June 22, 2015

WSJ/NBC poll: It's starting to look like a Jeb Bush-Marco Rubio GOP race

@PatriciaMazzei

Three-quarters of Republican primary voters across the country say they could see themselves supporting Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio for president, putting them ahead of the rest of the candidate field, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

In March, 49 percent of respondents said they could see themselves voting for Bush, the former Florida governor, and 56 percent for Rubio, a U.S. senator, the poll found. Three months later, those percentages climbed to 75 for Bush and 74 for Rubio. In third place is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, with 65 percent (up from 52 percent in March).

The particularly strong improvement for Bush comes a week after he formally announced his 2016 candidacy. The first primaries are still a long way away, though, and a national poll doesn't capture voters' sentiment in each of the early-voting states.

When asked to pick one candidate they could vote for in the election, 22 percent of respondents chose Bush, 17 percent chose Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and 16 percent chose Rubio. The poll's error margin is 6.38 percentage points.

The shadowboxing match between Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- They can’t bring themselves to say it outright, instead using oblique putdowns, a pair of passive aggressive buddy-rivals on the 2016 presidential campaign trail.

Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are at the top of a big field of candidates seeking the Republican nomination. The former Florida governor and the current U.S. senator are largely in line on the issues, so they are plying other avenues to undermine each other.

The back-and-forth is a case study in the subtler art of political combat. It’s also an illustration of how strong Rubio, who has long seen Bush as the standard-bearer for Florida Republicans, has emerged in the contest’s early stages. A new poll shows him at Bush’s heels in Florida, crucial to any Republican’s shot at the White House.

While they dance around the subject, both know their hopes rest on eliminating the other guy — preferably before the March 15 Florida primary, avoiding a costly and personal war.

“I chose to run because, for America, the future is now,” Rubio said in a speech Thursday in Washington. “And if we keep promoting the same leaders, we will be left behind and we will lose the race for the 21st Century.

“There are those seeking the presidency based solely on what they achieved in the past.”

Is he talking about Hillary Clinton? Yes. But Rubio, 44, is also talking about Bush.

He just won’t mention Bush, 62, by name.

More here.

June 20, 2015

Marco Rubio revels in Miami-Dade GOP homecoming

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@PatriciaMazzei

It was homecoming for Marco Rubio at the Miami-Dade Republican Party on Saturday night, and he relished the chance to kid around with the people who know him best.

“Marco! Marco!” the sold-out crowd cheered as he took the stage.

“My son was saying ‘Polo,’” Rubio joked.

The Florida senator and 2016 presidential candidate headlined the local GOP’s annual Lincoln Day fund-raiser. They booked him a year ago, long before he launched his candidacy. The choice proved prescient: The party sold more tickets than it had since 1989, Chairman Nelson Diaz said.

With the loyalties of Miami Republicans split between Rubio and that other local candidate, no one on stage uttered the words “Jeb Bush.”

Bush, who kicked off his campaign Monday at Miami Dade College, was alluded to several times. But this night was Rubio’s.

“I am not running against any of my fellow Republicans,” Rubio insisted, addressing the news media. “I know they want us to fight. I know they want us to argue. It makes for better articles.”

Continue reading "Marco Rubio revels in Miami-Dade GOP homecoming" »

Potential Jeb Bush-Marco Rubio Florida primary showdown 'long way off,' Rubio says

@PatriciaMazzei

When in Miami, Marco Rubio can't avoid questions about what it's like to run for president against friend Jeb Bush. But the Florida Republican senator continues to dismiss them.

"It's politics. It's not personal," Rubio told reporters Saturday before the Miami-Dade County GOP's Lincoln Day dinner. "The voters are going to decide. And whatever that decision is, all of us Republicans who are running will all be on the same team in about nine months.

"That's how I view the campaign. And we have friends that are with us, and we have friends that aren't," he continued. "I remember when I ran for the Senate I didn't have anybody with me, so I take comfort in that."

He called Florida's March 15, 2016, primary, which could be a Bush-Rubio match-up, a "long way off." "There's a lot of votes before that, and I can tell you, if you don't do well in some of those early states, you won't be involved in the Florida primary."

Asked about a line in Bush's campaign kickoff speech aimed at senators who "file amendments" -- as opposed to governors with executive power -- Rubio said each person will highlight their own experience.

"One of the reasons Barack Obama is now president is 'cuz in the last race Republicans spent a lot of time attacking one another," he said. "I hope all of us will run on our agenda."

Marco Rubio: 'No problem' with Catholic Church on climate change but economy more important

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio, a Roman Catholic, said Saturday he has "no problem" with Pope Francis' encyclical urging action on climate change -- but added he won't support policies that could help the environment but "hurt our economy."

"I have no problem with what the pope did," Rubio told reporters in Miami before speaking to the Miami-Dade County Republican Party. "He is a moral authority and as a moral authority is reminding us of our obligation to be good caretakers to the planet. I'm a political leader. And my job as a policymaker is to act in the common good. And I do believe it's in the common good to protect our environment, but I also believe it's in the common good to protect our economy."

Though scientists are in broad agreement that climate change is man-made, Rubio continued to question that premise. He said his focus is on tackling the consequences rather than what caused it.

"I don' think there is a scientific consensus on what percent, how sensitive, climate is to human activity," he said. "But the broader question as a policy maker is not whether I believe humans have contributed 10 percent, 50 percent or 99 percent. The fundamental question I have as a policymaker must be what can we do about it and what impact will it have on the rest of our country and the rest of our lives. And what I am not going to support are measures that will hurt our economy and put people out of work and increase the cost of living."

He began answering the question by poking at Democrats who have trumpeted the pope's position on the environment but not social issues.

"I find it ironic that a lot of the same liberals who are touting the encyclical on climate change ignore multiple pronouncements of this pope on the definition of marriage and on the sanctity of life," Rubio said.

Marco Rubio to name Adam Hasner, Tom Rooney Florida campaign chairs

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio on Saturday will name two longtime supporters as co-chairmen of his 2016 presidential campaign in Florida.

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney of Okeechobee and former Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner of Delray Beach will be in charge of building a grass-roots donor and activist network for Rubio.

The Republican senator will announce the appointments at the Miami-Dade County GOP's Lincoln Day dinner Saturday night.

Rooney briefly flirted with running for Rubio's U.S. Senate seat but decided against it in April. He is one of only a few members of Florida's Republican members of Congress who have endorsed Rubio for president. The majority have backed hometown rival Jeb Bush.

Hasner was the GOP leader under Rubio's House speakership from 2007-08. Rubio's team has already named statewide chairs or co-chairs in the four key early primary and caucus states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada.

As Marco Rubio speaks to the Miami-Dade GOP tonight, a look at his Truth-O-Meter record

Sen. Marco Rubio, who speaks to the Miami-Dade Republican Party Saturday night, has kept PolitiFact Florida’s Truth-O-Meter busy since 2009 when he ran for U.S. Senate.

One of our earliest fact-checks examined his claim that "Fifty-seven" of  Rubio's 100 ideas  “ultimately became law” in Florida related to his tenure as House Speaker. We rate that claim Half True.

We have fact-checked Rubio 93 times on a variety of claims including about climate change, Common Core, Cuba, the federal health care law, foreign affairs, guns, poverty,  space and technology.

Out of Rubio’s 93 ratings, he has received 17 percent True, 24 percent Mostly True, 20 percent Half True, 23 percent Mostly False, 14 percent False and 2 percent Pants on Fire. We also gave him a Half Flip for his position on whether the Iraq war was a mistake. 

(And here is the Truth-O-Meter for his fellow Miami-Dade resident/presidential primary opponent Jeb Bush.)

Here is a look at a few of our recent fact-checks related to Rubio:

Bulk metadata collection: "There is not a single documented case of abuse of this program,” Rubio said. There are plenty of documented cases of misuse of the metadata collection program. It just depends whether that misuse is what you or Rubio have in mind when you think of abuse. We found no example of intentional misuse of the program. Keep reading here.

Immigration: "We have a legal immigration system in America that accepts 1 million people a year, legally,” Rubio said. “No other country in the world even comes close to that." The United States accepted just under 1 million people in 2013, the most recent numbers available. As a percentage of population, though, the United States ranked 19th out of 24 countries in 2013. Still, Rubio is correct that the overall figure puts the United States ahead of other countries. Keep reading here.

Restoring felons’ rights: A Facebook meme says Marco Rubio said that "felons should not have their voting rights restored" but that "convicted felons should be allowed to own guns after they have done their time." The meme was posted by a site that describes itself as satirical, and we found no evidence that Rubio actually said the words attributed to him. While Rubio has spoken critically in the past about felons regaining voting rights, he does not appear to have taken a stance on the restoration of felons’ gun rights. Keep reading here.

Hear a claim in Rubio’s speech tonight we should fact-check? #PolitiFactThis or florida@politifact.com

June 19, 2015

Marco Rubio calls off two Sarasota events

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio was supposed to be in Sarasota Friday for an event but will fundraise in Washington instead, the second of two events he canceled in the city.

Rubio had been scheduled for a fundraiser there Thursday night, “but his local supporters had trouble lining up enough high-dollar donors to make the visit worthwhile for the candidate,” according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. An organizer said: “Everyone I spoke to said 'I love Rubio, I love what he stands for and he would make an excellent president."

That cancellation seemed to trigger Rubio pulling out another gathering with supporters on Friday. On Tuesday, Harry Walia, Rubio’s county chair, sent an email that said Rubio couldn’t make it. (Walia’s name was on the fundraiser invite.)

“The campaign trails took our candidate too far from our county and his schedule will not allow him to attend the event on June 19, 2015,” the note said, without mentioning where Rubio had gone instead. “One thing for sure, Marco will be visiting Sarasota but at a different date.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

June 18, 2015

Rubio at faith conference pushes family, education themes

@CAdamsMcClatchy

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Marco Rubio speaks Thursday at Faith and Freedom gathering (Photo: Chris Adams)

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio told a gathering of evangelical Christian activists in Washington that he would work to transform the U.S. economy and tax system – as well as make the government more aware of the core values needed to make the nation strong.

“You cannot have a strong country without strong people,” the Florida Republican on Thursday told the event, which was organized by the Faith and Freedom Coalition. “You cannot have strong people without strong families. And you cannot have strong families with a government that strong-arms parents and our faith.”

The event was a must-stop among contenders for the GOP presidential nomination. Rubio is one of a dozen declared candidates, with several more waiting in the wings to determine if they’ll jump in as well. Rubio was warmly received by the crowd, although political experts say that other candidates have a deeper well of support among the party's evangelical base, which is vital in early states in the presidential nominating process.

His speech was a standard recitation of his life story and his goals if he were to be president. It’s a tale that starts with his parents coming to the U.S. from Cuba and ends with Rubio’s views on a muscular foreign policy and a need to get the government off the backs of businesses, taxpayers and families.

He emphasized the role of his family, led by his parents’ constant work to help build a better life for their children. On the campaign trail, he said, “I will see something that reminds me of my parents. Today it’s easy – I’m in a hotel banquet room, which is what my father did for many years as a bartender. … It’s a reminder to me and hopefully to our audience that so much of what I’ve been able to do in this life -- the opportunities that I’ve had -- has been directly the result of the experience that they felt in this country.”

Continue reading "Rubio at faith conference pushes family, education themes" »

Immigration activists interrupt Marco Rubio speech

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - Immigration activists interrupted Marco Rubio’s speech today before Christian conservatives and his reaction contrasted with how Jeb Bush handled a similar outburst at his announcement speech Monday in Miami.

Rubio paused his speech as the activists talked about deferred action, the Obama program that has protected some young immigrants from deportation. He then made a reference to how in Cuba such free speech would not be allowed, though staff at the Faith & Freedom Coalition ushered the activists out (as the crowd booed the demonstrators). A man blocked reporters from leaving the room, then relented but said reporters wouldn’t be able to get back in.

"If you did that in another country, you would be in jail tonight," Rubio said. "In America, people have a right to interrupt speeches, they have a right to be rude, they have a right to be wrong. We live in a free society." But he did not address immigration.

Bush’s speech Monday was stopped by a string of youth in green T-shirts that spelled out “legal status is not enough.” Bush, who oddly did not plan to address immigration in his speech, went off script.

"Just so our friends know, the next president of the United States will pass meaningful immigration reform so that will be solved. Not by executive order,” he said to explosive cheers from the audience, filled with Hispanics. "USA, USA, USA!" the crowd chanted.

Yesterday, Bush told ABC News that he does support a path to citizenship for immigrants brought to the country as children by their parents. While he once called for citizenship for the larger population he now advocates earned legal status.

The scenes Monday and today show how immigration will continue to be an issue for Bush and Rubio, both whom have taken heat from conservatives but both whom see Hispanic support as key to their chances at the White House.

Rubio opposes Obama's deferred action but has advocated for reforms and supports a path to citizenship.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times