October 18, 2016

Fact-checking Patrick Murphy's attack on Marco Rubio's immigration position



U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy says that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s flip-flop on immigration reform will rip apart families.

"I worked with President (Barack) Obama on this topic while Sen. Rubio changed position," Murphy said in a Spanish-language ad Oct. 10. "Now he opposes immigration reform. Worse, Rubio supports Donald Trump. His plan would deport 800,000 children, destroying families."

Murphy, a Jupiter Democrat, is challenging Rubio, a West Miami Republican, in the Nov. 8 Senate race.

Murphy’s ad makes it sound like Rubio is against any changes to the immigration laws, but that’s misleading. Rubio supports a different approach than the one he initially backed in 2013. The threat of 800,000 deportations under Trump also requires further explanation.

Keep reading here from PolitiFact Florida.

Photo by the Tampa Bay Times

Rubio, Murphy go after one another in policy-infused Senate debate

@ByKristenMClark & @JeremySWallace

ORLANDO -- After weeks of sniping at each other on the campaign trail, Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy were able to do it in person Monday night in their first of two scheduled U.S. Senate debates before Election Day.

Over 57 heated minutes, Murphy, the Democratic challenger, repeatedly attacked Rubio for his absenteeism during his first term as U.S. senator and for his continued support of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Rubio, meanwhile, highlighted embellishments Murphy made to his academic and professional résumés and what he called Murphy’s “record of doing absolutely nothing” in his first two terms in Congress.

Murphy — lagging in every poll since June and still lacking name recognition among a significant portion of likely voters — needed to shine Monday in front of his largest audience to date. Except for a few rattled moments and repetitious answers, he generally held his own against the more battle-tested Rubio, as the two also covered a gamut of policy issues including immigration, foreign policy, gun control, climate change and healthcare.

More here.

Photo credit: John Raoux / AP

October 17, 2016

Fact-checking Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy in first Senate debate


U.S. Senate candidates Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy trashed each other’s legislative records in Washington — and their parties’ presidential nominees — during their first-ever debate.

Murphy, a Jupiter Democrat, attacked Rubio, the Republican incumbent, over his Senate attendance record and his support of Donald Trump, while Rubio knocked Murphy for never breaking with Hillary Clinton.

PolitiFact Florida has been fact-checking their campaign jabs and ads since the beginning. Here’s our running list of fact-checks.

Patrick Murphy's emotional new ad uses Pulse shooting to hit Marco Rubio on gun control



Hours before Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio are set to face off in their first debate in Orlando, Murphy unveiled a new TV ad on Monday in which the mother of a Pulse nightclub shooting victim criticizes the Republican incumbent for "doing nothing" to improve federal gun laws after the June massacre.

Christine Leinonen lost her son, Christopher, in the tragedy. Her voice breaking, Leinonen begins the ad by explaining how her son was "shot nine times. He didn't have a chance."

"I cannot understand how Marco Rubio would go back to Washington D.C. and do nothing," says Leinonen, who was a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention this summer. "I don’t think Patrick Murphy is afraid to take on the toughest problems, including gun violence, in this country."

MORE: PolitiFact: 'Mostly false' that Rubio voted against 'every' gun bill after Orlando

Murphy, a Democratic congressman from Jupiter said in a campaign statement that after Pulse, "Senator Rubio never found the courage to stand with [Leinonen]."

"Marco Rubio puts the gun lobby before Floridians every time," Murphy said. "We have a responsibility to act and Floridians deserve a real leader in the U.S. Senate."

Rubio's campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas disputed Murphy's and Leinonen's claims of the senator's inaction, saying "since the tragic terrorist attack in Orlando, Marco has worked to help survivors and prevent terrorists from purchasing firearms."

"Marco voted for efforts that would alert the FBI and delay the purchase of weapons for anyone currently on or previously on the terrorist watch list," Perez-Cubas said in a statement. "Ultimately, Marco believes we must refocus our efforts on combating terrorism, both at home and abroad, and addressing the mental health crisis in our country."

Murphy, a strong proponent of gun control, has spoken several times during his campaign about the need for gun reform, especially in the wake of the Orlando shooting.

Last week -- on the four-month anniversary of the shooting -- Murphy held a press conference in Orlando with gun-control advocates, including U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy. The Connecticut Democrat (no relation to Patrick Murphy) famously filibustered on the Senate floor for 15 hours in late June, as the Senate deliberated gun-control measures following the Pulse shooting.

Watch Murphy's new ad below:

*This post has been updated with comment from Rubio's campaign.

Email shows Democrat wanted Clinton to 'go after' Rubio

10172016_093825_rubiomexico_8colvia @learyreports

A top Democratic aide wanted Hillary Clinton to “go after” Marco Rubio for holding up the nomination of ambassador to Mexico over Cuba policy, according to leaked emails.

“Can someone or a bunch of folks, or HRC go after Rubio for holding up Roberta Jacobson’s nomination to be our ambassador to Mexico? Wont this offend Mexican Americans and editorial writers?” asked Luke Albee, n former chief of staff on Capitol Hill and member of Engage Cuba, in an Oct. 23, 2015, email to John Podesta.

“One of the most important countries in the world and he is playing his petty, myopic, parochial bullshit games? And this is a guy who is getting credit for being ‘thoughtful and nuanced’ on foreign policy? The timing is good because of her incredible day yesterday, where she clearly understands the world and our role therein.”

The day before, Clinton testified for 11 hours before the House select committee on Benghazi.

The email then copies a new story about how Rubio and Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat from  New Jersey, were blocking Jacobson as a way to jab the White House over Cuba.

Jacobson had been assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere during President Obama's Cuba push. She was eventually confirmed this April, with Rubio dropping his hold in exchange for extended sanctions on Venezuela.

Other hacked emails have shown how Democrats were impressed with Rubio’s political skills.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

What to watch for as Rubio, Murphy debate tonight in Orlando

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@JeremySWallace & @ByKristenMClark

The debate over debates is over.

Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy will finally stand face-to-face Monday in Orlando.

The one-hour debate will be held at the University of Central Florida and broadcast online and on certain TV and radio stations statewide. ABC chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl will moderate.

It's the first of at least two debates over the next three weeks.

Click here to read about five key themes to watch for.

Photo credit: AP/Palm Beach Post

October 16, 2016

In Tampa, Rubio steers clear of Trump. So does Lopez-Cantera

via @WilliamEMarch

TAMPA — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio followed vice presidential nominee Mike Pence to the podium in a Tampa hotel ballroom full of enthusiastic Republicans on Saturday, praised Pence and other GOP leaders and then gave his usual rousing stump pitch.


But he did it all, speaking 34 minutes, without once mentioning the name of Pence's running mate, the presidential nominee the Republicans were there to support, Donald Trump.

Rubio this week maintained his tepid support for Trump for president after eight days of scurrilous revelations and accusations of Trump's abusive attitudes toward women.

But if anything, Rubio's speech Saturday night suggests he hopes to put even more distance between himself and Trump.

Rubio emphasized the key role the Senate will play in the next four years, but spoke almost dismissively of the presidential contest.

"I want to talk about the importance of the Senate race," he said. "We all know the importance of the presidential race."

He cited the coming U.S. Supreme Court vacancies, often referenced by reluctant Republicans as a reason to stick by Trump despite the past week's revelations.

"The next president and the next U.S. Senate will probably nominate and confirm up to three Supreme Court justices," who will serve up to 25 years – "the equivalent of three two-term presidencies," he said.

Continue reading "In Tampa, Rubio steers clear of Trump. So does Lopez-Cantera" »

Patrick Murphy's dad dropped another $250K into pro-Murphy super PAC

Murphy _ ap


A super PAC supporting Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy raised about $1 million in the past three months -- including a $250,000 check from Murphy's multi-millionaire father.

The donation was reported in a quarterly financial disclosure report filed with the Federal Election Commission just before midnight on Saturday evening, the day of the reporting deadline. The pro-Murphy "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" reported entering October with $764,000 in cash on hand to spend in the final weeks of the campaign.

Thomas Murphy Jr., chairman, CEO and founder of Miami-based Coastal Construction Group, has a long history of financially supporting his son's political efforts, starting with Murphy's first bid for Congress four years ago.

Including the most recent check to "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" on Sept. 27, the elder Murphy has donated at least $1.75 million this cycle in support of Patrick Murphy's Senate bid against Republican incumbent Marco Rubio.

MORE: "The financial muscle behind Patrick Murphy’s Senate bid: Dad"

This summer, Thomas Murphy donated $1 million to the Democratic super PAC, Senate Majority PAC, which a few days later announced a $1 million ad buy benefiting the Jupiter congressman. Earlier this year, Murphy's father previously also gave $500,000 -- through himself and Coastal -- to "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class."

Super PACs can raise unlimited funds but are prohibited from coordinating with candidates' campaigns.

A conservative watchdog group last month filed a complaint with the FEC alleging Thomas Murphy's donations to political efforts supporting his son constitute illegal coordination between Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign and the super PACs his father has donated to. (Murphy's campaign called it a "frivolous and unfounded attack.") Murphy's former primary competitor, Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, made similar accusations earlier this year.

MORE: Murphy ‘hates’ super PACs, but family gives to one backing him

The $1 million quarterly haul for "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" was its strongest fundraising period this cycle. The super PAC also reported spending about as much as it took in between July and September.

The group hasn't been noticeably influential in Florida's U.S. Senate race. It ran some advertising for Murphy over the summer, but almost half of its quarterly spending ($440,000) went to Senate Majority PAC -- which has been supporting Murphy but recently pulled millions of dollars in planned advertising for him.

By comparison, the pro-Rubio super PAC, "Florida First Project," raised almost $2.1 million between July and September and had about $500,000 in the bank as of Sept. 30, its most recent financial disclosure filing showed.

Photo credit: AP

October 15, 2016

Rubio super PAC reports $342K haul

via @learyreports

The super PAC supporting Marco Rubio on Saturday reported raising a modest $342,000 for the third quarter.

Florida First Project has not been that active as outside groups have poured millions into the race to help Rubio, who is also getting help from the state GOP. And Rubio has been raising huge sums himself, including $9.6 million in the third quarter.

Major contributors:

Warren Stephens, $100,000.

John W. Childs, $50,000.

Robert Arnott, $40,000.

Sen. John Cornyn's Alamo PAC, $25,000.

Edward Conard, $25,000.

Dosal Tobacco Corp., $25,000.

Landscapes USA, $10,000.

Tony Pritzker, $10,000.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Murphy hopes fallout from Trump tape will help him overtake Rubio

Murphy primary nite 3 - richard graulich pbp


Ten days ago, Democrat Patrick Murphy’s chances to unseat Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate looked less and less likely.

Florida’s Senate race was — and still is — competitive, but after weeks of going head-to-head against the Republican incumbent, Murphy had failed to take the lead or even gain a measurable advantage on Rubio.

Then came the leaked footage of Donald Trump.

The 2005 “Access Hollywood” video showing the Republican presidential nominee boasting of kissing and groping women without their consent has thrust Rubio into defensive mode, causing him to minimize his public profile even as he reaffirms his endorsement of Trump.

READ MORE: Rubio stands by Trump after tape

This was the golden opportunity Murphy’s campaign has wanted to try to knock Rubio down a few pegs.

“We feel really confident that these comments from Trump and these accusations against him this week are going to be a lead weight on Rubio’s chances,” Murphy campaign spokesman Joshua Karp said Friday.

But political observers say it’s too soon to tell whether the Trump controversy will give Murphy enough to overtake Rubio in the final stretch of the campaign.

Several don’t expect it to.

More here.

Photo credit: Richard Graulich / Palm Beach Post/AP