debates this fall.

"It's going to be the final one, because we're not going to keep playing this game," Rubio told Adrian Whitsett of WESH 2 News in Orlando over the weekend.

Rubio's comments came a day after Rubio and Murphy quarreled over who was to blame for the cancellation of what could have been their third debate, organized by Univision.

MORE: "No Univision debate for Rubio, Murphy"

The Spanish-language network took the event off the table after Murphy's campaign objected to the station's proposal -- which Rubio supported -- of having the debate in Spanish with a translator for Murphy. Murphy wanted the debate in English and then dubbed for the Hispanic-viewing audience. (His campaign accused Rubio of seeking unprecedented rules.)

In writing off any possible future debates, Rubio essentially told WESH that the clock had run out with two weeks left until Election Day.

"We have things to schedule, places to be and things to do," Rubio said. "We're not going to be held hostage to whatever Patrick Murphy's mood is in the morning when they call him about debates."

Continue reading "Rubio: 'We're not going to be held hostage to whatever Patrick Murphy's mood is' on debates" »

Murphy denies Trump connections, but CNN.com unearths photo of Murphy's dad with The Donald

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@ByKristenMClark

After Patrick Murphy relentlessly criticized U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for weeks for standing by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Rubio tried to shift the spotlight on to his Democratic challenger during last week's first Senate debate by alleging Murphy's family has made "millions" off doing business with Trump.

Murphy quickly called it "another lie" and, in the days since, has repeatedly denied any direct business connections between Trump and his family’s Coastal Construction Group. "We've never had a contract with Donald Trump," Murphy told the Tampa Bay Times and other Florida news media last week.

But CNN.com on Tuesday unearthed old photos that put Murphy in the position of having to further explain himself.

The images show Murphy’s father -- Coastal founder and CEO Tom Murphy Jr. (shown above at far left) -- a few feet away from Trump in a group photo-op at the ground-breaking for Trump Hollywood in 2007. Everyone in the photo, including the elder Murphy, is wearing a Trump-branded hard-hat.

Republicans quickly blasted out CNN.com's story, saying the images were "damaging" to the Jupiter congressman and "prove Murphy lied in the last debate."

But Murphy's campaign says the images show nothing of the sort and shed no new light on Coastal's business history with Trump.

The campaign acknowledges Coastal and Trump were "associated" with the same two South Florida projects -- Trump Hollywood and Trump Royale in Sunny Isles. But the campaign maintains, as Murphy has also said: It was the developer's responsibility in each project for separately hiring Coastal as its builder and Trump to market the properties.

Nonetheless, expect this topic to come up during Wednesday night's second and final U.S. Senate debate.

Photo credit: In this Getty image from 2007, Tom Murphy Jr. (pictured far left) appears in a group photo with Donald Trump (center) during the ground-breaking for Trump Hollywood. CNN.com

Patrick Murphy will speak at Hillary Clinton rally today in Broward

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@ByKristenMClark

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy will be among the opening speakers before Hillary Clinton takes the stage at a campaign rally today in Coconut Creek, Murphy's campaign said.

The rally is set to begin around 2:15 p.m.

This is the third major Clinton rally Murphy has spoken at in as many weeks, all in the strongly Democratic terrain of South Florida. It will be his second with Clinton directly; the other rally featured President Barack Obama stumping on Clinton's behalf.

When Obama spoke in Miami Gardens on Thursday, he devoted a significant portion of his speech to criticizing Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio and urging Democratic voters to support Murphy so the Jupiter congressman could unseat him.

In Murphy's first two rally speeches, he got about 5-8 minutes on stage -- in which he delivered part of his routine stump speech to the friendly audience, while also laying into his opponent for continuing to support Donald Trump for president.

In contrast to Murphy, Rubio has not -- and, the senator's campaign says, will not -- campaign alongside Trump in Florida.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / Palm Beach Post

October 24, 2016

Pro-Murphy super PAC launches ad targeting Murphy's current constituents

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@ByKristenMClark

Boosted by a recent influx of cash of an unknown amount and origin, an independent super PAC that supports Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is launching a TV ad that will air in Murphy's backyard between now and Election Day.

"Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" announced the ad Monday morning, which touts newspaper editorial endorsements Murphy has received from the Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times, Orlando Sentinel and Sun Sentinel. Each editorial included harsh criticism for Republican incumbent Marco Rubio, which the ad also emphasizes.

In response to the ad, Rubio campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said Murphy has "nothing to show" for his four years in Congress and argued the senator "has a strong record of fighting for Florida's families."

The super PAC says it's spending $800,000 to run the ad for the next two weeks on West Palm Beach stations -- a TV market that serves Murphy's moderate congressional district in northern Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.

That area should hypothetically be safe territory for the Jupiter congressman since Palm Beach County is heavily Democratic and more-moderate Treasure Coast voters helped elect Murphy to Congress for the past two cycles.

Ashley Walker, spokeswoman for "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class," told the Herald/Times: "Patrick Murphy has a strong record of independence in this district in terms of doing what's right for his constituents, and this ad reinforces that message."

As of Sept. 30, "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" didn't even have $800,000 in the bank to spend, but Walker said "obviously some contributions have come in" since then.

Heading into October, the super PAC reported having $764,000 in cash on hand in its third-quarter disclosure report. Walker said the recent donations will be disclosed in the committee's pre-general election report, which is due later this week.

Between July and September, the super PAC reported raising about $1 million between July and September -- a haul that included a $250,000 check from Murphy's father, Tom Murphy Jr. (Tom Murphy had also previously given $500,000 to the committee earlier in the campaign.)

Image credit: Floridians for a Strong Middle Class / YouTube

*This post has been updated with comment from Rubio's campaign.

Democrats' mailer contrasts Murphy, Rubio on abortion

@ByKristenMClark

A new direct-mail piece paid for by the Florida Democratic Party seeks to drive home to voters where the state's U.S. Senate candidates stand on abortion.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy -- along with Democratic groups supporting him -- has been making the topic a campaign issue for weeks, seeking to contrast Murphy's pro-choice views with Republican incumbent Marco Rubio's pro-life stance.

In response to the new mailer, Rubio's campaign reiterated its criticism that Murphy has "extreme positions on abortion" -- such as supporting the use of taxpayer money to fund abortions or supporting late-term abortions -- that "put him out of touch with the vast majority of Floridians."

Murphy's campaign has argued Rubio is the one who is out of touch because he opposes a woman's right to choose, including in cases of rape and incest or if the mother is infected with the Zika virus.

The mailer, which started arriving at Florida voters homes this weekend, is going out to "hundreds of thousands" of voters across the state, according to Murphy's campaign.

Here's a look at the mailer:

Planned Parenthood Mailer1

Planned Parenthood Mailer

Frank Artiles manipulates facts in misleading attack ad on Dwight Bullard

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@ByKristenMClark

Through a new Spanish-language TV ad and other campaign materials, state Senate candidate and Miami Republican state Rep. Frank Artiles is falsely telling central Miami-Dade County voters his opponent “voted to release violent criminals and sexual delinquents in our community.”

Artiles’ TV ad claims Cutler Bay Democratic state Sen. Dwight Bullard “was the only senator who voted against keeping our communities safe — the only one,” and that Artiles would be the one who would protect the communities of Senate District 40. He echoed the attack in an image he posted on Twitter, too, in which Artiles claimed he “led the way to keep sexual predators off the streets” while Bullard “voted in favor of releasing violent criminals.”

But Artiles’ assertions manipulate facts.

Bullard called the ad "disgusting" and another example of "gutter-level politics" from Artiles.

More here.

October 22, 2016

Rubio: Speaking Spanish in 'Spanish-language debate' on Spanish-language network makes sense

Campaign 2016 Florida (5)@ByKristenMClark

Marco Rubio told NBC News' Hallie Jackson on Friday that when he did a debate in English on Univision during his first U.S. Senate race in 2010, the format "didn't work well."

"I had to answer questions in English, and it just didn't work well with the translator. They don't accurately translate my words," the incumbent Republican told Jackson, referring to a debate he had had with his then-opponents, Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek.

So, in his re-election bid this fall, Rubio said he fought for a true Spanish-language debate when Univision invited him and his Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy, to face off in front of the Spanish-language network's viewers before Election Day.

"It’s a Spanish-language debate on a Spanish-language network. I speak Spanish," said Rubio, who is Cuban-American.

But Murphy -- a Jupiter congressman who isn't fluent in Spanish -- had his own preference for the format. And after accepting Univison's invitation just last week, Murphy's campaign said it couldn't agree to what the network proposed: a genuine Spanish-language debate in Spanish, as Rubio also wanted.

MORE: No Univision debate for Rubio, Murphy

Univision told the Herald/Times on Friday the proposed debate was canceled because Rubio and Murphy couldn't agree on the language.

It's typical for candidates to jockey for whatever advantage they can when negotiating terms of debates.

Murphy wanted the Univision debate in English and then dubbed, although the campaign billed the event it agreed to as a "Spanish-language" debate. Murphy's campaign said statewide debates on Spanish-language networks have never been done in Spanish and argued that Rubio was asking for unprecedented rules.

Rubio told NBC News that Murphy "didn't want to participate with me speaking in Spanish." (Murphy's campaign told the Herald/Times earlier Friday such a claim was "completely inaccurate.")

Rubio also took a dig at Murphy -- who, although not fluent, has spoken some español in a bevy of Spanish-language ads he's launched this month to court Hispanic voters.

"He just did a commercial in Spanish where he was talking Spanish in it, so I guess he speaks Spanish. He should be willing to do it," Rubio said.

Photo credit: AP

October 21, 2016

Patrick Murphy declines to release tax returns but discloses tax rate

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via @learyreports

Democratic Senate candidate Patrick Murphy will not release his tax returns though his campaign said today his tax rate over the past five years was 32 percent.

That's a departure from the 2010 Senate race, when Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio released theirs, but in line with other Senate contests in Florida.

Murphy has made Donald Trump -- and Rubio's support for the nominee -- a focus of his campaign. Trump has refused to release his returns, saying he is under audit, though there is nothing preventing him from disclosure.

"Since 2011, Patrick has been transparent with the voters, disclosing his income, assets, and liabilities every year in his congressional financial disclosures," Murphy spokeswoman Galia Slayen said. "Releasing tax returns is what presidential candidates like Marco Rubio do, and it's no surprise he's already gearing up for his next presidential run. Patrick's tax rate over the past 5 years was 32%, and he has always disclosed the details of each investment and asset he owns."

Looking for an edge in 2010, Crist releases his returns going back to 2000 and challenged Rubio to do the same. Rubio obliged and released more as a presidential candidate. His releases are summaries and not the full return, but it does provide a window into his finances.

Photo credit: AP

For Patrick Murphy, a Haitian hotel project was a bust but helped with connections

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via @learyreports

Patrick Murphy’s résumé got fresh attention in Monday night’s debate, with Marco Rubio challenging his CPA history, work on the BP oil spill and college degrees.

Overlooked in the public vetting of Murphy is a chapter that came just before his entrance into politics – one that helps illustrate the 33-year-old’s rapid climb from obscurity to where he stands today, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate.

Following the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Murphy joined his father in a hotel venture that was an opportunity for the family construction business amid Florida’s economic downturn.

The $48 million Hotel des Artistes was to be built near the airport in Port-au-Prince on land owned by the WIN Group and the powerful Mevs family.

It failed to get financing but people involved in the project, including Clinton Foundation board member Rolando Gonzalez-Bunster, have contributed to Murphy’s political campaigns.

The money and connections underscore Murphy’s appeal to Democrats as he emerged from nowhere five years ago to become a national fundraising leader who defeated tea party hero Allen West and is now trying to dislodge Rubio.

Continue reading "For Patrick Murphy, a Haitian hotel project was a bust but helped with connections" »

Univision: Spanish-language debate between Rubio, Murphy isn't happening

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@ByKristenMClark

A potential U.S. Senate debate on Univision between Republican incumbent Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy won’t be happening after all, because the two campaigns have seemingly failed to agree to terms for the Miami event.

“The debate was canceled,” Univision spokesman Jose Zamora told the Herald/Times on Friday. He couldn’t immediately elaborate as to why.

Rubio’s campaign alleged Murphy is “blowing off” the event, but Murphy campaign spokesman Joshua Karp said the debate is still a possibility and disputed Univision’s statement that it was canceled.

“We’re continuing to work with Univision to make this debate happen,” Karp said, adding that the campaigns were looking at Oct. 28 as a date for it. “We’re talking about the format.”

Although both Rubio and Murphy had accepted invitations for the event, they haven’t finalized negotiations on terms — including in what language the debate would be done.

More here.

Photo credit: AP