January 31, 2016

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio traipse across Iowa for just a few votes

GOP 2016 Rubio(9)


SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- Presidential candidates spend hours upon hours aboard hulking SUVs and swanky buses motoring across the snowy prairies of the country’s midsection ahead of Monday’s Iowa caucuses — all to try to win just a handful of votes.

In 2012, some 121,500 Republicans caucused in the entire state. That’s only about 6,000 more people than the 114,700 Republicans who cast ballots in the presidential primary that year — in Miami-Dade County.

Rick Santorum won the 2012 caucuses with 29,839 votes. That’s about how many votes Mitt Romney got — in Miami-Dade absentee ballots alone.

But this is how the nation picks its presidents. Which is why Miamians Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush spent the better part of the past week in places like Sioux City, asking Republicans for their support.

Some of them don’t even live in Iowa.

“I’m from Nebraska,” one woman attending Bush’s Friday afternoon town hall sheepishly admitted. A couple at Rubio’s Saturday morning town hall declined to give their name, because “We came from South Dakota.”

The Sioux City metro area, on the banks of the Missouri River and once part of Lewis and Clark’s exploration trail, touches all three states. The city proper, however, has a population of 82,500 — smaller than Miami Beach — and is Iowa’s fourth-largest city. Voters expect to see their candidates in person.

More here.

Photo credit: Patrick Semansky, Associated Press

January 30, 2016

A preview of Marco Rubio's 30-minute TV ad in Iowa

via @learyreports

Iowans will see Marco Rubio this weekend, a lot.

Rubio's campaign Saturday and Sunday will air a 30-minute television spot in every market across the state. "The television special will present an opportunity for Iowans to see the genuine passion that Marco has shared at town halls all across Iowa. For those in the Hawkeye State who have not been able to make it to one of Marco's events, they will get to experience one of his recent town halls from their own living room," the campaign said.

The campagin encouraged viewers to tweet "#HeyMarco" to get questions answered about the caucuses and learn more about the candidate. "They will also have an opportunity to call-in to a line set up for Iowans to get questions answered."

For some reason the campaign did not release the 30-minute spot; it provided this sample instead.


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

January 29, 2016

Marco Rubio's debate claim about cap and trade

Sen. Marco Rubio defended past support of a cap-and-trade bill in the Florida House by saying it was an attempt to protect the state from future federal regulations.

Fox News moderator Bret Baier asked Rubio about the issue at a Republican presidential primary debate in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 28, 2016. Baier said Rubio had "wanted Florida to get ahead of other states and establish a cap-and-trade system" while he was House speaker in 2008, and asked why Rubio had changed his mind.

Rubio denied he backed a popular plan supported by then-Gov. Charlie Crist, claiming he was looking to insulate Florida from restrictions a future president might impose.

"I have never supported cap and trade, and I never thought it was a good idea, and I was clear about that at the time," Rubio said.

Rubio has been very outspoken during this campaign about his opposition to cap and trade, which lets businesses trade pollution credits if they don't meet emission caps. But is his retelling of what happened in 2008 accurate?

See what Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact found.

January 28, 2016

Ahead of debate, Ted Cruz debuts Iowa TV ad hitting Marco Rubio on immigration

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio "betrayed our trust" by helping author the Gang of 8 immigration bill, Ted Cruz says in a new ad launched today in Iowa.

The attack -- going after Rubio's chief vulnerability in the race for the nomination -- is a sign of the threat Rubio poses to Cruz, who has been battling with Donald Trump. The ad is new but not the attack. Cruz has been hitting Rubio on immigration for a while. Rubio's response: Cruz supported legal status for immigrants and an expansion of work visas.


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Miami-Dade mayor to Chris Matthews: Your 'Cubans' comment showed 'bigotry'

Gimenez letter@PatriciaMazzei

Note to Chris Matthews: When you dismiss two Republican presidential candidates as "Cubans," the largest Cuban-American community in the country might take offense. Starting with its mayor.

Carlos Gimenez, the Cuban-born Republican mayor of Miami-Dade County, wrote the MSNBC anchor Thursday to object to Matthews' comment earlier this week that Thursday night's GOP primary debate would be boring without Donald Trump.

"Who's going to watch a debate between the two Cuban guys?" Matthews said on his Hardball show Tuesday night.

He was referring to Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. Neither is Gimenez's candidate -- he's backing Jeb Bush -- but the mayor nevertheless told Matthews he was "deeply offended."

"Your comments displayed bigotry and ignorance about nationality and what it means to be an American in the 21st century," Gimenez wrote. "Politics aside, Senators Cruz and Rubio are both highly qualified Presidential candidates. They are Americans. Period. And your questioning of their heritage (American, Hispanic or otherwise) is unbecoming and frankly unacceptable in this day and age -- especially of someone in your position."

Gimenez, who's running for reelection this fall, didn't ask Matthews to respond. Matthews apologized on air Thursday. ("I'm sorry I said it. I mean it," he said.)

"I don't expect you to retract your commentary or apologize," Gimenez concluded, "but I hope that my words have at least made you reconsider your antiquated and appalling remarks."

This post has been updated to note Matthews' apology.

Scott: Don't count Jeb out


Gov. Rick Scott hasn't written off one of his famous predecessor's chances of becoming president.

Scott, in Washington to deliver an address on reforming hospital pricing practices at the American Enterprise Institute, put on his politics hat after the talk.

Scott, governor since 2011, said it's too soon to give up on former Gov. Jeb Bush despite his failure to gain traction in polls.

 "I still think it's early," Scott told the Miami Herald. "I mean, we haven't even done the first primary yet."

Scott said that Bush "was a very successful governor" when he headed the state from 1999 to 2007, noting in particular his education reforms.

"We're at a 12-year high in our K-12 graduation rate," Scott said.

Adding that "Jeb is working hard," Scott said, "The person that works the hardest generally wins."

Despite praising Bush's record in Florida, Scott declined to endorse him. Neither is he endorsing -- yet -- fellow Floridian Marco Rubio, the first-term U.S. senator, nor any of the other Republican presidential hopefuls.

"Like a lot of voters in Florida, I'm watching the candidates," the governor said.

Four days before the Feb.1 Iowa caucuses, Bush tallied just 4 percent in a NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist poll of that state's Republican voters released Thursday. He was far behind businessman Donald Trump and U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio of Florida, while also trailing neurosurgeon Ben Carson.

Bush is faring better in New Hampshire, which will hold its primary Feb. 9, according to a poll released Thursday by Suffolk University. Bush broke out of the single digits with 11 percent, putting him in a second-place tie with Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Rubio, with all four men well behind Trump's 27 percent standing.

In addition to Bush, Scott said he has personal relationships with Rubio, along with Kasich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie through the Republican Governors Association.

Scott criticized the Republican National Committee for having scheduled just nine presidential debates this year.

"I wish the national party hadn't limited the number of debates and limited the locations," he said.

The RNC is weighing three additional possible Republican presidential debates.

The March 10 GOP debate will be at the University of Miami, nine days after Super Tuesday, when 14 states will hold Republican primaries or caucuses. Florida will hold its primary on March 15.

Scott declined to comment directly on Trump's decision to skip Thursday night's Fox News debate because of his ongoing feud with Megyn Kelly, one of its moderators.

"Every candidate's got to think about what's the best forum for them to get their message out, whether it's debates, whether it's town halls," Scott said.


Marco Rubio walks into an Iowa bar...and so does Dave Barry


From Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry:

WEST DES MOINES -- I went to hear Marco Rubio speak, for two important journalism reasons:

  1. The event was near my hotel.
  2. It was in a bar.

Rubio is a classic only-in-America story: The son of Cuban immigrants, he was elected to the U.S. Senate from Florida at the age of 12, and now, at age 14, he is running for president of the United States.

Rubio’s big rival at the moment is Jeb Bush. They used to be friends, but now they hate each other, because they are both vying for the coveted role of Establishment Republican Who Will Probably Not Get Nominated. The other hot Republican battle is between front-runners Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, who also used to get along but now detest each other to the point where there may be, if they can work out their schedules, a duel between their top aides.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have also reached the stage of intense mutual loathing. And we’re just getting started! By the time we actually elect a president, he or she will be so filled with rage that I wouldn’t be surprised if he or she launched a unilateral nuclear attack on Belgium just to let off steam.

But getting back to the Rubio event: There was a good-sized crowd of Iowans packing the bar, and when Rubio appeared they showed their enthusiasm Iowa-style, by which I mean they applauded politely. Some of them also went “Whoo!” In Miami, there would have been gunfire. It would have been positive, friendly, welcoming gunfire, but still.

More here.

Photo credit: Daniel Acker, Bloomberg

Marco Rubio's final TV ads in Iowa


WEST DES MOINES -- Marco Rubio's campaign put out two new TV ads in Iowa over the past two days, aiming for what his aides call a "strong close" in Monday's caucuses.

One spot, released Wednesday, focuses on Rubio's love of families and faith. The other, released Thursday, hones in on Democrat Hillary Clinton. Both feature the Florida senator speaking directly into the camera.

No campaigns (including super PACs) have spent more on Iowa TV than Rubio and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.



January 27, 2016

MSNBC's Chris Matthews: 'Who's going to watch a debate between the two Cuban guys?'


MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews is apparently worried about rival Fox News Channel's debate ratings.

When front-runner Donald Trump said Tuesday he'd skip Fox's Thursday night debate in Iowa, the Hardball host asserted a televised exchange led by Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz wouldn't be worth it. He chose to dismiss Cruz and Rubio as "the two Cuban guys."

"Who's going to watch a debate between the two Cuban guys?" Matthews asked a reporter who was at Trump's event in Marshalltown, Iowa. "Who's going to watch the debate between Rubio, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz? Who cares?

"Because, you know, they've been sort of fighting in this little inter-league fight over who's the hawkish guy, or whatever. Who's going to watch that Thursday night? Maybe I'm building it up too much."

Neither Rubio nor Cruz were born in Cuba and don't have Cuban citizenship. Rubio was born in Miami to Cuban parents. Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father and American mother.

Watch the clip here.

What Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio had to say about Donald Trump's plans to skip GOP debate


Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush showed no patience for Donald Trump's decision to skip Thursday night's Republican primary debate in Des Moines, the last one before Monday's Iowa caucuses.

Bush took to Twitter on Tuesday:

Rubio issued a statement Wednesday:

America is heading in the wrong direction, and people are right to be angry about it. But it’s not enough just to be angry. The next President has to have a real plan to turn the page on Obama and his disastrous policies, and they have to be willing and able to sell that plan to the American people. That’s why these debates are so important.

These kinds of theatrics by Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are an entertaining sideshow, but they have nothing to do with defeating Hillary Clinton. I’m going to stay focused on uniting the Republican Party so we can defeat Hillary Clinton and turn the page on eight years of liberal failure. We don’t have time for these kinds of distractions.

Neither Floridian could match another GOP presidential contender, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, who quipped to Fox News on Wednesday: "The IQ of the debate went up a couple dozen points, I would say."