July 25, 2016

July 19, 2016

'Vast majority of Americans' won't care about Melania Trump plagiarism, according to Rubio

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio defended Melania Trump, saying the alleged plagarism is an issue that won't matter to "the vast majority of Americans."

"I think we got a chance to meet her last night ... and hear her story," Rubio said on CNN. "I think that's what's really going to matter to voters. Probably not the political punditry class, but to voters."

Jake Tapper asked if Rubio would be upset if a teacher said one of his children plagarized. "I would, but that's different from what you're asking. Last night was a convention speech and one that I don't think she claims to have written." He said whoever wrote it probably wishes he or she had chosen different words.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay TImes

July 17, 2016

A tally of Rubio's missed classified briefings

via @learyreports

Under fire for shirking his duty in Washington, Sen. Marco Rubio declared on CNN last October that “We do all the intelligence briefings” and ”I was just there this Tuesday.”

But from that point through when he left the presidential race in March, Rubio missed 20 of 23 classified Intelligence Committee meetings, according to new research.

The Tampa Bay Times earlier this year reported on how Rubiomissed scores of committee hearings, including 60 percent of Foreign Relations meetings since he was first elected.

The new information about closed Intelligence briefings, based on his campaign schedule and other information, adds a new layer to the portrait of absenteeism.

Rubio’s rivals are trying to revive questions now that he has reversed his campaign pledge not to seek re-election. He leads in the polls.

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said the lawmaker was constantly briefed on matters of national security, which Rubio made a centerpiece of his campaign. Intel members also do work outside the committee, including reading classified information and cables. He's said that when he missed hearings, a staffer would go for him or retrieve information he would later read.

Continue reading "A tally of Rubio's missed classified briefings" »

July 15, 2016

'Phony Patrick' Murphy gets hit in new pro-Rubio super PAC ad

via @learyreports

Senate Leadership Fund is following through on a promise to spend $1.5 million in support of Marco Rubio, launching a TV ad attacking Patrick Murphy's background.

The ad, accompanied by a digital spot, will run on broadcast and cable in Tampa and Orlando, the Mitch McConnell-linked group said. The ad focuses on Murphy's work experience, which has come under scrutiny from reporters and opponents.

PolitiFact concluded that some assertions from opponents were stretched. Yet questions are unlikely to go away with Senate Leadership Fund and others turning them into TV ads.


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

NBC News poll: Clinton leads Trump in Florida, 44-37%


Democrat Hillary Clinton is ahead of Republican Donald Trump by 7 percentage points in Florida and leads him by similar margins in three other swing states, according to a new poll.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist survey of Florida shows Clinton besting Trump 44-37 percent in a head-to-head match-up. When third-party candidates are taken into account, she gets 41 percent to Trump's 36 percent, Libertarian Gary Johnson's 7 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein's 4 percent.

The other states where Marist found similar Clinton leads are Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia.

The Florida poll's results could cause some whiplash, coming two days after a Quinnipiac University survey found Clinton had lost her edge over Trump in the state, and Trump now led 42-39 percent. 

Marist surveyed slightly fewer respondents (871 compared to 1,015) over fewer days (July 5-11 compared to June 30-July 11). Marist's error margin was 3.3 percentage points; Quinnipiac's was 3.1. Both universities polled registered voters.

There's no month-to-month comparison in the Marist poll, whereas Quinnipiac showed the Florida numbers shifting against Clinton.

In Florida, the safe takeaway when polls differ is that numbers tighten as the general election gets closer -- and the nation's largest swing state usually sees close presidential races. 

According to Marist, Clinton's favorability rating is slightly better than Trump's in the state. She has a net rating of -21 percentage points, with 37 percent of respondents viewing her favorably and 58 percent unfavorably. Trump has a net rating of -27 percentage points, with favorable-unfavorable numbers of 34-61 percent

In a hypothetical U.S. Senate match-up, Marist found Republican Sen. Marco Rubio ahead of potential Democratic rival Patrick Murphy by 47-44 percent -- a much narrower gap than Quinnipiac, which found Rubio had opened a 13-point lead over Murphy.

July 14, 2016

Pro-Rubio super PAC blasts Beruff as 'Charlie Crist Republican'


Charlie Crist isn't on the statewide ballot in Florida this year. But if Marco Rubio and his allies succeed, he will be a key player in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

A super PAC backing Rubio announced its first TV ad Thursday. Echoing the message sent by Rubio's campaign, Florida First Project will attack Rubio rival Carlos Beruff as a "Charlie Crist Republican." Crist ran against Rubio in 2010, first as a Republican and then as an independent. 

Polls show Beruff remains far behind Rubio. Beruff's campaign has started swinging at the senator -- including with a statement Thursday that derided Rubio's backbone as made of "Jello."

The ad will air statewide beginning this weekend, the PAC says.


In a statement, Beruff spokesman Chris Hartline accused Rubio of "lying" about Beruff, "just like he lied to the people of Florida when he said he wouldn't support amnesty for illegal immigrants, lied about his support for Donald Trump and lied when he said he wouldn't run for reelection.

"He's doing it, of course, hiding behind his Super PAC, which is run by his presidential campaign manager," Beruff spokesman Chris Hartline said. "Every Republican in Florida was conned by Charlie Crist, none more so than Marco Rubio, who supported his agenda in the legislature. But it's no surprise that Washington's candidate, Marco Rubio, would lie. He'll say and do whatever he needs to to hold on to political power."

Rubio admonishes federal agency that had 'no problem' with Murphy's algae presser request

Rubio lettervia @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio admonished the SBA for saying it had “no problem” complying with a request from Rep. Patrick Murphy’s office to delay news about relief for businesses affected by the algae bloom.

“Please answer the following question: In times of disasters, such as the algae bloom in Florida's waterways, why would the SBA have ‘no problem’ delaying any form of relief to my constituents?

“Suffice it to say, this incident leaves a profoundly bad taste in the mouths of many Floridians who see this as an example of the SBA putting politics and publicity plans ahead of the needs of our people. As the SBA continues its efforts to provide assistance to Florida on this matter and others throughout our state, I ask that you act swiftly and not delay the immediate relief my constituents desperately need.

“I request an immediate response to my question.”

Murphy's other Senate rivals also jumped on the news. Republican Carlos Beruff said Murphy should resign for using his House office for political purposes, though it's not clear Murphy violated any rules. He wouldn't be the first politician to try to maximize news. But the request from his office looks bad amid the crisis.

Murphy's office last night defended the situation and said he supported the opening of an office to facilitate SBA loans.

Meantime Murphy took a shot at Gov. Rick Scott during a news conference this afternoon and said he would stage a rally in Tallahassee.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio to give video address at GOP convention


Marco Rubio won't physically be at next week's Republican National Convention in Cleveland. But he'll address the gathering via video, organizers announced Thursday.

It'll be a message, not a live speech via satellite.

Later in the day, the RNC plans to release a more complete list of its video program. The first two names revealed were Rubio and retired basketball coach Bobby Knight.

Rubio has said he's staying in Florida to campaign for re-election to the U.S. Senate. His absence, though, was viewed by some Republicans as a less-than-full-throated endorsement of presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Rubio's primary rival, Carlos Beruff, will be in Cleveland. His campaign quickly accused Rubio agreeing to speak to delegates only after finding out Beruff would go -- and after a new poll showed Trump narrowly leading presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in Florida.

"Looks like he’s going to phone it in just like he’s phoned it in as a Senator," Beruff spokesman Chris Hartline said in an email to the Miami Herald. "Figuring out where Marco stands on Trump is like nailing Jello to a wall, which is fitting, since Jello is approximately the consistency of Marco's backbone."

Several other former Trump rivals -- Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Scott Walker -- will speak at the convention in person. Conspicuously absent: Ohio Gov. John Kasich, whose state is hosting the event.

The most high-profile Florida politicians scheduled to appear on stage are Attorney General Pam Bondi -- in prime time -- and Gov. Rick Scott.

Quinnipiac poll: Rubio's lead has widened since entering Senate race


Marco Rubio’s lead over his Democratic rivals has grown into the double digits since hedecided to run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, according to a new poll that shows — for now — the Republican incumbent isn't being dragged down in Florida by presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The Quinnipiac University survey shows Rubio widening his advantage in potential head-to-head match-ups against Democratic Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson. Rubio is ahead of Murphy by 13 points (50-37 percent) and of Grayson by 12 points (50-38 percent).

Last month, when Rubio still hadn’t made up his mind about running, he led Murphy by 7 points (47-40 percent) and Grayson by 8 points (48-40 percent).

Murphy, who has the high-profile backing of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other national Democrats, had a particularly difficult end of June. He was hit with a serious of news reports indicating he had repeatedly inflated his résumé.

“Democrats made fun of Sen. Marco Rubio when he opted for a last-minute re-election bid in Florida, but he may be on the way to a last laugh, having quickly opened double digit leads over both Democratic challengers,” Peter A. Brown, the poll's director, said in a statement.

The poll didn’t measure Rubio’s popularity against his sole GOP primary rival, Carlos Beruff, who would lose to Murphy by 40-34 percent and be tied with Grayson at 38 percent.

Polls generally tighten in a general election, and Senate races may be affected by the presidential contest at the top of the ticket. The Florida primary is Aug. 30.

More here.