June 17, 2015

How much did Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush pay to launch their campaigns at Miami Dade College?

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Dade College housed not one but two presidential campaign kickoffs in a span of two months -- Marco Rubio's and Jeb Bush's -- not because the university endorsed the candidates but because the candidates paid to be there.

The nation's largest institution of higher learning is a public university with public facilities that can be rented by (hey!) the public. That includes the 2016 Republican presidential campaigns of both Miami candidates.

Rubio rented the Freedom Tower downtown, a place emblematic of Cuban exiles' arrival to the U.S. Bush leased the gymnasium and adjacent cafeteria of the campus in Kendall, a neighborhood representative of the university's diverse (largely Hispanic) student population.

How much did they pay, at least to the university?

Bush, who on Monday held the far larger of the two events, was charged $6,570, according to a facilities rental invoice obtained by the Miami Herald through a public-records request. The cost included the facilities (the gym, cafeteria, and a room) as well as audiovisual and lighting technicians, security, custodians, and "other" items, such as 600 chairs, 50 cocktail tables and one set of flags.

Rubio, whose April event took place at the much smaller Freedom Tower, was charged $2,352 for facilities and support services, including 40 chairs and 10 tables. (Except for the people behind Rubio, the audience at the Freedom Tower stood, while the audience watching Bush sat.)

It goes without saying that Bush's event was more disruptive to daily campus operations. But it also got widely noticed as a bigger production befitting the presumptive fund-raising front-runner.

Quinnipiac poll: Strongest GOP challenger to Hillary Clinton in Florida is Marco Rubio

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio's popularity surge since announcing his 2016 presidential campaign in April makes him the strongest Republican challenger in his home state of Florida -- at least for now -- against Democrat Hillary Clinton, according to a new public-opinion poll.

Clinton leads Rubio 47-44 percent in Florida, the survey by Quinnipiac University shows. Rubio also polls well in two other swing states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, even if he's not the GOP candidate in the tightest match-ups against Clinton in those cases.

In Ohio, potential contender and Gov. John Kasich leads Clinton 47-44 percent. Rubio trails her 45-42 percent. In Pennsylvania, she ekes ahead of Rubio 44-43 percent.

With error margins of 3 percentage points in Florida, 2.8 percentage points in Ohio and 3.2 percentage points in Pennsylvania, most of the match-ups effectively show ties. So early in the 2016 race, the more important takeaway is the trend from several polls showing Rubio on the upswing, according to Peter A. Brown, the poll's assistant director.

"It's a long way until Election Day, but in the critical swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has a tiny edge over the GOP field," Brown said in a statement.

Eight other hopefuls are "within striking distance" in at least one of the three states, he noted. That includes newly announced candidate Jeb Bush, whom Clinton leads 46-42 percent in Florida, 42-41 percent in Ohio and 45-41 percent in Pennsylvania.

Clinton continues to struggle in survey questions asking voters if she is honest and trustworthy.

June 16, 2015

Although he missed vote, Rubio would have said no on anti-torture measure

@CAdamsMcClatchy

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida who is also a contender for president, was the only member of the U.S. Senate not to participate in a Tuesday vote reaffirming a U.S. prohibition on torture.

Rubio’s office said the senator would have voted no on the amendment, which passed overwhelmingly. The other three senators running for the GOP nomination split their votes on the amendment.

The Senate easily passed the bipartisan measure, 78-21. It is meant to prevent future presidents from using tactics employed during the 2000s.

The measure was sponsored by Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona and a former prisoner of war during Vietnam, along with California Democrat Dianne Feinstein and others. It was offered as an amendment to an existing defense authorization bill.

The amendment is designed to codify limitations imposed by President Barack Obama early in his first term and prohibit what were known as “enhanced interrogation techniques” — commonly considered torture — used during the administration of President George W. Bush.

“We must continue to insist that the methods we employ in this fight for peace and freedom must always – always – be as right and honorable as the goals and ideals that we fight for,” McCain said in pushing the amendment. “I believe past interrogation policies compromised our values, stained our national honor and did little practical good. I don’t believe we should have employed such practices in the past, and we should never permit them in the future.”

He said the amendment provides greater assurances that “never again will the United States follow that dark path” of sacrificing the nation’s values for short-term needs. He added: “Our enemies act without conscience. We must not.”

Continue reading "Although he missed vote, Rubio would have said no on anti-torture measure" »

Jeb Bush vs. Marco Rubio numbers on Facebook (advantage Rubio)

via @learyreports

Facebook has been keeping track of activity surrounding presidential announcements and reports this morning that in a 24 hour period, 493,000 people generated 849,000 "interactions" about Jeb Bush.

Interactions are likes, posts, comments and shares.

Marco Rubio, who announced on April 13, had 695,000 unique people generating 1.3 million interactions.

Over the last 90 days, Facebook said, conversation about Bush has been generated by an average of about 85,000 unique people per day.

Top states chattering about Jeb Bush (by engagement)

1. Florida

2. District of Columbia

3. Vermont

4. Maine

5. Oregon

Continue reading "Jeb Bush vs. Marco Rubio numbers on Facebook (advantage Rubio)" »

'It's a little awkward,' Jeb Bush says of running against Marco Rubio

@PatriciaMazzei

Before the start of his first campaign event as an official candidate -- a town-hall style meeting in New Hampshire -- Jeb Bush sat down for an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, who asked what it's like for Bush to run for president against friend Marco Rubio.

"It's a little awkward," Bush conceded.

But unlike his prior responses to that question -- including in New Hampshire in April, when he looked less than happy about the prospect of a Rubio-Bush rivalry -- Bush took a lighter tone and was met with laughter from the audience.

"It's a little awkward," he repeated. "But that's just the way it is."

Elsewhere in the interview, which will air at 10 p.m. on TV but was live-streamed online by a Bloomberg Politics reporter, Bush said the prison at Guántanamo Bay, Cuba, should remain open. On the kind of "enhanced interrogation" techniques employed by his brother's administration, though, Bush said, "I don't think that's necessary, I don't think we need it" but added that "it was appropriate at the time."

Bush took a swipe at Democrat Hillary Clinton for not giving voters or reporters enough access -- a favorite jab of his, given his frequent interactions with both -- and went after her record in the State Department and the U.S. Senate" She has her name on three laws in eight years."

At one point, Hannity mentioned that presidential hopeful Donald Trump criticized Bush over his support of Common Core educational standards -- and Bush laughed. "I'm sorry," he said, regaining his composure (and not sounding all that sorry).

June 15, 2015

Marco Rubio welcomes 'friend' Jeb Bush to presidential race

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio welcomed his one-time mentor Jeb Bush into the 2016 Republican campaign Monday:

In politics, people throw around the word "friend" so much it often has little real meaning. This is not one of those times. When I call Jeb Bush my friend, I mean he is someone I like, care for and respect. He and I have worked closely together for many years, on issues big and small. He is a passionate advocate for what he believes, and I welcome him to the race.

"It is what it is," Bush said in April about the likely match-up against Rubio.

UPDATE: Bush thanked Rubio on Twitter.

June 14, 2015

NBC News on the 'Presidential Announcement Speech Guide'

For those political junkies out there -- and you know who you are -- take a read/look:

NBC’s Meet the Press and NBC Politics analyzed all of the 2016 batch of presidential announcements to date so far (13) and coded each speech to show how much time each candidate spent on a range of topics.

Here's the takaway: 

For Democrats: It's still the economy.

The top issue for Republican voters? National security and terrorism.

No surprise on Marco Rubio, who devoted his speech to his how powerful narrative/biography.

Read their self-described nerdy scorecard on presidential announcements here.

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Columnist Carl Hiaasen: Marco Rubio has no talent for managing money

From Miami Herald opinion columnist @Carl_Hiaasen:

Marco Rubio has a good backstory, and he enjoys telling it.

Hardworking immigrant parents, humble beginnings in South Florida — and now he’s a U.S. senator running for president at age 44.

It’s a stirring, up-by-the-bootstraps tale, if you leave out the credit-card mix-ups, unpaid mortgage and $80,000 fishing boat.

On the campaign trail, Rubio promises in scolding tones to rein in government spending, yet in his personal life he has displayed absolutely no talent for managing money.

The idea of him sitting in the Oval Office with billions at stake is a little scary. To believe that prudence and competence will suddenly bloom when he gets a crack at the federal budget is optimistic in the extreme.

More here.

Marco Rubio takes on Hillary Clinton over 'yesterday'

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via @learyreports

Hillary Clinton held a campaign announcement speech today — two months after entering the race — and confronted Marco Rubio’s attempt to paint her as “yesterday” with a history making appeal.

"Now, there may be some new voices in the presidential Republican choir," she said in New Yori, "but they’re all singing the same old song. A song called Yesterday."

Then this: "I may not be the youngest candidate in this race. But I will be the youngest woman president in the history of the United States. And the first grandmother as well. And one additional advantage: You won’t see my hair turn white in the White House. I’ve been coloring it for years!"

Rubio, 44, is trying to make a generational appeal (and he'd be the first Hispanic) and in doing so implicitly knocks not just Clinton, 67, but Jeb Bush, 62.

Bush who announces his campaign on Monday has already begun to defend against the age question,floating doubts about the last first-term senator who became president. Today, he released a video called “today and tomorrow” that will likely be played at his event Monday in Miami.

UPDATE: Rubio's team produced a video playing off Clinton's remarks. 

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Photo credit: The Associated Press

June 13, 2015

Rubio campaign swag includes the 'Marco Polo'

@PatriciaMazzei

When your name is Marco, you might as well make the most of it on merchandise.

U.S.Sen. Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican and 2016 presidential candidate, debuted his campaign store Friday, and the swag includes a "Made in America" polo -- yes, the Marco Polo. (It's not cheap: $45-$48, available, of course, in red, white or blue.)