August 13, 2015

Marco Rubio wants paper trail on trafficking report that upgraded Cuba's status


The U.S. upgraded Cuba in a human-trafficking report last month, drawing the ire of Cuban-American lawmakers who suspected the move was driven by politics rather than a real improvement on the island.

Now Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, wants Secretary of State John Kerry to turn over the drafts of the report, the names of who in his department signed off and a copy of Cuba's plan to combat trafficking -- all because Rubio thinks the report was "politicized."

"The decision to upgrade Cuba without substantial evidence of improvement is the worst form of politicization of an important anti-trafficking tool," Rubio wrote Kerry on Thursday. "Cuba is a human slave state."

Read the full text of his letter below.

Continue reading "Marco Rubio wants paper trail on trafficking report that upgraded Cuba's status" »

Marco Rubio's claim about parental consent for abortion vs. tattoos

Teenagers getting inked is apparently subject to greater parental say than getting an abortion, according to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

In an Aug. 4 interview with Southern Baptist Convention President Russell Moore, Rubio joined other Republicans in criticizing Planned Parenthood amid the release of videos by an anti-abortion group that accuse the group of harvesting fetal tissue for profit. A day earlier, Florida’s Republican senator had been among those whovoted to defund Planned Parenthood, a measure that failed to get the required 60 votes to advance.

In his interview, Rubio raised concerns about nationwide access to abortions for minors:

"The idea that a minor can go get a tattoo," he said, before quickly correcting himself to say "cannot get a tattoo without parental consent -- but can get an abortion without parental consent -- is just mind-shattering for the vast majority of Americans. ... People who believe that a young child, a minor, should be able to get an abortion easier than a tattoo -- they are the extremists."

We decided to check whether minors need their parents’ permission to get a tattoo, but don’t need permission to get an abortion.

See what PolitiFact Florida found. 

20 fact-checks from the first GOP debate

The crowded Republican field has kept PolitiFact busy since the first GOP debate. So far, we’ve compiled 20 fact-checks of statements the candidates made on Aug. 6 in Cleveland including claims by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, former Gov. Jeb Bush and Donald Trump.

Here is the full list.

1. Marco Rubio: Says Hillary Clinton has "been in office and in government longer than anybody else running here tonight." Mostly False.

2. John Kasich: "I took the state of Ohio from an $8 billion hole … to a $2 billion surplus." Mostly True.

3. Donald Trump: Illegal immigration "wasn’t a subject that was on anybody’s mind until I brought it up at my announcement." False.

4. Donald Trump: "The Mexican government ... they send the bad ones over."Pants on Fire!

5. Marco Rubio: "This is the most generous country in the world when it comes to immigration. There are a million people a year who legally immigrate to the United States." Mostly True.

Turn to PolitiFact for our complete list. 

American Bridge's Mostly False attack on Marco Rubio's college plan

A liberal political action committee is attacking Sen. Marco Rubio’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s colleges and universities, saying his plan unfairly benefits for-profit schools.

After Rubio went on Fox & Friends on Aug. 10, 2015, to lambaste Hillary Clinton’s call to make post-secondary education more affordable, American Bridge 21st Century went after Rubio’s own plan.

"Perhaps in his eagerness to criticize, Marco neglected to mention his long-time advocacy for and support of for-profit colleges," the PAC wrote on its website. "And Marco neglected to mention that his own proposed college affordability overhaul would specifically benefit for-profit colleges — institutions with a reputation for willfully misleading students, targeting veterans, in particular."

Rubio has spent a lot of campaign time talking about getting a proper education, but we haven’t learned many details of his strategy. Will for-profit colleges "specifically benefit" from his ideas to make education more affordable? We decided to take a crash course on his plan and find out.

See what Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact Florida found. 

Marco Rubio gets his numbers wrong about Dodd-Frank

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., says a law that attempts to stop banks from becoming too big to fail actually ends up making community banks too small to succeed.

During the first Republican presidential debate, Rubio called for less regulation, lower taxes, and rolling back the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, passed in the wake of the financial crisis in 2010.

"We need to repeal Dodd-Frank. It is eviscerating small businesses and small banks," he said on Aug. 6, 2015, to applause. "Over 40 percent of small and mid-size banks that loan money to small businesses have been wiped out since Dodd-Frank has passed."

Rubio’s comment is a new version of an old Republican talking point, so we wanted to take a look.

See what Linda Qiu of PolitiFact found.

August 12, 2015

Marco Rubio blasts U.S. for not inviting dissidents to Cuba embassy opening


The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the Obama administration doesn't plan to invite Cuban dissidents to attend the U.S. embassy opening ceremony in Havana Friday.

The news gave Republican presidential candidate and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio an opening to once again blast President Obama over his diplomatic thaw with Cuba.

"This is a new low for President Obama and a slap in the face by this administration to Cuba's courageous democracy activists," Rubio said in a statement released by his Senate office. "Cuban dissidents are the legitimate representatives of the Cuban people and it is they who deserve America's red carpet treatment,‎ not Castro regime officials. What a pathetic policy President Obama has embarked on that shuns Cuban dissidents like this, yet has welcomed Castro regime officials to the White House."

Polls show most Americans favor renewed diplomatic relations with Cuba. But most Americans also don't follow the day-to-day Cuba news as Cuban exiles in Miami. For example, when fellow GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush spoke to the New Hampshire Union Leader newspaper's editorial board recently, board members seemed shocked to learn about the Cuban government's continued repression of dissidents.

Our colleague Mimi Whitefield reported some dissidents may attend a reception following the embassy flag-raising Friday.

This post has been updated.

August 11, 2015

Hillary Clinton pounces on Marco Rubio's hard line on abortion -- which could elevate his profile


While the Donald Trump-vs.-Megyn Kelly feud dominated the political airwaves after the first Republican presidential primary debate last week, Democrat Hillary Clinton argues it was an answer uttered by Marco Rubio that should have garnered the most attention.

Clinton told reporters in New Hampshire on Monday that Trump, who appeared to blame a Kelly question he didn’t like on her menstrual cycle, “went way overboard — offensive, outrageous, pick your adjective — but what Marco Rubio said has as much of an impact in terms of where the Republican Party is today as anybody else on that stage, and it is deeply troubling.”

Rubio so abhors legal abortion he would ban the procedure even for women who got pregnant through rape or incest — a stance he espoused during the debate and defended in television interviews. Energized by Rubio’s confident performance, his campaign tried to get as much mileage as possible from the candidate’s hard-line position.

So did Clinton. And nothing could have pleased Rubio more.

“Hillary Clinton holds radical views on abortion that we look forward to exposing in the months to come,” Rubio said in a statement just a few hours after he was singled out by the Democratic frontrunner. Among other things, he cited her support for legal late-term abortions.

The potential rivals found an issue both could seize. Clinton appeals to women who are crucial to the Democratic political base. Rubio appeals to religious conservatives who will be key in early voting states such as Iowa.

Yet both strategies have a downside.

More here.

Ahead of U.S. embassy in Havana opening, Marco Rubio asks John Kerry to meet with Cuban dissidents


Secretary of State John Kerry is headed to Havana to re-open the U.S. embassy there Friday. So on Monday, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio -- a prolific letter-writer on the subject of Cuba -- asked Kerry to meet with Cuban dissidents while he's on the island.

"It is a diplomatic and moral failure on this Administration's part to have moved forward with opening an embassy in Havana and providing the regime with a windfall of U.S. dollars without achieving any of our national interests in return," Rubio wrote.

"Rather than negotiate with Cuba from a position of strength, the Obama Administration chose to give away too much up front in exchange for the regime's empty promises of future discussions."

Rubio, a Republican presidential candidate who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also reiterated his intention to block the appointment of a U.S. ambassador to Cuba.

Read the full letter below.

Continue reading "Ahead of U.S. embassy in Havana opening, Marco Rubio asks John Kerry to meet with Cuban dissidents" »

August 10, 2015

Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio slam Hillary Clinton higher-education plan

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio on Monday blasted Hillary Clinton’s proposed overhaul of higher education funding as a massive tax increase.

"We don’t need more top-down Washington solutions that will raise the cost of college even further and shift the burden to hardworking taxpayers,” Bush said in a statement. “We need to change the incentives for colleges with fresh policies that result in more individualization and choices, drive down overall costs, and improve the value of a college degree, which will help lead to real, sustained four-percent economic growth.

"We also need additional pro-growth economic policies that will give more college graduates the opportunity to achieve earned success rather than continuing down the path of declining workforce participation and access to jobs."

Rubio, appearing on Fox & Friends, echoed criticism of the tax increases Clinton’s $350 billion plan would require. Rubio said it would pour money into an “outdated higher education system,” and said there needs to be more focus on nontraditional schooling, such as online or skill certification programs.


The AP outlines Clinton’s plan, which she detailed in New Hampshire:

The proposal centers on a $200 billion federal incentive system aimed at encouraging states to expand their investments in higher education and cut student costs. States that guarantee "no-loan" tuition at four-year public schools and free tuition at community colleges will be eligible to receive federal funds.

The cost of Clinton's plan would be offset by capping itemized tax deductions for wealthy families at 28 percent, like those taken by high-income taxpayers for charitable contributions and mortgage interest. That proposal, which has long been included in President Barack Obama's annual budget, would raise more than $600 billion in the next decade, according to the Treasury Department.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times