October 01, 2015

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Ben Carson top PolitiFact Florida's Truth-O-Meter in September


The GOP presidential debate on CNN fueled many of PolitiFact Florida's most-clicked fact-checks in September.

Claims by three of those candidates -- retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson of West Palm Beach, former Gov. Jeb Bush, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio -- dominated our Top 5 most clicked-on reports in September, as did a couple of attacks on frontrunner Donald Trump.

Here’s a look at our most popular reports from September, counting down to the most popular.

2 Florida state senators from Miami back Marco Rubio instead of Jeb Bush


The Florida Capitol has been Jeb Bush Country for months, something the former governor's presidential campaign noted this week by trumpeting that 20 of 26 GOP state senators have endorsed him. The list was first published by Politico.

Two of the senators not on the list are from Miami, Bush's hometown. And they're backing the other local Republican running for president, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

State Sens. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and René García say they're bucking their colleagues because they're closer to Rubio, the former state House speaker -- not because they have anything against Bush. (The third Miami Republican state senator, Anitere Flores, is on Team Bush.)

"I respect and admire both Jeb and Marco," Diaz de la Portilla said in a text message to the Miami Herald. "I share their political philosophy. But I particularly like Marco's vision for America's future; Marco's energy, optimism, and passion are contagious."

García, of Hialeah, said he has known Rubio since the 1996 Bob Dole presidential campaign.

"I really think he could bring this country together," he said. "I will never speak ill of Jeb -- he was a great governor. When you go to Tallahassee, you do feel everyone is supporting Jeb Bush.

"But I do feel some people are giving Marco a second look."

The other senators missing from Bush's endorsement list are Charlie Dean of Inverness, Alan Hays of Umatilla, Travis Hutson of Jacksonville, and Tom Lee of Brandon.

Here are the senators who endorsed Bush, per his campaign:

Continue reading "2 Florida state senators from Miami back Marco Rubio instead of Jeb Bush" »

Donald Trump needs to 'put on his big boy pants,' Jeb Bush says


A reporter asked Jeb Bush late Wednesday for his response to Donald Trump's remark that the friendship between Bush and opponent Marco Rubio is "political bullshit."

Except CNN's Dana Bash didn't want to repeat the swear word at the candidate. And a jolly Bush joshed her until she did.

Then he answered her question:

"I'm pretty sure Marco can put his big boy pants on. I know I can. Like, we're friends. I can take criticism. He can as well," Bush said.

He then poked at Trump, calling him thin-skinned -- just as Rubio has, to apparent effect, given that Rubio has been Trump's favorite foil as of late.

"Donald seems to have a harder time taking criticism," Bush said. "He probably needs to put on his big boy pants, too."

As for Rubio, Bush concluded: "We're close friends, and I admire him greatly...Every debate we have it turns out we're going to the same church to pray at noon."

Trump, he said, "has no knowledge of my relationship with Marco Rubio."

Hillary Clinton emails reveal aide exchanges about Marco Rubio, with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen


via @learyreports

High ranking aides to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton feared Sen. Marco Rubio would hold up a nominee in retaliation for the proposed Obama administration's prisoner exchange with Cuba in 2011.

A statement Rubio issued went up the chain of command to Clinton, now of course a presidential rival of Rubio’s.

“Rubio statement re negotiations around Alan Gross,” an aide wrote in a October 2011 email to Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff. “In expressing his frustration, he alludes that he’ll take it out on Roberta during the confirmation process.”

Rubio did put a hold on Roberta Jacobson from being confirmed as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, but cited a different issue. Rubio dropped the hold in March 2012 but Obama got his exchange in 2014.

It’s not unusual that Clinton and her team would monitor issues related to Foggy Bottom. The Rubio mention was among Clinton emails made public on Wednesday, part of the massive disclosure of her private email server.

Another email Clinton got, in March 2011, was a copy of a Haiti-related article in Miami Herald quoting Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami.

Ros-Lehtinen, who had been chair of the House Foreign Affairs committee, emailed Mills in January 2011 to nail down a trip to Haiti.

“I’m good to go! Ily,” the lawmaker wrote.

“Can’t wait - we will take good care of  you,” Mills wrote.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

UPDATED Jeb Bush: 'It's not known' if Marco Rubio has sufficient leadership skills


Jeb Bush has subtly changed his argument over the past two days about why he thinks he'd make a better president than Republican rival from Florida Marco Rubio.

Bush told MSNBC's Morning Joe on Thursday morning that he's a proven leader -- and Rubio is not.

"It's not known" if Rubio has the required skills, Bush said.

He also repeated a line he told CNN on Wednesday that Rubio "followed" Bush's lead when both served in Tallahassee.

Here's a transcript of the Morning Joe exchange:

JOHN HEILEMANN: Let me just ask you a question about Marco Rubio. You talked -- there was a quote attributed to you yesterday, I believe is accurate that said you compared him to President Obama.  You said, "Look we had a president who came in and said the same kind of thing -- new and improved, hope and change -- and he didn't have the leadership skills to fix things." I just want to be direct about this. Are you saying that Senator Rubio does not have the leadership skills to fix things?  

JEB BUSH: There were two thoughts in that sentence that I had. But yeah, I think I have the leadership skills to fix things and that's my strength and that's what I talk about, and Marco was a member of the House of Representatives when I was governor, and he followed my lead and I'm proud of that.

HEILEMANN: Right. But you don not think he has the leadership skills to fix things?  

BUSH: It's not known. Barack Obama didn't end up having them, and he won an election based on the belief that people had that he could, and he didn't even try.

The Bush campaign was clearly pleased with their candidate's performance on the show, disseminating a link to the video where the former Florida governor appeared at ease and spoke at length about foreign policy.

UPDATE: Here's the different line Bush had about Rubio's experience in 2012 on the Charlie Rose Show, when Rubio was considered a potential Mitt Romney running mate:

CHARLIE ROSE: Marco has enough preparation to be one heartbeat away from the presidency?

BUSH: I believe so. Look, he has more experience than Barack Obama had when he ran, more practical experience. And certainly got the intellectual acumen and the fortitude to be a good president. And I have a special place in my heart for him, it's hard to describe the pride I feel for his incredible success, and how well he has moved into the job of being United State Senator with humility, not trying to be an arrogant guy, to learn the trade if you will. He's got great people in Washington, I really admire him.

--with Alex Leary of the Tampa Bay Times

September 30, 2015

'It's political bullshit,' Donald Trump says of Jeb Bush-Marco Rubio friendship


Donald Trump surprised reporters -- and got big applause -- Wednesday at a New Hampshire town hall where he cursed at least twice, including to dismiss the friendship between Republican presidential rivals Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.

"It's political bullshit," Trump declared. 

"They hate each other," he insisted. "Trust me. I know."

Here are the tweets from reporters who were there or watching live:

And here's the video (cursing towards the end):


Trump's other swear word came up on the topic of Iraq: 

Jeb Bush: Marco Rubio 'followed my leadership' in Tallahassee


Jeb Bush got in a couple of subtle digs at rival Marco Rubio in an interview Wednesday with CNN: He called him a follower in Tallahassee and suggested electing another first-term senator as president to follow Barack Obama would be foolish.

Obama, Bush said, has "been the greatest, most divisive president in modern history," according to CNN. "What we need is someone with proven leadership to fix things, and I believe I have those skills."

Bush has slid in early polls, while Rubio has seen a rise, particularly since Rubio's strong performance at the last Republican presidential debate.

The difference between the two men, Bush insisted, is his track record as Florida governor.

"I disrupted the old order in Tallahassee," Bush said. "I relied on people like Marco Rubio and many others to follow my leadership, and we moved the needle."

September 29, 2015

In Florida, Marco Rubio starts to overshadow Jeb Bush

Gop 2016 Rubio (2)

via @adamsmithtimes

THE VILLAGES -- When Marco Rubio launched his presidential campaign in the spring, a lot of people wondered how he would ever emerge from the shadow of his mentor, Jeb Bush.

On Monday, as Sen. Rubio campaigned to an overflow crowd in a sprawling central Florida development loaded with tens of thousands of relatively new Florida Republicans, the more immediate question was how Bush might escape the shadow of Rubio.

“Bush was fine as governor but he just doesn’t come across as authoritative, like Marco Rubio does,” said Pat McKay, who moved to The Villages 10 years ago from Philadelphia.

This booming, overwhelmingly Republican stronghold of more than 100,000 residents spreads across 32 square miles of Sumter, Lake and Marion counties. Bush spent plenty of time campaigning here in the area’s early years, but he left office nearly 10 years ago.

“Jeb doesn’t seem to have any energy, no excitement,” said Sid Sack, who retired to The Villages a year ago from Washington state, while waiting for Rubio to show up.

“He seems kind of like a marshmallow,” he said of Bush, a contrast given that Bush was known as perhaps the most energetic and ambitious governor in modern Florida history.

“We need somebody new. I like Rubio because he’s young,” agreed his wife, Billie, who also likes Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump.

Rubio drew more than 500 people to a big meeting space and two overflow rooms, an appearance that underscored one of the biggest challenges facing Bush’s presidential campaign: Countless Republicans know little about Bush beyond his last name, and that includes his home state with its ever-changing electorate.

More here.

Photo credit: George Horsford/Daily Sun via AP

September 28, 2015

UPDATED Marco Rubio: 'I'm not interested in the back and forth' with Donald Trump's 'freak show'


Marco Rubio absolutely, positively wants to stay above the fray in the 2016 Republican presidential race.

But he sure knows how to tuck in jabs against frontrunner Donald Trump while trying to distance himself from Trump's attacks on him and other more establishment candidates.

The latest example: In an interview aired Monday on NPR, Rubio was asked about Trump's calling him a "clown" on Friday.

"I'm not interested in the back and forth," Rubio said -- only to deride Trump's  "freak show."

"He is a very sensitive person. He doesn't like to be criticized. He responds to criticism very poorly," Rubio said. "His poll numbers have taken a beating and he was embarrassed on national television at the debate by Carly Fiorina and others."

"But this election is not going to be about Donald Trump," Rubio continued. "He thinks it is, but it's not about him. It has to be about the issues confronting our country. And my sense of it is that every time issues become prominent he will say something outrageous or do something outrageous so that he doesn't have to talk about the issues."

UPDATE: Asked about Rubio's comment in a New York news conference unveiling his tax plan, Trump again referred to Rubio as a "lightweight."

"Look, look. Sen. Rubio is a lightweight. We understand that. He wouldn't be able to do this. He wouldn't know a trade deal from any other deal. And what certain people are trying to do...

"We're going up very strongly in the polls. They don't know know what to do about it...

"I'm funding my own campaign. Guys like Rubio, I mean, he desperately needs money. Ask the car dealer in Florida." (That would be Norman Braman.) "Ask the people that support him..."

"A guy Rubio and others...they're largely controlled by their donors, the special interests and, frankly, more than anybody else, the lobbyists."

September 25, 2015

House Speaker John Boehner resigns

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will resign at the end of October, shaking up the leadership of the Congress.

Boehner has been under constant criticism from conservatives, who have demanded a more confrontational approach to President Barack Obama. The latest flashpoint is the desire to stop federal financing of Planned Parenthood, which some conservatives insist be tied to any measure keeping the government open when appropriations expire Sept. 30.

Boehner had signed onto an alternative plan that would allow the government to stay open, and give conservatives a separate vote on Planned Parenthood funding, which ultimately would fail with an Obama veto.

When U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio announced at the Value Voters Summit this morning that Boehner would be resigning it drew cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Here is Boehner's Truth-O-Meter record from PolitiFact.

Here is the reaction from the South Florida Congressional delegation and other political figures (this post will be updated):

Continue reading "House Speaker John Boehner resigns" »