April 20, 2016

Marco Rubio steps into Haiti elections fray -- again

via @Jacquiecharles

Sen. Marco Rubio is once more speaking out about Haiti's elections.

The Florida Republican has teamed up with Georgia Republican Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson to ask U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to step it up on Haiti's on-again, off-again final presidential round.  

"We urge the Department of State to use every tool at its disposal to ensure that Haitian authorities conduct elections by the agreed upon deadline," the letter said.

That would be Sunday under a Feb. 5 political accord outlining the steps for Haiti's interim leaders to transfer power to an elected president. The date, however, is impossible to meet. That means, while not yet official, the country's scheduled April 24 runoffs to elect a president and complete parliament, will be postponed for a third time.

Léopold Berlanger, the newly appointed head of Haiti's revamped elections body, said as much in his in his first news conference earlier this month.

"We cannot talk about the electoral calendar in the state that we're in," Berlanger said, referring to the chorus of doubts over the credibility of the final results of the Oct. 25 presidential first round pitting government-backed candidate Jovenel Moïse against opposition candidate Jude Célestin.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio steps into Haiti elections fray -- again" »

April 18, 2016

Donald Trump wrongly blames Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush for Florida's winner-take-all primary


Donald Trump has been on a tear accusing the Republican establishment of rigging the system to hurt him, despite the fact that he leads the delegate count in the primaries.

One of the states where leaders are out to get him is Florida, he says. The state’s March 15 primary was "winner-take-all," which means all of the delegates went to one winner, who ended up being Trump.

"You speak about what’s unfair, so in Florida you had 99 delegates," he said in aspeech in Rome, N.Y. "And Jeb Bush had it set -- Jeb Bush or Rubio, both of them. They had it set so that the winner takes everything, because they wanted to make sure that I didn't get anything."

Did Bush and Rubio set the Florida primary for winner-take-all because they wanted to prevent Trump from getting any delegates?

Republican officials did hope a winner-take-all primary would benefit Bush or Rubio, but Trump gets some of his key facts wrong. Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Photo by the Associated Press.

April 14, 2016

Marco Rubio blasts Senate for refusing vote on end to welfare benefits for Cuban 'refugees'



The U.S. Senate refused to vote Thursday on Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s bid to stop giving welfare benefits to Cuban immigrants, prompting an exasperated Rubio to take to the Senate floor to blast political paralysis in Congress.

“This is why people are so sick of politics,” said Rubio, who noted that, until a month ago, he was a Republican presidential candidate hearing from voters about their frustrations with lawmakers. “You can vote for a Democrat, you can vote for a Republican, you can vote for a vegetarian. It doesn’t matter who you vote for: Nothing happens. These people don’t do anything.”

“No one can argue this,” he added of his proposal, which he argued would put an end to abuse by some Cubans who take the welfare dollars back to the island. “But I can’t even get a vote on an amendment to change this.”

And why not? According to Rubio, because fellow Republicans tell him, “‘We can’t vote on it because if we give you your amendment, then we have to give the other side their amendment.’” (The other side being Democrats.)

“This is crazy. This is nuts. We can’t solve problems,” Rubio said. He noted the plan has bipartisan support: U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, is a cosponsor in the House of Representatives. Florida’s senior senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, signed on to Rubio’s bill Thursday, saying the welfare benefits “were meant to help those fleeing persecution by Castro’s oppressive regime, not to be a source of income for those who returned to Cuba.”

More here.

April 13, 2016

Fort Lauderdale man launches 'Nominate Rubio' website

James Lamb can’t stop believing in Marco Rubio.

The Fort Lauderdale man is formally launchingNominateMarco.com on Wednesday — the one-year anniversary of Rubio’s presidential kick off — imploring Republicans to nominate the former candidate at a contested convention.

So far, 2,371 people have signed a petition Lamb has circulated. Rubio dropped out of the race on the night of the March 15 Florida primary, dominated by Donald Trump.

However far-fetched, talk has grown of a nominee other than Trump, Ted Cruz or John Kasich. Rubio is retaining 172 delegates and has declined to join other Republicans in backing Cruz.

Lamb said Trump “is not worthy of being president by virtue of his poor character.” Cruz “seems to be too right wing extremist” and a “troublemaker.

It’s not crazy to think Rubio could re-surface, Lamb said. He reached out to Rubio’s camp about the petition and didn’t hear back, which Lamb took as “a silent nod and a wink.” The website makes clear Rubio has not endorsed the effort.

Lamb, 47, is a transportation consultant and bundled donations for Rubio’s presidential campaign. His website is sponsored by the Small Business in Transportation Coalition, of which Lamb is chairman.

The wesite includes a lengthy FAQ, including, “Is Marco really thinking about joining the Miami Dolphins staff?” The given answer: “We think this was just an April Fool’s joke.” Another section knocks down talk Rubio will seek to become a vice presidential running mate or 2018 candidate for governor.

The petition on the site reads:

“Whereas, mathematically, it appears virtually impossible that any Republican candidate will receive the requisite 1,237 delegates needed to secure the 2016 Republican party presidential nomination; and Whereas, we the members of the Republican party believe the Honorable Marco Rubio remains the best and most qualified candidate to defeat the Democratic nominee; Now, be it hereby resolved that we the members of the Republican party hereby request that any and all unbound delegates elect Marco Rubio as our nominee; and be it further resolved the party remove any and all barriers and suspend or eliminate any and all rules that interfere with such ability of said unbound delegates to vote for Marco Rubio as the nominee.”

If Lamb doesn’t succeed, he’s already thinking ahead: On Facebook, he started a group called Elect Marco Rubio President 2020.

- by Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio says he would support Ted Cruz on second ballot at convention

Marco Rubio still isn’t endorsing Ted Cruz, but said he would support the Texan on a second ballot in the event of a contested convention.

"I hope that they'll nominate a conservative,” Rubio told Mark Levin, adding the only one who ”fits that criteria is Ted Cruz.”

Rubio has stopped short of endorsing Cruz, leading to speculation about his calculations on a future run for president.

The TV interview is behind a pay wall but Rubio also acknowledged he is open to running for office again.

“I enjoyed public service but there are other things I’d like to do with life,” he said.

Vowing to “finish strong” in the Senate, Rubio said he would “remain engaged in helping people who hold limited government conservative values to get elected, and if there’s an opportunity to serve in the future, I’m obviously open to that.”

- by Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times

April 11, 2016

Pro-Donald Trump PAC gets Pants on Fire for claim that Marco Rubio got hundreds of Trump votes

According to a super PAC supporting New Yorker Donald Trump for president, Texas Republicans just experienced a wagon’s worth of election fraud, all oddly to the good for Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (who later dropped out of the race).

We read the post on stopthesteal.org on April 6, 2016 while looking into a claim by Republican consultant Frank Luntz who had said in a tweet that Team Trump "has accused Ted Cruz," the Texas senator battling Trump for the Republican presidential nomination, of fraud in Iowa, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Kansas, Maine, Utah and Wisconsin. That’s Half True, we found.

Luntz, by way of offering factual backup for his claim, guided us to a post onstopthesteal.org, the website for the Committee to Restore America’s Greatness, a super PAC created in December 2015 by Trump supporter and former campaign operative Roger Stone to back Trump and attack rivals, especially Rubio, according to a Reuters news story at the time.

The web post aired concerns about fraud in seven states including Texas after stating the Trump Ballot Security Project was formed "when the mainstream media reported dozens of voting irregularities in the" March 2016 "Texas Republican primary. This ultimately totaled over 600 reports in at least six counties including Dallas County and Travis County. In virtually every case," the post says, "votes cast for Donald J. Trump were tallied for Sen. Marco Rubio."

Cruz handily won the state’s March 1, 2016, primary with 43 percent of the GOP vote. Trump finished second (27 percent) and Rubio third (18 percent); Ohio Gov. John Kasich landed fourth with 4 percent, according to the Texas secretary of state.

We asked Stone about the basis of stopthesteal.org’s proclaimed Texas irregularities. By email, he initially noted the ballot security project had shifted to its own websitethough the provided address didn't lead to any web page just a few days later.

See why PolitiFact Texas rated this statement Pants on Fire.

The campaign-finance legacy of Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- $235 million.

Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio burned through that much cash before joining the heap of failed 2016 presidential candidates, an astounding figure even in the big-money era.

But more important, the Floridians pushed new boundaries of campaign finance, setting examples likely to be copied by other candidates while leaving behind a string of complaints from watchdog groups contending laws were broken.

“They are pilgrims on the path to destroying the campaign finance system,” said Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21, an advocacy group that filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission, the IRS and the Justice Department.

For months, Bush insisted he was not a candidate while traveling the country to collect millions for a super PAC. The undeclared status allowed Bush to work closely with Right to Rise and take in unlimited donations instead of the $2,700 individual contribution limit his campaign faced.

By the time Bush announced, he had amassed most of his $100 million “shock and awe” war chest.

Rubio benefitted from a nonprofit that also collected huge donations — at least $16 million — and financed TV ads in early nominating states. The tax-exempt group provided donors with the cloak of anonymity, injecting untraceable “dark money” into the political discourse.

“He took the outside-money world from unlimited contributions to unlimited secret contributions and created a very dangerous precedent,” Wertheimer said.

More here.

April 08, 2016

Marco Rubio endorses Obama's $1.9B request to fight Zika

RHJ09 Rubio News rk

via @dchangmiami

Florida health officials confirmed two new Zika virus infections on Friday — raising the statewide total to 84 cases, most in the nation — as former Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio said he supports President Obama's request to Congress for $1.9 billion in emergency funding to combat the spread of the infectious disease.

Hosting a press conference with local and state officials at his Doral office, Rubio said ensuring the appropriate use of federal funds to combat Zika was the best way for the Obama administration to win the support of congressional Republicans, who broke for spring recess in March without acting on the president’s February request.

“While I’m supportive of fully funding the president’s initiative on this,” Rubio said, “I want to make sure that the money, when appropriated, will be appropriately spent on what we’re trying to address.”

With Florida leading the nation in Zika cases, including two new infections reported in Broward and Palm Beach counties on Friday, Rubio spent the morning meeting with state and local officials, including Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and public health experts, to gauge the needs for combating the virus, which is primarily transmitted by mosquito bites.

Rubio stressed calm. “There’s no crisis,” he said. “This is an issue that we're going to confront.”

More here.

Photo credit: Roberto Koltun, el Nuevo Herald

In Miami, Marco Rubio backs Zika funding but says he’s not talking presidential politics


If there’s one thing Marco Rubio got to practice as a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, it was to stay on message.

The skill served him well Friday, when he held his first Miami news conference since dropping out of the race.

Rubio wanted to talk about Zika, the mosquito-borne, sexually transmitted virus. Reporters wanted to talk politics.

The senator refused.

What do you want to do with your delegates? he was asked.

“I want to make sure they don’t have Zika,” he joked.

Rubio, breaking with some Republicans, backed $1.9 billion in emergency federal funding to combat the virus, though he warned "government can't solve all of these problems" and Florida residents should take care to wear mosquito repellent and drain standing water. The federal dollars, he added, should go only to Zika efforts, preferably targeted at the local level.

"I want to make sure that when the money's appropriated, it's appropriately spent." he said.

He wouldn’t say why he’s yet to endorse former rival Ted Cruz. And he claimed he hasn’t “given any thought” to whether there might be a contested GOP convention – even though he’s sent letters to state party chairmen to keep his delegates.

March 29, 2016

Eyeing contested convention, Marco Rubio wants to keep his presidential delegates


Marco Rubio might still be a player in 2016 presidential politics if Republicans reach their July convention without a nominee.

With that in mind, the Florida senator has reached out to party organizations in states where he won delegates as a candidate to keep them bound to his candidacy.

"I write this letter to inform you that the decision to suspend my campaign for President of the United States is not intended to release any National Convention Delegates bound to me as a result of the 2016 delegation selection process that took place in your State," reads Rubio's letter to party chairmen (which misspells "United" as "Untied"). "It is my desire at this time that the delegates allocated to me by your rules remain bound to vote for me on at least the first nominating ballot at the National Convention."

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos characterized Rubio's effort as an attempt to keep delegates tied to what voters wanted -- instead of, say, jumping to front-runner Donald Trump.

"Of course, he's no longer a candidate and wants to give voters a chance to stop Trump," Burgos said.