November 16, 2015

Marco Rubio jabs Ted Cruz over NSA surveillance

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio took a shot at Ted Cruz on Monday night, saying his rival worked to "weaken" surveillance programs now back in focus given the attacks in Paris.

The salvo, which Rubio's campaign quickly put on YouTube, comes after Cruz spent several days last week casting Rubio as soft on immigration. Rubio was speaking at the Wall Street Journal's CEO Council in Washington.

His campaign pointed to a vote on the USA Freedom Act in June. It allows for data collection but phone companies maintain it, not the NSA.

"Does Senator Rubio think Senators [Tim] Scott, [Kelly] Ayotte, and [Chuck] Grassley also 'voted to weaken the U.S. intelligence programs?' " asked Cruz spokesman Rick Tyler, referring to Republicans from the three early primary states of South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa. 


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Baby Got PAC says Hillary Clinton and Dems are scared of Marco Rubio. Is that the truth?

A Republican millionaire with an apparent fondness for '90s rap has thrown his support behind U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.

California winery owner John Jordan’s new super PAC released a one-minute commercial before the Nov. 10, 2015, GOP primary debate. The political action committee is cheekily named Baby Got PAC, a reference to the 1992 Sir Mix-a-Lot magnum opus Baby Got Back.

In the ad, reportedly written by Jordan, a narrator explains the PAC is pulling for Rubio over the rest of the Republicans because the Floridian is the one that Democrats fear most in the general election.

"It’s a tough choice. So you know who we asked? Hillary Clinton and the Democrats," the ad said while flashing three lines as proof of their point. "For once, they told the truth. They admitted there’s one candidate who scares Hillary Clinton, and that’s Sen. Marco Rubio."

Cue Sir Mix-a Lot: Now, we like checking campaign statements, and we cannot lie! But is this a charge Democrats just can’t deny? (Sorry, we just had to get that out of the way.)

See what Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact Florida found.

Florida politicians opine on U.S. policy after Paris attacks

via @learyreports

The Paris attacks swiftly became a political issue in the U.S., with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio positioning themselves as ready to confront the Islamic State and even Florida Senate candidates weighing in.

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, on Monday shot off a letter to Obama that said Syrian refugees should  not be allowed in. "It is clear that radical Islam is waging war against America and Western civilization," Buchanan wrote. "We cannot allow terrorists to seep through a porous refugee screening process to kill Americans."

Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores, sent his own letter to the president calling for a tougher approach to Isis. “Together with our allies and willing world partners, we must dramatically enhance our engagement with the enemy to accomplish one clear objective – to immediately destroy ISIS and its partners in terror,” the U.S. Senate candidate wrote.

Jolly’s rival Ron DeSantis on Monday issued a news release to ask if Democrats Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy will “reject Obama's risky refugee gambit?” (The administration has not backed off plans to allow some refugees in.)

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama want the United States to take tens of thousands of Syrian refugees despite the terrorist attacks in Paris and the government's inability to screen them for terrorist sympathies. Do Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson agree with them?” DeSantis asked.

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday called on Congress to oppose the refugees.

On refugees, Bush and Rubio over the weekend showed a divide among presidential candidates.

Bush said the focus should be on accepting “Christians that are being slaughtered.”

Rubio said none should come in because “there’s no way to background check” them.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio says it's 'silly' to focus on his personal finances

via @learyreports

In an interview with Fox News that aired Sunday, Marco Rubio complained about news media coverage of his personal finances, said he'd sign abortion legislation that does not include exceptions even though he supports exceptions and took on the experience question.

"Mitt Romney was too rich to be President, but I am not rich enough?" Rubio said.

"That’s silly. The truth is, my finances -- not anymore, but maybe my first 10, 15 years of my marriage -- looked a lot more like the people I represent than the people I served with. Instead of looking at that and our understanding of why that makes me so passionate about the issues facing the American people, (reporters) focus on why didn't follow the advice of some financial adviser who analyzed my finances and thought I should have done this instead of that."


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

November 14, 2015

New super PAC web ad highlights Marco Rubio's hawkishness on ISIS


Conservative Solutions PAC released the digital ad Saturday night casting Marco Rubio as a presidential candidate with hawkish foresight on the threat posed by the so-called Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks in Paris.

The video features a clip of Rubio at the last Republican primary debate warning about ISIS -- after first showing President Obama suggesting ISIS had been "contained" (in Iraq and Syria) and Hillary Clinton saying in the past that the U.S. should seek to understand its adversaries.

Clinton said during Saturday night's Democratic debate that she was referring to a long-term, historic understanding of enemies in an effort to hone U.S. strategy.

In Sunshine Summit speech, Rand Paul hits Marco Rubio on immigration

via @learyreports

ORLANDO -- Sen. Rand Paul used his Sunshine Summit speech to go after Marco Rubio on immigration, accusing the Floridian of teaming in "secret" with Chuck Schumer to block amendments to the 2013 legislation.

"Your senator in fact opposed me," Paul said of a border security amendment.

Paul repeated the charge during a news conference in which he signed paperwork to get on Florida's March 15 primary ballot.

"I have no idea what Senator Paul is talking about," Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said. "It would appear Senator Paul is trying to change the subject away from his dangerous isolationist agenda and proposals to cut defense spending."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio on Paris attacks: 'A reminder of the increasing dangers facing free peoples'


Here's the statement released Friday night by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on the terrorist attacks in Paris:

My prayers tonight are with the people of France and all those impacted by the terrible tragedy unfolding in Paris. These brutal terror attacks against innocent civilians are a reminder of the increasing dangers facing free peoples around the world, and it is important for all Americans to stand with the people of France in this difficult time.

As we learn more about the attacks and who is behind them, the United States should assist the French government in finding those who are accountable and bringing them to justice. We cannot let those who seek to disrupt our way of life succeed. We must increase our efforts at home and abroad to improve our defenses, destroy terrorist networks, and deprive them of the space from which to operate.

November 13, 2015

Ted Cruz targets Marco Rubio in immigration offensive

GOP 2016 Florida Republicans

@PatriciaMazzei @AmySherman1

ORLANDO -- The sermon in the church of Ted Cruz began Friday with a thunderous roar from a candidate who seemed to have transformed into a preacher ( “Wow! Wow!”). He briefly switched into Spanish (“¡Muchísimas gracias!”). And he concluded with the message that the country’s ills perpetuated by Democrats will only worsen if more Democrats — in Cruz’s eyes, “the illegal aliens” — are granted the right to vote.

“If you’re supporting amnesty, you’re supporting Common Core,” Cruz intoned at the Faith Assembly of God, an Orlando megachurch where he spoke for 53 minutes. “If you’re supporting amnesty, you’re supporting the Obama-Clinton abandoning of the nation of Israel.... If you’re supporting amnesty, you’re supporting the Ayatollah Khamenei having nuclear weapons in Iran.”

The several hundred believers waving campaign signs that matched the stickers on the lapels and the T-shirts on their backs rose up, as if unable to contain their fervor.

But Cruz’s real target was someone else, who wasn’t there and he named only once, another 44-year-old Cuban-American senator running for president: Marco Rubio.

More here.

Sunshine Summit: Marco Rubio

via @learyreports

ORLANDO -- Marco Rubio was the first presidential candidate to address the Sunshine Summit in Orlando and may have suffered from a crowd not yet warmed up, or one familiar with his stump speech. The reaction was warm but not overwhelming.

Still, Rubio delivered pleasing lines about national security, throwing out the Iran nuclear deal, repealing Obamacare and opposing Common Core. He did not address immigration but that was a dominant topic during a news conference that followed.

Speech highlights:

Joker: "I’m not sure who brought Barack Obama’s TelePrompTer. But I wish I could move it so I could see you. … We don't have any socialists running and none of our candidates is under investigation by the FBI.”

Bush bashing. He didn’t say Bush’s name but Bush was clearly a focus when Rubio said governors don’t create jobs, the private sector does. Rubio also said federal government should not be involved in K-12 education. That’s why we don’t need Common Core,” he said to applause. Then: "I feel called to this. I don't come from wealthy and politically connected parents."

Family Values: “There is no replacement for the family. It is the original government. It is the most important school you will ever attend.” This is a newer line in Rubio's standard speech.

Turn the page: Rubio laced his address with his generational, turn-the-page argument. “We are running out of time,” to fix the problems facing the country.  

Strong America: “In the face of all these threats, we are gutting our military capability, and that is why one the first things this party must be about is we must be the party of a strong national defense.” (Big applause.)

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

PAC says Ted Cruz stopped Marco Rubio's push for 'amnesty'

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s leadership role on a 2013 bill to change immigration laws continues to draw fire for him in the GOP presidential primary.

The Courageous Conservatives PAC, which supports U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, has attacked Rubio’s position in a radio ad in Iowa:

"We all loved how Marco Rubio took apart Jeb Bush in the debate. Wasn’t it great? But what’s Rubio ever done? Anything? Other than his Gang of Eight Amnesty bill, can anyone think of anything Marco Rubio’s ever done? Anything at all besides amnesty?" says the narrator who then switches to praise Cruz. "When Chuck Schumer and Marco Rubio tried to push amnesty, it was Ted Cruz who stopped them."

We decided to research Cruz’s role in the death of Rubio’s bill, and we’ll explain the problems with labeling it as "amnesty."

See how PolitiFact Florida rated this claim.