April 21, 2015

Marco Rubio camp doesn't name names but notes tension with Jeb Bush

@PatriciaMazzei

At the end of Marco Rubio's first week as a 2016 presidential candidate, his campaign manager, Terry Sullivan, wrote up an email -- promptly leaked to reporters -- touting the launch and noting reports about early signs of strain with likely rival Jeb Bush.

"Our early success is not going unnoticed by other campaigns. The weekend, the Drudge Report highlighted an AP report that another campaign has 'Started quietly spreading negative information about Rubio's record,'" Sullivan wrote. Then he added, in bold: "We cannot take the bait and return fire. We must stay positive."

Of course, Rubio has gotten a lot of ink (and pixels) in part because he's a contrast to Bush, and because the relationship between the two men dates back more than a decade.

April 20, 2015

When Marco Rubio compared Common Core to Florida battle over LIP and Medicaid expansion

@PatriciaMazzei

New Hampshire voters don't really know or care about Florida's fight with the federal government over hospital charity funding and Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. But Marco Rubio used the tussle as an example Friday in Manchester about what he characterized as Washington's threat over state capitals.

An educator at Manchester Community College, where Rubio held his first campaign event since announcing his 2016 presidential candidacy, asked him about Common Core, the controversial education standards that many Granite State Republicans consider a four-letter word.

Rubio said he was "cautious" about giving the federal government any role in setting school curricula.

"I've always made the argument that the federal government always ends up turning a carrot into a stick," he said. "They'll tell you these are the standards we want you to meet, but it's just a carrot. If you do it, we'll give you money. They ultimately turn it into a stick and force you to do it."

Then he pivoted to Florida, where the Republican state House and Gov. Rick Scott are battling the Republican state Senate over whether to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid to plug a budget hole caused by the feds' ending of the indigent-hospital fund known as the low-income pool.

"Just now in Florida there's a big fight going on -- it has nothing to do with education, it has to do with healthcare," Rubio said. He explained LIP and said it "has nothing to do with Medicaid expansion."

"The federal government is now telling Florida, if you don't do Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, we won't give you the LIP money," Rubio said. "And I fear the same thing the same thing's going to happen with a program like Common Core."

Rubio, a former Florida House speaker, later told reporters that he disagrees with the feds.

"I don't think the government should hold them hostage," he said. "And that's what's happening: The federal government is basically telling the state, unless you do something we want on an unrelated matter, you wont get LIP funding. I think it's an example of federal overreach and what federal agencies always do."

Asked a similar question a day earlier in New Hampshire, Rubio's likely rival former Gov. Jeb Bush said the state and federal governments should look for middle ground to resolve the impasse, which is holding up next year's budget. A Bush spokeswoman later added that Bush opposes Medicaid expansion.

Poll: Hillary Clinton trails Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio in Florida

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami's two Republicans running and likely running for their party's 2016 presidential nomination hold an edge over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in Florida, a new poll has found.

The survey, by Jacksonville-based Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, shows U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio leading Clinton 49-43 percent, and former Gov. Jeb Bush ahead of her 47-43 percent. The poll has an error margin of 4 percentage points.

"Clinton's early campaign struggles have made some Democratic leaders nervous and there is evidence to support that it has trickled down to rank and file party voters," pollster Brad Coker said in a statement. "Among registered Democrats, only 39% said they will definitely vote for her in the primary election, while 40% would give strong consideration to another Democratic candidate and 12% would definitely vote against Clinton in the primary."

Mason-Dixon interviewed 625 registered Florida voters from April 14-16, beginning the day after Rubio's presidential campaign kickoff. The pollsters also found Rubio received a substantial post-announcement bump, effectively tying Bush 31-30 percent, with 17 percent of Republicans still undecided among the crowded primary field.

On immigration, Marco Rubio 'folded like a cheap shotgun,' Democratic senator says

via @lindsaywise

WASHINGTON — Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill slammed presidential hopeful Marco Rubio on ABC’s This Week on Sunday, saying the Florida senator “folded like a cheap shotgun” on immigration.

“If you look at Marco Rubio’s record, he took a principled, courageous stand on immigration reform and we passed a comprehensive bill in the Senate,” said McCaskill, a Democrat. “Then the minute his party’s base started chewing on him about it, the minute Rush Limbaugh criticized him, he folded like a cheap shotgun.”

McCaskill said Rubio’s decision to stop pushing for an immigration overhaul because of political necessity was “old politics” and “the stalest trick in the book.”

Rubio said in an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation over the weekend that the immigration system would have to be fixed in incremental steps, rather than in “a massive piece of legislation.”

McCaskill’s comments came in response to host Martha Raddatz asking for her response to Rubio’s critique of Hillary Clinton as “a leader of yesterday.”

McCaskill is expected to take a vocal role in the Clinton campaign.

Continue reading "On immigration, Marco Rubio 'folded like a cheap shotgun,' Democratic senator says" »

Marco Rubio on Face the Nation: 'Sexual preference is something that people are born with'

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio said Sunday on Face the Nation that he thinks people are born with their sexual orientation but that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

"It's not that I'm against gay marriage. I believe the definition of the institution of marriage should be between one man and one woman," Rubio said." "States have always regulated marriage. And if a state wants to have a different definition, you should petition the state legislature and have a political debate. I don't think courts should be making that decision."

"I don't believe same-sex marriage is a Constitutional right. I also don't believe that your sexual preferences are a choice for the vast and enormous majority of people. In fact...I believe that sexual preference is something that people are born with."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

April 19, 2015

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio emerge as 'frenemies' in New Hampshire

Rubio manchester

@PatriciaMazzei

NASHUA, N.H. -- That Jeb Bush’s surprise decision in December to explore a 2016 Republican presidential run would complicate the ambitions of his erstwhile Florida protégé Marco Rubio seemed a given.

That Rubio’s now-declared candidacy might also make things a little problematic on a personal level for Bush didn’t become clear until this weekend in New Hampshire.

Mentor and mentee missed each other as they both held meet-and-greet gatherings with voters in Manchester and spoke to GOP activists in Nashua. What they couldn’t avoid were questions at every stop from the news media probing their relationship.

More here.

Photo credit: Elise Amendola/Associated Press

April 18, 2015

The Onion riffs on Marco Rubio

From The Onion satirical website:

Following similar announcements by Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has become the third GOP candidate to declare his bid in the 2016 presidential race. The Onion breaks down what you should know about Rubio:

  • Campaign Slogan: “Laying the groundwork for 2020”
  • Campaign Strategy: Leverage Latino voter base, large-scale grassroots movement, death of Jeb Bush
  • Vision: Ready for America to reclaim strong conservative values held by 38 percent of its populace
  • Birthplace: Closed-door conservative think tank strategy session in 2010

More here.

Professor Marco Rubio makes New Hampshire appearance

IMG_4467

@PatriciaMazzei

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Professor Marco Rubio knows his way in front of a classroom full of college students.

So when Presidential Candidate Rubio made his way Friday to Manchester Community College in New Hampshire, he was ready to make quips and ask questions of students who, in at least some cases, had no idea who he was.

"I actually feel right at home," said Rubio, who teaches politics at Florida International University in Miami.

He gave a snippet of his fledgling stump speech, advocating for a higher-education system more flexible for working parents and more attention to vocational and technical education. Universities should tell students in advance how much they can expect to make once they graduate, he added, so graduates don't face student-debt sticker shock.

"That's something I'm very sensitive to, because I actually owed over $100,000 after I finished my education," Rubio said. "And I never would have paid it off had it not been for a book I wrote -- which you can get in paperback," he joked.

The students needed a little prodding to get going with questions. One of them, in wearing sweatpants and a sweatshirt, apologized for his casual attire. Rubio, wearing a suit, didn't miss a beat: "I want to apologize for how I'm dressed!"

On his way out the door, he thanked history professor Ben Hampton for letting him interrupt his class. Hampton, as it turns out, hails from Fort Lauderdale and knows Spanish.

"Hasta luego, señor," Hampton said.

"Muchas gracias, profesor," Rubio responded.

Marco Rubio tries to raise candidacy's profile in New Hampshire

IMG_4501

@PatriciaMazzei

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Seven years ago, Marco Rubio trekked to New Hampshire so invested in another politician’s presidential campaign that a cop almost wrote him a ticket for darting through traffic as he shoved Florida oranges into bewildered drivers’ hands.

He returned to the nation’s first primary state on Friday, this time as a Republican presidential candidate himself. He brought no citrus. He stopped no cars.

Marco Rubio’s first day campaigning directly to voters since announcing his candidacy Monday in Miami was a far more dignified affair than his now-distant 2008 trip. He drew a flock of curious reporters. He wore a body microphone so the professional camera crew trailing him — presumably to produce future television ads — could record his every word.

And he confronted the formidable task of introducing himself to voters outside Florida.

“I didn’t know his name, actually,” said Joseph Biladeaux, a 20-year-old welding student.

More here.

April 17, 2015

PolitiFact looks at Marco Rubio's record on federal marriage amendment

Sen. Marco Rubio’s fledging 2016 campaign got a lesson in presidential politics when he drew fire for potentially contradicting himself on whether he had ever supported a nationwide ban on gay marriage.

"I’ve never supported a federal constitutional amendment on marriage," Rubio told MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt during an April 11 interview.

But in an article on its website, the network pointed to a 2010 voter guide from the Christian Coalition that asked Rubio and his opponents Charlie Crist and Kendrick Meek their stance on several issues. Next to the topic "Federal Marriage Amendment to prevent same sex marriage," Rubio’s position is listed as "Supports."

What set PolitiFact’s bells ringing is that the voter guide is the only place we can find where Rubio apparently said he supported an amendment to the country’s constitution banning same-sex unions. That’s going to keep the statement off our Truth-O-Meter, because we don’t want to weigh in here when we can’t definitively confirm or debunk the position.

The Christian Coalition, which didn’t return our phone call or email, told MSNBC it stood by its voter guide. A spokeswoman said the guide was compiled from a survey Rubio filled out in 2010. The guide was then checked against candidates’ past statements and votes (VoteSmart.org did the same thing, for example, because Rubio would not answer the question about same-sex marriage directly). The group told the network they couldn’t find the survey without looking through their archives.

Turn to PolitiFact Florida for the rest of this article.