January 21, 2015

GOP's Reince Priebus stumbles on immigration, Democrats crow: "WTF?"

 @MarcACaputo

The different Republican State of the Union responses about immigration (nada in English, un poquito en Español) was so tough for national GOP Chairman Reince Priebus to explain Wednesday that he tried to blame.....President Obama.

What about the Republican-controlled House that blocked the measure from a full vote in the chamber for years? Priebus didn’t go there.

“I’m not a policy guy,” Priebus said at one point after stammering on MSNBC to give a response.

The Democratic National Committee loved it, and almost mockingly swore at Priebus by asking in a press release headline: "Reince, WTF are you talking about?" By using the "What The Fuck" text abbreviation, the DNC ensured that Republicans could avoid the topic by pointing to the snarky crudity of the Democrats’ take-down rather than the substance of it.

But as Priebus' response to the original question shows, there's not much of a major credible response anyway. That left Priebus blame-shifting and evading questions asked by the Huffington Post's Sam Stein and ABC's Cokie Roberts on "Morning Joe:" 

Continue reading "GOP's Reince Priebus stumbles on immigration, Democrats crow: "WTF?"" »

January 09, 2015

Cuban Americans in Congress ask John Kerry to stop U.S. 'concessions' to Cuba

@PatriciaMazzei

Six Cuban-American members of Congress asked U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday to reconsider normalization talks with Cuba.

"We agree in the importance of advocating on behalf of U.S. national security interests, human rights, and basic freedoms for the Cuban people," the letter says.

"However, mere lip service is inadequate. As such, we urge you to cease unilateral concessions that reward and embolden a brutal dictatorship in the midst of a brutal crackdown. Canceling future talks, and ending unilateral concessions, would signal that the Administration's position on human rights is not just empty rhetoric and broken promises, but is actually supported by concrete actions."

The letter is signed by three Miami Republicans, Reps. Carlos CurbeloMario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and by Reps. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) and Albio Sires (D-N.J.) and Sen. Ted Cruz, D-Texas.

The missing Cuban American is one of Cruz's potential presidential rivals, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who wrote a letter of his own earlier this week to President Barack Obama urging him not to hold talks with Cuba without more information on 53 political prisoners the island's communist regime was supposed to release. Some of the prisoners were reportedly freed Thursday.

The Obama administration has given little attention to Cuban Americans who have loudly criticized the president's rapprochment with Cuba. Talks between the two countries are scheduled to take place in Havana on Jan. 21-22.

December 13, 2014

Nicaragua bans Marco Rubio, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from travel over Venezuela sanctions

@MarcACaputo

Nicaragua's president says he is banning U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from traveling to the Central American country because, he says, he is protesting the Venezuala sanctions the Republican lawmakers helped pass Wednesday in Congress, according to The Tico Times.

"Just like they [U.S. officials] have their lists, we can make our own lists in Latin America of those who shouldn’t enter our country,” Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega told The Tico Times during a meeting with Venezuelan officials in his country.

Rubio, via Twitter, mocked Ortega's decision: "Oh no! My summer vacation plans are ruined!"

The sanctions, primarily aimed at Venezuelan officials and proxies involved with violently suppressing pro-democracy activists, would ban them from traveling or staying in the United States and would freeze any U.S. assets. President Obama plans to sign the legislation, S2142.

Story here

December 09, 2014

U.S. Senate approves Venezuela sanctions

@jimwyss

The U.S. Senate on Monday passed a bill imposing targeted sanctions against Venezuelan officials responsible for violence and political arrests in the wake of anti-government protests earlier this year.

During a sparsely attended Senate session, the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act of 2014 was passed by voice vote. The bill had been caught in a political tug of war since May when the House passed a similar version of the sanctions.

In a statement, Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) applauded the measure and asked her House colleagues to take up the Senate version so “Venezuela’s oppressors will be denied visas to enter the United States and their properties along with their assets will be frozen.”

The Senate bill targets Venezuelan authorities who directed “significant acts of violence or serious human rights abuses against persons associated with the anti government protests in Venezuela that began on February 4, 2014.”

More here.

December 05, 2014

Pam Bondi makes FL 18th state to sue President Obama over immigration action

@MarcACaputo

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced late Friday that the Sunshine State would join a federal lawsuit to block President Barack Obama’s executive action sparing as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Of the 18 states now suing the Obama administration over immigration, all have Republican governors or Republican attorneys general. But Florida is the only major swing state with a significant Hispanic population, making Bondi’s decision a potential presidential campaign issue as the 2016 election cycle gets underway.

In a written statement, Bondi said the lawsuit isn’t about politics, it’s about Obama circumventing Congress and acting alone.

“This lawsuit is not about immigration, rather this lawsuit is about President Obama — yet again — overstepping the power granted to him by our United States Constitution,” Bondi said echoing the language of the suit initiated this week by Texas Attorney General and Governor-elect Greg Abbott.

“We need to fix our system of immigration,” Bondi said, “but willfully turning a blind eye to the inconvenience of law and rule is not the path to a remedy, but a prescription for unwarranted presidential overreach.”

But Democrats say Bondi is leading Republicans into a problem with Hispanics that has vexed them in recent presidential elections and threatens to do so again. Republican Gov. Rick Scott has stayed out of the fray and referred questions to Bondi's office.

More here

November 18, 2014

Miami TV station interviews Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s transgender son

@SteveRothaus

In 2010, the Miami Herald first reported that U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s daughter Amanda was living openly as Rodrigo, a transgender man and LGBT rights activist.

CBS4 News on Monday aired an interview with Ros-Lehtinen; her husband, former acting U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen; and Rodrigo, now donor services coordinator for GLAAD.

From CBS4 reporter Jim DeFede:

Rodrigo Lehtinen grew up in a household grounded in Republican politics.

His mother, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, was the first Cuban-American elected to Congress and has served in the House for the last 25 years. His father, Dexter Lehtinen, is the former US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida who oversaw the indictment of Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega. His grandfather, Enrique Ros, was an old-time Cuban-American hardliner and author who railed against Castro until his death last year at the age of 89.

“I came from a family where politics was very much talked about openly, calmly with respect on a regular basis,” he said. “So engaging that type of conversation about political issues or things that might be controversial is not foreign in my family.”

Click here to watch the video.

--STEVE ROTHAUS

August 20, 2014

Miami-Dade commissioner in tough reelection fight gets heavyweight endorsement: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

@PatriciaMazzei

Less than a week before Election Day, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Lynda Bell unveiled the endorsement of popular Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

"I ask you to go out and vote for my great friend," Ros-Lehtinen says in a Spanish-language web video. "Lynda Bell has always fought for our values, creating jobs, keeping your taxes low and protecting our families."

Bell faces a serious reelection challenge from first-time candidate Daniella Levine Cava, who has been heavily supported by state and local Democrats. The race is nonpartisan, but Levine Cava is a Democrat and Bell is a Republican. So is Ros-Lehtinen, whose 27th congressional district partly overlaps with Bell's. Ros-Lehtinen drew no challengers this year and was automatically reelected.

With the video, Bell's campaign is trying to attract reliable, Cuban-American Republican voters -- many of whom may be going to the polls Tuesday for a different race, the GOP primary for Florida's 26th congressional district.

Decent turnout in that more high-profile contest could benefit Bell, since, relatively speaking, few nonpartisan voters cast ballots in primaries because there are fewer races for them to consider.

Here's the Ros-Lehtinen endorsement video:

 

July 27, 2014

To woo Florida Keys voters, Carlos Curbelo brings out big gun: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Republican congressional candidate Carlos Curbelo is getting a little help from a friend to campaign to Florida Keys voters.

A new television ad to begin airing this week features Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- the popular Miami Republican who represented the Keys for a decade before her seat was redrawn two years ago -- introducing her former constituents to Curbelo, a Miami-Dade School Board member whom she has endorsed. Curbelo is running to challenge Democrat Joe Garcia for the 26th congressional district, which extends from Kendall to Key West.

"He's an education innovator and a small businessman," Ros-Lehtinen says in the ad. "Carlos is part of the next generation who will work to protect our natural wonders, our fishermen and our economy."

It's Curbelo's third TV spot, timed to start the same week as absentee ballots are scheduled to be mailed to voters for the Aug. 26 primary. Rival Ed MacDougall, the Cutler Bay mayor, has also been airing ads. The other GOP hopefuls are former Miami-Dade Commissioner Joe Martinez and attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck.

 

March 04, 2014

Ros-Lehtinen's legislation calling for end to Venezuela violence passes House

@PatriciaMazzei

A near-unanimous U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday approved Miami Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's resolution supporting peaceful protests in Venezuela.

The House voted 393-1 in favor of the legislation, House Resolution 488, which decries repressive tactics by the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Despite the show of unity, "our work is not yet done," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "The solidarity is warranted, and now it must be backed up by action to help save the lives of the suffering people of Venezuela."

The Republican said she is circulating a letter among members of Congress asking President Obama to impose sanctions against Maduro and his administration, including denying U.S. visas, freezing their U.S. assets and blocking any financial transactions.

Among the original co-sponsors of Ros-Lehtinen's resolution were Republican Mario Diaz-Balart and Democrat Joe Garcia, both of Miami, as well as other members of the Florida delegation from both sides of the political aisle.

Read their statements below.

Continue reading "Ros-Lehtinen's legislation calling for end to Venezuela violence passes House" »

March 03, 2014

Wasserman Schultz: Obama ‘looking’ at Venezuela sanctions, should act on immigration

@MarcACaputo

President Barack Obama’s administration is considering imposing sanctions on Venezuelan officials culpable in that nation’s repression and who travel to and hold bank accounts in the United States, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Monday.

“There should be sanctions on individuals. ... The administration is looking at those,” said Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, citing an unnamed “high-level” state department official she spoke with earlier in the morning.

A measure to impose individual sanctions on Venezuelan apparatchiks was introduced last week in the U.S. Senate by Republican Marco Rubio and co-sponsored by Florida’s other senator, Democrat Bill Nelson.

Wasserman Schultz said she’s also speaking to the administration about Obama taking executive action to clear up the immigration status of some Venezuelans in the United States.

Continue reading "Wasserman Schultz: Obama ‘looking’ at Venezuela sanctions, should act on immigration" »