September 29, 2015

In Florida, Marco Rubio starts to overshadow Jeb Bush

Gop 2016 Rubio (2)

via @adamsmithtimes

THE VILLAGES -- When Marco Rubio launched his presidential campaign in the spring, a lot of people wondered how he would ever emerge from the shadow of his mentor, Jeb Bush.

On Monday, as Sen. Rubio campaigned to an overflow crowd in a sprawling central Florida development loaded with tens of thousands of relatively new Florida Republicans, the more immediate question was how Bush might escape the shadow of Rubio.

“Bush was fine as governor but he just doesn’t come across as authoritative, like Marco Rubio does,” said Pat McKay, who moved to The Villages 10 years ago from Philadelphia.

This booming, overwhelmingly Republican stronghold of more than 100,000 residents spreads across 32 square miles of Sumter, Lake and Marion counties. Bush spent plenty of time campaigning here in the area’s early years, but he left office nearly 10 years ago.

“Jeb doesn’t seem to have any energy, no excitement,” said Sid Sack, who retired to The Villages a year ago from Washington state, while waiting for Rubio to show up.

“He seems kind of like a marshmallow,” he said of Bush, a contrast given that Bush was known as perhaps the most energetic and ambitious governor in modern Florida history.

“We need somebody new. I like Rubio because he’s young,” agreed his wife, Billie, who also likes Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump.

Rubio drew more than 500 people to a big meeting space and two overflow rooms, an appearance that underscored one of the biggest challenges facing Bush’s presidential campaign: Countless Republicans know little about Bush beyond his last name, and that includes his home state with its ever-changing electorate.

More here.

Photo credit: George Horsford/Daily Sun via AP

September 28, 2015

UPDATED Marco Rubio: 'I'm not interested in the back and forth' with Donald Trump's 'freak show'


Marco Rubio absolutely, positively wants to stay above the fray in the 2016 Republican presidential race.

But he sure knows how to tuck in jabs against frontrunner Donald Trump while trying to distance himself from Trump's attacks on him and other more establishment candidates.

The latest example: In an interview aired Monday on NPR, Rubio was asked about Trump's calling him a "clown" on Friday.

"I'm not interested in the back and forth," Rubio said -- only to deride Trump's  "freak show."

"He is a very sensitive person. He doesn't like to be criticized. He responds to criticism very poorly," Rubio said. "His poll numbers have taken a beating and he was embarrassed on national television at the debate by Carly Fiorina and others."

"But this election is not going to be about Donald Trump," Rubio continued. "He thinks it is, but it's not about him. It has to be about the issues confronting our country. And my sense of it is that every time issues become prominent he will say something outrageous or do something outrageous so that he doesn't have to talk about the issues."

UPDATE: Asked about Rubio's comment in a New York news conference unveiling his tax plan, Trump again referred to Rubio as a "lightweight."

"Look, look. Sen. Rubio is a lightweight. We understand that. He wouldn't be able to do this. He wouldn't know a trade deal from any other deal. And what certain people are trying to do...

"We're going up very strongly in the polls. They don't know know what to do about it...

"I'm funding my own campaign. Guys like Rubio, I mean, he desperately needs money. Ask the car dealer in Florida." (That would be Norman Braman.) "Ask the people that support him..."

"A guy Rubio and others...they're largely controlled by their donors, the special interests and, frankly, more than anybody else, the lobbyists."

September 25, 2015

House Speaker John Boehner resigns

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will resign at the end of October, shaking up the leadership of the Congress.

Boehner has been under constant criticism from conservatives, who have demanded a more confrontational approach to President Barack Obama. The latest flashpoint is the desire to stop federal financing of Planned Parenthood, which some conservatives insist be tied to any measure keeping the government open when appropriations expire Sept. 30.

Boehner had signed onto an alternative plan that would allow the government to stay open, and give conservatives a separate vote on Planned Parenthood funding, which ultimately would fail with an Obama veto.

When U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio announced at the Value Voters Summit this morning that Boehner would be resigning it drew cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Here is Boehner's Truth-O-Meter record from PolitiFact.

Here is the reaction from the South Florida Congressional delegation and other political figures (this post will be updated):

Continue reading "House Speaker John Boehner resigns" »

'Outraged' Marco Rubio says Debbie Wasserman Schultz attack over fundraiser a sign of Democratic 'panic'


via @learyreports

Marco Rubio decried on Fox News Thursday night an attack from Debbie Wasserman Schultz over attending a fundraiser at the home of a man who owns Hitler paintings.

“I was outraged,” Rubio told Bill O’Reilly, who opened his show by condemning Wasserman Schultz.

Rubio said it was a sign Democrats are in a “panic” over the struggles Hillary Clinton has faced. And he pointed out that Wasserman Schultz is in favor of the Iran nuclear deal, suggesting she betrayed her own Jewish people.

The fundraiser was Tuesday at the Dallas home Harlan Crowwho has an extensive collection of historical items, including the Hilter-created art. Noting the event came on Yom Kippur, Wasserman Schultz said, “There’s really no excuse for such a gross act of disrespect.”

A number of outlets lashed out at Wasserman Schultz’s attack as pathetic.

O’Reilly also asked Rubio about Trump and Rubio said his adversary lacks foreign policy knowledge, or knowledge of any policy in general.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

September 24, 2015

Donald Trump: Marco Rubio is a 'kid.' Rubio: Trump is 'touchy and insecure'


Donald Trump unloaded on Marco Rubio -- who he now apparently considers a threat -- in a speech Wednesday and on CNN on Thursday. In the CNN interview, Trump, 69, referred to Rubio, 44, as "a kid."

"He shouldn't running in this race as far as I'm concerned," Trump said.

Rubio then spoke to Kentucky Sports Radio and poked Trump back.

"He takes shot at eveyrbody that gets anywhere close to him in terms of a pol,l or anytime he hits a rough spot -- that's what he does," Rubio said. "He had a really bad debate performance last week -- he's not well-informed on the issues, he really never talks about issues and can't have more than a 10-second sound bite on any key issue -- and so I think he's kind of been exposed a little bit over the past 7 days. And he's a very touchy and insecure guy, and so that's how he reacts -- and people can see through it."

Quinnipiac poll: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio trail Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina


The rise of the political outsiders continues in the latest national poll by Quinnipiac University, which shows real-estate tycoon Donald Trump still leading the 2016 Republican presidential field, ahead of retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Florina.

Here's how they polled: Trump at 25 percent, Carson at 17 percent and Florina at 12 percent, followed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 10 percent and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio at 9 percent. No other candidate topped 7 percent.

Among Republican poll respondents, though, 29 percent said they "would definitely not support" Trump. And in hypothetical general election match-ups, Carson did best against Democrats.

On the Democratic side, it was Vice President Joe Biden -- who's not running at this point -- who fared best against Republicans. Among primary voters, however, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the pack with 43 percent, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 25 percent and Biden with 18 percent.

"The cast of characters changes by the week, with Ben Carson and Carly Florina in the spotlight and Gov. Jeb Bush still waiting for his big break. And Donald Trump still in the lead role," Tim Malloy, the poll's assistant director, said in a statement.

"But when the number of Republicans who 'would definitely not support' you is greater than the number who support you, where does that leave you? Welcome to Trump World, comparing his fragile support form his own party to Hillary Clinton's sagging but still stronger support from her party."

Rubio remains better-liked -- though also less known -- than Bush. Thirty-eight percent of respondents have a favorable view of Rubio, 28 percent an unfavorable one and 33 percent haven't heard enough about him. By comparison, 44 percent have an unfavorable view of Bush, 38 percent a favorable one and 17 percent haven't heard enough.

September 23, 2015

September 21, 2015

Was there no discussion about the national debt during the CNN debate as Marco Rubio says?

The high polling numbers for the GOP presidential field’s "outsider" candidates are in part the result of the media refusing to discuss substantive issues, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.

Rubio said on the Sept. 20, 2015, episode of This Week that political newcomers like Donald Trump, Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson were seeing success because people were tired of establishment candidates. But the CNN debate earlier in the week in Simi Valley, Calif., also showed that coverage isn’t focused on the country’s problems, he said.

"I don’t think it’s limited to the politicians, it’s also the media," Rubio said. "We had a three-hour debate, no discussion about the national debt, very little about the economy. It was a constant he-said-she-said, what do you say because so-and-so called you this name or that name."

What did the candidates really discuss during the debate? We reviewed the transcript and wouldn’t say there was "no discussion" about the debt, but Rubio has a point there was little said about the economy.

See what Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact found.

September 18, 2015

Aide to Marco Rubio accused of punching counterpart for Rand Paul

via @learyreports

A top aide to Marco Rubio is accused of punching a counterpart for Rand Paul at a bar Thursday night.

“Last night I went to a bar on Mackinac Island for the GOP Mackinac Conference. I ran into a guy named Rich Beeson, who frankly I didn't even know who it was at first because he isn't relevant in our political world,” John Yob wrote on Facebook. “Anyway, he is Marco Rubio's national campaign manager. He literally physically assaulted me by punching me in the face. The state police are looking for him. I have it on video, from multiple angles. This will play out in the national media in the next few hours.”

The Guardian has what is says is video. "I am hereby calling on Marco Rubio to fire Rich Beeson immediately," Yob wrote on Twitter today.

“It wasn’t a brawl,” Mackinac Island police chief Brett Riccinto told the Guardian on Friday. “If anything, it was a shove. Literally, it was a shove. This thing has been blown way, way, way out of proportion.”

Beeson was Mitt Romney's 2012 political director and serves as Rubio's deputy campaign manager.

"We're aware of the media reports and seeking further information," Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said in a statement.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio says that President Barack Obama said an attack on Syria 'was going to be a pinprick'

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida defended a 2013 vote not to authorize President Barack Obama to use military force in Syria by saying the strategy wasn’t worth risking American lives.

During a presidential debate in Simi Valley, Calif., on Sept. 16, 2015, radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt asked Donald Trump if he thought three senators — Rubio, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky — who opposed intervention against Syrian President Bashar Assad were now responsible for the current Syrian refugee crisis. Rubio defended his stance after Trump said he thought they were partly to blame.

"We have zero responsibility, because let’s remember what the president said," Rubio said. "He said the attack that he was going to conduct was going to be a pinprick. Well, the United States military was not built to conduct pinprick attacks."

Rubio went on to say he wanted a strategy that would put "men and women in a position where they can win."

Obama’s Syria policy has been a target for Republicans during the campaign, but did Obama refer to potential strikes against Assad as "a pinprick" attack?

See what Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact Florida found.