October 28, 2016

Miami Republican billionaire backs Murphy for U.S. Senate, donates to super PAC

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@ByKristenMClark & @PatriciaMazzei

Miami Republican Mike Fernandez, a billionaire healthcare executive, plans to vote for Democrat Patrick Murphy over Republican incumbent Marco Rubio in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, Fernandez told the Miami Herald in an email.

Fernandez recently backed up that support with a $100,000 donation to a super PAC supporting Murphy, money that is affording the group to make last-minute moves to prop up Murphy’s candidacy in the competitive contest against Rubio.

Fernandez — a top Jeb Bush donor in the GOP presidential primary who formally endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in September — told the Herald late Thursday that the main reason he’s voting for Murphy is because of the Jupiter congressman’s support for lifting the Cuba embargo.

More here.

Photo credit: Miami Herald file photo

October 27, 2016

Fact-checking Marco Rubio and Patrick Murphy in Broward College debate

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@amysherman1

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy clashed over Obamacare and each other’s resumes Wednesday night in their second and final debate for Rubio’s Senate seat.

The pair met at Broward College in Davie with less than two weeks before Election Day.

PolitiFact Florida fact-checked statements each candidate made during the event. Here’s our running list of things we’ve examined.

Keep reading here.

 

October 26, 2016

Fact-checking Patrick Murphy's claim about his father's firm and Donald Trump

Murphyatpodium (1)

@amysherman1

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy has lambasted U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for continuing to endorse Donald Trump for president. Rubio has fired back by portraying Murphy, a Democrat, as having business ties to Trump.

"There's only one person on the stage tonight whose family made millions of dollars in partnership with Donald Trump and that's you," Rubio said in the first Senate debate on Oct. 17.

After the debate, in a TV interview with WFLA that aired Oct. 23, Murphy said that Rubio wasn’t telling the truth.

"It's an absolute lie. We’ve never done business with Donald Trump," Murphy said. "And Marco Rubio is just trying to distract and confuse the voters because he’s so concerned with his own choice for president."

Reporter Candace McCowan followed up: "Was there not some dealings between him and your father on a real estate deal?"

"No, absolutely not. We’ve never had a contract with Donald Trump," Murphy said.

Who’s telling the truth here?

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

Tonight is the second -- and final -- debate night for Rubio and Murphy

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@ByKristenMClark

Florida’s U.S. Senate race has, at last, shifted into a position long predicted by political observers and even the candidates themselves: A neck-and-neck contest that will go down to the wire between Marco Rubio, the Republican incumbent, and Patrick Murphy, the Democratic challenger.

The candidates’ second and final debate Wednesday night is among their last chances to gain an edge in the competitive contest and to draw the support of undecided voters who’ve yet to cast their ballots.

The debate begins at 7 p.m. at Broward College in Davie.

More details here on what to expect and how to watch.

October 25, 2016

In Broward, Hillary Clinton stumps for Patrick Murphy

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@newsbysmiley @amysherman1

With polls suggesting she’s pulling ahead of Donald Trump in Florida, Hillary Clinton traveled to South Florida Tuesday and delivered her strongest pitch yet for for U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy while urging voters not to grow over-confident.

“It’s going to be a close election,” she said at Broward College’s Coconut Creek campus. “Don’t get complacent, because we've got to turn people out.”

Appearing a little more relaxed and perhaps even a tad sarcastic, Clinton blasted U.S. Senator Marco Rubio for his deflections on climate change, and Donald Trump for not coming out strongly enough in support of Israel. She spoke to a crowd of about 1,750, which delighted the Democratic nominee by singing happy birthday to her, one day before she turns 69.

Keep reading here.
 
Miami Herald photo by Patrick Farrell

Rubio: 'We're not going to be held hostage to whatever Patrick Murphy's mood is' on debates

Rubio_1stdebate_1017_ap@ByKristenMClark

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has ruled out the potential for any additional debates after Wednesday night's showdown with Democrat Patrick Murphy at Broward College -- what will be their second of two scheduled debates this fall.

"It's going to be the final one, because we're not going to keep playing this game," Rubio told Adrian Whitsett of WESH 2 News in Orlando over the weekend.

Rubio's comments came a day after Rubio and Murphy quarreled over who was to blame for the cancellation of what could have been their third debate, organized by Univision.

MORE: "No Univision debate for Rubio, Murphy"

The Spanish-language network took the event off the table after Murphy's campaign objected to the station's proposal -- which Rubio supported -- of having the debate in Spanish with a translator for Murphy. Murphy wanted the debate in English and then dubbed for the Hispanic-viewing audience. (His campaign accused Rubio of seeking unprecedented rules.)

In writing off any possible future debates, Rubio essentially told WESH that the clock had run out with two weeks left until Election Day.

"We have things to schedule, places to be and things to do," Rubio said. "We're not going to be held hostage to whatever Patrick Murphy's mood is in the morning when they call him about debates."

Continue reading "Rubio: 'We're not going to be held hostage to whatever Patrick Murphy's mood is' on debates" »

Murphy denies Trump connections, but CNN.com unearths photo of Murphy's dad with The Donald

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@ByKristenMClark

After Patrick Murphy relentlessly criticized U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for weeks for standing by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Rubio tried to shift the spotlight on to his Democratic challenger during last week's first Senate debate by alleging Murphy's family has made "millions" off doing business with Trump.

Murphy quickly called it "another lie" and, in the days since, has repeatedly denied any direct business connections between Trump and his family’s Coastal Construction Group. "We've never had a contract with Donald Trump," Murphy told the Tampa Bay Times and other Florida news media last week.

But CNN.com on Tuesday unearthed old photos that put Murphy in the position of having to further explain himself.

The images show Murphy’s father -- Coastal founder and CEO Tom Murphy Jr. (shown above at far left) -- a few feet away from Trump in a group photo-op at the ground-breaking for Trump Hollywood in 2007. Everyone in the photo, including the elder Murphy, is wearing a Trump-branded hard-hat.

Republicans quickly blasted out CNN.com's story, saying the images were "damaging" to the Jupiter congressman and "prove Murphy lied in the last debate."

But Murphy's campaign says the images show nothing of the sort and shed no new light on Coastal's business history with Trump.

The campaign acknowledges Coastal and Trump were "associated" with the same two South Florida projects -- Trump Hollywood and Trump Royale in Sunny Isles. But the campaign maintains, as Murphy has also said: It was the developer's responsibility in each project for separately hiring Coastal as its builder and Trump to market the properties.

Nonetheless, expect this topic to come up during Wednesday night's second and final U.S. Senate debate.

Photo credit: In this Getty image from 2007, Tom Murphy Jr. (pictured far left) appears in a group photo with Donald Trump (center) during the ground-breaking for Trump Hollywood. CNN.com

October 24, 2016

Pro-Murphy super PAC launches ad targeting Murphy's current constituents

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@ByKristenMClark

Boosted by a recent influx of cash of an unknown amount and origin, an independent super PAC that supports Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy is launching a TV ad that will air in Murphy's backyard between now and Election Day.

"Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" announced the ad Monday morning, which touts newspaper editorial endorsements Murphy has received from the Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Times, Orlando Sentinel and Sun Sentinel. Each editorial included harsh criticism for Republican incumbent Marco Rubio, which the ad also emphasizes.

In response to the ad, Rubio campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said Murphy has "nothing to show" for his four years in Congress and argued the senator "has a strong record of fighting for Florida's families."

The super PAC says it's spending $800,000 to run the ad for the next two weeks on West Palm Beach stations -- a TV market that serves Murphy's moderate congressional district in northern Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.

That area should hypothetically be safe territory for the Jupiter congressman since Palm Beach County is heavily Democratic and more-moderate Treasure Coast voters helped elect Murphy to Congress for the past two cycles.

Ashley Walker, spokeswoman for "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class," told the Herald/Times: "Patrick Murphy has a strong record of independence in this district in terms of doing what's right for his constituents, and this ad reinforces that message."

As of Sept. 30, "Floridians for a Strong Middle Class" didn't even have $800,000 in the bank to spend, but Walker said "obviously some contributions have come in" since then.

Heading into October, the super PAC reported having $764,000 in cash on hand in its third-quarter disclosure report. Walker said the recent donations will be disclosed in the committee's pre-general election report, which is due later this week.

Between July and September, the super PAC reported raising about $1 million between July and September -- a haul that included a $250,000 check from Murphy's father, Tom Murphy Jr. (Tom Murphy had also previously given $500,000 to the committee earlier in the campaign.)

Image credit: Floridians for a Strong Middle Class / YouTube

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

Clinton super PAC targets Rubio with web video

via @adamsmithtimes

The pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC Correct the Record has a new online video targeting Marco Rubio, and highlighting his support for Donald Trump. Correct the Record has similar spots on Republican senators running in the battleground states of North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire and Indiana.

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Democrats' mailer contrasts Murphy, Rubio on abortion

@ByKristenMClark

A new direct-mail piece paid for by the Florida Democratic Party seeks to drive home to voters where the state's U.S. Senate candidates stand on abortion.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy -- along with Democratic groups supporting him -- has been making the topic a campaign issue for weeks, seeking to contrast Murphy's pro-choice views with Republican incumbent Marco Rubio's pro-life stance.

In response to the new mailer, Rubio's campaign reiterated its criticism that Murphy has "extreme positions on abortion" -- such as supporting the use of taxpayer money to fund abortions or supporting late-term abortions -- that "put him out of touch with the vast majority of Floridians."

Murphy's campaign has argued Rubio is the one who is out of touch because he opposes a woman's right to choose, including in cases of rape and incest or if the mother is infected with the Zika virus.

The mailer, which started arriving at Florida voters homes this weekend, is going out to "hundreds of thousands" of voters across the state, according to Murphy's campaign.

Here's a look at the mailer:

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Planned Parenthood Mailer