February 09, 2016

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio almost cross paths in New Hampshire



BEDFORD, N.H. -- For a moment, it almost seemed like a scene out of Miami.

Jeb Bush headed out of a high school polling place Tuesday. A few minutes earlier, in strolled Marco Rubio.

Except it was Bedford High School in New Hampshire. Snow piled on the ground. And Rubio and Bush were not just near-neighbors coinciding at a popular voting site. They were candidates rolling around in name-branded buses, chased by an entourage of reporters, trying to get a word in edgewise with voters.

"I feel good!" declared the former Florida governor, who was accompanied by his wife, Columba, son Jeb Jr. and longtime friend and Miami developer Sergio Pino. "But as you know, this is a volatile year."

Rubio hadn't advertised his appearance at the school. But by arriving after Bush, who had, he found himself surrounded by a phalanx of cameras anyway. That made it difficult to spend much quality time with locals. Rubio was also trailed by a man dressed up as a robot, holding a sign that read "#RobotRubio," referring to Rubio's tendency to sound scripted.

The Florida senator ignored him.

"We've got great energy!" asserted Rubio. "We're looking forward to Florida -- there won't be snow there."


February 08, 2016

Gay man asks Marco Rubio, 'Why do you want to put me back in the closet?'

 via @learyreports

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- A gay man confronted Marco Rubio on Monday over his opposition to same-sex marriage, an unscripted moment in a day of stagecraft from the Florida presidential candidate.

"So Marco, being a gay man, why do you want to put me back in the closet," Timothy Kierstead asked the candidate at The Puritan Backroom.

"I don't," Rubio said. "You can live any way you want. I just believe marriage is between one man and one woman."

"By God," Kierstead replied. "You want separate church and state." He told Rubio he had been married for a long time and you want to say we don't matter."

Rubio: "No. I just believe marriage is between one man and one woman."

Kierstead: "But that's your belief."

Rubio: "I think that's what the law should be. And if you disagree, you should have the law changed by a legislature."

The New Hampshire legislature legalized same-sex marriage in 2009.

Kierstead told Rubio that gay marriage is legal, to which Rubio said, "I respect your view."

"Typical politician," Kierstead said as Rubio walked away.

The exchange came as Rubio spent money on a charm offensive Monday, popping into restaurants and shops to win over New Hampshire's famous last-minute deciders.

The Puritan Backroom, according to pool reporting by theWashington Post's Sean Sullivan, is "a restaurant founded by Greek immigrants almost a hundred years ago and known for its 'world-famous' chicken tenders, which Rubio’s youngest son Dominick sampled straight from the kitchen."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio won’t name VP or Cabinet picks, but…


NASHUA, N.H. -– The last question at Marco Rubio’s first town hall Monday might have been the most interesting. And, for all the talk about how much candidates prefer to talk about policy, this one was about politics.

Who would be his dream governing team?

Naming one would be “presumptuous,” Rubio told employees at BAE Systems, an electronics contractor. But he rattled off a list anyway.

“Despite our differences, I think the Republican candidates that are running and that have run over the past few weeks are very talented people,” he said. Then, he continued: “I don’t want to get overly partisan about any of this but – why not?”

There were laughs.

“First of all, the diversity of our field. The Republican field has a woman, an African-American, two Hispanic-American running, so it’s very diverse,” Rubio said. “Number two, the talent of our people: three governors, at one point three U.S. senators, a former U.S. senator –- actually, more than three governors. One of the most famous business people in the world.”

“Ask yourself this: Who is the up-and-coming, talented, 45-, 50-year-old Democrat nationally? Who is it?”

“I’ll give you a few minutes,” he deadpanned. “They don’t have any. That’s why their field is down to two people.”

And then he named the GOP’s “deep bench” outside of the presidential field: U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire (a hometown favorite), Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina “about the same age as I am” (the next state that votes), Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico.

“There’ll be no shortage of talented people to rely on for all sorts of things. And I have said from the beginning of this race, from this Republican field I think there’s a president a potential vice president, Cabinet people, future presidents.”

“We’re blessed to have a very talented field,” he concluded. “It’s just made it for a very messy and competitive process in the long term.”

Rubio attacks Cruz for defending Chinese company

Getting tough on China has been a recurring theme among the candidates running for president in 2016

In Bow, N.H. last week, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said one his GOP rivals isn’t telling the whole truth about his record standing up for American firms against the Chinese.

"Ted Cruz was counsel on record for a Chinese company that stole an invention from an American inventor in Florida," Rubio said. "Here you have someone who goes around talking tough about China, but he leaves out the fact that when China stole an American inventor’s product, he stood with the Chinese."

"That is a fact," Rubio said.

We decided to check it out. See what Jonathan Van Fleet of PolitiFact New Hampshire found and see PolitiFact's coverage in New Hampshire.

February 07, 2016

For Marco Rubio, a Florida reunion before the Super Bowl


MANCHESTER, N.H. -– Marco Rubio’s Super Bowl watch party Sunday in New Hampshire had a distinct Florida flavor.

Mingling with voters were volunteers who flew up from Rubio’s home state, on their own dime, to make phone calls and knock on doors ahead of Tuesday’s primary. You could spot the Floridians: They wore matching badges on lanyards that read, “Freezin’ for the Future.”

They were doing what Rubio himself did eight years ago, when he trekked to the Granite State to stump for Mike Huckabee.

“I took vacation days to come up. It was that important to me,” said Doug Kruse, a 47-year-old nonprofit fundraiser from Parkland.

Kruse lived for 13 years in New Hampshire, so he’s familiar with the state. Since arriving Friday he’s worked a Rubio phone bank, trying to persuade voters to support the candidate.

“People in New Hampshire, on the weekend before the primary, they know that they’re going to get 15-20 calls a day…so they don’t really answer the phone,” he said. But when they do, he tells them that Rubio has foreign-policy experience and the right “vision for America.”

Jason Steele came Thursday with his wife, Lori Harbert, and 16-year-old son, Jace Chastain, from Melbourne Beach.

“We wanted to come up to show the people of New Hampshire what the people of Florida think of Marco Rubio,” said Steele, who has been on the door-knocking trail. “I actually fell into the snow. I was covered in it. It was fun.”

Among the volunteers was former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner (Rubio’s Florida campaign co-chairman), former Miami state Senate Majority Leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla, Republican operative Christian Cámara, Tallahassee attorney Len Collins, former Rubio state legislative aide Rafael “Ralph” Perez and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo. Nelson Diaz, chairman of the Miami-Dade Republican Party attended an event earlier in the day, though not in an official party capacity.

Quipped Bovo: “It’s not like knocking on doors in Hialeah, that’s for sure.”

The party featured Little Caesars pizza, popcorn, cold cuts, veggies, black-bean-and-cheese dip and cake. But, alas, no beer.

Rubio spoke briefly -- "I think there’s a football game on tonight" -- and wrapped up before the game began. 

"Enjoy the game. It doesn’t really matter to me, the Dolphins haven't been there since '84, '85." (1985.)

An earlier version of this post misstated Diaz de la Portilla's title.<\i>

New Hampshire voters have the Marco Rubio-Chris Christie showdown on their mind


via @learyreports

BEDFORD, N.H. – The Christie-Rubio showdown was the talk of a middle school cafeteria here before the candidate showed up to a crowd of hundreds.

Steve Poschmann, Bedford, 50, intends to vote for Rubio

“It was a little cringe-worthy how he repeated the same lines over and over again how Obama is deliberately destroying the country. He should have laid off those and gone after Christie. I’m not sure why he didn’t. He’s not even running against Obama. Will it hurt? It depends how much the video gets out there.”

Kevin Reigstad, Bedford, 50, undecided

“It made Christie look bad, like a bully. Every politician has their messaging they want to get out. Chris Christie does the same thing, tells the same story, makes the same points."

Val Zanchuk, Concord, 65, undecided independent voter

"Christie pretty much skewered Rubio. It affirmed my concerns that he’s fairly shallow. I’m just here to see if he has anything to say other than his normal script. Rubio should be bleeding right now. I saw Jeb on Friday. I was impressed. He comes across much more genuine, much more knowledgeable than he appears to be on TV and the debates."

Continue reading "New Hampshire voters have the Marco Rubio-Chris Christie showdown on their mind" »

Marco Rubio defends repeating Obama attack at debate: 'I'm going to keep saying it'


NASHUA, N.H. -- Chris Christie rattled Marco Rubio in Saturday night's debate for repeating four times a line about President Barack Obama. But Rubio said Sunday morning that he stands by what he said -- and plans to keep saying it on the campaign trail.

"I would pay them to keep running that clip because that's what I believe, passionately," Rubio told ABC News' This Week

"We raised more money last night in the first hour that debate than any other debate. As far as that message, I hope they keep running it and I'm going to keep saying because it's true. Barack Obama --  yes, has he hired incompetent people to implement laws and run agencies? Absolutely.

"But when it comes to the -- what he's trying to do to America, it's part of a plan. He has said he wanted to change the country; he's doing it in a way that is robbing us of everything that makes us special."

Miami politicians trek to New Hampshire to help presidential candidates


Team Marco Rubio's post-debate spin

via @learyreports

GOFFSTOWN, N.H. -- While acknowledging a "tough exchange" with Chris Christie, Marco Rubio's senior strategist spun Saturday's debate performance as a win. 

"What Gov. Christie was trying to do was to knock Marco out, to kill him dead. He took his best shot and he failed," Todd Harris told reporters.

Asked why Rubio kept repeating the line about President Obama, a tactic that perplexed just about everyone, Harris said:

"Maybe unlike Chris Christie, Marco thinks that fundamentally what this election is about is defeating Democrats in November. So when he was given repeated opportunities to bash Barack Obama and to bash the record of the Democratic Party, he took every single one of those opportunities. It surprises me that any member of the media would think that Republican primary votes wouldn't be interested in hearing a candidate running for president take the fight to the Democrats. We did it repeatedly. We’re proud of it. We’re going to do it again tomorrow. And the next day, and the next day, and the next day."

Harris said Rubio's campaign had raised "three times" more money during the debate than previous debates. He said Rubio's goal is to finish in the "top tier" on Tuesday.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

How Cuban exiles ended up with 2 of their own as Republican presidential contenders

Primary Pixels Photo Gallery(2) (1)


NASHUA, N.H. -- For 50 years Cuban exiles have dreamed of the day they would elect one of their own to be president of Cuba.

This year they might actually see one elected — to be president of the United States.

Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, both sons of Cuban immigrants, head into Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary as two of the Republican Party’s top contenders for the 2016 nomination. That one of them could win marks an exceptional feat for a community only two generations removed from political exile.

“This race could come down to the two of them,” said former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, a Florida Republican backing Jeb Bush for president who was the first Cuban-American in the U.S. Senate. “It’s really remarkable.”

Last week, Cruz became the first Hispanic in history to win the Iowa caucuses. Together, he and Rubio took more than half the vote —nearly 51 percent — in a state not known for its ethnic diversity.

Yet there were few headlines proclaiming Cruz’s win and Rubio’s third-place finish as a victory for Latinos.

“Where is the media on this, right?” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Tuesday on Fox News. “I mean, this is a big deal.”

It is. But Cruz and Rubio themselves didn’t play it up. They don’t campaign as trailblazing Hispanics.

More here.

Photo credit: Chris Carlson, Associated Press