September 26, 2016

Citing 'clear' choice, Human Rights Campaign endorses Patrick Murphy

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@ByKristenMClark

The Human Rights Campaign announced its support this afternoon for Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy over Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio.

"The choice for LGBTQ Floridians could not be more clear in November," HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. "Patrick Murphy has a record of leadership on equality while Marco Rubio has dedicated his career to opposing LGBTQ equality."

Griffin added: "Patrick Murphy believes that everyone should be able to live free from fear of discrimination, including LGBTQ people. That’s why Patrick Murphy supports the Equality Act, and why we’re proud to support his campaign."

Murphy said he was proud of the endorsement.

"Our state deserves a senator who represents the voice of the LGBT community and all Floridians in the U.S. Senate," Murphy said in a statement provided by the HRC.

Nabbing HRC's endorsement means Murphy can expect campaign and fundraising help from the group's political action committee during the remaining weeks before Election Day.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / AP/The Palm Beach Post

September 24, 2016

Rubio delivers weekly GOP address, criticizes Obama on Gitmo

@PatriciaMazzei

The Republican Party gave a platform to reach conservative voters Saturday: The Florida senator delivered the GOP's weekly address.

Forty-five days before the election, Rubio's message focused largely on terrorism, citing the recent attacks in Minnesota, New Jersey and New York.

"These attacks remind us once again that evil is real, and that we remain a nation at war against radical Islamic terrorism," Rubio says in the taped message.

Rubio criticized President Barack Obama's handling of terrorist threats, and chided him in particular on his push to get detainees out of the U.S. Navy Base in Guatánamo Bay, Cuba.

"With just four months left in office, President Obama and his allies in Congress want to release every single terrorist from the military's custody at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba," Rubio says. "We've already seen why this is a dangerous mistake, as many have been released to other countries, only to quickly go missing. Others have returned to the battlefield, and replenished the forces of evil."

September 23, 2016

Ros-Lehtinen, Ortega toss verbal grenades at each other

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@jamesmartinrose

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Nicaraguan government traded bitter criticisms Friday over charges of intimidation and repression.

The exchange started with a statement by the Managua government opposing an effort in Congress led by Ros-Lehtinen to restrict its access to loans in what would be a form of economic sanctions.

Without citing the Miami Republican by name, Nicaragua accused her and other lawmakers of having "been involved in disinformation and intimidation campaigns in the media against Democratic, pluralistic and progressive processes in Latin America and the Caribbean."

The alleged interference in Latin America appeared to be a reference to lawmakers' past criticism of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments.

Ros-Lehtinen has been especially critical of Cuba and its allies in Venezuela and Nicaragua, along with Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and other Cuban-American members of Congress.

Ros-Lehtinen fired back at the Nicaraguan government's latest salvo.

"Ortega's baseless accusations are just his latest attempt to detract attention away from the human rights abuses and the acts of corruption and intimidation he has been perpetrating in Nicaragua, but nobody is fooled," she said.

While Ros-Lehtinen targeted Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, the statement criticizing her bill came from the government he heads, not from him personally, although he all but certainly approved it.

And although Ros-Lehtinen said Ortega had attacked her, the Nicaraguan government statement did not mention her or any other lawmaker by name.

The House on Wednesday unanimously passed a measure that would place U.S. limits on loans to the Ortega government unless it accepts international observers and other steps toward holding free elections.

Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Albio Sires, a Cuban-American Democrat from New Jersey, were lead sponsors of the legislation. The Senate has not pass a companion bill.

Ros-Lehtinen said her measure's main aim was to “stop Ortega from accessing international funds until he adopts reforms that promote democracy, strengthen the rule of law, respect human rights, and celebrate free, fair, and transparent elections supervised by electoral observers.”

For more, read here.

Photo credit: Emily Michot

 

 

Can Zika aid bill overcome its DC partisan past?

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@jamesmartinrose

WASHINGTON Senate Republican leaders revealed what they called a breakthrough in Zika funding Thursday under renewed pressure from Florida lawmakers and mayors to break a seven-month political impasse.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article103560742.html#storylink=cpy

Democrats, however, said disputes over funding other urgent needs could still block any final deal, with the Zika money now part of a larger appropriations measure meant to fund the federal government through Dec. 9.

Just a few hours after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine met with South Florida members of Congress and visited the White House to push for the stalled Zika money, the Senate Republicans disclosed the new Zika effort.

For more, read here:

Photo credit: C. M. Guerrero, El Nuevo Herald

 


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article103560742.html#storylink=cpy

 

Marco Rubio, Republicans use Iran to attack Patrick Murphy on foreign policy

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@ByKristenMClark

For months, Republicans have hammered Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy for his support of the Obama administration when it comes to Iran policy, and those attacks escalated overnight after Murphy voted with House Democrats to oppose a ban on future cash payments to the Middle East nation.

GOP groups, including Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio, are using Thursday night's vote to characterize the Jupiter congressman as "weak" on national security, but Murphy, like other Democrats, argue Republicans are merely playing politics.

The debate stems from revelations this summer that the U.S. paid $400 million to Iran as part of a decades-old settlement on the same day four American prisoners were released from the country. Republicans have described the transaction as a "ransom" payment, a characterization the Obama administration disputes.

In response to that controversy, though, the Republican-led House on Thursday passed a bill -- mostly along partylines with Democrats, like Murphy, opposed -- that would prohibit cash payments to Iran and require congressional notification for any future settlement transactions.

MORE from McClatchy DC: "House approves legislation prohibiting cash payments to Iran"

When asked by the Herald/Times why Murphy opposed the bill, his congressional spokeswoman Erin Moffet initially did not specify the reason for Murphy's vote, but then later explained his position in a follow-up statement.

"It is not in our nation's best interest to tie this and the next president's hands from being able to settle claims, which this politically motivated bill would do by preventing the U.S. government from making future payments – even if required by law," Moffet said.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio, Republicans use Iran to attack Patrick Murphy on foreign policy" »

PolitiFact: A look at Marco Rubio's record on abortion

RubiooutsidehisofficeAP

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy said Sen. Marco Rubio has a zero-compromise position on abortion.

In a new campaign ad that started appearing Sept. 20, 2016, Murphy’s campaign said Rubio, the Republican incumbent, refuses to give ground on the issue, even in extenuating circumstances.

"Marco Rubio would take away a woman’s right to choose for victims of rape or incest," the ad said. It included video of Rubio saying, "I don’t require there to be an exception for rape or incest."

Murphy has faced criticism that he’s a conservative in Democrat’s clothing, so his ad touted his own support for abortion.

The ad goes on to say Rubio wouldn’t allow the procedure for pregnant women with Zika.

Rubio has previously confirmed he would oppose allowing a woman who has contracted the virus to abort a fetus that potentially had severe microcephaly. He said he preferred "to err on the side of life" rather than allow the procedure.

But what has Rubio said about allowing exceptions for rape and incest victims? We checked his record and found that even though Rubio strongly opposes abortion, his stance on granting exceptions is a bit more nuanced than Murphy described.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Labor unions' new attack ad criticizes Marco Rubio's 'priorities'

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@ByKristenMClark

Two liberal labor unions have teamed up to launch a new attack ad on Friday that criticizes Republican incumbent Marco Rubio's legislative "priorities" and casts him as out of touch with Floridians.

The ad from AFSCME People and AFT Solidarity accuses Rubio of favoring cuts to Social Security and Medicare and also says he "voted to slash school funding by billions of dollars and would eliminate the Department of Education."

MORE: "Fact-checking Democratic attacks on Marco Rubio's statements on Social Security and Medicare"

The 30-second spot will air in the Tampa and Orlando media markets through the end of the month, AFSCME PEOPLE said. AFCSME and AFT's political committees are jointly funding the $1.3 million ad buy. 

Both of the labor unions support Rubio's opponent, Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy.

"Marco Rubio is more concerned with his chances to run for president in 2020 than to tackle the issues that Floridians care about as proven by his dismal record when he actually does show up for work," Shirin Bidel-Niyat, AFSCME’s assistant director of political action, said in a statement. "This ad reminds voters of something they want so badly to forget: Marco Rubio is only out for Marco Rubio, not for their families and their communities."

But Rubio's campaign spokesman Michael Ahrens fired back, saying "Patrick Murphy's liberal supporters are distorting Marco's positions, just like Murphy distorted his own résumé."

Ahrens reiterated a previous statement from the campaign, noting that Rubio's mother relies on Social Security and "Marco would never do anything to hurt his mother or the millions of Florida seniors who depend on Social Security and Medicare."

"Marco also believes our children are best served by an education system that's run by Floridians at the state and local level, not by the federal government bureaucrats who bankroll Patrick Murphy's campaign and paid for this false attack ad," Ahrens added.

For AFSCME PEOPLE, the ad represents the second wave of $1.8 million the union plans to spend on TV ads in Florida's U.S. Senate race. The union's first ad -- a joint operation with the Senate Majority PAC -- also criticized Rubio over entitlement programs. PolitiFact rated the claims in that ad "Half True."

Here's the unions' ad:

Image credit: AFSCME PEOPLE / YouTube

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

September 22, 2016

How Scott sidelined Lopez-Cantera during the GOP Senate race

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@PatriciaMazzei

Something unusual happened to Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera this month: Gov. Rick Scott started giving him things to do again.

None of it was heavy lifting. But the change to Lopez-Cantera’s public schedule was immediate and striking: The calendar hit September, and the Miami-based lieutenant was hitting the road, touring businesses, visiting schools and attending meetings after a summer of political exile.

For three months, Lopez-Cantera had hardly been visible in matters of state — while Scott had one of his busiest seasons in office. The Pulse gay nightclub shooting in Orlando. The Zika virus outbreak in Miami. The Hurricane Hermine aftermath in Tallahassee. Scott moved from crisis to crisis, seizing the chance to appear on camera as a hands-on chief executive.

Lopez-Cantera played little part. He could have served as a Spanish-speaking surrogate to the families of the Orlando victims, many of whom were Hispanic. He could have been a constant state presence in his hometown of Miami as Zika cases piled up.

Instead, his calendar usually listed him as having “no scheduled events.”

“Carlos hasn’t had anything to do, other than show up at a photo op,” said his predecessor, former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. “Which is a discredit to him, because the people elected a governor and a lieutenant governor to work on their behalf.”

A Miami Herald review of the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s public schedules from June 12 (the day of the Pulse shooting) to Aug. 30 (the day of the Florida primary) found 254 events for Scott, compared to only 21 for Lopez-Cantera. On at least four occasions, Scott attended an event in Miami-Dade or Broward counties — within driving distance from Lopez-Cantera’s Coral Gables home — without the LG.

What changed in September? The primary was over. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio had crushed Republican challenger Carlos Beruff.

More here.

Photo credit: Mark Wallheiser, Associated Press

PolitiFact: Patrick Murphy misleads in attack on Marco Rubio about gun bills

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@amysherman1

When U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio unveiled a gun safety bill Sept. 15, his Democratic rival for re-election attacked him for failing to support important gun safety legislation months earlier.

"After the tragedy in Orlando, Rubio used the deaths of 49 innocent Floridians to run for re-election while voting against every bill that would have helped keep our families safe," U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy said in a campaign statement. "He even voted against a bipartisan measure, introduced by a Republican, to prevent people on the no-fly list from purchasing guns."

Rubio, a Republican, has been endorsed by the National Rifle Association. Murphy has been endorsed by the Pride Fund to end Gun Violence, an LGBT group formed after the June 12 Orlando mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub.

Rubio voted for and against gun bills following the shooting, including those related to the no-fly list, a subset of the terrorist watch list. One vote was a procedural move against a Republican-sponsored compromise effort that failed.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Murphy hires Balsera to lead Hispanic outreach

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@PatriciaMazzei

With polls showing he remains largely unknown among Florida’s crucial Latino voters, U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy hired a prominent Hispanic communications and strategy chief Thursday — just 47 days before the Nov. 8 election — to help him take on Sen. Marco Rubio.

Freddy Balsera will advise Murphy on Hispanic media, communications and outreach, the campaign said. Balsera, of Coral Gables, crafted President Barack Obama’s Hispanic TV and radio messaging campaign in 2008. He’s also a 2016 political analyst for the Miami-based Telemundo network.

“Patrick Murphy is not going to automatically assume that Marco Rubio is going to run away with the Hispanic vote simply because of his heritage and because he speaks Spanish,” Balsera told the Miami Herald in a phone interview. “Hispanic voters are quite sophisticated and informed. They’ve been paying attention to Marco Rubio for the past six years.”

Murphy has spoken to various Democratic Hispanic groups and appeared at least once on Univision. He’s been endorsed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and earlier this week made a couple of Tampa campaign stops with state Rep. Janet Cruz. After the Pulse gay nightclub shooting, Murphy traveled to Orlando to speak to survivors, many of whom are Hispanic.

Yet Murphy has yet to produce any TV or radio ads in Spanish for the general election. Rubio has two Spanish-language ads on the air, including one targeting Central Florida’s booming Puerto Rican population. National Republicans have also been advertising in Spanish on his behalf.

More here.

Photo credit: Roberto Koltun, el Nuevo Herald