February 03, 2016

Marco Rubio would like Rand Paul's support, but knows he probably won't get it

IMG_7187

@PatriciaMazzei

BOW, N.H. -- Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul dropped out of the Republican presidential race Wednesday while one of his rivals, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, was in the middle of a New Hampshire town hall.

Afterward, Rubio said he’d "love" to get Paul’s support –- but it didn’t sound like he was counting on it, given how much the two men diverge on foreign policy and aspects of criminal-justice reform. Paul is far more libertarian.

“Rand is someone I disagree with on a lot of issues, but as I said earlier, in the debate, he actually believes strongly in what he stands for, and I respect that,” Rubio said. "I thought he ran a good race."

“The liberty movement needs to be a part of the larger Republican coalition.”

February 02, 2016

'If you're not with Marco, you're electing Democrats,' pro-Marco Rubio super PAC ad says

via @adamsmithtimes

Conservative Solutions, the super PAC supporting Marco Rubio, is up with a new TV spot casting Florida's senator as the conservative who can actually win.

"Marco Rubio is the conservative who can win – and the Clinton machine knows it. Rubio beat the establishment. He’ll unite Republicans and restore the American Dream.

If you’re not with Marco, you’re electing the Democrats."

 

--ADAM C. SMITH

Marco Rubio has bounce in his step and target on his back in New Hampshire

GOP 2016 Rubio

@PatriciaMazzei

EXETER, N.H. -- In the Republican presidential race, Marco Rubio is the man in the middle.

Heading into New Hampshire’s primary on Tuesday, he’s got to keep gaining on front-runners Ted Cruz, who won Iowa’s caucuses Monday, and Donald Trump, who finished second.

“This is not a time for patience. This is a time for urgent action, because if we get this election done, there may be no turning around for America,” he told hundreds of people at a picturesque town hall Tuesday night in the New Hampshire town of Exeter. “We must at the end of this process bring this party and this movement together.”

Before he can try to do that, though, Rubio will have to fend off challenges from three governors who barely registered among Iowa Republicans but have dedicated most of their energy and cash to reaching New Hampshire’s maverick voters.

Rubio could let Trump and Cruz duke it out for the anti-establishment vote, with the hope that one will destroy the other. But it will be impossible for him to avoidconfrontations with the other establishment Republicans — especially since his campaign started urging donors after the caucuses to pressure Rubio’s mainstream rivals to bow out of the contest.

Two of them, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, wasted no time Tuesday, intensifying their hits on Rubio, a first-term Florida senator, over his lack of executive experience (Bush) and his disavowing comprehensive-immigration reform he had sponsored in the Senate (Christie).

More here.

Photo credit: Steven Senne, Associated Press

February 01, 2016

Marco Rubio finishes 3rd in Iowa caucuses, Jeb Bush places 6th

GOP 2016 Rubio (7)

@PatriciaMazzei

DES MOINES -- Iowa voters wielded their political power in the U.S. presidential elections Monday, handing a Republican caucus victory to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — who devoted ample time and extensive resources to the state —over celebrity businessman Donald Trump, who blew off a local debate and repeatedly chose TV interviews over voter handshakes.

The victory by Cruz over Trump and fellow Cuban-American Marco Rubio sets up a three-way race GOP ahead of the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary. The Florida senator’s finish closely behind Trump bolsters his case that mainstream Republicans should unite behind him to take on the front-runners.

“This is the moment they said would never happen. For months, they told us we had no chance,” Rubio told a Des Moines crowd that celebrated his third-place finish as an outright victory. “They told me that we had no chance because my hair wasn’t gray enough and my boots were too high. They told me I needed to wait your turn, that I needed to wait in line.

“But tonight here in Iowa, the people of this great state have sent a very clear message: After seven years of Barack Obama, we are not waiting any longer,” a triumphant Rubio concluded, standing next to his wife, Jeanette, and their four children.

The Democratic race between former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders was too close to call late Monday. A third Democrat, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, did so poorly he ended his campaign. So did the Republican who won the 2008 caucuses in Iowa, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

For Trump, the loss could be significant. He built his candidacy on the notion that he’s a winner, and though he led Cruz in Iowa polls, Cruz’s vaunted organization and bus tours propelled him to the top.

More here.

Photo credit: Paul Sancya, Associated Press

DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz's misleading claim about debates was the top article for PolitiFact Florida in January

DWSafterCharlestondebateGetty

The presidential race kept PolitiFact Florida’s Truth-O-Meter busy in the weeks leading up to the start of voting in the early states.

Our fact-checks of claims by Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump were among our most read items.

Here were our Top 5 stories in January, counting down to the most popular.

Marco Rubio says the number of illegal immigrants has increased -- but it hasn't

Throughout his Republican presidential campaign, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has tried to distance himself from his involvement in a 2013 failed bipartisan immigration bill.

The legislation has proven to be a liability for Rubio because it contained a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and some of Rubio’s opponents say his support for the bill is evidence that he’s not tough on immigration. On NBC’s Meet the PressJan. 31, host Chuck Todd asked Rubio if he regretted being part of the Gang of Eight senators who authored the bill.

"Look, I tried to fix the problem," Rubio said, referring to illegal immigration. "This is a real problem. And where are we today? We are worse off today than we were five years ago. We have more illegal immigrants here. We have two unconstitutional executive orders on amnesty. I went to Washington to fix a problem."

Our ears perked up when Rubio said there are more illegal immigrants in the United States than there were five years ago, so we decided to check the numbers. We found that the latest available data doesn’t support Rubio’s statement.

Keep reading Lauren Carroll's fact-check from PolitiFact and here is Rubio's full Truth-O-Meter record.

Marco Rubio plays up faith in Iowa

GOP 2016 Rubio (6)

@lesleyclark @PatriciaMazzei

DUBUQUE, Iowa -- To spread the gospel of Marco Rubio ahead of Monday’s Iowa caucuses, his campaign dispatched a longtime friend from South Florida who could personally attest to Rubio’s faith.

Ralph Arza, the burly and gregarious former state lawmaker turned charter-school lobbyist, hit the streets of Dubuque, in northeastern Iowa, over the weekend. In a rented Buick Enclave on which he had slapped a Rubio bumper sticker, Arza set off on his mission: going door-to-door in the largely Democratic — and heavily Roman Catholic — city on the border with Illinois and Wisconsin to find Catholic voters to convert to Rubio.

“I came all the way from Florida to see if you would support Marco,” he told retiree Carole Welu in her garage. He scored: She told him she’d caucus for Rubio — blizzard permitting — for the first time since the 1960s.

A man who was in the house wore a Marco Island cap. “That’s a sign from God!” Arza said, bursting out in laughter.

God references have noticeably crept into Rubio’s campaign in Iowa, where evangelical Christians who can sway the election like to hear presidential candidates talk openly about their religion. “This election is in God’s hands, as everything is,” he said Sunday morning on CBS News’ Face the Nation.

More here.

Photo credit: Jae C. Hong, Associated Press

Marco Rubio raised about twice as much as Jeb Bush last quarter

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio's presidential campaign was on the upswing and Jeb Bush's on the downswing, and that reality was reflected Sunday when campaigns reported their quarterly fundraising.

Rubio raised nearly $14.2 million in the last three months of the year, about twice the $7.1 million reported by Bush. That's Rubio's biggest haul for that period yet, but he also spent more than before -- about $14.8 million -- largely on television ads to counter spots against him from several of his rivals, including Bush.

"Today, the Marco Rubio for President campaign announced the campaign's strongest fundraising quarter yet, doubling what was raised in the previous quarter," his campaign said in a statement.

 

The Rubio campaign reported nearly $10.4 million cash on hand but didn't specify how much of that can be spent in the primary. By not breaking down the number the previous quarter, it appeared Rubio had more cash than Bush, when he really didn't.

Bush's campaign reported nearly $8 million cash on hand as of Dec. 31.

"Jeb continues to be encouraged and grateful for the tremendous support and enthusiasm his candidacy has generated since he launched his campaign," spokeswoman Allie Brandenburger said in a statement Sunday. "We are confident our campaign will have the resources needed to get Jeb's conservative record, message and vision for the future out to voters across the country."

January 31, 2016

Pro-Marco Rubio super PAC reports $14M haul, including $1M from Norman Braman

@PatriciaMazzei

Conservative Solutions PAC, which is backing Marco Rubio's presidential candidacy, reported Sunday nearly $14.4 million in contributions in the last six months of 2016, thanks to several sizable contributions from wealthy donors. Nearly $14 million remains in the bank.

Miami auto magnate Norman Braman, who had already given $5 million to the super PAC in the first half of the year, gave another $1 million two days before Christmas. And his donation wasn't the biggest one.

Billionaire investor Paul Singer of New York and billionaire hedge-fund manager Kenneth Griffin of Chicago (Illinois' richest man) contributed $2.5 million each. Three other donors -- hedge-fund manager Cliff Asness of New York, businessman David Humphreys of Missouri and investor Mary M. Spencer of Key Biscayne -- gave $1 million each.

The year-end report brings the group's total haul last year to more than $30 million, which Conservative Solutions boasted as a strong showing "that allowed us to fully fund our campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire, so much so that we were able to go up on TV a month earlier than originally planned," spokesman Jeff Sadosky said in a statement.

The group also has ads running in South Carolina and plans to debut ads starting Monday in Nevada, according to Sadosky.

The total is about a third of the more than $100 million the pro-Jeb Bush super PAC, Right to Rise USA, raked in by June 30. But Right to Rise has also far outspent the pro-Rubio effort -- in large part by attacking the Florida senator.

Marco Rubio needs Iowa to propel candidacy

via @learyreports

DES MOINES -- Marco Rubio isn’t expecting to win the Iowa caucuses Monday night — the first test in the 2016 presidential election — but the state is crucial to his strategy of building momentum in what he is convinced will be a drawn-out battle for the Republican nomination.

A strong showing will propel him into New Hampshire and South Carolina while a weaker one could hobble his chances, underscoring his risky gamble of not focusing on one early nominating state.

No other candidate may have as much riding on Iowa, and Rubio, who has failed to deliver the breakout moment many projected months ago, showed it in recent days. He went on a tear, holding town halls, injecting his stump speech with urgency and highlighting his faith in an appeal to evangelicals.

“I’ve got more to think about now,” said an impressed Jay Jackson, 44, who showed up Tuesday to see Rubio in Marshalltown, one of four town halls the presidential candidate held that day.

Jackson likes Ted Cruz, who is ahead of Rubio in the polls, but said questions about Cruz’s temperament left doubt. “Angry is a buzzword,” Jackson said. Rubio has sounded angrier, too, but overall presents an optimistic message and vows to unite the GOP, a line that resonated with Jackson.

Rubio needs Jackson — and hordes of other Cruz supporters — to caucus for him Monday. If Rubio can come in second to Donald Trump, it would be a major boost heading into next week’s primary in New Hampshire, perhaps making it a two-man race for the nomination.

More here.