February 14, 2016

That striking GOP debate moment when Ted Cruz broke into Spanish -- and Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush didn't follow


The first Republican to speak Spanish on a presidential debate stage this election wasn't one of the two candidates fluent in the language. It was the one some Latino accuse of not being Hispanic enough.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz surprised the audience in Greenville, South Carolina, on Saturday night when he taunted Florida Sen. Marco Rubio -- in Spanish.

Cruz has called his mastery of his Cuban immigrant father's native tongue as "lousy." But that didn't stop him from turning to Rubio and encouraging to repeat past remarks Rubio had made on immigration reform to Univision, the Spanish-language news giant. 

"Marco went on Univision in Spanish and said he would not rescind President Obama's illegal executive amnesty on his first day in office," Cruz began.

Retorted Rubio: "Well, first of all, I don't know how he knows what I said on Univision because he doesn't speak Spanish."

That's when Cruz went for it.

"Ahora mismo, díselo ahora en español si quieres," Cruz said, haltingly. Right now, tell them right now in Spanish if you want. (It appeared on CBS' rush debate transcript as a quintessential minority moment: "CRUZ: (SPEAKING SPANISH).")

Rubio, who is also Cuban American, is fully bilingual. But this was a nationally televised debate ahead of next Saturday's primary in deeply red, deeply traditional South Carolina. So Rubio didn't respond en español. Neither did former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who is also fluent. (Rubio, who has been pretty consistent on the need to eventually repeal Obama's executive action on immigration, used the moment to add to his argument that Cruz is a liar.)

Republicans have been desperate to connect with Latino voters crucial to winning a general election. But the two candidates who talk most often about growing the GOP shied away from their opportunity Saturday night.

February 13, 2016

Florida politicians react to Justice Antonin Scalia's death


Republican presidential candidate and former Gov. Jeb Bush

Today we lost a great man whose principled service left our nation vastly better off. This afternoon at Mass, Columba and I prayed for Justice Scalia, who was devout in faith and has been brought home to God in heaven. Our prayers are also with his wife, Maureen, his children and his 28 grandchildren.

Justice Scalia was a brilliant defender of the rule of law--his logic and wit were unparalleled, and his decisions were models of clarity and good sense. I often said he was my favorite justice, because he took the Constitution, and the responsibility of judges to interpret it correctly, with the utmost seriousness. Now it is up to all of us to fight for the principles Justice Scalia espoused and carry forth his legacy.

Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio

Today, our nation has suffered a deep loss. Justice Scalia was one of the most consequential Americans in our history and a brilliant legal mind who served with only one objective: to interpret and defend the Constitution as written. One of the greatest honors in my life was to attend oral arguments during Town of Greece v. Galloway and see Justice Scalia eloquently defend religious freedom. I will hold that memory forever. The next president must nominate a justice who will continue Justice Scalia's unwavering belief in the founding principles that we hold dear. Jeanette and I mourn the loss of Justice Scalia, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Maureen and his family.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson

I am stunned since Justice Scalia seemed to be in the prime of his life. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. And I take very seriously our constitutional responsibility to fill this vacancy.

Continue reading "Florida politicians react to Justice Antonin Scalia's death" »

February 12, 2016

Jeb Bush allies blast Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz for not confronting Donald Trump


A new TV ad from Jeb Bush's campaign allies pounds Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio for not confronting Donald Trump as much as Bush does.

"While some candidates suck up to Trump," the ad by Right to Rise USA says -- as it shows a picture of Cruz, "or run away from him in fear" (while showing a graphic illustration of Rubio as a robot), "Jeb Bush isn't afraid."


Pro-Jeb Bush Super PAC takes on Donald Trump, at last


Did Jeb Bush's allies finally listen to the candidate?

Bush likes to attack Donald Trump. His super PAC, Right to Right USA, likes to attack Marco Rubio. The disconnect has been evident for weeks: Bush says one thing, the TV ads supporting him say another.

On Friday, though, following Bush's finish ahead of Rubio in New Hampshire, Right to Rise released a new national TV ad -- bashing Trump: "Look past the boasting, and you'll see right through him."



February 11, 2016

Dubya to join Jeb in South Carolina on Monday


Jeb Bush's presidential campaign has finally set a date for when former President George W. Bush will hit the campaign trail: Monday, in North Charleston, South Carolina.

The ex-president will appear at a 6 p.m. rally. He's already been on TV and radio for his brother in the Palmetto State, which holds its primary Feb. 20.

Were Jeb Bush's picks for the Florida Supreme Court consistent conservatives?

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s positions on some issues, such as immigration, have been to the left of other members of the GOP presidential field. But last month, Bush laid down a marker on his own conservatism: his selection of conservative judges.

"I have a proven record of appointing conservatives to the Florida judiciary as governor, and my administration devoted substantial time to vetting nominees,"Bush wrote in an article for Medium. "We sought judges who had shown humility, courage, an appreciation of the duties of a judge, a respect for the will of the people, and devotion to full application of the law without equivocation. My two appointments to the Florida Supreme Court, Raul Cantero and Kenneth Bell, have earned reputations as its most consistent conservatives. Additionally, two of the appellate judges I named as governor, Charles Canady and Ricky Polston, are now serving with distinction on the Florida Supreme Court."

We wondered whether Bush was right that Cantero and Bell "have earned reputations as its most consistent conservatives." Our research suggests that Bush has a point, though the case is stronger for Bell than for Cantero.

See what Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact found.

February 10, 2016

Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush turn to South Carolina

GOP 2016 Rubio (9) (1)


They yearned for clarity in New Hampshire. Marco Rubio hoped to crystallize his position as the Republican Party’s great presidential hope heading into the South Carolina primary. Jeb Bush intended to prove his political muscle could still be as powerful as his family name and donor fortune.

Neither succeeded.

Bush and Rubio wound up in fourth and fifth place, respectively: Bush topped by another governor, John Kasich of Ohio, and Rubio undone by three minutes of woeful debating on national television. Their results Tuesday made it possible to survive, barely.

Now Bush and Rubio head to the first-in-the-South primary Feb. 20 still competing toe-to-toe with each other for the same spot — and there is, at best, only a single spot — in the GOP: to be the last man standing to confront front-runners Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, if someone can take them on at all.

What comes next won’t be pretty.

More here.

Photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press

February 09, 2016

Jeb Bush 'not dead' in New Hampshire, bests Marco Rubio to keep rivalry going

GOP 2016 Bush (14)


MANCHESTER, N.H. -- They needed two tries, but Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders did Tuesday what traditionalists in their political parties had considered unthinkable just six months ago: They won the New Hampshire primary — both in crushing fashion — turning the once-fantastical candidacies of a celebrity businessman and a democratic socialist into undeniable realities.

So vast was Sanders’ lead that Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, the 2008 New Hampshire victor, conceded shortly after polls closed. Eight days earlier she had barely edged Sanders in the Iowa caucuses.

But the far more compelling story of the night was on the Republican side, over who trailed Trump, and by how much — a saga that continued late into the night in a third-place battle between Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, where just a few hundred votes separated the two as the count continued.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich pulled off a stunning second-place finish, catapulting his long-shot candidacy over six opponents who had bested him in Iowa.

Bush rode a swell of late momentum to top his chief rival, former Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

“It looks like you all have reset the race,” Bush told supporters gathered at Manchester Community College. “This campaign is not dead. We’re going to South Carolina!”

More here.

Photo credit: Steven Senne, Associated Press