February 23, 2015

'All in' with Jeb Bush, but Mario Diaz-Balart says Marco Rubio would also make 'darn good president'

@PatriciaMazzei

Jeb Bush is the presidential pick for Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. Yet  he also had nice things to say Monday of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, assuming both Bush and Rubio seek the GOP presidential nomination.

"I don't think anybody should minimize Rubio's appeal, his vast talent," Diaz-Balart said of his colleague. "Not only his ability to connect, but he's a hard worker. I think he'd be a darn good president. He clearly has a lot more experience than President Obama did when he got elected. Rubio was speaker of the [Florida] House, for God's sake."

But, Diaz-Balart added, "I just don't know of anyone who's better prepared to be president of the United States" than Bush. He reiterated, as he told The Hill last week, that he's "all in" with Bush, who has also received the support of Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Diaz-Balart's former congressman brother, Lincoln, has backed Bush as well, and been named one of the former Florida governor's foreign-policy advisers.

The only local GOP congressman who has yet to endorse is Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami, who has been courted by Bush advisers -- and, before then, by advisers to Mitt Romney, when Romney briefly flirted with running again.

February 05, 2015

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen vs. 'Photoshopping'

@PatriciaMazzei

Air-brushing away wrinkles, cellulite, a few pounds here and there? U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is not a fan.

The Miami Republican and eight other members of Congress have asked the Federal Trade Commission to hold a public meeting to discuss the potentially negative effects of "photoshopping" -- using software to enhance images -- in advertising.

In particular, the group wants a discussion into "how materially altering the appearance of the human body in ads solely to manipulate and persuade consumers may influence the health of people who view those ads." The lawmakers have concerns about ads creating unrealistic expectations, especially for children and teenagers, of what people "can and should look like."

They also point to a possible increase in healthcare costs due to beauty-enhancing medical procedures, and say the advertising industry has been unwilling to create a set of standards for when image-enhancement is acceptable.

 

Among the lawmakers who signed Ros-Lehtinen's request were Reps. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and Alcee Hastings of Miramar, both Democrats.

January 29, 2015

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen gets assignments in new intelligence committee role

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was so visible in Miami as chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that it's easy to forget she no longer chairs the panel, as a result of House GOP term limits.

But the Miami Republican still has prime committee assignments. She remains the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa. And on Wednesday, she received new subcommittee assignments in the powerful House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Ros-Lehtinen was appointed to subcommittees on the Department of Defense Intelligence and Overhead Architecture, and the NSA and Cybersecurity.

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: